'Rule of Law Sector in Need of Support to Improve Access to Justice'

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The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) for Rule of Law, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, says the rule of law sector remains in need of support in order to improve access to justice across Liberia. Ms. Mensa-Bonsu made the statement in Lofa County as she handed over to the judicial authorities of Liberia two newly constructed court houses in Kolahun and Foya districts. The buildings were funded through the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Quick Impact Projects scheme.

“The issue of improving access to justice has been identified by the Government of Liberia, in its application to the Peace Building Commission, as one of its priorities,” Ms. Mensa-Bonsu said. “The UN, knowing the importance of the administration of justice and the promotion of the rule of law as part of the recovery process in Liberia, will continue to support the government to establish rule of law institutions across the country.”

The DSRSG noted that during the last financial year, the Quick Impact Project scheme provided funding for the building of magisterial courts; police stations for the Liberia National Police; depots for the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization; and detention facilities for the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation, totaling almost 40 projects across the rule of law sector. Further emphasizing the UN’s contribution to improve substantive access to justice, the Deputy UN Envoy disclosed that the Legal and Judicial Support Services Division of UNMIL, working closely with the Ministry of Justice, has put in place mentoring programs for County Attorneys, Public Defenders and other actors in the Liberian justice sector.

Ms. Mensa-Bonsu also expressed appreciation to all who worked hard towards the success of the projects, including members of the UN family. She thanked the communities for remaining interested in the development of the projects. She however cautioned them that the buildings and equipment should never be attacked or destroyed as a protest against some perceived injustice or inefficiency in the delivery of justice, and urged the community leaders in both districts to engage with the youth who tend to resort to vandalism of state properties whenever they have a grievance of any kind, to cease and desist from such activities.

The Magistrate of the Kolahun Magisterial Court, Mr. Henry Nyuma, said the presence of a modern courthouse in Kolahun was a dream come true for the people of the district. Likewise the Solicitor General of Liberia, Counselor M. Wilkins Wright, thanked UNMIL for the support given to the rule of law sector.

Prior to handing over the buildings, DSRSG Mensa-Bonsu paid a courtesy call on Lofa County Superintendent, Galakpai Kortimai, who briefed her about the challenges faced in the rule of law sector. DSRSG Mensa-Bonsu also held interactive discussions with the representative of the Circuit Court Judge, City Solicitor, County Attorney, Defense Counsel, Magistrates, representatives of security agencies in the County, civil society organizations as well as UN Rule of Law actors. The DSRSG encouraged all actors to continue to work hard in the discharge of their respective functions, despite the existing challenges.

The hand-over of the courthouses was also attended by UNMIL Deputy Police Commissioner John Nielsen, local authorities, local judicial and security hierarchies, traditional leaders, and UNMIL personnel in Lofa County.