Liberia's President and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has been speaking about Liberia's journey from peace to recovery.
President Johnson-Sirleaf, who is currently on an official visit abroad, recalled that ten years ago Liberia began its journey from peace to recovery.
She said the peace accords signed in Ghana ended the second of two devastating civil wars, leaving more than a quarter of a million dead, "my country's infrastructure destroyed and the lives of exhausted survivors shattered."
According to her, the "task before us seemed overwhelming".
"Today Liberia is recovering. A renewed sense of hope, strong economic growth and the development of a vibrant civil society have been possible through the work of the international community, but most importantly, the tenacity of Liberians themselves," she pointed out.
In her contribution to the Globe and Mali published Monday, September 30, 2013, the Liberian leader uttered: "Yet judging progress is not always an exact science. Some indicators cannot be debated: economic growth and many of our Millennium Goals, such as the reduction of child mortality and action to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, show clear, audited improvement."
Other developments, the Liberian leader mentioned, can only be more subjectively viewed, such as the impact of judicial reforms and laws on freedom of speech.
She observed that there has long been a debate within the international media as to whether economic growth must be the priority for post-conflict countries, or whether freedom of speech and justice founded on the rule of law should come first.
"Many developing nations, including those in Africa, have found this debate puzzling. Of course, say some, how cans a hungry man care for democracy or the right to assembly when he is starving?" She questioned.
President Johnson-Sirleaf continued: "In Liberia we find such arguments without merit. We see liberty and dignity as the ability to enjoy both economic opportunity and the right to criticize those in power. No man can be truly free when he enjoys only one, but not the other.
We believe it is the inalienable right of anyone, whether an individual citizen or the holder of high office, to expect equality of justice from the courts if they believe they have been wronged. There can be no justice at all if some in society are exempt from the law through the office they hold or the profession they practice."
"To that end, Liberia is a signatory to the Table Mountain Declaration on press freedom in Africa, the second African nation to sign. We have instituted a Freedom of Information Act so Liberians can question the decisions of government at all times.
We have worked with international legal experts to ensure that our courts operate independently outside of the influence of the executive. Giving the government and elites the right to intervene in cases considered by an independent judiciary would be to continue the powers of impunity that previously led Liberia down the road to disaster," she stated.
The Nobel Peace Winner furthered that recent calls for the government to intervene in a libel case between a leading journalist and a former minister taken to court in a private prosecution would be to act against the laws we have instituted separating the powers of the executive from the judiciary.
"We welcome a debate on the benefits of libel laws, and whether our own U.S.-style first amendment protection would better serve Liberia. No legislation can be judged as timelessly perfect, as the demands of any vibrant society must include the capability for change. But intervention in one case would inevitably lead to intervention in others, reasserting the ability of the strong to use public office to bend the law against private citizens."
The Liberia and Africa first female president indicated that Liberia and most nations of Africa are striving to be successful and full members of the international community.
"Liberia's progress is therefore rightly being considered, 10 years on from the ending of our civil wars. We are proud of the advances we have made, but we do not dwell on our successes, just as we redouble our efforts to address where we may have fallen short. We simply ask to be judged the same as others.
Liberia seeks equality for all and, over our nation's next decade of development, we plan to move closer to achieving it," she among other things added.