-With Clear Function, Location of the Ombudsman Office
By R. Joyclyn Wea
Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia is recommending the revision of the 2014 Code of Conduct and the statues of all integrity institutions and agencies of Government with objective to amend and harmonize all statues thus ensuring compliance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution which seeks to prevent corruption and ensure honesty, credibility, integrity and accountability in the governance of the Country.
Justice Gloria Musu Scott said part X of the 2014 Code of Conduct is self-defeating and less than the mandated purpose stipulated in Article 90 of the Constitution for the promulgation of this Act.
She further mentioned that the authority granted to the National Elections Commission (NEC) by the Supreme Court to exercise discretion on a case basis for the determination of intentional violation of the resignation requirement as less than egregious, for appointed public officials who apply to contest for elective offices, erodes and defeats the constitutional intent of Article 90, legislated in Part V of the 2014 Code of Conduct.
The Former Liberian Chief Justice claimed that the code lacks provisions that clearly and sufficiently defined the function, power, and authority of the ombudsman office and that the function of the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission as provided in Part V, Section 5.2 (I) of the 2008 LACC Act, conflicts with the office of the Ombudsman provided for in the 2014 Code of Conduct.
Justice Scott bewailed “Compliance with Part X of the 2014 Code of Conduct exposed a process and procedure which protect the privacy of public officials and prevent easy access to public scrutiny and monitoring of accumulation of wealth by officials.”
She added “The code requires that a listing of assets be deposited at designated offices in the three branches of government, other than the ombudsman office. Access to the declaration of assets, even by the office of the ombudsman, may be obtain only by court order. To obtain a court order, the one making the request must have a standing; that is the law and procedure laid down in the 2014 code of conduct.”
Justice Scott further indicated that the office of the ombudsman statutorily authorized to implement the code is not listed as an authorized depository of the listings of the receipt evidencing hat the said Declaration of Assets had been accordingly deposited something that make it self-defeating and a built in challenge to its implementation and a hindrance to the spirit and intent of Chapter 11, article 90 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
“After a constitutional mandate to the legislature, twenty-eight years lapsed, before the code of conduct was finally legislated. The public has no information whatsoever about the location, function, and operation of the ombudsman office, created by the 2014 code of conduct. Mean9ng the implementation of the provisions of the code which ensures honesty, integrity, transparency, ethics, and accountability in the public sector, continue to remain lifeless, dormant and unimplemented,” the Former Chief Justice Scott narrated.