A Local Civil Society Group, The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) said it is troubled with the prolong detentions of accused persons without trial, specifically, at some Magisterial and Circuit Courts across the Country.
IREDD project manager Bob Johnson speaking at a news conference on Thursday October 10, 2019 considers the continued delay to proceed with speedy trial of accused persons in pre-trial detention as wilful and gross violation of their basic human rights, access unhindered justice and freedom.
Mr.Johnson speaking to reporters Thursday named some of the Justice and security institutions been monitored under IREDD’s rule of law project are:
Grand Gedeh County:
The Zwedru Magisterial Court
7th Judicial Circuit
Zwedru Central Police Station, Lofa County:
The Voinjama Magisterial Court-10th Judicial Circuit Voinjama Central Police Station, others are:
Montserrado County: Monrovia City Court Careysburg Magisterial Court, Arlington Magisterial Court, The Bushrod Magisterial Court,the 6th Judicial Circuit, Civil Law Court, 1st Judicial Circuit (Criminal Courts A and B)under police stations those captured during the research were: Police Stations-Zone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, respectively.
In its report order Mr. Johnson indicated the cases that were captured during the period of the research to include: Number of cases on courts’ dockets not tried are:
- Criminal Court A
- 35 cases
- 29 pre-trial detainees
- Criminal B:
- 30 cases
- 22 pre-trial detainees
- 10thJudicial Circuit, Lofa County:
- 50 cases
- 50 pre-trial detainees
- 7thJudicial Circuit, Grand Gedeh County:
- 10 civil cases
- 12 criminal cases
- 5 pre-trial detainees
However, the report observed and commended the Monrovia City Court for its outstanding performance in the administration of justice expeditiously.
He told reporters that their monitor’s report revealed that 70 cases recorded on the court bulletin for period under review were heard and rulings thereto are pending to be rendered by the presiding magistrates.
On the other hand, the Arlington Magisterial has been without an assigned magistrate for nearly two years now; also the assigned circuit judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit of Lofa County has been out of the court for nearly two months now.
Additionally, IREDD’s monitors’ reports from the selected police stations across the focused counties indicate some level of suspects’ human rights violation by detaining in their withholding cells far beyond the constitutional period of 48hrs.
Bob explaining further pointed out that Zone 6 police station suspects David Dole age 29 years and Nathaniel Sirleaf age 23 were arrested and detained for seven and four days respectively, which contravenes the constitutional provision of 48 hours .
As a result of the findings, the CSO group called on relevant government authorities to stir the affairs of these institutions to put in place effective and efficient monitoring mechanism to enhance speedy dispensation of the justice system of Liberia to foster peace and stability which are the pillars of democracy.
In a bid to help address some of the issues in the sector the IREDD recommended the need for oversight institutions such as the National Legislature to strengthen its oversight on Justice and Security Institutions;
That the Liberia National Police strengthen monitoring and supervision of various Zones and Depots to ensure that police officers operate within the framework of the law and respects the rights of suspects and citizens in general;
It also called on the Chief Justice and the Judiciary in general to take pragmatic steps to fast track prolonged cases on the courts dockets;
Additionally, the group recommends government provide adequate funding to support Justice and Security Institutions such as the Police and the Courts;
IREDD also calls on the International Partners to support the government to strengthen the justice and security institutions to deliver on their mandate in a more effective and efficient manner.
The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), is a local civil society advocacy organization with focus on socio-economic justice for all persons, especially the Poor.
The report is the first in the series of monitoring reports on justice and security institutions’ performance accountability for the month of September 2019.
IREDD’s monitoring report focuses on issues that hinder effective and efficient administration of justice under the rule of law.
It hopes these socio-economic justice issues bordering on the violation of basic human rights as contained in this report, responsible government ministries and agencies will take appropriate remedial actions in real time; as justice delay is construed as justice deny.
The peace and stability of any country highly depend on the effectiveness and efficiency of the speedy administration of justice and the respect for the rule of law; which relates to unhindered access to justice for all persons irrespective of status, added Mr. Johnson.
The report which started September 1-30, 2019, saw IREDD’s monitors deployed at selected police stations, magisterial and circuit courts in: Voinjama City, Lofa County, Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County and parts of Montserrado County and have documented huge number of pre-trial cases on the respective courts dockets some of which are dated as far back as 2008.