The alarming rate at which pretrial detainees have reach across prison facilities in the country has claimed the attention of the United Nation Mission in the country.
The Deputy Representative of the Secretary General for Political and Rule of Law (DSRSG), Mr. Waldemar Vrey says the prevalence of pretrial of detention continue to post challenge to the country. Mr. Waldemar Vrey stated that, as of April 2017, 69% of the total prison population was awaiting trial and the highest number of pretrial detainees are those trial with serious offences. “If a sustainable strategy for reduction is not put into place the security in Liberia will be at risk,” said Very. The UNMIL deputy chief made the comments at the opening of the judicial retreat taking place in Gbarnga Bong County under the theme: “strengthening the rule of law through enhancing judicial performances”. The Gbarnga retreat which is the first of its kind in the history of the judiciary, the third branch of government which is responsible to interpret the law, is intended to assess the performance of the judiciary. Up to two hundred judges and magistrates including the Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor Sr., and the four Associate Justices, are attending the three days event that is expected to come at a close on Saturday May 20, 2017. 0n the performance of the judiciary, Vrey stated that “progress has indeed been made in some areas, recent decision taken to suspend erring judges and lawyers are welcome examples and will strengthen public confidence in the impartiality of the court. However, much remains to be done and it is his hope that the retreat will provide the platform for the judiciary to assess progress and commit to clear and defined actions to be taken with a timeline which will truly enhance judicial performance. “It is important to understand that an effective criminal justice system is even more essential in this year of change in Liberia,” he said. On the question of the 2017 legislative and presidential elections, Vrey iterated that the judiciary must contribute to a peaceful transfer of power in this election year, and how to take forward national resolution for the criminal justice system. In terms of the judiciary, he added, Liberians are expecting a fair and timely application of the rule of law to all cases of electoral dispute whether in regard to the electorates or conducts of the candidates or political parties or national elections commission. He called on the chief justice and other judges to placed upper most into their minds their roles in sustaining peace in Liberia and ensuring the protection and fundamental rights, focus on what will make the judiciary a corner stone in Liberia and a true advocate for the supremacy for the rule of law.