Ellen Seeks to Restructure LNP, BIN

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On the first day of its six-week extended sitting, the Senate yesterday received two security-related communications from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for enactment into law.
The two acts are part of several bills which the President is expected to submit to the Legislature, and for which she requested members of that body through a proclamation for the delay of their annual agriculture break.
In her first Act entitled: The Liberia National Police (LNP) Act of 2015, President Sirleaf in the communication dated August 30, said the bill puts into place the necessary legal framework of the establishment of the LNP as a semi-autonomous agency under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to be headed by an Inspector General.
A semi-autonomous government agency is a semi-private agency where it operates without total government supervision under its own charter. The government ministry or department is managed by the public administrators. Semi-autonomous government agencies are known to deliver services more promptly because of the operational and business nature while the latter remains purely public service as it is.
“The purpose of this new bill is to ensure the state through the LNP acting as an instrument of the state to provide an atmosphere of safety and security, protect lives and property and foster respect for human rights.”
She asserted that the bill represents a significant milestone in the process leading to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) transition.
“When signed into law, it will fulfill the commitment of government to the United Nations Security Council towards a new police act approved prior to the September 2015 review of the UN Mission mandate in Liberia. In view of the important purpose of this bill, I have asked for its timely enactment into law,” the President said.
The President’s second bill to the lawmakers that was read before plenary yesterday was titled: The Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) Act of 2015.
The Act when passed into law replaces the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), which was established within the MOJ under Section 22.11, Sub-chapter (a), Chapter 22 of the Executive Laws; Chapter 12 of the Liberia Code of Law Revised; and Section 2.2 of the Alien Nationality Law of Liberia as amended and is now repealed.
President Sirleaf maintained that the LIS Act 2015, when passed into law, shall enforce all laws and regulations relating to immigration, citizenship, naturalization and related matters.
“As Liberia commits to transition its system with that of its international partners and of its membership with the UN standardized pattern of governance within the security apparatus, MOJ has embarked on reforming the LIS, formerly BIN, in consultation and collaboration with all of the relevant stakeholders and security sector in Liberia.”
She emphasized that the LIS Act addresses policy issues that need to be in conformity with international standards; the issue of providing a clear heretical structure, decentralization of LIS, respect for law, disciplined immigration officers, immigration officers or civilian personnel being subjected to civilian authority of a civilian complaint review commission, amongst others, were all cardinal points considered in this act, President Sirleaf noted.
“Mr. Pro Tempore, in fulfillment of Liberia’s commitment to maintain a secured and stable country in the absence of UNMIL, and considering the improved governance and heretical structure outlined in the act, the LIS will iterate and transition into international surety standard in performance of its required immigration duties.”
She then requested that timely consideration be given to enact into law what she referred to as “this important legislation in order to fulfill our national and international commitment of being capable to maintain the peace and security in the absence of UNMIL.”
The two bills were sponsored in the Senate by Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif, Chair of the Senate Committee on Executive, and co-sponsored by Senator H. Dan Morais, chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The bills meanwhile were sent to the Committees on Judiciary, and Security.
In a related development, the Senate was yesterday plunged into a state of contradiction, when the Chair on Rules & Order, Senator George Tengbeh called the proceeding to order after he observed that the Proclamation by President Sirleaf, which states reason for her request for the Legislators to stay on for the additional six weeks was never read.
For almost an hour, the floor became charged as senators with legal minds argued that by virtue of the fact that individual senators received copy each of the proclamation was sufficient to invalidate the need for reading it.
In fact, yesterday’s agenda, which was voted on and adopted, did not mention the proclamation, eventhough that body failed to convene Tuesday due to absence of the proclamation. Reason however, prevailed and the proclamation was read.
In another development, senators yesterday failed to debate other agenda items outside the President’s two communications after some of them argued that their mandate for the extended sitting was mainly to deliberate on issues emanating from the President in line with her proclamation.
It is not clear whether the issue was resolved during the senators’ executive session or not.

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