Citizens Action for Better Liberia (CABEL) has called on the 53rd National Legislature to pass into law the “Claims Courts” Bill that has been on the desks of both Houses’ Committees on Judiciary.
CABEL is a civil society organization engaged in creating awareness and educating citizens on governance in order to keep society safe and healthy.
Addressing journalists during a press conference at the institution’s office on Capitol Bypass in Monrovia, CABEL’s spokesperson, Augustus D. Jones, said “the absence of claims courts from the country’s justice system is a violation of human rights.”
“Claims Courts are specifically civil inferior courts to the Supreme Court that Article 34e of the 1986 Constitution says ‘the Legislature must constitute with prescribed jurisdictional powers for proper administration of justice throughout the country,’” Mr. Jones noted.
He said Article 26 of the Constitution informs the public about the persons that the prescribed jurisdictional powers of Claims Court controls and that the court must have power over a person and a subject matter before proper justice can be administered.
Small claims courts are informal courts which allow people to sue for small losses of money or property.
Mr. Jones said every citizen at each given time belongs to either the governed or governors and that not everyone has money to pursue cases at the level of the Supreme Court where there is always a need to hire a lawyer to plead a case.
“To bring suits for appropriate redress is the right of citizens,” he said, adding that Article 26 also says when any person alleges that any of his or her rights granted under the Constitution are contravened, that person may invoke the privilege and benefit of the court’s direction, including a judgment of unconstitutionality; and also, when any person is injured by an act of another person, whether property, contract, tort or otherwise, the injured person shall have the right to sue for appropriate redress.
Mr. Jones said the Senate Committee on Judiciary has a lot more responsibility to take on the passage of the Bill as the House of Representatives’ Committee on Judiciary has done her part and is willing to cooperate with both the Senate and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says everyone has the right to an effective remedy by competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the Constitution or bylaws,” he said.
He noted that the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations is the obligation of every individual and every organ of society to keep said declaration constantly in mind to promote respect for those rights and freedoms.
CABEL’s boss however, said the lower House’s Committee on Judiciary has completed its work on the Bill and forwarded it to the Senate Judiciary Committee for its concurrence and approval of its official passing into law after the President’s viewing and approval.
This statement was confirmed as true by the Daily Observer’s senior reporter assigned at House of Senate.
Meanwhile all efforts, including phone calls and text messages to get the both chairmen, mainly Cllr. Varney Sherman of the Committees on Judiciary at each of the Houses of the Legislature did not materialize.