15 May 2019

Liberia: 'Dispense Justice Without Fear, Favor'

United States Ambassador Christine Elder on Friday, May 10, cautioned the 56 graduates of the Professional Magistrate Training Program (PMTP) to dispense justice without fear or favor as well as devote themselves to their "honorable duties," if they want to see the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law.

Amb. Elder informed the newly admitted magistrates that if they were to dispense justice without fear or favor, "you will be contributing in no small measure to your country's hard won democratic gains, and also help support a peaceful, stable and prosperous society that will serve the interest of all Liberians."

The ceremony, held at the Temple of Justice, witnessed the successful completion of the 3rd PMTP of the James A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute (JI) 12 month program, which is designed to recruit, train and mentor Liberian magistrates. It is conducted in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID Legal Professional Development and Anti-Corruption Program (LPAC).

Amb. Elder, who served as the guest speaker, reaffirmed her country's commitment to fund the 2019 and 2020 4th PMTP cycle.

According to the her, the US Government's support to the 4th PMTP is to move closer to the former Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis' (deceased) vision to have over 300 magistrates trained working in the 152 municipal territories to increase access to justice for all Liberians and strengthen the rule of law in the country, "an essential element of any democratic and stable society."

Amb. Elder, meanwhile, encouraged all justice sector institutions to recruit and empower more women to pursue legal careers.

US Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder challenges new magistrates to dispense justice without fear or favor.

She praised the JI PMTP III program for graduating twice as many female participants as did PMTP II (or 20% of PMTP grads). Elder stressed the key role female Liberian magistrates must play to ensure that the judiciary is more capable to respond fairly to the problems other women face with respect to access to justice.

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, recalled that since the establishment of the PMTP in 2008, it has conducted several training programs with the aim to improve the quality of service of judicial employees and other actors in the justice system.

Justice Korkpor named judges, city solicitors, public defenders, clerks of court and police officers as some of those who have benefited from the "specialized designed training programs."

He then used the ceremony to praise USAID/LPAC for the support in training the magistrates, and described the program as 'a boost in the reform process of the country's judicial system'.

"We must acknowledge that this laudable achievement is being made possible with the continuous support from the government working in tandem with our development partners. We therefore extend our gratitude to the Government and People of the United States of America for their support," Korkpor said.

He meanwhile explained that each of the new magistrates/judges were recruited based on both their personal ability, and personal commitment to serve in the community that currently lack appropriate magistrate court.

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