Days after President George Weah proposed to re-launch the National Judiciary Conference aimed at a major role-play by the judiciary within the already demoralized business climate in the country, several legal practitioners have differed with the president in that direction.
President Weah, in his third annual message to the 54th Legislature on Monday, January 27, suggested that to help spur the business climate this year, “we will support and re-launch the National Judiciary Conference under the leadership of His Honor the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”
According to the President, the aim of this conference is to allow the judiciary to play a significant role in business climate reforms.
“This can be done by reforming rules and legal processes and procedures that can increase the confidence of potential investors and the existing business community, as well as improve the ease of doing business in Liberia,” the President noted.
However, some lawyers who asked for anonymity are of the opinion that re-lunching the conference is not significant to create trust among foreign investors about the working of the judiciary.
They argued that for President Weah to improve the business climate, they think the government’s top-priority actions should include the following: “Effective anti-corruption activities including criminal prosecution of officials of any rank as well as judges, for corruption, ensuring the rule of law for law enforcement agencies and reform of the judicial system.”
The lawyers said that President Weah needs to first identify obstacles, particularly corruption in the judiciary, if he is interested to improve the investment climate. “No level of judiciary conference can assure investors confidence in the judiciary because corruption is widespread and has caused a lack of investors’ trust in the judiciary.”
“Is the President not aware of the corruption within the judiciary?” another lawyer wondered.
Another lawyer reminded President Weah that corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to economic and social development because it undermines development by distorting the rule of law and weakening foreign investors’ interest to invest.
“Corruption also stifles private sector growth and hurts the poor because it diverts public services from those who need them most,” the lawyer added, “Corruption adversely affects various aspects of business operation from start-up to regular business transactions.”