MONROVIA-Judges and Magistrates across Liberia have reached a resolution to drag the Weah’s led government to court over salary cut of their salaries, saying it is a bridge of Article 72(a) of the country’s constitution.
According to the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, Article 72(a) states that “Justices of the Supreme Court and all other judges shall receive such salaries, allowances and benefits as shall be established by law. Such salaries shall be subject to taxes as defined by law, provided that they shall not otherwise be diminished. And allowances and benefits paid to Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts may by law be increased but may not be diminished except under a national program enacted by the Legislature; nor shall such allowances and benefits be subject to taxation.”
Judges and Magistrates reached this decision to file a Class Action against the Liberian Government relative to salary harmonization exercise that allegedly led to reduction in their salaries.
The pending ‘class action by these key judicial actors is also in confirmative with canon number six of the Judiciary Law of Liberia.
It states, “Judges and magistrates should refrain from accepting offer and doing business in order to dispense justice without fear or favor.”
In 2019 the Government of Liberia cut down salaries payment affecting all public officials including judges, magistrates and justices of the Supreme Court.
But the National Trial Judges Association of Liberia (NTJAL) is seeking a Class Action against the Government with the intent to prevent the ongoing harmonization process against them which they say is hammering their responsibilities.
According to our source, that is also part of this agreement, judges and magistrates have reached to the point where their pending action will lead to them abandoning activities from the courts as means of pressurizing the Government in connection with their demands consistent with the law.
The judge’s decision was reached June 12, 2021, after the Fourth National Judicial Conference, where a five count resolution was drafted mandating the leadership of the NTJAL to file said action before the nation’s highest court as provided by law.
In a related development, NATJL judges are divided over dragging the Weah led government to Court.
The National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia (NATJL) distanced itself from the planned Class action against the government of Liberia relative to the questionable harmonization of judges’ salaries.
NATJL says whilst it is true that there was a resolution drafted at the end of the June 12, 2021 NATJL conference relative to the questionable’ harmonization’ of judges salaries, such resolution has not been officially released as it continues to be worked on by the resolution committee.
The Judges hold that what is being reported by the media is not and cannot be the resolution from the conference as it has not been finalized.
“We like to be clear; Judges are sensitive and quite cognizant of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency and the strain it is putting on the government and people of Liberia. Whist it is true that there is a collective position on the questionable ‘harmonization’ of judges salaries, it is also true that it would be ill-timed to raise the issue or make demands, however legitimate, in the midst of an emergency that is overwhelming the government,” the release noted.
The release signed by L. Ben Barco and Judge Eva Mappy Morgan, secretary general and President of the National Trial Judges of Liberia mentioned that the matter of questionable harmonization of judges salaries will be taken up at the appropriate time, but certainly not in the midst of this COVID-19 emergency currently ravaging the country.
“We encourage our colleagues to be patient as we all work collectively to bring the covid-19 pandemic which is claiming the lives of many of our compatriots under control” the release said.
The NATJL released added “we like to reiterate that the purported resolution circulating out there is not the resolution of the June 12, 2021 NATJL conference because the resolution of the conference has not been fully signed.