Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of the Civil Law Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice yesterday publicly claimed that the lives of judges, particular those who handle criminal cases, were being threatened by unknown callers.
Judge Gbeneweleh has meanwhile pleaded with government to provide them with armed officers from the Liberia National Police (LNP).
The Civil Law Judge announced the threats yesterday when he delivered his message at the opening of the 2016 March Term of the Civil Law Courts ‘A and B.’
His statement comes in the wake of the drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Speaking as a member of the Trial Judges Association of Liberia, Judge Gbeneweleh told the packed court that judges throughout the country were living under constant threat.
“In this public manner we want to inform the national government that we as judges continue to receive threatening messages from unknown numbers and callers who sometimes use private numbers to make those threatening statements against us,” Judge Gbeneweleh disclosed.
Judges who handle criminal cases are those mainly being pursued by the unknown callers, according to Judge Gbeneweleh.
“Whenever we are hearing criminal cases sometimes we receive calls from aggrieved parties or family members of those who have been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment or to death by hanging, threatening to kill us for the decision we have taken, and this puts us at risk,” the Civil Law Court judge stated.
“We need protection from the government; we need them to provide us with armed officers of the LNP,” he pleaded.
Judge Gbeneweleh said they have ignored those threats for a long time and now they have unanimously agreed to bring the issue to the attention of the government and the public.
He asked, “Aren’t we also appointed and commissioned like justices of the Supreme Court and other appointed government officials? If so then, why can’t government provide us with armed security like them?”
Judge Gbeneweleh said, “We are mostly at risk because we are the ones who decide the future of an accused and this is why we need similar protection like the justices and government officials.”
Judge Gbeneweleh said because of government’s failure to provide judges with security, they have to result to paying individuals to protect them.
“What is the matter” he asked, “that we have to provide our own security? We are paying people to protect us and so government has the power and they must do it,” he argued.
“Security needs to be assigned with us to follow us wherever we go for our safety,” Judge Gbeneweleh said. “Justices are protected by officers of the LNP and when they make public appearances they’re guarded by them.
“We don’t want to be victimized before we raise such issues. We need security right now and it is the obligation of government to provide us with security. We are vulnerable,” Judge Gbeneweleh contended.