Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia Francis Korkpor, wants judges to dispense the laws without impartiality and be an example of the interpretation of the laws.
He also noted that laws are changing as such Judges are to be aware of the new laws because they are the custodian of the laws.
The legal expert advised judges to be punctual at work as an example to other workers at the court and encouraged them to work in the application of the laws.
He recommended that if a case involving judge relatives or friends, such judge should recuse themselves in order to give fair judgment, and noted that there is no small or big person when it comes to the matter of the court.
“WE TOOK THIS JOB NOT BECAUSE OF MONEY ORDER THEN OUR SALARIES, EVERY LITTLE THING YOU DO IN THE DARK WILL COME TO LIGHT. THIS IS A PLACE EVERYBODY LOOK UPTO, IF ANYONE DOES WRONG IN THE SOCIETY THEY COME TO YOU IF YOU DO WRONG WHERE WILL THEY GO” Chief Justice alarmed.
Chief Justice Korkpor notes that the perceptions of the public concerning judges are awful as such there should be a change to the narratives.
He spoke at a one-day NATJL seminar held on the Ground Floor Conference Hall of the Temple of Justice.
Also speaking at the program, Executive Director of the Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH) Atty. Mmonbeydo Joah said, in many cases, judges still use section 16 of the Liberian penal code or are influenced by societal and cultural perceptions of gender roles of women.
According to her, law enforcement and justice sectors are key sectors as they can be mobilized to become more effective tools in protecting the victims, ending impunity, providing access to justice and redress, and responding to the special needs and vulnerabilities experienced by women victims within the justice system.
Atty. Mmonbeydo noted that it is therefore prudent that they have in-depth knowledge of the law and use it to promote the rights of women in Liberia which is the intent of the proposed training as they are first responders in situations of domestic violence.
She noted that the achievement of a violence-free society will require all hands on deck from different sectors and actors including duty bearers and service providers working together in an integrated manner, utilizing strategies, skills, and resources to implement legislations policies that promote women’s right to live in a Society Free Of Violence.
Over the period, while implementing the EU ENOUGH! Project-Empowering Women, Girls, Men and Boys to End Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Liberia, there will be various monitoring sessions to document how Judges and Magistrates around Montserrado County are using the Domestic Violence Law in Courts, she added.
The National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL) in partnership with the Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH) with support from the European Union through Oxfam and Foundation for Community Initiative (FCI) under the EU-ENOUGH Project to enhance duty bearers (Magistrates) implementation of the due diligence obligation to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in Liberia held a one-day Seminar at the weekend.
The National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL) is the umbrella organization of judges/magistrates throughout the Republic of Liberia with the mandate to seek the welfare of its members while they dispense justice.
Consistent with that mandate, the leadership of the NATJL regularly convenes meetings of its members from across the 15 counties of Liberia to discuss issues affecting them, and to appreciate new laws so as to generate uniform interpretations.
Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in all regions of Liberia and the world, occurring in every culture and social group.
It is perceived to be the second-highest case next to cases on property. It has devastating physical, emotional, financial, and social effects on the victims, families and communities.
The victims are mostly women who face many challenges in accessing justice and protection.
International efforts have recognized the need for a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach to this complex social problem; identifying the law enforcement and justice sectors as crucial players but these systems face various challenges.
In 2019, President George Weah signed into Law the Domestic Violence Act to address domestic violence in Liberia but the Implementation of the Law by duty bearers remains a grave challenge even though some efforts have been made over time.
Since the law was passed in 2019, it remains rarely or largely unused by the Liberian Magisterial Courts which are Courts of the first instance and have jurisdiction of this Law.