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Liberia: VP Koung Wants Judiciary Uphold Accountability, As International Judges Brainstorm On Dispensing Justice in New Information Age

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Monrovia — Vice President Jeremiah K. Young has stressed that the accountability of the judiciary in dispensing justice remains consequential to maintaining a government that works in the interest of its people.

At the opening of the African Regional Group Meeting and International Conference of International Judges, held at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, VP Koung said to do this, Judges tasked with the responsibility of dispensing justice must strike to ensure it is administered fairly in upholding the rule of law.

This, according to him, should consider reality that execution of the principles which underpin the rule of law must ensure access to an independent judiciary that guarantees the protection of the rights of all under that law.

“Where the rule of law is not upheld, it breeds discontent which in turn, may lead to disruption and instability. It follows, that your role, as Judges, remains critical to the functioning of a society, particularly in this new information age,” VP Koung noted.

He noted that this is why Liberia, under President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s administration, is eager to support the Judiciary to safeguard the adherence to the rule of law and the equitable dispensation of justice.

VP Koun further noted that the new information age is crucial to the judiciary function, especially when the digital revolution has reached some of the most remote villages and enabled people to have access to information faster.

As such, he told judges at the conference, that this new dispensation places a greater onus on the judiciary system not just in Liberia alone, but across Africa, where the need to build institutions that promote equity, create opportunity, and uplift nearly 1.5 billion people on the African Continent out of poverty.

The conference brought together several judges from across Africa and the world at large, and is expected to last for four days.

The event is held. under the theme, the Judiciary in the Contemporary Times: Dispensing Justice In The New International Age.

At the opening of the conference, Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Youh, in her Keynote Speaker remarks viewed the assembly as an important one, which represents a significant milestone for Liberia, lauding the government for embracing said vision and ensuring the availability of funds for hosting this event.

Madam Yuoh noted that It is generally considered that the media is informed, entertained and educated, therefore, it is a most powerful force of change and that with the birth of the information age, the public perception of the justice system is being influenced by the mass media, especially in the new information age.

She added that media publications have an impact on public perception of the judiciary and that even though it is making a positive impact on the justice system in a diverse manner, there are equally concerns about enriching the capacity of those in the field on judiciary matters.

Justice Youh expressed dismay that while these scrutiny of the judiciary by the media are crucial, some media institutions, however continue to use their platforms for biased and negative reporting, leading to misinformation, just to maintain their readers.

She noted that not all reporters have formal training in mass communications, which contributes to these negative reportage and misinformation as well as disinformation.

The Liberian Chief Justice expressed disenchantment in the manner in which some media institutions are being used to negatively discuss matters before the court when they have little or no understanding of a particular legal matter before the judiciary, and in the same way tend to render self-judgment before matters that are adjudicated.

Justice Youh makes a specific reference to the case of Jessica Lloyd and an American, Lucas Richards, where she said bloggers, social media influencers, and Facebook users as well as some media practitioners made wild allegations and tend to twist occurrences in the case against the American National, after the lower court’s final judgment in the matter.

This, she believed, tend to undermine the independence of the judiciary and judges, especially, when a member of the Legislature also joined the tale of perception.

“It is time that we change the narrative and create media contents that are well-researched and that reflect the true happenings of events in the institutions covered, instead of publishing sensational stories, merely for fame and likes, or in the case of youthful Liberians, just to proof one’s relevancy, although there is none to begin with,” Justice Youh stressed.

“The new information and digital age must be used to positively shift the impact of how society functions and it was time that said narrative be changed.”

While Justice Youh noted that the justice system has many actors having a direct and indirect interest in cases, and the courts are central actors with the responsibility of upholding the rule of law. However, she added that understanding the work of the court is practically non-existent, and cannot be teachers of the law.

Hence, she said those practicing before the courts in defending their clients have the responsibility to deal fairly with their clients by firstly honestly explaining to them the in-depth of their case, and not creating the false impression that their client’s plight lies squarely with the Judge’s description and not the law.

At the same time, House Committee Chair on Judiciary, Representative Michael Thomas wants the judiciary to have a reflection on the application of the judicial canon, citing the need for integrity to be upheld by judges.

Representative Thomas asserted that the Integrity of the Judge places a cloud on the credibility of the court and therefore, judges presiding must be reliable in representing the interest of the court.

At the same time, Representative Thomas has disclosed, that there is an official complaint before the Legislature on the Jessica Lloyd case.

He did not state when the Legislature is expected to look into said complaint, but, FrontPage Africa recently gathered that a group of women petitioned Bong County Representative Maima Briggs Mensah, for the impeachment of Criminal Court B. Judge Nelson Chineh.

This comes following the Judge’s judgment in the Jessica Lloyd case that rendered a not-guilty verdict in favor of an American National, Lucas Richards.

However, some individuals have criticized the judge’s decision, alleging that it was marred by bribery.

Nevertheless, Representative Thomas, who represents Montserrado County District Four has assured the Judiciary of the Legislature’s fullest support in the execution of its function.

Meanwhile, Trial Judges of Liberia President, Nancy Sammy noted that the conference will enable judges in Liberia and across the world, to huddle on sharing ideas on possible ways of dispensing justice in the new information age.

Judge Sammy lauded the guests for forming a part of the gathering, which she said would bring out better ideas for their service.

By FrontPageAfrica.

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