Liberia: ‘When Rule of Law Breaks Down’

Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy Joel Maybury.

... U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission warns of repercussions of ‘impunity creeping in.

The Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy has disclosed that he is worried about the breakdown of rule of law in Liberia and its implication for the country's future.

Remarking on the dismissed case against the chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Joel Maybury noted that when impunity creeps in, people get away with things. As such, he said, the rule of law is fundamental and it is good to respect it, regardless of one’s position. 

Amb. Maybury said he is worried about any country, including Liberia, when rule of law breaks down.

“If you don’t have a rule of law you get a breakdown of everything. When the rule of law breaks down, everybody defines things on the basis of what is right or bad for them. I worry about any country where people no longer respect rule of law, regardless of your position. Anybody can get away with anything. That’s not good,” Maybury told the Daily Observer via a telephone interview last week, following the Court’s dismissal of the case as a result of procedural errors by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

While Maybury said he was not questioning the merit of the decision from the Court, he was firm in his words saying further “That’s when impunity creeps in and people get away with things. The rule of law is fundamental and it is good to respect it, regardless of your position.”

The 2021 U.S. Department of State Human Rights Report was damning for Liberia, highlighting scores of issues, including suppression of the press and freedom of speech, and arbitrary punishments of critical voices, among others.

It can be recalled that the U.S. Ambassador, Michael McCarthy, during an afternoon show on OK FM recently, said that U.S. taxpayers’ money will not continue to end up in people’s pockets through corruption when the money should be used to improve systems and institutions for the betterment of the country.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) is a major integrity institution hugely supported by donor funding. The European Union (EU), USAID and UNDP are among strong international partners who support the NEC on a regular basis since the cessation of the brutal civil wars in Liberia.

Deputy Ambassador Maybury continued that a Code of Conduct in any country should not be taken lightly; it must be respected by all who serve in public offices. 

And while the LACC appears to share the same concerns as the Deputy U.S. Ambassador, the LACC has the unique responsibility to defend  The LACC relied on Liberia’s National Code of Conduct to indict the NEC boss after careful investigation and gathering of pieces of evidence based on a series of investigative articles published by the Daily Observer on November 15 and 18, 2021.

Regarding further support to the NEC or any other Liberian agency, Maybury noted that accountability is important and U.S. President Joe Biden has made fighting corruption in all countries that have relations with America a major priority issue that he is not stepping away from.

“When I give you one dollar based on your priority, I expect you to spend the dollar on what you said you could or would. We request receipts in order to be able to account to our fellow taxpayers back in America and Congress too. The whole principle is accountability on both sides.  When there is accountability, confidence is built among taxpayers. Based on how accountable a country is, the more the U.S. provides support to help build systems, and institutions. It is good for people’s money to be used wisely,” Maybury noted with emphasis.

When contacted, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) said the case is not over and the Commission will not relent in submitting its Bill of Exceptions in the ruling by the Court.

“We will continue with the proceedings at the Supreme Court. We expected this outcome from the lower court and as such we have long since prepared for what is ahead,” Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin, Executive Chairperson of LACC told the Daily Observer via mobile phone yesterday evening.