African Commission on Human Rights Applauded Liberia’s Judicial System

A delegation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights has ended a two-week visit to Liberia with a call on the government to address the question of speedy trial of accused.
    The Commission’s Chairperson, Justice Sanji Mnasenong Monageng who headed the delegation to Liberian said the commission observed over crowdedness of the Monrovia Central Prison whereas prisons in other parts of the country are virtually empty. 
       Justice Monagen spoke Saturday during a press by the Commission at the Royal Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia.   She said during their visit to Liberia, the visited prison facilities in Monrovia, Margibi (Kakata) and Grand Gedeh.
    Other members of the delegation include Commissioner Mumba Malila, Senior Legal Adviser Dr. Feji Ogunade and legal Adviser Sheikh Tijan Hydraru.
   She explained that the visit to Liberia was overdue since 2006 because of breaches in communication, adding that they are thankful that have finally come and assessed the Liberian justice system.
    During the visit, she said they met with the President of Liberia, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Foreign Minister olubanke King Akerele , the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Philips Banks and the Chief Justice of Liberia, Johnnie Lewis.
    She also said the delegation have visited other areas including correction centers (prison facilities).         
     “One thing that cannot escape our attention and comment is the prison facility in Grand Gedeh. It is a facility that meets acceptable standards established internationally and by the African Commission on Human and People’s Right,” Justice Monagen said.
     The commission’s chairperson and head of delegation further said the visit of the delegation give them the general impression that the Liberian Government is doing, well, but added that a lot more needs to be done to ensure justice in the country.
     She told reporters in an answer to a question of against the backdrop of overcrowdedness of the Monrovia central Prison that what need to be done is to ensure the Courts periodic review their dockets or registry of cases to ensure that those accused are given speedy trial.
     “Besides, the need for an improved magistracy should not be over emphasized if there should be proper carriage of justice in the criminal justice system” she said.
    According to her, both the indigent and the affluent people need justice equally; this is why justice should be at the disposal of all no matter the class or status of litigants.
    The delegation could not address reporter’s questions entirely because of concern that they would be preempting their formal report by so doing.
    However, the Justice said the delegation’s report would detail their observations and make recommendation, saying that the Liberia justice system has improved than before on the overall note.
    On the question of death penalty, she expressed the need for countries to abolish death penalty law. But she added that it is not automatic because it hinges on the question of constitutions. She said constitutions of some countries provide for death penalty.
    “Such a country like that will not just abolish death penalty until the constitutional provision on the matter can be changed,” she explained.  
    Justice Sanji Monageng the said the delegation’s visit to Liberia demonstrates the Commission’s readiness to work with this country. According to Commissioner Monageng, Liberia has already ratified the African Charter on the Abolishment of Torture.   Meanwhile, the delegation left Liberia for the Gambia where the commission is headquartered.