President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed a renewed sense of hope in the economic recovery of Liberia. She said ‘today Liberia is recovering’.
In a contributive article sent to two Canadian Newspapers namely the Mail and Globe recently, President Sirleaf said, “strong economic growth and the development of a vibrant civil society have been possible through the work of the international community, but most importantly, the tenacity of Liberians themselves.”
“Ten years ago this month, Liberia began its journey from peace to recovery. The peace accords signed in Ghana ended the second of two devastating civil wars, leaving more than a quarter of a million dead, my country’s infrastructure destroyed and the lives of exhausted survivors shattered. The task before us seemed overwhelming,” President Sirleaf wrote.
The Liberian leader said, “Yet judging progress is not always an exact science. Some indicators cannot be debated, economic growth and many of our Millennium Goals, such as the reduction of child mortality and action to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, show clear, audited improvement.”
President Sirleaf further wrote, “Other developments can only be more subjectively viewed, such as the impact of judicial reforms and laws on freedom of speech.”
President Sirleaf said there has long been a debate within the international media as to whether economic growth must be the priority for post-conflict countries, or whether freedom of speech and justice founded on the rule of law should come first.
However she said many developing nations, including those in Africa, have found this debate puzzling saying, “Of course, say some; how can a hungry man care for democracy or the right to assembly when he is starving? “
The Liberian President said, “In Liberia we find such arguments without merit. We see liberty and dignity as the ability to enjoy both economic opportunity and the right to criticize those in power.”
“No man can be truly free when he enjoys only one, but not the other. We believe it is the inalienable right of anyone, whether an individual citizen or the holder of high office, to expect equality of justice from the courts if they believe they have been wronged. There can be no justice at all if some in society are exempted from the law through the office they hold or the profession they practice,” the President wrote.
She said to that end, Liberia is a signatory to the Table Mountain Declaration on press freedom in Africa, the second African nation to sign.
“We have instituted a Freedom of Information Act so Liberians can question the decisions of government at all times. We have worked with international legal experts to ensure that our courts operate independently outside of the influence of the executive,” President Sirleaf wrote.
“Giving the government and elites the right to intervene in cases considered by an independent judiciary would be to continue the powers of impunity that previously led Liberia down the road to disaster. Recent calls for the government to intervene in a libel case between a leading journalist and a minister taken to court in a private prosecution would be to act against the laws we have instituted separating the powers of the executive from the judiciary,” She wrote. See full text article on page three.