Amid numerous reports that link Judicial actors, particularly judges, to corrupt practices that tend to undermine public confidence in Liberia’s justice system, a judge of the Civil Law Court on Monday, December 21, used the Bible Book of Leviticus to caution his colleagues against unethical practices.
Delivering the judge’s charge at the opening of Civil Law Court ‘A’ and ‘B’ at the Temple of Justice, Judge Peter Gbeneweleh reminded his colleagues to be cognizant of the scriptural reference of Leviticus 19:15.
In the verse, God is commanding the children of Israel, saying: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.” (New King James Version)
Paraphrasing the scripture, Judge Gbeneweleh said: “Be honest and just when you make decision in legal cases, do not show favoritism to the poor or fear the rich.”
According to the judge, Leviticus outlines four qualities of a judge, “Honesty, fairness, impartiality, neutrality and courage.”
“These qualities are also contained in our judicial canon of 1999. We must always subscribe to these qualities and use our gavel of authority wisely and fearlessly in all cases before us based upon evidence and applicable laws in such cases,” Judge Gbeneweleh told his audience, which comprised mostly judges and lawyers.
He reminded his colleagues that they are under oath to always discharge their judicial duties and functions with a high level of neutrality, fairness, impartiality, transparency, courage and professionalism, so as to restore public confidence in the justice system.
Cautioning judges on the Constitutional provision of equality, Judge Gbeneweleh said, “All citizens and residents within the territorial confines of the Republic of Liberia are equal before the law, regardless of their status, race and ethnicity, political and religious affiliation.”
Explaining further, Judge Gbeneweleh challenged his audience when he said, “our respective courts must equally treat our citizens and residents appearing before us as litigants… In order words, the strong and the weak and the rich and the poor must equally be treated before us as judges.”
According to Gbeneweleh, their “legal obligation as judges is to dispense justice without fear or favor and render fair and impartial judgment in our cases before us. This indeed will restore public confidence in the Judiciary,” he charged.