By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has challenged her government to commit to the fight against corruption through the process of prosecution as she promises to submit a bill to the Legislature for the creation of a specialized court to be identified as Criminal Court ‘F’.
“We will submit a bill outlining procedures for the exercise of the constitutional authority for Expropriation, and a bill creating Criminal Court ‘F’ as a specialized court for economic crimes of corruption,” she said.
Making the disclosure yesterday when she delivered her State of the Nation’s Address as a constitutional requirement in line with Article 58, President Sirleaf said corruption continues to create the lack of systems in institutions and government policies amidst deep rooted poverty.
She said Liberia has made good progress by establishing integrity institutions, developing systems and improving compensation of public servants but admitted that better housing and systems among other things are at risk due to rampant corruption.
“Let us commit to fighting corruption that destroys the principle of our pride and make us slaves to vested interest. We request the Judiciary to effect trial for those caught in the act of corruption,” she said.
She said the laws mandating the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) the powers to act limited its authority to prosecute corrupt individuals and institutions because it involved the Ministry of Justice thereby causing delays but would recommend amendments that would give the Commission direct prosecutorial powers.
“Again we ask for the passage of the amendment to the Act that created the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to authorize direct prosecutorial powers for the Commission without delay caused by the current law which requires the Commission to first refer the matter to the Ministry of Justice,” she told the Legislature.
Addressing other issues on her Legislative Agenda, President Sirleaf said she intends to submit a number of legislations that would improve governance including the Act to permit dual citizenship which would enable Liberians who were compelled to seek refuge in other countries to become more active participants in the process of nation building.
Among instruments envisaged by the Liberian leader to which she is craving speedy passages are a bill to establish the Liberian National Tourism Authority and A New Local Government Act; an amendment to the charter of the University of Liberia, a bill to amend the 1989 Act creating the National Commission on Higher Education, a bill to grant autonomy to the Liberia Board for Nursing and Midwifery and the amendment to the Liberia Refuge Repatriation and Resettlement Commission Act of 1993 to expand provisions for refugees and make provisions for asylum seekers and stateless persons.