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.”