‘Justice a Recipe for Sustainable Peace in Liberia’

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Liberians may not worry about the eventual withdrawal of UNMIL if the government can dispense justice without fear or favor, according to interviews conducted among a sample of Monrovia residents last week.

Many interviewed concerning reports that the government’s security is being turned over from UNMIL to the Executive Protection Service (EPS) said Liberia can be managed by Liberians if the justice system is strengthened.

“The peace of Liberia depends on the justice system. When justice is impartially done and everyone’s problem is equally addressed, Liberians will abide by the law,” they said.

Another said, “Ordinary Liberians are willing to have peace and no one is interested in seeing war, but the police and the entire security sector need to avoid taking bribes and collaborating with armed robbers.”

On the Fendell campus of the University of Liberia, student Prince Suah said “One thing that is a problem in Liberia is the culture of impunity. This is a serious issue in our country. People who are caught in crime are not prosecuted; instead, they are seen in the communities threatening people again.”

He added that when cases in court are not adjudicated and the justice system is weak as it is now, there will be no stability in the country as UNMIL leaves.

Mr. Suah, who appeared emotional in his comment, emphasized that people who commit atrocities in the country and were rewarded with elected positions, teaches others to get involved in crime because it is rewarding.

Other contributors who did not want to be named alluded to Suah’s comment and said mob justice and violent demonstrations witnessed over time in the country are due to a poor and weak justice system.

Augustine Garmonyou, a businessman at the ELWA Junction, told the Daily Observer that a weak judiciary system, lack of love for the country and insincerity are impeding Liberia’s peace.

Mr. Garmonyou alluded to previous commentators that Liberians do not need war but peace, and if peace can be maintained in the absence of UNMIL, justice should be done impartially and promptly when crimes are committed.

He also indicated that love for the country is lacking on grounds that foreigners are bringing drugs into the country and damaging the lives of the youths and yet the government is not taking tangible steps to prevent them.

Garmonyou also said the government claims it needs security, but it is not willing to pay security personnel well enough to hold them accountable for the job. “This lack of sincerity is what is causing security personnel to engage in bribes.”

Meanwhile, Liberia’s justice system has over the years been criticized for being weak and corrupt.

In the US State Department’s Human Rights report for 2015, the judicial system, including the police was highlighted as being very corrupt.

The report also indicated that judges receive bribes and deliberately delay cases to frustrate people who cannot afford to bribe them.

It may be recalled that during the observance of the International Human Rights Day in 2013, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe said at a program organized by the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC) that “one can only get justice in Liberia if the person has money.”

Cllr. Gongloe said the poor do not have justice due to conditions that exist for them in pursuing justice, “The distance to cover and reach the court is one condition, and the other is whether the person has money to bribe the judge.”

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