The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), said it is troubled over the growing wave of the human rights violations coupled with the country’s weak justice system.
IREDD is a local civil society advocacy organization with a focus on socioeconomic justice for all persons.
The concerns raised by the organization follows its first in series of monitoring reports on the justice and security institutions’ performance accountability for September 2019. At a news conference in Monrovia on October 10, 2019, Bob N. Johnson, IREDD project manager, said the monitoring report focuses on issues that hinder effective, and efficient administration of justice under the rule of law.
Johnson told reporters that the peace and stability of any country is highly dependent on the effectiveness and efficiency of the speedy administration of justice, and the respect for the rule of law; which he said relates to unhindered access to justice for all persons irrespective of status.
He noted that during the month under review, September 1-30, 2019, IREDD’s monitors deployed at selected police stations, magisterial and circuit courts in Voinjama City, Zwedru City, and parts of Montserrado County, have documented huge number of pre-trial cases on the respective courts dockets; some of which, according to the reports, date as far back as 2008.
“With these unfolding human rights issues, IREDD is troubled by the prolonged detention of accused persons without trial, specifically, at some magisterial and circuit courts,” he said in the report. He added that the organization considers the continued delay to proceed with the speedy trial of accused persons in pre-trial detention as a willful, and gross violation of their basic human rights to access unhindered justice and freedom.
In the report, Mr. Johnson said in Grand Gedeh County, the Zwedru Magisterial Court, the 7th Judicial Circuit, and Zwedru Central Police Station, Lofa County.
Voinjama Magisterial Court, 10th Judicial Circuit, Voinjama Central Police Station, and Montserrado County: Monrovia City Court, Careysburg Magisterial Court, Arthington Magisterial Court were monitored under IREDD’s rule of law project.
IREDD, however, commended the Monrovia City Court for its outstanding performance in the administration of justice expeditiously. Our monitor’s report revealed that 70 cases recorded the court bulletin for the period under review were heard and rulings thereto are pending to be rendered by the presiding magistrates.
On the other hand, the Arthington Magisterial court has been without an assigned magistrate for nearly two years now, while the assigned circuit judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit of Lofa County, has been out of the court for nearly two months now.
Additionally, IREDD’s monitors’ reports from the selected police stations across the focused counties indicate some level of suspects’ human rights violation by detaining in their withholding cells far beyond the constitutional period of 48 hours.
For examples, at the Zone 6 police station suspects David Dole, 29, and Nathaniel Sirleaf, 23, were arrested and detained for seven and four days respectively, which contravenes the constitutional provision of 48 hours.
Based on these unfolding human rights violations in our justice and security sectors, IREDD hereby calls on relevant government authorities that steer the affairs of these institutions to put in place effective, and efficient monitoring mechanism to enhance speedy dispensation of the justice system of Liberia to foster peace and stability, which are the pillars of democracy.