Black Affairs, Africa and Development
Liberia: Ellen Seeks Fast-Track Corruption Court
As fight against corruption appears to be intensifying with several government officials in recent times being hooked in the "public enemy trap" here, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has reemphasized a call for the establishment of a fast track court on corruption.
At the dedication of the 16th Circuit Court in Bopolu, Gbapolu County on Monday as part of her week-long tour and dedication of projects undertaken in the July 26, 2013 Independence celebration to be hosted in three western counties (Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu) President Sirleaf expressed hope that the three branches of government- Executive, Legislative and Judiciary will continue to work together in doing the right thing for the prosperity of the country.
"We have been calling for a fast track court on corruption; so we are emphasizing that call on the Legislature because the Executive cannot do it alone. We need to address some problems. I hope that we continue to work together- all the three branches of government so that we can do the right thing for the country," said President Sirleaf.
Recently, the Senate denied a bill from the Executive, seeking to grant the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) prosecutorial powers to deal with corruption cases. The upper House said the Justice Ministry here has such responsibility of prosecuting all cases.
Opposed to the Executive's initial quest for two separate prosecutorial arms of government, it now remains to be seen whether or not, the Legislature will this time around, pass the bill if re-submitted by the Executive, to establish a fast track court on corruption, given the increasing graft related issues arising in the country.
The dedicated Circuit Court in Bopolu City is said to be a major output of the capacity building of the Judiciary here, hosting magisterial court, tax court, traffic court, jury quarter, brief detention center, among others, next to the facilities in Montserrado County.
"Today should mark a good example of our government's commitment to the rule of law; yesterday, we decommissioned the Bela Yalla in which governments unjustly imprisoned people untried, now we are dedicating the circuit court here," said President Sirleaf.
Earlier at the ceremony, Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, stressed that the Judiciary was a very strong arm of government, and that a weak Judiciary eventually leads a society into anarchy, no matter how strong its other two branches are.
Senator Taylor among other things prayed that amendments be made for courts to render decisions within 90 days upon commencement over a matter, and leaving the law issues with the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor said what was most important to celebrate in Bopolu was not the beautiful judicial facility dedicated, but beyond the beautiful complex was that the rule of law has been taken to the people there.
"The structure cannot guarantee that justice would be dispensed; but that the people change their behavior. I implore all judges that will work in this new building to be fair in hearing and deciding cases. Also, judges should take good care of the facility," said Chief Justice Korkpor.
In Bopolu, President Sirleaf also dedicated the Gbonkuma Women Organization Rice Processing Plant; a cash center established under the Ministry of Finance, among others.