Isaac Jackson Reacts to Foreign Minister Findley

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Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Atty. Isaac W. Jackson Jr., has described recent statements attributed to Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Milton Findley concerning his employment and qualification to bear Liberian diplomatic passport as misleading, shortsighted and disrespectful to the Honorable the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia. 

In a recent interview broadcast in the Friday, July 3, 2020 Edition of the the Frontpageafrica Newspaper, the Liberian Foreign Minister said, “I don’t know if Isaac Jackson is an ambassador; what I know is that he works for IMO, and he’s a Liberian who is entitled to a Liberian passport”. 

Reacting over the weekend from London, Jackson said after three years of heading Liberia’s diplomatic efforts and international relations, it is shocking and troubling that the Liberian Foreign Minister would publicly claim that he (Jackson) works for the IMO. 

“After three years of serving as Foreign Minister of Liberia, it has to be concerning that the honorable Minister would also publicly imply that only ambassadors are entitled to diplomatic passports, or that being a Liberian only entitles one to an ordinary Liberian passport”, Jackson said.

Jackson explained that he does not work for the IMO, but rather, like all who did before him, he works for the Liberian Government as the head of its representation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), headquartered in London, England. Jackson furthered that by Headquarter Agreement and the Vienna Convention, Liberia’s representation, like those of all other nations similarly accredited to the IMO, is accorded diplomatic recognition, status and courtesy befitting the level of their representations of their various nations and governments. 

Jackson clarified that the diplomatic recognition conferred upon him, his co-workers, some of whom report to him, and his family are not personal, self-serving or limited to the flows of national political considerations and disagreements. The diplomatic status which commensurate with the level of his representation of Liberia to the IMO, and dutifully recognized by Her Majesty, the Queen of England and her government, is consistent with internationally-acceptable standards, conventions and settled practices. 

“Importantly also”, Attorney Jackson reminded, “my diplomatic accreditation to the International Maritime Organization as Liberia’s Permanent Representative, should by now be clear to the Minister of Foreign Affairs as being consistent with Liberian laws, practices and standards for the issuance of diplomatic passports, especially Chapter 20.3 (f) of the Executive Law and Article IV, Section (9) of the Passport Regulation, as well as Chapter III (3) Article 13(a & b) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. 

“To suggest otherwise”, Jackson continued, “is to flaunt the law and established practices, and especially on the misleading claim that I work for the IMO and as such cannot have my diplomatic passport renewed, is a shocking expression of a lack of knowledge which ought not to be associated with Liberia’s chief diplomat.” 

Jackson opined that the Minister has to be aware that the fundamental duty of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to seek to improve Liberia’s external relations. “Accordingly, if the reported comments are truly a reflection of the Minister’s thinking, they can only be best described as unfortunate and shortsighted as they really seek to lower Liberia’s international standing, reputation and representation to the IMO, as well as undermine its prestigious maritime program”, he added. 

Jackson also explained that the comments of the Minister of Foreign Affairs is disrespectful of the decision of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, and undermines the commitment to the rule of law in the country. Attorney Jackson reminded that on July 23, 2018, the Liberian Supreme Court issued a Stay Order which the Court again reinforced en banc on April 16, 2019, instructing the Executive Branch, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to renew diplomatic passports for Jackson and his family. Jackson therefore expressed concern for the rule of law in the country if appointees of the Executive can choose to publicly ignore and defy decisions of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia with apparent impunity.  

It can be recalled that in September 2016, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appointed and commissioned Attorney Isaac Jackson, former Deputy Minister of Information, as Permanent Representative of Liberia to the International Maritime Organization. He was recalled and replaced by President George M. Weah on June 18, 2018. Jackson deemed the action of the President to be a violation of the law in so far as he served in a tenured appointment which had yet to expire. He therefore sought the intervention of the Supreme Court of Liberia on the matter of his recall and replacement. Still not finally decided, the Supreme Court has instructed that the diplomatic passports of Jackson and his family which had expired, be renewed. 

On September 18, 2018, former Commissioner of the Liberian Maritime Authority, Dr. James F. Kollie, officially notified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the expiry of the diplomatic passports issued to PMR Jackson and his family, and requested renewals of the same. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is yet to do so.  

Jackson insisted that his decision to seek the intervention of the courts for which the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia is now being forced to take on an untenable and unlawful position concerning the diplomatic status of the Permanent Representative of Liberia to the IMO, is bigger than the ‘thoughts’ expressed by the honorable Minister.  

“Even as my family and I are made to undergo the ongoing intended humiliation and embarrassment by the government, we are often tempted to believe that it may be easier to abandon our court action, service to our country in London, and return home. We cannot bring ourselves to do so consoled by the fact that what we seek for ourselves is justice, and for our country, a continued commitment to good governance in solemn obedience to the rule of law. If we continue to impress Presidents that they can exercise authority not reserved for them, or that they are not subjects to the same laws; what kind of democracy are we building”, Jackson asked. 

“If the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia ruled against us tomorrow, my family and I would be disappointed, as we believe the law to be squarely on our side. But we would feel relieved to return home knowing that as citizens and life-long advocates for change in our country, we offered ourselves, not in comfortable surrender to what we knew to be wrong, but stood up for justice and good governance, the change for which many have died in our country”, Jackson concluded.

6 COMMENTS

  1. It’s unfortunate that Leaders will place personal interest over national issue. Mr. Jackson is getting all this unfair treatment only because he challenged the president’s decision to replace him. We have built a very wrong tradition that is making our leaders to think that once they are in authenticity, they can do anything.

    • I personally applaud Mr. Jackson for his courage in seeking legal redress against President Weah’s illegal action against him. He is definitely a man of principle. Consequently, he has set a new precedence that trashes the notion that the President can do whatever he wants because he is President. Because of Mr. Jackson’s legal action, the former head of the lottery agency also sued Weah at the Supreme Court for illegally terminating her tenure and the SC ruled in her favor. Liberia’s democracy will only get better when citizens challenge their leaders and the government when their rights are violated. That’s how a democracy works.

  2. Isaac Jackson, SINCE YOUR REPLACEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT; if you;

    (1) understood the DYNAMICS OF POWER AND THE LEGITIMATE AND CONSTITUTIONALLY DOMINANT AUTHORITY OF POWER OVER LAW, in many or certain contexts, or;

    (2) you AT LEAST, understood the generally accepted practice, theory, and or belief, and the “good sense” or traditional shrewdness, or some amount of practicality or rudimentary intelligence vis a vis the legitimacy, legality, and constitutionality, of each branch of government TO;

    (2) RESIST ENCROACHMENTS of the others (whether the legislative, executive, or the judiciary), you would not get carried away by reports and opinions by the media, or public opinion; Rather,

    (3)you would agree with your Foreign minister that you are a mere worker with the IMO!

  3. Trust Nationalist, you must be an idiot and paid agent of the government to always write nonsensical tautology in its defense at all times. In your eyes, the Weah’s government does no wrong to justify the few dollars they give you. Sit back and look at the nonsense you have written over the past several months and you will agree me that yours is only to heap praises on the Weah’s government in circumstances that don’t require praises.

    There is no way in the world that you can be considered a “True Nationalist” when you continue to glorify your bosses in high places even if they are wrong or corrupt, simply because of the paltry they pay you. Please put Liberia first in all your writings as you continue to denigrate the social media with your continued nonsensical ideocracy and stupidity.

    Jackson stands for justice in line with his Constitutional rights as a bonifide Liberian citizen. It is Weah and his government who are attempting to curtail his rights. To therefore side with these corrupt officials simply because you happen to be their paid agent, is plain stupidity and a disservice to your country. Stop encouraging dishonesty in government through your writings that are not in Liberia’s national and political interests. A “True Nationalist” should be one who strongly identifies with their own nation and vigorously supports its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations. You are not what you purport yourself to be. Through your actions and writings one can rightfully conclude that you are nothing more but a paid agent of the Weah’s corrupt and kleptocratic government which deserves the boot.

  4. True Nationalist, are you not SeboDoe again?
    I know you are, according to the content of your posting, always backing wrong doing in this government.

  5. Gballay Gotombo, AS A TRUE NATIONALIST, putting first the education of my fellow nationals (eg. Gballay Gotombo, Isaac Jackson, etc. etc) is “putting Liberia first, and Liberia’s national and political interests”! And this is inter alia what we are engaged with here.

    Its a pity that Isaac Jackson WOULD NOT REALIZE that the Supreme Court requesting the Foreign Ministry to give him Isaac Jackson diplomatic passport, was simply a matter of protocol within officialdom; and indeed, a mere jurisprudential formality which had no obligational effect on the part of the Executive Branch! For immigration falls exclusively within the jurisdiction and powers of the Executive Branch!

    And that as far as THE APPOINTING POWERS AND “THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT” are constitutionally required and authorized in article 56 of the Liberian Constitution, he Isaac Jackson was no more IMO Representative for Liberia, the minute the President signed his Isaacś replacement letter. CONTEXT IS KING!!! THE LEGAL REALISM SCHOOL OF THOUGHT!

    In other words, unless he Isaac is feigning ignorance, as an attorney, Isaac is aware of the fundamental theory of justice – the lesser of two evils! Or, just as he Isaac should know that in accordance with all of the major schools of legal thought(Natural law school – the universal ethics, Positivist School–written laws, Legal Realism School – circumstances), whenever there is a clash of principles, rights, powers, rules, or laws, the higher one (eg. Article 56 of Liberian Constitution) prevails.

    Accordingly, let the word go forth from this place and time, that there is no way Article 56 of the Liberian Constitution can be overridden by some statutory law, and by the very President who is to uphold and defend the Constitution.

    Therefore, amongst the multitudes of solutions the court has to resolve such an “easy case” as compared to a “hard case”, relying on the supremacy of the Constitution (articles 2, and 56), dismiss this Isaacś fiasco. Or, relying on the very supremacy clause, the Executive Branch, can, knowing that (in this context) it is still within its rights powers to resist encroachment as constitutionally required and constitutionally authorized!

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