President Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf, in her annual message yesterday, admitted that in the past, the Judiciary was seen as a weak link in fighting corruption and the overall administration of justice.
However, the President informed her audience that the judiciary has been demonstrating what she considered as “willingness” to enforce ethical requirements on all officers of the court, and are implementing guidelines against unethical practices.
“Things are changing,” President Sirleaf said, adding, “The court system has been strengthening its presence in all of the 15 counties where they are settling disputes and adjudicating the defensible interests of all of our people.”
As such, the President said many of the citizens are taking recourse to the courts than ever before.
She said, compensation has increased, logistics have improved, new edifices have been built and old edifices renovated, thereby enhancing the overall administration of justice through the judicial system.
On the decongestion of overcrowded jails and prisons due to pretrial detentions, Madam Sirleaf said, “a parole system has been enhanced and rehabilitation programs extended to give inmates a capacity to support themselves and their families upon release.”
On the new jury system, she said it has ensured that the pool of potential jurors has been expanded to avoid “professional jurors” whose services are not compatible with the intent of the jury system.
According to the President, Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor’s Bench has made several gains especially in the area of reconstruction of a new democratic governance model.
“We have improved institutional capacities, strengthened the civil service, introduced wide-ranging financial management systems, built integrity institutions, and improved the administration of the rule of law,” she said, adding, “We now urge your action to secure land ownership rights for local communities across the country.”
On her government’s commitment to freedom of expression and speech, Madam Sirleaf said residents and non-residents alike and the media enjoy unprecedented freedoms, sometimes without attention to the concomitant responsibility required by the Constitution and without a sense of patriotism.
She said the free-spirited atmosphere that prevails is evident of her government’s unceasing quest to establish a democratic system of governance that is lasting and irreversible.
“We must nurture it and not abuse it,” she warned, noting, “We must strive to build upon it; not seek to ruin it. It must be our task to hold high the name and purpose of Liberia for our collective benefit.”