The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), legal institution for practicing lawyers in the country, has made its position clear on some prevailing national issues as they unfold.
Among those issues the Bar has taken its firm position on are the controversial referendum, the mysterious deaths of government officials in October, aggrieved judicial workers, the decision by the ECOWAS Court of Justice, and corruption, amongst others.
On the referendum, the LNBA is of the view that same be postponed on ground that the government is not proceeding well in keeping with the Constitution of Liberia.
According to the Bar, Article 91 of the Constitution provides, amongst other things, that, voting in a referendum be conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature. And Article 92 of the Constitution according to the Bar provides, “Proposed constitutional amendments shall be accompanied by statements setting forth the reasons therefor and shall be published in the Official Gazette and made known to the people through the information services of the Republic.”
“It is the observation of the bar that although the date on the Official Gazette shows that it was published in October 2019, it was not made known to the people through the information services of the Republic until a few months ago,” said the Bar’s release.
“The framers of the Constitution intended for the people to be informed of any proposed amendment to their Constitution one year prior to the day of voting on the proposed amendment in order to be adequately informed before voting yes or no on a proposed amendment. Because the government failed to provide information to the people about the proposed amendment, within the time provided by the Constitution, the bar observes that the majority of the people are confused about the reasons provided for each of the proposed amendments. Even members of the LNBA do not have a clear understanding of the reasons for each of the proposed amendment. Yet, Liberian lawyers are expected by the rest of the Liberian people to advise them on the importance and relevance of each of the proposed amendment,” the release added.
The LNBA claims it has observed with “Consternation” continuous media reports of frequent suspicious deaths across the country, apparently under circumstances unrelated to the covid-19 pandemic.
In the release, the LNBA said it goes without saying that frequent unexplained deaths in a country tend to create fear among the people and may curtail making Liberia an attractive destination for tourism, international conferences, and investment; thereby creating a negative impact on the economy and bringing about untold hardship among the people.
“The LNBA, therefore, calls on the Government to exert every effort to fully investigate these unexplained deaths in order for the families of the victims to find closure, to allay the fear of the public, and to promote trust and confidence in the people about the Government of Liberia’s commitment to protecting their lives, which is the foremost duty of every government. The LNBA calls on citizens and residents who have sensitive information on these unexplained deaths to provide them to the Liberia National Police or through the LNBA for action,” said the release.
The LNBA also said “On the current situation involving aggrieved judicial workers and contingent upon a strong-worded communication received from its leadership, the Executive Council of the LNBA has mandated the Executive Committee to explore every avenue to assist in resolving the current impasse so as to restore a normal atmosphere within the workplace and corridor of the courts.”
Regarding ruling by the ECOWAS Court of Justice on the impeachment Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh, the LNBA says it applauds the decision of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and says that said decision is consistent with its well-publicized position on the matter.
“The LNBA calls on the Government of Liberia to promptly comply with the said judgment, as Liberia is a country of law and not of men. Additionally,” the LNBA said, “Liberia as a founding member of ECOWAS cannot and should not conduct itself in any manner that undermines ECOWAS in any manner, shape, and form.”
On the issue of corruption, the LNBA said that the Liberian Government has not shown nor demonstrated sufficient political will to fight corruption; the menace it says has undermined the development of Liberia for nearly two centuries.
“We again call on the United States of America and the European Union to deny access to entry into their countries, officials and employees of the three branches of the Liberian Government that are unremorsefully engaged in corruption. The LNBA is once more pleased to applaud the Government of the United States for denying visas to the former Director of Passport, Mr. Wonplue,” the LNBA said.
In reference to election violence, the Bar Association called on political parties and independent candidates to “Scrupulously observe and respect the rights of their opponents in all of the processes leading to the upcoming mid-term senatorial campaign and election so as to avoid violence in any form, shape, or manner.”
It further warned the Liberia National Police to exercise restraint whenever they are called upon to curtail violence and restore peace during the electoral process.
The LNBA also informed its members and the general public that it will be hosting its annual convention in Gbarnga Bong County from November 26 to 29th, 2020. The Convention will be held under the theme: Ethics as a foundation for adherence to the rule of law.