Employees of the three branches of the Liberian government from now are under ‘integrity check’ as the Code of Conduct Bill is finally signed into law by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Bill had spent over five years in the corridors of the National Legislature.
President Sirleaf, upon signing the bill into law, called for total adherence by all officials of government and civil servants as this would serve as a guide to unwarranted behaviors, especially corrupt attitudes. The law comes into full effect upon it being printed into handbill and distributed for public consumption.
The Code of Conduct, which landed recently on the desk of the Liberian leader, was signed into law on Monday, May 12, at her Foreign Ministry office. Present at the ceremony were the sponsors of the bill, including Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor and Senate Pro Tempore Gbehzongar M. Findley.
President Sirleaf lauded members of the national legislature for the passage of the bill, which she said will help curtail some of the malpractices that go on in public offices. She named some of these malpractices as bribery, sexual harassment and failure to declare assets.
The President disclosed that the law is the first of its kind in Liberia, furthering that it will make Liberia a better country. She called on all public officials to abide by the new law. “It is indeed a great day for all of us because this law will make our country a better place,” President Sirleaf added.
Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, one of the sponsors, noted that the law is necessary for Liberia as it is intended to erect ‘checkpoints of transparency and accountability’ for public officials, and to safeguard the emerging democracy that Liberians are enjoying.
The Bong County lawmaker said the second part of the law now is its application because it sets the standards for public officials to conduct themselves by.
Senator Gbehzongar Findley said the legislature has fulfilled its mandate by the passage of the bill, which he said was done in accordance with the Constitution of the country; adding: “It is for the good of the country.”
Meanwhile, the new law strictly prohibits public officials from seeking elected offices, while serving in the Executive Branch of government. Officials are to resign their positions three years prior to election if they have political ambitions.
Portions of the law are also expected to affect not only civil servants, but also NGOs and business entities, doing business with the Government of Liberia.
On March 6, 2014, the House of Representatives finally concurred with the Liberian Senate on the passage of the delayed Code of Conduct Bill. The Senate had earlier passed the bill, which also demands that presidential appointees resign before contesting any elected post; but the House made an increment of three years.
Members of the House of Representatives took the decision during their regular session. The lawmakers had removed provisions in the bill, which restricted elders, chiefs and traditional leaders from offering gifts to political leaders.
The overarching expectation is that government employees will act in adherence to government policies and use good judgment to safeguard public assets and reputation, recognizing the government reputation is one of the most valuable assets.
The new law requires government employees’ activities to be conducted lawfully and consistent with the highest ethical standards, with each employee acting with personal integrity as well as coming forward and raising concerns should they become aware of any questionable activity involving officials.
Present at the signing ceremony also were, Dr. Amos Sawyer of the Governance Commission, who is the brain behind the entire code of conduct bill; Grand Gedeh Senator Isaac Nyenabo, Acting Justice Minister Wheatonia Dixon Barnes, Minister Information, Culture and Tourism Lewis Garsaydeh Browne and Cllr. Augustine Toe of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.