LIBERIA: ‘NO MONEY TO PROSECUTE CRIMINALS’

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Months after the Legislative Branch of Government confirmed President George Manneh Weah nominee, Criminal Court ‘D’ Judge Mameita Jabeteh- Sirleaf has called the government’s attention to make adequate funding to prosecute criminals.

Delivering the opening statement of the May Term of Court of the Criminal Courts (‘A,B,C, D) on Monday, May 8, 2023, Judge Jabateh- Sirleaf said the shortage or lack of adequate funding to support the speedy prosecution of criminals cases jeopardizes criminals for prosecution.

The Judge emphasized on Criminals Procedure Law Chapter 18.2, which states that “Dismissal by court for failure to proceed with prosecution. Unless good cause is shown a court shall dismiss a complaint against a defendant who is not indicted by the end of the next term succeeding after his arrest for any indicted offense or his appearance in court to respond to a summons or notice to appear charging him with such an offense.”

With a pondering mind, she furthered asked as whether what happened when the armed robbery or criminal gets back in the community. ‘‘Do you imagine the security that is been created? Do you think we (public) will sleep in peace? How do we as judge balance the right of the accused in detention and the rights of the citizens outside of jail to live in peace?”

On Armed Robbery, the Judge made reference of the Liberian Constitution, which guarantees the fundamental rights of all citizens. When the court holds or detents an alleged criminal without a trial is a violation of those rights and they have the rights to visit the court for redress.

“As an interpreter of the law, I will be constrained to follow the detail of the law that is to interpret the law as it should be. We know that it may be bad to release people accused of felonious crime, such as armed robbery, but it will be equally wrong and illegal to detain an innocent person in jail for a long period who have not been found guilty. We, therefore, call on the Government of Liberia(GoL) to make funding available to prosecute all criminal cases especially those accused of army robbery,” Judge Jabateh- Sirleaf pleaded.

“The intent of the author of our constitution is that Government of Liberia will provide resources to ensure that criminal cases are timely tried to protect the right of the accused in pre-trial detention and the rights and security of those out of jail.” She stated.

On Armed Robbery Court, the Judge also made reference that over the years prosecutors have difficulty relating access to funding for prosecution which constraints prosecutors to strike action in demand for their allowances and other benefits. That resulted to accused languishing behind bar (Prison) to the spirit and intent of the constitution, which guarantees speedy trial.

However, Judges should not only focus on the process of administering justice rather the perception of the citizens and residents Liberia.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia Vice President, Blamo Dixion, called the attention of the Chief Justice of Liberia- Sie-A- Nyene G. Youh relating to delays in salary.

Judge Dixion pointed out that the salary process for payment is sailing back to Forty-Five (45) to Sixty (60) to receive one-month salary, especially in the electioneering year. “We seriously need your intervention to regularize our salaries to be paid to us between the 25th and 30th of every month. April 2023 salaries and fuel to run vehicle have not been met,” he added.

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