Liberia: FIND Extends Rule of Law Awareness in Rural Liberia

Bong — The Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) is said to be continuing rule of law awareness in rural Liberia as part of efforts to strengthening the justice system across the Country.Our Bong County Correspondent says FIND usual rule of law awareness was once again extended to Bong Mines, in lower Bong County and Sanaquellie, Nimba County through town hall meetings with residents of the two areas.

The meeting in Bong Mines brought together, government officials including Magistrate Richard Flomo of the Bong Mines Magisterial Court, the City Solicitor and the Liberia National Police; while in Sanaquellie city, the Deputy Superintendent of the Sanaquellie Prison Paul A. Vah, Nimba County Police Commander Andrew Flomo amongst others were in attendance.The justice actors were invited to explain their roles and responsibilities as working arms of the Liberian government through which citizens will understand before following future actions.

In Bong Mines and Sanaquellie, FIND Acting Executive Director Mr. Aaron G.V Juakollie told the gatherings that they organized the meetings to help ensure the strengthening of the rule of law and access to justice for the People of the two counties."It is important for us to make our people to understand the workings of the security sector, their functions and how do they help the local citizens" Mr. Juakollie explains.

He said their work as an organization is to monitor the rights of every citizens and to ensure that their God given rights which is approved by the Liberian government can be protected every time.He told the citizens before Magistrate Flomo, that the right to legal representation is guaranteed by the constitution of Liberia and in the event an accused is unable to secure the service of a counsel, the State is under obligation to provide such counsel.

In a remark Magistrate Flomo detailed the responsibility of a magisterial court and how does it work to settle disputes.He told the gathering that it is not the responsibility of the court to look for cases but the court is charged to try cases after receiving complaints from Complainants.

"I can tell you clearly that the court is not bias, the court is for everyone and we serve with impartiality" he adds.

He explained the reasons why people are sometimes set free one monthafter being taken to court and saying "some people only care about bringing their complaints but they do not care to follow its logical conclusion. So if the complainant is not serious about the case, we set the person free, which means that the said complainant does not have evidence to prove to the court."

"The court is the second place to go apart from the Police when somebody does wrong to you. All citizens are encouraged to go to the court for redress and not to take the law into their own hands. There are cases you can play with while others, you do not. For instance, rape, murder, armed robbery should not be played with at all times. He concludes.

While also in Saniquellie, Nimba County Police Commander Andrew Flomo told the citizens at the interactive town hall meeting, that the Police is charged with the responsibility to protect lives and properties.

He explained the duty of the Liberia National Police and informed the people that the Police should not keep anybody in jail for more than two days or 48 hours. "The 48 hours will allow the Police to do their investigation and charge the person before sending them to court" "Every person arrested or detained shall be formally charged and presented before a court of competent jurisdiction within forty eight hours" making reference to article 21 (f) of the Liberian Constitution.

Mr. Flomo told the Nimba County citizens that no one is to pay money to any Police officer to arrest anyone. However, he said the lack of logistics in some instances compel the police to ask complainants to provide motorcycle fees.

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