The Inquirer (Monrovia)

30 January 2013

Liberia: More Improvements in Justice System

Justice Minister Christiana Tah says there are visible improvements in the Justice System among which are the establishment of regional hubs which are a collaborative project of the Liberian Judiciary. The Attorney General said the hubs are build tofocus on providing security protection and security back-upsfor the counties as a contingent ready to be deployed. She said the hubs are security and justice sector divided into regionsbut each country will have its own patrol and full security service.

She said with this improvement, two prosecutors are in a county assigned at a hub and with the President acknowledgement that the Bureau of Immigration has some 30 percent women employment as well as close to 20 percent women enlisted into the police show that the justice system is making strides.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show hosted on ELBC by Sorbor George yesterday, she said the hubs are not barracks but are intended to house security personnel and would assist them from renting and that is not for those who can afford, and our recruitment process goes beyond taking people from a particular county.

She said it is difficult to enforce law if the security personnel are from the same county of assignment and those assigned at the hubs are recruited from the region.

Minister Tah said the fleet management policy is now introduced to safe government money and we are concerned about cost of cars mobility, security need vehicles to carry out their work properly but then it is costly because much is spent on vehicles and they are not maintained.

She explained that as part of the package, on each hub is a garage, mechanics will be trained and stationed there with a responsibility to tag all vehicles purchased for each hub and how they are maintained.

The Attorney General said vehicles do not have to be taken to Monrovia and those who are the drivers need to be trained and that she is concerned about how they are used and whom they are assigned to because they need to be taken care of noting that the as part of the Hub program, trained Liberians might be within the security.

"We have firm commitment from government by the increment of our budget in the last budget exercise with complete support from the Legislature. The finance Minister was also concerned and wanted to understand how the security sector is run and to that a retreat was held and the entire system was understood, and I must say we have received the support we need so far from the Ministry of Finance and I hope it will continue, " she explained.

She clarified how law enforcement is different from security. Under the Ministry of Justice the police for example is a law enforcement agency but in addition it secure the public and there are some agency purely justice like prosecution.

But in all, she said law enforcement is beyond just standing up with guns, uniforms and doing intelligence; it is to carryout search, seizures, detain or arrest and interrogate as well as go to court to testify as witnesses.

"Jail break occurs because people in jail are frustrated even those guilty are not going through a case as fast as it should but we need capacity and we are doing all simultaneously. There many people who still have the mindset of war and that mindset of doing anything it takes to survive, we have to work on not only those we arrest but those we work with because if you trust someone to make things better and they are as bad as the person locked up in jail then the system is just as bad," she said.

On the recent jail break in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County where 22 persons walked out, Liberia's A.G clarified how it was not really a jail break instead, the prisoners walked out with the aid ofpeople who should have provided them custody adding, "So we dismissed all the three persons on guard; while the police were reassigned and that is why we had to hire new people from the central office."

She explained how in order to strengthen that aspect of the justice system, the central office staff are being trained and will be paid higher. "We are relocating our people and since we increasing our correction officers' salaries, those who are going to augment the staff assigned at the correction palace in Zwedru will be paid as twice because it is the only maximum security system in the country."

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