Why the Attack on Justice Youh?

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On November 5 Supreme Court Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Youh’s home was reportedly attacked by some unknown people for reasons yet to be known.

The attack included stone-throwing intended to cause harm to persons living in the compound as well as damage to the property.

This attack violates not only Justice Youh’s right to live without fear as a citizen of the country but also undermines justice that every Liberian yearns for.

It came a day to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case between Liberty Party (LP) standard bearer, Cllr. Charles Brumskine, and the National Elections Commission (NEC) on allegations of fraud and irregularities in the October 10 election.

Even though police officers who were assigned to the house have been recalled and are undergoing investigation, what will such an attack on an Associate Justice at this critical time of our democratic process mean?

Does it mean that Liberians are not willing to abide by rule of law?

In a referendum to have a new Constitution to replace the 1847 Constitution, Liberians of voting age overwhelmingly voted to approve the 1986 Constitution that is currently governing Liberia.

In this Constitution, Article 66 underscores that the Supreme Court shall be the final arbiter of constitutional issues and shall exercise final appellate jurisdiction in all cases, whether emanating from courts of record, courts not of record, administrative agencies, autonomous agencies or any other authority, both as to law and fact except cases involving ambassadors, ministers, or cases in which a [country] is a party.

While this Constitution is available and Liberians are crying for the right thing to be done, there are still many people preferring lawlessness because they are impatient to see the law take its course.

We are not saying that the ongoing election dispute is the cause of the attack; however, we have observed that since the LP standard bearer went to the Supreme Court to seek redress to his complaints filed against NEC about alleged irregularities and fraud in the October poll, a lot of people have perceived it to be a waste of time and an act of undermining the result of the October 10 election.

In fact, the chairman of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Nathaniel McGill, had said earlier that if the case is ruled in favor of Cllr. Brumskine, they as members and sympathizers of CDC will resist it with their “sweat and blood.”

What do these perceptions and pronouncements mean to our democracy if we should consider them?  Does it mean if a person is discontented in an election or any given situation he or she must take the law into his/her hands?  Is the CDC Chairman saying that if the Supreme Court found Brumskine right he should still be denied his right?

What happened to us in this country for 14 years?  We went through a war during which the Supreme Court was not operative and we were all subject to military command that came at the discretion of a single commander toting guns and other deadly weapons.  Rebel commanders ordered the killing of many innocent people not because they committed crimes, but because of mere animosities and thirst for blood.

Unarmed Liberians were harassed, intimidated, raped, beaten, tormented and killed during the war.

Having encountered such ruthless agony in our own land, the international community stepped in to restore peace, in order for Liberia to return to constitutional rule.  Yet, here are some Liberians still resisting civility and the rule of law by attacking an Associate Justice and continuously making threatening statements.

We join the Supreme Court to condemn this act of incivility, lawlessness and violence that mean no good to the peace and stability of our country.

Remember what the visiting African Union (AU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders said last week:  “Liberians must respect their Constitution.”

The Supreme Court has a cardinal role to play in our electoral process, and this is why the Justices suspended their recess to still work until the election is over.

Let us stop harassing Justices with threats and violent attacks and allow the Supreme Court to carry out its function.

3 COMMENTS

  1. A relative of mine was telling me the other day that a certain group of professionals (academicians) from the US, about 10 in all had scheduled a trip to Liberia for early November, just before the date of the original run-off. That trip was rescheduled to mid-November on advice of the State Department, when the runoff was supposed to be over and the dust settled from any fallout therefrom. That trip is now reportedly on hold indefinitely because of our election limbo. I am told each reschedule has cost the group close to $500 per ticket. Mind you, this is just a professional group, a group wanting to assess what areas of needs, help and ultimately collaboration they could establish with a “sister” institution(s) in Liberia. Extrapolate this same experience to an investment option. Would any investor or group of investors want to come to Liberia to establish any meaningful investment in a climate rife with constant threats of war, or instability? These are some of the unforeseen implications and consequences of the ways in which we conduct our affairs as a people whether civilly, of law, or of men.

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