14 November 2012

Liberia: Justice in Jeopardy - As Judges Crave for Budgetary Increment, Other Benefits

It is a glaring fact that at every official opening of courts, especially at the levels of the Supreme Court of Liberia and that of Circuit Courts at the Temple of Justice and others outside of Montserrado County, the issues of Judges' salary increment and other benefits are being highlighted.

During the official opening of the November Term of Court A.D. 2012 at the Temple of Justice on Monday November 12, 2012, Criminal Court-C Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh reiterated calls for the entire budget of the Judiciary to be augmented taking into consideration other benefits for Judges throughout the country.

The current budget of the judiciary is US$12m which statistically is about 2% of the entire national budget that which the Acting Chief Justice and other Judges including Judge Gbeneweleh have expressed dissatisfaction about.

Delivering his charge, Judge Gbeneweleh pointed out that for fair and transparent justice which according to him is a catalyst for sustaining peace throughout the length and breadth of Liberia, the issues of appropriate budgetary allotment including benefits of Judges is an important element that should be taken into serious consideration by the Executive branch of Government.

Though Judge Gbeneweleh was quick to point out that without justice there will be no peace and without peace there will be no unity and without unity there will be no development in the land, stressed that the current budget of the Judiciary is too small to carry out its responsibility, functions and activities.

He said during the opening of the August Term of Court A.D. 2012, the Government of Liberia was notified for the provision of better salary, incentives, and better retirement packages for Judges and Magistrates in the country.

Judge Gbeneweleh added that Judges in need of new vehicles to replace the old ones, which according to him are out dated since 2008: stressing that the construction of modern Judiciary facilities throughout the country and the construction of residential quarters, especially for assigned circuit Judges outside Montserrado County is of paramount concern.

Speaking further, Judge Gbeneweleh called on the ruling Unity Party to put the Judiciary at the top of its (Government of Liberia) priority and provide budgetary appropriation for judicial reforms, stressing that adequate budgetary appropriation is very much vital to judicial reforms in postwar Liberia.

He reminded the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led administration that inadequate budgetary support to the Judiciary cannot effectively enhance judicial reform and pointed out that judicial reform is expensive and requires sufficient and adequate budgetary appropriation.

He asserted that to have a strong, self-governing and creditable Judiciary in postwar Liberia, the judiciary needs ample support from the ruling Unity Party led Government.

Speaking also at the opening, Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Darku Mulbah agreed that the current budget of the Judiciary is inadequate, but assured the Judiciary that all will be done to argument the budget of the Judiciary.

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