By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-Judges of the First Judicial Circuit Criminal Courts, Montserrado County have sent a caveat to the National Government, particularly the Minister of Finance Development Planning, (MFDP) to restitute the total of US$182,268.00 illegally cut from their salaries in keeping with Article 72 (a)(b) of the Constitution of Liberia.
This comes at a time when judges are craving the kind indulgence of the Government of Liberia to increase the budgetary allocation of the Judiciary Branch of Government, and the entire Security Sector of Liberia for the fiscal year 2023 to maintain law and order, and also to sustain the peace in the country, during the electoral process.
The highest budgetary allocation that the judiciary has ever received in the past seventeen (17_0 years was nineteen (19) million united states dollars in 2006, during the administration of the late Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis, since then, the budget of the judiciary has suffered serious shortfalls.
Speaking at the opening of Criminal Circuit Courts of the February Term, Judge Blamo Dixson mentioned that the total amount of money that Minister Samuel Tweah illegally deducted from Judges’ Salaries is over the period of forty (40) months of three years four months from October 31, 2019, at the rate of US$911.34 per month as at January 31, 2023is equivalent to US$36,453.60 for each judge using US$1.00 to LD$150.00.
“I derived the said amount when I did a case study of my salaries in both Liberian and United States dollars components. the result is applicable to all judges because we earned the same salary,” he disclosed.
Judge Dixson further: “US$911.34 multiplied by forty months as of January 31, 2023, is equal to US$36,453.60 which the minister owed each judge in the republic of Liberia and must be refunded, including the monies owed our magistrates, support staff, as well as bailiffs, messengers, drivers, cooks, and cleaners before July 26, 2023.”
To sum up, Judge Dixson noted that there was no salary disparity in the judiciary, the third branch of the government of the republic of Liberia, the anchor of justice and fulcrum of democracy; when the illegal harmonization exercise was discussed and implemented.
“All of the Associate Justices of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia were earning the same and equal salaries and benefits likewise the Judges. He continues “The illegal harmonization exercise was not a national program as contempt by article 72 (a) of the constitution to warrant diminishment of the salaries of justice and judges.”
Judge Dixson maintained there was no salary disparity which is why the US$36,453.60 owed each judge, during the period under review is constant across the board. US$36,453.60 multiplied by five is equivalent to US$182,268.00, which the minister owed the five judges presiding today.
“We shall continue the advocacy for the refund of our monies, which are increasing every day as we are working. We shall keep you posted at every opening of courts until our monies are retroactively refunded for our wellbeing and upkeep,” he noted.