Gov’t To Repeal Repressive Laws

By Melissa Chea-Annan

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says her Government will submit bills to the Legislature to repeal all repressive laws as found in the statutes and in decrees of the PRC.

Some of what have been described as repressive laws over the years and are in the Penal Law of the country are Sedition, Criminal Malevolence and Criminal Libel Against The President.

In her Annual Message addressed to the 3rdSession of the 53rd National Legislature on Monday, under the theme “Consolidating the Process of Transformation,” President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said Laws crafted must be consistent with the country’s national interests, determining, before submission to the lawmakers, the financial implications.

The Liberian leader indicated that antiquated laws that retard the promotion of their fledgling democracy should be abolished.

She boasted that her Government was one of the first two African States that signed the Table Mountain Declaration, which calls for decriminalizing freedom of expression.

President Sirleaf also urged the 53rdLegislature to consider the passage of bills that have been submitted but remain under deliberations, especially the Bill that would Repeal Chapter 60 of the Executive Law Creating the John F. Kennedy Medical Center and replace it with a new Chapter 60 to be titled The John F. Kennedy Medical Center Act (2013).

The President indicated that the Legislature should amend the Act establishing the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to provide for immediate Direct Prosecutorial Powers, and the New Executive Law of 1972 to establish the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.

In her more than two-hour long speech, President Sirleaf also urged the legislature to amend the Telecommunications Act of 2007 with respect to the Liberia Telecommunications Authority; and the Title 21 of the Liberian Code of Laws of 1956 to update the provisions of the Maritime Law and Maritime regulations to implement the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006.

President Sirleaf commended the lawmakers for the several bills that were passed in support of good governance and the rule of law, thereby promoting administrative efficiency and fostering peace and security for the people.

She pointed out that those bills that were passed to improve the investment climate and strengthen the financial system against money laundering; establishing a Financial Intelligence Unit; and creating the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and a semi-autonomous Revenue Authority need to be passed.

According to her the country’s Penal Code was strengthened by amendments on illicit human trafficking, extortion, environmental crimes, and fraud, while the Jury Law was amended to expand access to justice, improve sentencing in criminal cases, and to better facilitate the conduct of trials.

President Sirleaf also urged the Legislature to amend the Penal Code by providing for the Criminal Conveyance of Land.

In a related development, President Sirleaf has called on the 53rd Legislature to ratify some of those bills that have been submitted to them.

She named some of those Bills as the Instrument of Accession to the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures.

The President said the lawmakers should ratify the Bill on the Financing Agreement for the Health Systems Strengthening Project between Government and the International Development Association (IDA); as well as the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty and the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

She also made reference to the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Importation and the Control of Hazardous Wastes in Africa, and the Constitution of the African Civil Aviation Commission, which she said need to be ratified.

Other Bills the President urged the Legislature to ratify include the Charter of the Africa Finance Corporation; the African Union Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; and the African Union Non-Aggression and Common Defence Pact.

The Liberian leader also stressed the need for the ratification of Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights; the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and the Protocol to the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.

President Sirleaf said the Legislature should ratify those Bills that seek the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the Convention on the African Energy Commission; the OAU Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa and the Cotonou Partnership Agreement as well as the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons.

President Sirleaf explained that several new statutory districts were established for local government which is likely to be integrated into a larger governance structure once the Local Government Act is passed.

She said this will ensure that new statutory districts are not created solely for political purposes or would not impose undue burdens on the National Budget.