Letter To President Sirleaf
Haywood Mission Chapel Institute
Old Road, Sinkor
December 1, 2013
Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Republic of Liberia
Ministry of State
Dear Madam President:
Thank you very much for ably leading us through a transitional period at which time the 1986 Constitution was not fully functional due to the civil wars and agreements reached by representations of factional Liberians outside the Republic. You are now nearing completing the first two years of the first of two six years terms given by the Constitution-(Article 50). The Supreme and Fundamental Law of Liberia “Provisions shall have binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the Republic”. (Article 2)
Madam President, Liberians, especially those in Monrovia, are again beginning to gradually see the restoration of some basic pre-war facilities provided to the citizens and residences by the Government that were destroyed during the years of civil wars; such as, electricity, pipe bond water, conditioned roads (and regular monthly payments unprecedented). There are more news outlets (Print & Electronic) than ever before in the history of our Republic. There are more freedom of speech (even to such extreme) than ever before in the history of our Republic. However, the level of liberties and freedoms to do whatever is pleasing in one’s own eyes than ever before in the history of our Republic is a very troubling situation in our society, and this is what I want to be critical about.
The deliberate refusal (or the inability) to enforce laws, rules, regulations, policies, etc, by the Executive Branch of Government (which you are the head) has made it to appear like the new role for the Executive is to make laws. Your Government is very, very good at crafting policies, but never able to fully implement them because you lack supervisors and law enforcers; not withstanding though, you have but one supervisor or enforcer of laws and policies, and that one is Mary T. Broh. The Executive Branch of Government enforces the law; but this other Executive does not enforce laws and it looks like no one is in charge (no supervisors); and that everyone should do just whatever seems good in his or her eyes.
Madam President, I do not think you should be a proud President of a country where there are no law and order. Our society is a lawless one to such extent that large numbers of vehicles and bikes ply the streets not indentified with license plates; businesses are established just anyhow, anytime, anywhere and everyone has his or her own prize for goods and services. Every driver has his own fare for transportation; no one cares to follow rules and regulations and no one is enforcing rules and regulations (except when it is in the best- personal interest of the enforcer); as such, these wrongful and unwholesome attitudes and behaviors in our society are going unchecked daily, and the Government is playing the blind eyes.
Taxes are evaded with impunity. For example, vehicles with private licenses plates are running commercial; licenses plates are transferred from one vehicle to another without going through the process of registration; two vehicles carrying the same license plate- taking the plate from the back of a vehicle and placing it at the front of the other vehicle-(most vehicles are seen with a plate only at the front) ; businesses are established without registration; laws are just made, but they are not enforced; and as such, they are not obeyed. This is “Weakness” in the content of an “IRON LADY”. You must gear up.
Madam President, here is another major point: the Supreme Court of Liberia has clearly opened up to view this (Your) Government’s inability to fight against corruption (also) due to the absence of “Claims Courts” bearing on the judiciary system of the Republic of Liberia during the recent European Union Delegation’s visit with the Judiciary Branch of Government. So, please stop shifting blame on the Judiciary. The Legislative and Executive Branches are responsible.
Note! The Chief Justice said on the issue of the trial of individuals in other branches accused of corruption by the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission and Ministry of Justice, “these trails may be challenged by rules governing evidence”
Madam President, why do you think the Chief Justice had to say so? It is due to the absence of “Claims Courts” in the judiciary system of the Republic of Liberia. Since there are no Claims Courts in the system, “Corruption” can only be treated as a “prima facie case” requiring the provision of extraneous details evidence – “beyond a reasonable doubt” (enough evidence). [Who can determine what “enough evidence” is for a Justice Minister, the prosecutor of crimes for the state?] Remember, it is the state that has the legal duty to prosecute crimes. Here stands the challenge to which the Chief Justice had to highlight “rules governing evidence” challenged; because, to produce “enough evidence” for the Justice Minister to prosecute (one of its kinds) in criminal court for corruption means you should be ready to come up against every technicality in the book (except the Justice Minister holds personal issues with the accused).
If “Claims Courts” have been in the system, the Chief Justice would not have spoken of “rules governing evidence” because, the Justices are aware of the common law doctrine, ( res ipas loquitur- the thing speaks for itself), that when the fact makes itself evident that negligence or other responsibility lies with a party, it will not be necessary to provide extraneous details, since any reasonable person would immediately find the facts of the case; such that, any person or any association could have taken anyone of your officials of Government accused of corruption to Claims Courts for negligence.
Madam President, the elements to determine the liability for negligence are very clear. The plaintiff was owned a duty of care through a special relationship. Those, for example, that have been affected by the “army warm” directly or indirectly owned a ”duty of care” that the Minister of Agriculture was liable for. Therefore, if audit revealed shortage that breached the duties which directly caused the injury, the Minister is liable.
The revelation given by the Supreme Court firstly points to the failure of the Legislature to constitute “Claims Courts” (according to Article 34-e of 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia); and secondly, to be followed by the role of the President (in Article 35). With the absence of the Claims Courts, alleged corruption against government officials can only be established as a crime to be prosecuted by the state because, under our law, it is the state that persecutes crimes. Also, under our law, the persecution has the burden of presenting ”prima facie evidence” for each element of the crime charged against the defendant. The party with the legal burden of proof making or building a case to signify on first extermination, matter appears to be evidence from the fact must be guided by Section 15.60. [PENAL LAW OF LIBERIA]
Proof[Property entrusted to public servant or officer of financial institute.]
“To show that an officer of the Government has failed to account upon lawful demand for money entrusted to him or her as part of his or her official duties and audit reveals a shortage or falsification of accounts, it shall be a prima facie case of theft under section 15.51 through 15.53”; which means, said allegations have to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Madam President, the burden of proof lies with the accuser and the state becomes the accuser in criminal cases. Do you really expect the Justice Minister to go through such extraneous details to prosecute a colleague? It will be to expose loopholes in government which they all (Ministers) enjoy.
Given all the facts: to have the system of prohibition and penalties to deal with the conduct of an official of government, preventing likely recurrence of an act of a corrupt behavior, “Claims Courts” must be constituted in the judiciary system, because Article 26 of the 1986 Constitution says: “… anyone injured by an act of the Government or any person acting under its authority, whether in property, contract, tort or otherwise, shall have the right to bring suit for appropriate redress. All such suits… shall originate in a Claims Court; appeals from judgment of the Claims Court shall lie directly to the Supreme Court.” As long as there are no “Claims Courts,” the only option is to go to Criminal Court; because, only ‘Prima facie’ lawsuits against officials of Government can be addressed be our judiciary system. Whoever alleges that an official of Government is corrupt, must be able to provide “enough evidence” to the Justice Minister (the prosecutor?). (Who can determine what “enough evidence” for a Justice Ministry is?)
Madam President, the Bill “to constitute a Claims Court in each Country in the Republic of Liberia” (Sponsored by Hon. J. Byron Brown of District #4, Grand Bassa County) has passed in the house of Representative since April and forwarded to the House of Senate for concurrence. Sen. Joseph N. Nagbe, Chairman for the Judiciary Committee said to me that we do not need Claims Courts in Liberia. Therefore, he has taken no interest to convene his committee members to consider the constitution of Claims Courts in our judiciary system.
You will be very surprise to know that the Senator and Counselor said the Constitution is not right to say that Claims Courts be constituted in our judiciary system, after reading Article 26 to him, when he had earlier argued that the Constitution does not say, we should have Claims Courts. Of cause, a counselor saying such reveals one of two things: (1), the Counselor was one of those kinds of law students who do not read. They just have “big-big mouth”; no substance, because they have not been able to give the required time needed for Law and its studies; or (2), the Counselor knows that he can hide behind the absence of Claims Courts and be very, very corrupt with impunity. He knows the Law. To be able to show that he has failed to account for money entrusted to him, you will have to provide a “prima facie evidence” to the state to be used to prosecute him. (The burden of proof rests with you, who are the accuser.)
Madam President, I do not believe Liberians will ever elect a female President again. Therefore, please leave this un-beating legacy. “Claims Courts” constituted under your signature can never be rewritten. Since 1847, ‘Claims Courts’ have not been constituted in our judiciary system. Why? Would you not want to take such historic advantage of the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy under your signature as the only female (around the whole world)?
However, you are the President. Do as you wish; only history will judge you.
Thank you and let the Almighty God, Jesus Christ blesses the works of your hands and save our state.
Augustus Daikai Jones