— Expresses government’s commitment to ensure continuous equal access to justice
Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, says the Government of President George Weah remains fully committed to working with partners to ensure continuous equal access to justice for all Liberians and inhabitants.
Amb. Kemayah said the government through its National Development Plan–the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), envisioned and launched by President Weah, has shown deep interest and resolve towards ensuring a country where equal access to justice; the rule of law and human rights will continue to prevail as captured under Pillar Three of the Pro-poor Agenda.
He added, “We are fortunate as a country at this point that we have President Weah, who has deep interest in the rule of law. Our President is working assiduously along with the team of officials in his Government to ensure, not just continuous access to justice for all, but continuous equal access to justice for all. He has not held back in terms of his pronouncements and actions, highlighting that there is equal opportunity for all Liberians; not just Liberians, but all who are residents and inhabitants of the country.”
A dispatch from the Mission quotes Amb. Kemayah as saying that equal access to justice for all enhances the protection of human rights, a tenant that “President Weah strongly believes in and promotes for the good of the country.”
He also highlighted that Liberia’s Justice Minister, Cllr. Musa Dean, Supreme Court Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor, and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court share an unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary, and continue to do a lot to further strengthen the justice sector.
However, Amb. Kemayah was quick to point out that despite the strongest political will being exhibited by President Weah and his Government; there is still a need for additional support to further strengthen the independent judiciary and justice system.
“With all the political will and unflinching commitment on the part of President Weah and his Government, we must also be real that owing to the scarcity of resources and competing priorities, there will always be the need for additional support– whether through your organization or through donors for the judiciary and justice system in Liberia.” Kemayah said.
He made these remarks on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, when the executive director of the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC)– a consortium of lawyers, judges and prosecutors from countries across the world– presented to him a copy of its newly released report titled: “Still Looking for Justice–Customary Law, the Courts and Access to Justice in Liberia,” at the offices of the Liberia Mission.
Kemayah thanked the ILAC for its interest in Liberia’s Judiciary and justice system, and called on the organization to help provide support to further strengthen the system.
He used the meeting to renew his calls for support to the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia; the James A. A. Pierre Judicial Institute, the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia, National Bar Association of Liberia, the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL), and the Judiciary and Justice system of Liberia in general.
Amb. Kemayah then used the meeting to commend the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program, the United States of America, and all international partners for their support to Liberia’s justice system over the years.
He assured that President Weah will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that there is equal access to justice for all in Liberia irrespective of ethnic, social, political, economic or geographic status.
“We shall continue to protect and uphold the rule of law, because to do that will ensure a wholesome society,” he said.
Executive Director of ILAC, Ms. Agneta Johansson, said the ILAC report–“Still Looking for Justice–Customary Law, the Courts and Access to Justice in Liberia,” examines the role of justice providers in Liberia’s dual legal system– customary authorities applying traditional rules to resolve minor crimes, and civil disputes mainly in the rural areas, and the formal judiciary, which applies statutory law nationwide.
According to Ms. Johansson, the report found that both customary, and the formal judiciary collectively play a key role in the prevention and resolution of local conflicts that could trigger broader unrest, and need to be strengthened to enhance productivity.
As part of its recommendations, the ILAC calls for the strengthening of the Legal Aid and Public Defenders Programs in Liberia; as well as the development of a modality for documenting customary practice; especially customary proceedings and procedural rules by the ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs, the Supreme Court, the National Council of Chiefs and Elders in collaboration with the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law and the James A.A. Pierre Judicial Institute.
Ms. Johansson informed Amb. Kemayah that the report, funded by the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (Sida), builds on earlier work done by ILAC in Liberia in 2003–justice system assessment, and the recent interest by the G7 Plus (G7+) countries highlighting the importance of traditional justice, and how it can be supported.
Established in 2010, the G7+ is an intergovernmental voluntary organization bringing together countries that are either facing active conflict or have recent experience of conflict and fragility.
Ms. Johansson thanked the Liberian diplomat, stressing that it was great to hear him talk about his country, acknowledging Kemayah’s passionate call for additional support to the Judiciary and justice system; and assured that her organization–the International Legal Assistance Consortium will consider ways it could further provide support for Liberia’s Judiciary and Justice system.