12 June 2017

Liberia: House Decides On Ombudsman

The House of Representatives will this Tuesday decide on a bill seeking to create the operational framework for the office of Ombudsman and to amend Part XII of the National Code of Conduct.

The bill was passed last week by the Liberian Senate following series of delays and subsequently forwarded to the House for concurrence.

Last week, the House mandated its Committees on Judiciary, Was, Means, Finance and Development Planning to quickly look at the instrument and report to plenary for action.

Tuesday's deliberations will set the pace whether the House of Representatives will agree with the Senate's amended version to pass the bill or will disagree on some provisions, thus requiring a conference committee from both chambers to decide.

The draft law includes the amendment of Part XII of the Code of Conduct for the creation of the operational framework of the office of the Ombudsman as established in the National Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees of the Government of Liberia.

The amended Act seeks to give the Ombudsman a constitutional mandate to recommend appropriate sanctions and disciplinary actions to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), as provided in Part XII, Section 12.2 of the Code of Conduct.

As stated in Part V of the Code of Conduct relating to electoral matters, the Senate agreed that issues "appertaining to elections matters, shall be adjudicated by the National Elections Commission (NEC), as prescribed under the Elections Law; and any remedy sought from such adjudication shall be referred to the Supreme Court as provided for under the laws and Constitution of the Republic of Liberia."

Also, the Act provides that the Ombudsman prepares and submits through the office of the President for enactment a budget for the office of the Ombudsman to the National Legislature.

Section 12.4 of the Act says the President shall nominate three persons for confirmation by the Liberian Senate, one of whom shall be appointed as Chairperson, with gender sensitivity, non-partisanship and geographical balance.

On the issue of qualification, the Act said officials shall be Liberians with "high moral character, recognized good judgment, objectivity and integrity; well equipped to analyze problems of law, administration, and public policy; with the minimum of age not less than forty (40) years; and must have a law degree, other professional discipline, experience relevant to the task to be performed."

The Act further said officials of the Ombudsman shall not be involved in political party activities or publicly endorse, solicit funds for or make contributions to political parties or candidates for elective office; and shall not be a candidate for or hold any other elective or appointed public office.

The act, among other things said, members of the Ombudsman shall hold office for two 3-year terms following confirmation by the Senate and appointment by the President, adding, "And shall be removed from office by the President for nonfeasance; malfeasance; misfeasance; and criminal acts as prescribed under existing laws and regulations."


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