The judicial process is typically slow, and many Liberians have voiced concern over the inadequacy of the court system and their expectation to get speedy justice often delayed, waiting a year or more if a case is appealed to the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, the court system lacks adequate court facilities and a computerized document-processing system, and poor remunerates for judges and other court officials, all of which have slowed down justice and undermined the rule of law.
However, delivering his charge on Monday at the opening of Civil Law Courts A and B, at the Temple of Justice, Judge Johannes Zogbay Zlanh downplayed those concerns, and vowed that judges would not hesitate to compel Liberians to comply with the rule of law.
“Based on the definition of rule of law by the United Nations, our people would comply with the rule of law by honoring all court decisions consistent with due process, even if they disagree with them,” Judge Zlanh told his audience many of whom were lawyers.
Citing the UN rule of law, Judge Zlanh said, “It refers to the principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated and independently adjudicated, consistent with international human rights standards.”
Judge Zlanh said that the law provides measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law, before the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making and procedural and legal transparency.
According to him, they have deemed it necessary to sound this warning because “on countless occasions, some of our fellow citizens have deliberately refused to comply with judgments of trial courts of this nation, despite the fact that those decisions were issued after the recalcitrant citizens have had their days in court consistent with due process of the law.”
“Such recalcitrant people,” he said, “on several occasions have resulted to violence by attacking court and police officers who attempt to assist court officers in the enforcement of judgment decided by the court.”
He alleged that most often uncooperative citizens have inflicted bodily harms on court officers, other peaceful citizens and even police officers by the use of machetes and other deadly weapons.
On other occasions, the Civil Law Court Judge said, “recalcitrant citizens have refused court’s rules intended to bring them under the jurisdiction of the court and violently resisted eviction orders, notwithstanding the fact that they had their day in court and the additional fact that they are occupying properties that they know do not belong to them.”
He also claimed that some lawyers have the tendency to discourage law abiding citizens from seeking redress of their grievances in court throughout the country, which lead such people to take the law into their own hands.