Judiciary Accuses Executive
The Judiciary branch of the Liberian government has accused the Executive branch of circumventing (by-passing) the financial act, granting it (the judiciary) autonomy, thereby reducing its proposed budget before submission to the Legislature for passage.
In a charge delivered Monday during the joint opening of the Criminal Circuit Courts at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Court “C” Judge Peter W. Gbenewleh said the two percent allocated by the Executive in the 2012/2013 national fiscal budget for the judiciary was inappropriate and inadequate to effectively enhance ongoing reform process at the third branch of government.
Judge Gbenewleh said the judiciary needs provision for better salaries, incentives and retirement packages for judges and magistrates, as well as to replace vehicles provided them since 2008. He also disclosed that the judiciary intends to construct modern facilities throughout Liberia, including residential quarters, especially for assigned judges outside Montserrado County, and modern recording system in the courts, among others.
Said Judge Gbenewleh: “We want to emphasize that inadequate budgetary support to the judiciary cannot effectively enhance judicial reform. Judicial reform is so expensive and requires sufficient, adequate budgetary appropriation to have a strong, independent and credible judiciary in post-war Liberia.”
He argued that the financial act granting the judiciary autonomy provides that the Executive Branch of Government should only have the notation … and attach it to the budget of the judiciary without any deduction.
“But this act is currently circumvented by the Executive Branch of Government. How do we achieve judicial reform? How can we have a strong, credible and independent judiciary when we do not have adequate budgetary support,” questioned Judge Gbenewleh.
He stressed among other things that without transparent justice, there can be no peace, unity and national development in any country, saying “judges are government officials and are therefore paid by the Government of Liberia. He however urged his colleagues as they embark upon the transaction of their respective courts to be reminded of their constitutional and statutory mandates to perform and discharge their duties and functions with high level of professionalism, honesty, sincerity, commitment, integrity and dedication in the face of all of the challenges.
“We should fairly and impartially dispense all of our cases without fear, creed, religious affiliation, tribalism and nationalism,” said Judge Gbenewleh. He at the same time warned jurors against rendering verdicts that are contrary to evidence adduced in court for rewards, threatening punishment against any juror found guilty of misconduct.
Responding on behalf of the Justice Ministry, Montserrado County Attorney Darku Mulbah assured that the Executive will take into consideration the judges’ call for adequate budgetary allocation, among others to enable the judiciary performs well.
“We agree with you your honor when you made mention of budgetary allocation made for the judiciary which is just two percent of the national budget, but elaborating the enormous task that the judiciary performs. Of course it is said of whom much is expected, much is given,” said Attorney Mulbah.