Authorities of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) yesterday began a weeklong capacity building exercise involving state lawyers (prosecutors) throughout the country. The aim is to adopt new strategies that would help to reduce penalties applied to certain crimes committed under the state of emergency.
The training is supported by the United States of America (USA).
The government proclaimed a state of emergency beginning August 6, 2014, under Article 86 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, under which certain constitutional rights and freedoms of the people are suspended.
The measure, according to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was to help in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
The training is being held at the Montserrado County Administrative Building in Bentol City, under the theme: “Effective Prosecution under the State of Emergency.”
For example, a person found guilty of petty larceny misdemeanor (crime), which is usually punishable by 30 days or up to a year in jail, will, under the new arrangement, be immediately released after filing a bond.
Other offences, including murder, armed robbery and rape will not be exempt under the effective state of emergency strategy.
Speaking yesterday during the opening session, Solicitor General, Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo recollected that prosecutors won more cases at the Supreme Court level, during the August Term of Court, which was overshadowed by the Ebola virus and the imposition of the state of emergency.
“We lost only one case at the Supreme Court level at that court term. We did well,” she declared.
Cllr. Blamo did not mention the one case that was lost at the High Court.
She said reducing overcrowding at prison facilities throughout the country was one of the major issues that will be discussed during the forum.
“We will be discussing means of stopping people from going to jail during this state of emergency,” adding “This does not mean that we will not be sending people to jail. We will be sending to jail those accused or convicted of murder, rape and armed robbery.”