Monrovia, Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the spirit of coordination and partnership has attended the formal opening of the March Term of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf, also head of the Executive Branch of Government attended the formal opening of the March Term of Court of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, on Monday, March 13, 2017 along with several senior government officials.
In his opening address, the Chief Justice said: “We reaffirm that the members of this Court have resolved and committed themselves not take vacation at the end of the March and October Terms of Court this year in order to devote full attention to hearing and deciding election cases. We reaffirm today, as we begin this March Term of Court, as you are aware that Presidential and General elections are due this year in Liberia,” Chief Justice Korkpor stressed.
Chief Justice Korkpor noted that the ensuing elections of this year are very critical to the maintenance of peace and security, as well as the survival of the democracy in the country. He noted that: “It is therefore incumbent upon us Liberians, especially those in government, both the public and the private sectors, as well as those from all walks of life to do all we can to contribute to the smooth and transparent conduct of the elections.”
The Liberian Chief Justice emphasized that as it stands and vividly seen by all Liberians, the best way that the Judiciary can contribute to the smooth conduct of the ensuing elections is through the fair and timely application of the rule of law to all in cases of involving electoral disputes whether regarding the conduct candidates, or political parties or the application of the rules of the Elections Commission.
Election cases, he said are direct and time-bond under Article 83 (C) of the Liberian Constitution, with any party, or candidate who complains about how the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to the complaint with the Elections Commission.
Chief Justice Korkpor indicated that such complaints must be filed no later than seven days after the announcement of the results of the elections Similarly, any candidate or party affected by a decision from the Elections Commission shall no later than seven days appeal against it to the full Bench of the Supreme Court. Following that, he said after receiving all records pertaining to the case, the Supreme Court shall hear and decide the case in seven days.
This means according to Chief Justice Korkpor, that in order to be accorded the requirement of expeditious hearing, and determination by this Court in seven days, as mandated by the constitution, elections matters must come from the Elections Commission, directly to the full Bench of the Supreme Court.
In accordance with the constitution, we heard and decided all electoral matters growing out of the Special Senatorial elections of 2014 - appealed to them directly from the Elections Commission, except one, which lingered due to the failure of the appealing party, though according to him, the party counsel to pursue the right path and the appropriate course of action.
Commenting on the illegal sale of lands in the Republic of Liberia nowadays, Chief Justice Korkpor noted: “Before closing this closing address, I have deemed it necessary at this time to comment briefly on the prevalence of unlawful sale of land by some unscrupulous people in our country today. “I hereby refer to the criminal conveyance of land in our society, particularly so in urban areas”. He said under the Liberian Law, title to land can only be conveyed by the lawful owner. He furthered Liberian law also forbids the selling of a parcel of land to more than one person or entity.
Chief Justice Korkpor pointed out that these clear and unambiguous provisions of our law, notwithstanding, criminal conveyance of land is at alarming proportions in our society today and as such - if decisive actions are not taken now, this may undermine peace and national security.
Speaking further Chief Justice Korkpor said the Magistrate Sitting Program established by the Supreme Court in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice at the Monrovia Central Prison aimed at curbing or minimizing the problem of the prolonged detention without trial, continues to yield fruitful results noting from the period January – December 2016, there were nine hundred and fifty-five (955) cases of Pretrial detention reported at the Monrovia Central Prison (MPC). He said of this number, seven hundred and forty-five (745) cases were heard and disposed of.
Chief Justice Korkpor, among other things, acknowledged the government and people of Sweden for their continuous support to the judiciary as well as USIAD, among others for their support as well. He also thanked the Government of Liberia through President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for providing support to the Judiciary, adding: “We thank the Government and development partners concerned for their support to the Judiciary.”
For his part, Justice Minister and Attorney-General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Fredrick Cherue, on behalf of government, said the government under the leadership of President Sirleaf is making gains both within the national and international arena such as ECOWAS, the Mano River Union, AU, among others. He said among other things the judiciary has contributed immensely to the sustenance of peace.
Also speaking, the President of the Liberia Bar Association, Cllr. Moses Paegar, urged Attorneys admitted to the Supreme Bar as Counsellors-at-Law to adhere to rules of Court and admonished the new lawyers to always use the constitution as a guide while dispensing justice.
The formal opening was graced by Senator Armah Z. Jallah, Pro-Temp of the Liberian Senate, members of the diplomatic corps, the clergy, Counselors-at-Law, and the Premier Choral Society Choir that rendered a number of selections.