Liberia: Walking Through a Legacy of History

-As Chief Justice Korkpor Retires; Pres. Weah Wants Ensure Blind Justice To All

Following a decade-long service to the justice system, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor has finally retired with a huge load of accomplishments.

Following years of dedicated services to the justice system at the Ministry of Justice, the Chief Justice was appointed to the Supreme Court Bench in early 2004, since then he has been very instrumental in contributing to reforms within the country's judiciary system.

Speaking during a colorful event to mark his retirement Tuesday, September 27, 2022, Justice Korkpor said his tenure as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court saw a series of reforms ranging from the construction of additional Judicial Complexes in Gbarnga Bong County, Barclayville, Grand Kru County, Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County: Sanniquellie, Nimba County; and Tubmanbury, Bomi County which are in full use today.

Currently, he noted that Judicial Complexes are being constructed in Fish Town, River Gee County, and Cestos City, River Cess County.

A judicial complex is a structure consisting of several court facilities such as the circuit court, debt court, labor court, tax court, revenue court, traffic court, magistrate court, etc.

"We have also built and continue to build many magistrate courts throughout the country either with direct funding from the Government of Liberia or development partners," he noted.

As part of this massive reform process, Justice Korkpor's leadership saw the improvement of the Office of the Court Administrator as well as the construction of Professional Magistrate Training centers among others.

Article 72b among other things says: the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of seventy; provided, however, that a justice or judge who has attained that age may continue in office for as long as may be necessary to enable him to render judgment or perform any other judicial duty in regard to proceedings entertained by him before he attained that age."

Speaking Tuesday, during the retirement of Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor Sr, Cllr. Musa Dean believed that the constitutional provision seeking the retirement of Justices at the age of 70 do not commensurate with current day reality, hence the need to revisit or repeal the article should not be overly emphasized.

Also, President George Weah used the medium to appreciate Justice Korkpor for the level of professionalism rendered by the justice system.

"During his work at the Justice and Peace Commission established by the Catholic Church in the early 1990s to address human rights abuses and injustices in our society,"

President Weah recalled, Cllr Korkpor quietly but fearlessly made the case for justice and peace for all Liberians, but especially for the underprivileged and the poor.

"Many times, his work brought him into conflict with some of Liberia's past leaders, but he always remained steadfast to the cause of justice," the Liberian Leader said further, adding that Justice Korkpor's record for almost two decades as a Justice on the Supreme Court bench has remained exemplary and outstanding.

"He dedicated his time, first as an Associate Justice and later as Chief Justice, to seeing through key judicial reforms - as well as embarking on the development of major additions and improvements to court infrastructure throughout the country, thereby bringing justice closer to the people," Dr. Weah pointed out.

The Liberian Chief Executive spoke fondly of his youthful interaction with the outgoing Chief Justice.

He said, referring directly to Cllr Korkpor: "And now, on a personal note, I would like to inform this audience that Chief Justice Korkpor is no stranger to me

"I have known the Papay (elderly man) since 1986, some 36 years ago. At that time, he was a serious I.E. supporter, and as I was a player for I.E. He was a very kind person to me. Many times, during my school days, when it was rough, I used to go to his office, and he never failed me. Moreover, not only was he very generous to me, but through his advice and guidance, he became a mentor to me, and a strong father figure in my life.

He said even though Justice Korkpor has retired, "I know that you are not tired; so l will continue to seek your wise counsel when needed."

He called on members of the Judiciary to endeavor to ensure that blind justice is done to all and that they would do well by relying "on the excellent foundations that have been laid by Justice Francis Korkpor and his colleagues during his leadership of this honorable Supreme Court".

Pres.Weah indicated that the most fundamental precept of Liberia's legal system is the guarantee of rights and freedoms, which makes the judiciary cardinal to the democracy my administration, continues to strive to consolidate.

"Over the past several years, we have been deliberate in this national project, as we endeavor to maintain the independence that this branch of government ought to have," the President said.

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