Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor on Monday admitted that the Judiciary has not done much to ensure that people in Rivercess County access transparent justice.
Justice Korkpor said the situation is so serious that it has not only affected the citizenry, but also foreign nationals.
“The 14th Judicial Circuit Court in Cestos City, the capital of Rivercess County, is operating from premises much less than suitable; moreover, there are only two magisterial courts in the county,” he said. Chief Justice Korkpor’s admission was greeted with disbelief by his audience, which included President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Delivering the keynote address on Monday at the opening of the 2016 March Term of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Korkpor informed the gathering that the Judiciary is holding discussions with relevant authorities to create more magisterial districts and magisterial courts in the county.
He said about three weeks ago, he visited Rivercess County to inspect facilities and hold discussions with his staff and local officials.
“During my visit,” Chief Justice Korkpor lamented, “the people told me about the distances aggrieved persons have to travel to reach a magisterial court just to obtain justice. This is seriously hampering access to justice for citizens and foreign nationals residing in that part of our country.”
Meanwhile, the chief justice said his administration has carried out several development initiatives, including construction of courts in the county.
“We have embarked on the systematic construction and or renovation of judicial premises throughout the country since our incumbency,” Chief Justice Korkpor told his audience.
He added that several “judicial complexes and magisterial courts have already been built across the country, while others are in progress.”
He noted that the government provided bulk of the money for the projects, adding: “Some donors and friendly governments have also assisted in the process.”
Chief Justice Korkpor named the judicial complex in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, which he said is nearing completion, as one of his initiatives.
“Also in progress is the construction of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court Complex in Sanniquellie, Nimba County,” the Chief Justice said.
According to him, they were also constructing a perimeter fence around the court house they had built in Barclayville, Grand Kru County.
“We are seeking funding to build an annex to provide for other subordinate courts that were inadvertently left out. We will also seek funding to build residential quarters for the resident circuit judge and the assigned circuit judge,” he disclosed, adding, “This will transform the facility into a real judicial complex.”
He said under the Reginal Security Hub arrangement, they would soon start work on the construction of a judicial complex to house the 7th Judicial Circuit Court and other subordinate courts in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.
“The Swedish government through the Justice and Security Trust Fund has provided funds for the construction of four magisterial courts throughout the country,” he reminded his audience. “Construction works have begun in selected districts in Montserrado, Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.”
Rivercess gained its county status in 1984 and is situated in the south-central part of Liberia.
At the 2008 census, the county had a population of 71,509, thereby making it the thirteenth most populous county in Liberia.