Liberia: Did Judges Ignore President's Order?

Courtrooms and offices abandoned

The busiest Temple of Justice that house the Supreme Court, the highest court of the country, the First Judicial Circuit Court that include five criminal courts and two civil law courts, and over three specialized courts, as well as a magisterial court doors were left closed on Friday, June 7, during the peaceful protest organized by the Council of Patriots (CoP), despite President George Weah's order for all government offices to remain open that day.

The protest took place adjacent the Supreme Court, at the Capitol, where the CoP was expected to present their petition to the government. CoP ended up not presenting their petition that day because they demanded the release of several of their members who were arrested and detained at the Monrovia Central Prion prior to the June 7 protest.

On Wednesday, June 5, President Weah ordered all government employees to report for work on Friday, June 7.

Further to directive, Weah ordered that "all public institutions open their doors to the public on all working days and throughout official working hours in order to do the Liberian people's work without fear," adding, "My office has made no declaration for June 7, 2019 as public holiday; I therefore expect that government offices remain open and functional to the public as usual."

However, during a tour of the Temple of Justice on Friday, June 7, not a single justice or judge was seen in their respective courtrooms or offices conducting normal court related activities.

The entire Temple of Justice turned a ghost zone on the day of the protest, with no party litigants or court staffs were anywhere to be found in response to the President's order, despite the directive.

Besides, the gate leading to the compound was locked and unarmed judicial security was seen roaming the around in an attempt to provide protection to the facility. No armed police office was also seen in the compound of the Temple of Justice.

Legal practitioners who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Daily Observer defended the decision of the justices or judges for not adhering to the President's order to show up for work on Friday, June 7.

"Did the President provide any protection to the judges before ordering them to risk their lives for the people work," a lawyer asked.

Another lawyer said that only justices of the Supreme Court were assigned with security personnel and not judges.

"I think, if the President meant business he should have assigned security officers to judges, but to say that judges should appear for work and do the people business was unfortunate," the legal practitioner said.

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