Amendment 2016 Part II

Amendment 2016

Legal and Structural Reform for a better Liberia

The Judicial Power of the State

By Counselor Frederick A.B. Jayweh, Esq.

Part II

 “Historically, good governance has been one of Liberia’s mean problems. How can we build and sustain the practices of good governance, rule of law, transparency, accountability, tolerance, merit, equity and decentralization? We must address ourselves to the serious problems we have when it comes to governance. It is a mess”. Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae: Proposition 12 for Decentralized Governance in Liberia, Power Sharing for Peace and Progress, Xvi

Article 76

No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason, murder, bribery, or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged and, subject to the above qualification, no such statement made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against a judge at any trial or proceeding thereafter in Liberia.

Article 77

In all matters of contempt of court, whether in the Supreme Court, the Intermediate Appellate Courts of Liberia, or in the subordinate courts, the penalty to be imposed shall be fixed by the Legislature and shall conform to the provision on fundamental rights laid down in this Constitution; except that such fine or imprisonment period shall  be less than and shall not exceed United States US$2,000 ( United States Two Thousand Dollars) or thirty (30) days of imprisonment or both, depending on the gravity and factual history of the act of contempt of court. In all such cases, the accused must be accorded his day in court and a full hearing by the aggrieved court attempting to hold him in contempt of court; reserving original jurisdiction in all said matters.

Article 78

The Supreme Court shall from time-to-time make rules of court for the purpose of regulating the practice, procedure and manner by which cases shall be commenced and heard before it and all other subordinate courts. It shall prescribe such code of conduct for lawyers appearing before it, the intermediate courts and all other subordinate courts as may be necessary to facilitate the proper discharge of the court’s functions. Such rules and code, however, shall not contravene any statutory provisions or any provisions of this Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.

Article 79

a) Treason against the Republic shall consist of:

(1) Levying war against the Republic;

(2) Aligning oneself with or aiding and abetting another nation or people with whom Liberia is at war or in a state of war;

(3) Acts of espionage for an enemy state;

(4) Attempting by overt act to overthrow the Government, rebellion against the Republic, insurrection and mutiny; and

(5) Abrogating or attempting to abrogate, subverting or attempting or conspiring to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or any other means which attempts to undermine this Constitution.

The Legislature shall have the power to declare the punishment for treason; provided, however, that such punishment shall not include a death sentence or the deprivation or forfeiture of the right of inheritance by the convicted person of any property although he may not be entitled to enjoyment thereof for as long as he continues to serve the term of imprisonment imposed after conviction in a court of competent jurisdiction. The right to enjoyment of any property inherited or otherwise conveyed to or acquired by such convicted person shall be automatically restored upon serving the term of imprisonment or other punishment, or upon an executive pardon by the President. No punishment shall preclude the inheritance and enjoyment, or cause the forfeiture by others entitled thereto, of any property which the convicted person at the time of any conviction or subsequent thereto may have possessed or been seized.

Article 80

Intermediate Appellate Court

Except as otherwise provided, upon the coming into force of these amendments to this Constitution, there shall be established in the Republic of Liberia three Intermediate Appellate Courts to be known and referred to as the 1st Judicial Intermediate Appellate Court; 2nd Judicial Intermediate Appellate Court; and the 3rd Judicial Intermediate Appellate Court of Liberia. And, except as otherwise provided, the First, Second and Third Judicial Intermediate Appellate Courts shall each be seated in the Cities of Monrovia, Buchanan and Gbarnga; Counties of Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Bong, Republic of Liberia; and they shall at all times share equal financial revenue and concurrent judicial powers with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia; except for all other matters that are exclusively rooted in Constitution of the Republic. And, except as otherwise provided, each Immediate Appellate Courts shall be administered and presided over by three (3) intermediate appellate judges each to be appointed by the President of Liberia and the President of the County Governors Association by the advice and consent of the Senate and the County Legislative Assembly. Each Intermediate Appellate Court of Liberia shall open on the Second Monday in March and October of each year to conduct judicial business.

Article 81

Immigration and Nationality Courts

Except as otherwise provided, upon coming into force of these amendments to this Constitution, there shall be established in the Republic of Liberia three specialized immigration and nationality courts to hereafter be known and referred to as the Immigration and Nationality Courts of Liberia, to be seated in the Cities of Monrovia, Buchanan, and Gbangba; Counties of Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Bong, Republic of Liberia. The immigration and nationality courts of Liberia shall open on the second Monday of each quarter to conduct judicial business. These courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction to hear all immigration and naturalization cases that shall arise in their respective jurisdictions consistent with the Alien and Nationality Law of the Republic. Appeals from the judgments of these specialized immigration courts shall lie before the intermediate appellate court sitting in their respective jurisdictions whose judgments shall be final; except where a writ of certiorari shall be prayed for and granted by the Supreme Court of the Republic.

Article 82

National Labor Courts

Except as otherwise provided, upon coming into force of these amendments to this Constitution, there shall be established in the Republic of Liberia three specialized National Labor Courts to hereafter be known and referred to as the National Labor Courts of Liberia to be seated in the Cities of Monrovia, Buchanan and Gbangba; Counties of Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Bong, Republic of Liberia. The National Labor Courts of Liberia shall open on the third Monday of each quarter to conduct judicial business. These courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction to hear all labor cases that shall arise in their respective jurisdictions consistent with the Labor Relations Laws of the Republic. Appeals from the judgments of these specialized courts shall lie before the intermediate appellate court sitting in their respective jurisdictions whose judgments shall be final; except where a writ of certiorari shall be prayed for and granted by the Supreme Court of the Republic rooted in the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. There shall be a judge appointed to head each of the National Labor and Immigration and Nationality Courts of the Liberia.

Article 84

National Judicial Commission

Except as otherwise provided, upon coming into force of these amendments to the Constitution of the Republic, there shall be established in Liberia a 5-man National Judicial Commission (NJC) with the power to vet, monitor, advise and recommend the appointment or impeachment of all justices of the Supreme, Intermediate Appellate and judges of the subordinate to the courts of Liberia and other high judicial offices of the Republic. The Commission shall work to strengthen the structure of the Rule of Law and Judiciary. Membership of the Commission shall consist of the former Chief Justice, President of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), and retired Judges of the Intermediate and Justices of the Supreme Courts of Liberia. The Commission shall have the power to independently investigate corruption, abuse of power and judicial impropriety in the Republic and advise the impeachment, removal and prosecution of all judicial officers.

Article 85

National Assets Recovery Commission

Except as otherwise provided, upon the coming into force of these amendments to the Constitution, there shall be established in the Republic a 5-man National Assets Recovery Commission (NARC) with the power to suspend and dispense with the Statute of Limitations to investigate, prosecute and recover all assets of the Republic abused and converted by officials of the Government of Liberia since 1970 and beyond 2018. The Commission shall establish a 3-man specialized tribunal and prosecutorial arms to recover assets owned by the Republic, but acquired by fraud and deception. Appeals from the tribunal of the Commission shall lie before the Intermediate Courts sitting in their respective jurisdictions whose judgment shall be final, except appealed to the Supreme Court by leave of the Supreme Court of the Republic. The Commissioners shall be appointed for 5years. All appeals from this Commission shall lie before the Intermediate Courts.

Article 86

National Economic Crimes Commission

Except as otherwise provided, upon coming into being of these amendments to the Constitution, there shall be established in Liberia and a 5-man National Economic Crimes Commission (NECC) with the power to inspect, inquire, investigate and prosecute all economic and financial crimes committed in the Republic of Liberia. The members of the Commission shall be appointed and commissioned for 5years.The Commission shall have a 3-man tribunal to hear and determine all economic and financial offenses. With the establishment of the Economic Crimes Commission, the Anti-Corruption is hereby dissolved and all matter pertaining to financial and economic crimes to including corruption, money laundering, and capital flight shall be vested in this Commission All appeals from this Commission shall lie before the Intermediate Courts.

Article 87

National Elections Court of Liberia

Except as otherwise provided, upon coming into being of these amendments to the Constitution, there shall be established in Liberia a 3-man National Elections Court of Liberia with the power to inspect, inquire, investigate and hear all national elections matters in the Republic. Appeals from this Court shall lie before the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia. Judges appointed to preside over this Court shall be for life, except that they may be retired at age 70 years. And except as otherwise provided, the National Elections Court of Liberia shall be seated in the City Trumansburg, Bomi County, Republic of Liberia and be responsible to hear all election matters.