The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Justice Francis Korkpor, has warned judges, magistrates and other judicial personnel not to leave the country during the state of emergency.
He said unless authorized “under extreme circumstances” by the Supreme Court, any judge or court personnel absenting themselves from work during this period will be tantamount to “abandonment of the job.”
According to the Liberia News Agency, Chief Justice Korkpor gave the warning during a meeting of the Supreme Court held at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia Thursday.
Chief Justice Korkpor told the judicial assembly that his warning is in line with the President’s order that no government official should leave the country in the wake of the national emergency.
Justice Korkpor ordered that those already out of the country must return to work within one week or consider themselves liable for abandoning their jobs.
He said the judiciary has also taken Ebola precautionary measures, including reduction in the number of jurors and jury trials, control of visitations of non-litigants to courts, and fast-tracking of bailable offenses involving pre-trial detainees.
Chief Justice Korkpor then encouraged judges, magistrates and senior judicial administrators to strictly observe the preventive measures put in place by the government to contain the Ebola virus in the country.
Touching on the issue of the Circuit Court judges who are yet to take up assignment in parts of the country for fear of contracting the Ebola Virus, Justice Korkpor encouraged them to yield to the national call as the wheels of the judiciary must keep spinning in dispensing justice.
He advised judges against issuing writs of arrest during this national health crisis period, except for armed robbery, murder, rape and other major criminal offenses.
He said they should instead issue summons when the need arises.
The Chief Justice indicated that the judiciary has concluded arrangement to purchase medical instrument to check the temperature of justices, judges, magistrates and other judicial personnel as well as other people before entering the Temple of Justice and courts across the country.
Meanwhile, Justice Korkpor has clarified that the state of emergency does not suspend the writ of habeas corpus which is one of the constitutional provisions that protect the rights of Liberians and foreign residents.