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Gongloe warns against Executive control of Judiciary

Liberian Observer/Maximilian Kasseh, Jr.
Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, President, Liberia National Bar Association
Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, President, Liberia National Bar Association

MONROVIA, LIBERIA-The newly elected president of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, says: “Nobody will like to invest in a country when the judiciary is controlled by the Executive branch of government.”

Cllr. Gongloe raised the concern in an interview on December 2, 2018, following his election as President of the LNBA recently in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

He delved into the saga in which the House of Representatives wants to remove Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, which has become a tussle for several weeks, that he believes some elements demonstrate the disrespect for the rule of law and afraid that foreign investors could be scared off  investing in the economy to the country’s detriment.

Cllr. Gongloe pointed to an act of disrespect for the rule of law, particularly in the on-going impeachment proceedings involving Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh, and noted that regardless of whether or not the proceeding was correct, the Legislature should have adhered to the law by making an appearance in the Supreme Court.

Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe is known in the public space for his frank and strict approach to legal issues and human rights.  Most times he has been referred to as a “Pro bono” lawyer who renders legal services freely to people who cannot afford legal representation.

On the contrary, he said the House of Representatives, headed by Speaker Bhofal Chambers, refused the order from the high court, which he noted was a total disrespect to the Supreme Court.

He said at the time of this occurrence, the Liberia National Bar should have spoken against what the Legislature did, because it was a gross disrespect to the law and the high court.

He said as the case goes to the impeachment proceedings, he is watching to see if the Chief Justice will preside over an impeachment proceeding that is growing out of disrespect for the rule of law and the Supreme Court.

He said if the Chief Justice presides over this very matter, he will be conspiring with the Legislature to undermine the Supreme Court and the rule of law.

Cllr. Gongloe added that for the Chief Justice to preside over the proceedings at the Legislature will indicate that he is conspiring to overthrow the rule of law, and he (Gongloe) believes that the good judgment of the Chief Justice will not allow him to do that because he will be acting against himself.
He said if he were president of the Bar at the time, he would have come out with a statement because the act by the Legislature to disrespect the high court undermines the legal profession, which lawyers depend on to make a living.

Cllr. Gongloe argued that the court was not set up for “small people” alone as far as Article 11 (c) is concerned.  The Article states:  “All persons are equal before the law and therefore entitled to the equal protection of the law.”

He said without respect for the rule of law and human rights, and without equity in the application of the law for both ordinary citizens and the elite to feel the impact, there will be no peace. He, therefore, said his colleagues have given him the mandate by voting him to defend the law.

On the establishment of a war crimes court to prosecute people who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, Cllr. Gongloe, who has earlier made his position clear that he supports the venture, said the Bar will come up with its decision. He promised to encourage members of the Bar to support it as he does, because there can be no way for an organization of legal professionals to be neutral in an issue relating to the abuse of human rights.

He said in the establishment of a war crimes court, lawyers will be asked to provide counsel, Liberian judges will form a part and there will be so many things that will need the intervention of the lawyers.

With a threatening statement from Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson that his house will be visited by fighters in case the call for a war crimes court results into war, Cllr. Gongloe, who is also from Nimba County, said he cannot dignify this statement and its source.


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