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GeneralLiberia news

Unfair and unjust

-Judiciary rejects appropriations in Nat’l Budget

The Judiciary of Liberia rejects its allotment in the 2024 National Budget, decrying unfair and unjust treatment.

By Lincoln G. Peters

Monrovia, Liberia, June 6, 2024 –The Liberian Judiciary, through the Supreme Court, rejects appropriation made in the 2024 National Budget for its operations, terming the allocation as unfair and unjust.

The judiciary argues that this is an attempt by the Executive and Legislative Branches of the government to further reduce it to an unacceptable condition.

The Director of Public Information for the Judiciary, Cllr. Darryl Ambrose Nmah, Sr., in a press release dated Wednesday, June 5, 2024, said that in the spirit of coordination and corporation, meetings were held with the leadership of the Legislature and the Presidency prior to the passage of the 2024 fiscal budget, in which the Judiciary brought this to the attention of the other two branches.

According to the releases, during the meeting, the Judiciary informed its co-equal that the constant violation of the Financial Autonomy Act of the Judiciary Law, which consistently relegated an entire branch of government to a mere department under the Executive Branch, was not only undermining the Rule of Law in Liberia but also debasing a co-equal branch of government.

“The Judiciary Branch of the Liberian Government, through the Supreme Court of Liberia, has rejected appropriation made for this branch of government in the 2024 fiscal budget of the country. The judiciary views the appropriation/allocation of US$17 million and a one-off ‘contingency’ amount of US$ 3 million, constituting 2.8% of the National Budget, as an imposition by both the Legislative and the Executive Branches of government on a co-equal Branch of the same government, which it’s not prepared to accept”, the release says.

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The release notes that it appears evident, however, from the passage of the fiscal budget 2024 that both the Legislative and Executive Branches of the government are not prepared to regard the Judiciary as a co-equal branch of the same government with attending needs, as they elected to appropriate a meager 2.8% to the second largest branch.

It further argues that such appropriation undermines the judiciary’s function, which it is not prepared to accept. It adds that the national government’s lack of adequate financial support to the judiciary over the years has resulted in deteriorating infrastructure, a lack of logistics, and worsening conditions of service at the Judiciary.

Cllr. Mahn adds that this substantially impairs the duty of the judiciary branch of government as mandated by the provisions of Chapter VII of the Liberian Constitution of 1986.

The release indicates that the legislative branch, the smallest branch of the government, allocated 13.84% of the total budget to itself and 83.36% to the Executive Branch despite assurance that such serious concerns of the Judiciary were going to be addressed, even if not entirely.

“This, the judiciary views as unfair, unjust and an attempt by the other two branches of the Liberian government to reduce the Liberian judiciary to nothing further, a condition unacceptable to the judiciary.

The judiciary, therefore, calls on its co-equal to take immediate action to address this very serious issue by revisiting the budget submission presented to the legislature through the Ministry of Finance by the Chief Justice, by the Financial Autonomy Act of the New Judiciary Law to avoid any further obstruction of judicial functions within the country”, Cllr. Mahn.

Meanwhile, the Judiciary says it views the allocation of US$17 million and a con-equal contingency amount of US$ 3 million, constituting 2.8% of the National Budget, as an imposition by both the Legislature and the Executive on a co-equal branch of the same government and an abuse of the power given the legislature under Article 34 (b).

The Liberian Judiciary gradually seems to be relegated regarding appropriations and disbursement. Under the regime of former President George Weah, it was constrained to summon Ex-Minister of Finance Samuel Tweah over salary delay. Edited  by Jonathan Browne

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