Expressing his disbelief in a statement last Monday, Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of Criminal Court “C,” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, openly accused the Executive Branch of the government of failing to provide financial assistance for ailing judges to seek advanced medical treatments outside of the country.
Judge Gbeneweleh made specific reference to the ailing Judge Geevon Smith, who is undergoing treatment at a hospital in the United States of America.
“As we speak, Judge Smith is critically ill in the U.S. without any financial assistance from the Central Government,” Judge Gbeneweleh exclaimed to the surprise of onlookers, among them, court officials.
He made the complaint when he delivered his judges’ charge for the formal opening of the May, 2015, Term of Criminal Courts A, B, C, D and E at the Temple of Justice.
Besides Judge Smith, he said the court “was saddened to note that His Honor, James N. Gilayeneh, Relieving Judge of Liberia, has been ill and went to Ghana and India, respectively for treatment at his own expense.
Judge Gilayeneh has returned and still needs further medical treatment in the U.S.”
Judge Gbeneweleh, who has worked with the Judiciary for over 30 years in various capacities, lamented that there is no security for judges, taking into consideration the nature of cases they are hearing and deciding during each term of court that makes them vulnerable to any appalling condition.”
Regrettably, there is no provision or policy for judges to seek medical treatment abroad at the expense of government, he said, adding that other officials have been and continue to seek medical treatments abroad at the expense of the same government.
A judicial expert hinted to the Daily Observer that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court receives a monthly take home pay of US$15,000 as well as medical benefits to any country of his choice and other incentives.
In the opinion of the expert, the four associate justices of the Supreme Court receive a monthly take home pay of US$12,000 each plus medical benefits and other incentives.
Recently, the expert said, government provided financial assistance to three of the four justices to go for medical treatments in the USA.
According to the source, it is the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL) which has been providing funding to their colleagues who have fallen critically ill.
“We appreciate and commend the leadership of the NATJL for their tireless efforts and moral and financial aid provided to our members who were ill and passed away in their agony,” said Judge Gbeneweleh, praising the leadership of Judge James Jones , president of the NATJL and Resident Judge of the Debt Court for Montserrado County.
Those previously victimized as the result of “abandonment” were named as the late Judge James Zotaa, then Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘A,” Associate Magistrates Emmanuel Todd, and Florence Jusufu. Others deceased were the Magistrate Johnny Blain and Stipendiary Magistrate Edwin Neoh.
The deceased were identified as judges the Association had helped, but unfortunately died from their ailments.
“The association also aided Judge Smith when he travelled to India where he sought medical treatment prior to his transfer to the USA,” the NATJL president disclosed.