Weak Court System Hampering Justice In Liberia-Report

FIND's Executive Director Roosevelt Woods
FIND’s Executive Director Roosevelt Woods

In its latest 2013 human right report released last week, the Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) rated the court system as being “very week” and poor in rural Liberia, hampering many people from accessing justice.

The report states that many of the judges are ineffective as they go to work late and leave earlier, while many of the courts are also faced with serious logistical constraints.

FIND is a Liberian-based regional human rights organization with branches in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Releasing the report last Thursday, FIND Executive director Roosevelt Woods said “the administration of the Courts in Lofa, Bong and Grand Gedeh Counties is very weak, despite the numerous reform measures put in place by the Judicial Branch of Government.”

“There is no proper monitoring mechanism put in place to track the operations and performances of Judges and court officers in most cases report to work late and leave very early ahead of official working time,” the report stated.

According to the report, the assigned Judge at the 9th Judicial Circuit Court in Gbarnga was frequently absent from Court on Mondays and Fridays during the May term of court.

In another instance, the report alleged that following the illness and subsequent death of the Judge Emmanuel M. Kollie of the 10th
Judicial Circuit Court in Lofa, the Court remained inactive from February to June, 2013 until a new Judge (Her Honor Nancy F. Sammy) was assigned.

“The delay by the Judicial Branch to assign a new judge in Lofa contributed to the over crowdedness of the Voinjama Central Prison and cases on the docket,” the report continued. “Additionally, Courts in the three counties lack basic logistics, including stationeries, computers and other materials to properly document and file cases.”

FINF reported that Clerk of Courts are using archaic typewriter which contribute to the delay in the preparation of writ and other vital court documents. “For instance, Clerk at the Gbarnga Magisterial Court in
Bong County requested Complainants to pay writ preparation fees. At the same time, records systems at the various magisterial Courts are very poor making it difficult, if not impossible, to track cases leaving the magisterial to the Circuit Courts.”

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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