9 August 2018

Liberia: Will Retired Supreme Court Justice Banks Receive Pension?

There are fears that in the absence of pension for Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts, retired Justice Philip A. Z. Banks is likely to join other retired judges who are yet to receive pension benefits.

The situation about the fate of retired justices and judges regarding their pension scheme was recently highlighted in a communication submitted to the Senate by Grand Cape Mount County Senator H. Varney Sherman.

The retirement program for Justice Banks, who has served on the Supreme Court Bench for eight years, was held Tuesday at the Temple of Justice.

In his letter to the Senate plenary, Senator Sherman warned that in the absence of pension for Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts, they will be susceptible to corruption in order to secure for themselves basic services and decent livelihood after retirement.

The comment by Senator Sherman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims & Petitions was contained in the summary of a report from his committee, under the title: "Retirement Pension for the Most Senior Officials of the Liberian Government."

Debate on that communication is yet to take place, as Senate President Pro-tempore Albert Chie ordered that said report be circulated among Senators before action.

In the summary of the report, dated February 2, 2018, and addressed to Senate President Pro-tempore Chie and Senate plenary, Senator Sherman complained that, "Notwithstanding the existence of law for pension for retired Justices of the Supreme Court and retired Judges of Circuit Courts, pension has not been given to former Associate Justice Gladys K. Johnson, who honorably retired in 2011 upon reaching 70 years of age as provided by Article 72 (b) of the Constitution of Liberia. "

Senator Sherman lamented the lack of pension for Associate Justice Philip Banks, who has now retired from the Supreme Court Bench, as well as Circuit Judge Amy Musu Jones and Labor Court Judge Comfort Natt, who will all retire later this year (2018), as is the case of judges who have previously been retired. "These retired Justices and Judges will not be receiving retirement pension because there are no budgetary appropriations for their pensions, even though the law provides for them."

According to the report, Senator Sherman is relying on the Act to Amend Section 13.4 of the New Judiciary Law, enacted in 1989, which provide for pension for the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia. That section also provides for pension for judges of Circuit and Magisterial Courts.

Cllr. Sherman then implored the Senate plenary to interpret the word "salary" used in the law for retirement pension for Justices and Judges to mean all income, salary and benefits received prior to retirement. He asked plenary to apply real economics to the term "salary" when the retirement pension laws were enacted as compared to what salary is today in the depreciation of the Liberian dollar and the percentage of income now paid as benefits, as compared to when those laws were enacted.

The Grand Cape Mount lawmaker concluded with a passionate plea to plenary to intercede with President George Weah so that as "he recasts the 2017/2018 National Budget, appropriations would be made for retired Justices of the Supreme Court and retired Judges of subordinate courts. "


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