LIBERIA: Supreme Court Dismisses Request for Declaratory Judgment

Full Bench Of The Supreme Court Of Liberia
Full Bench Of The Supreme Court Of Liberia

(LINA) – The Supreme Court has reversed and dismissed the ruling of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Montserrado County affirming that the Citizens Solidarity Council has the right to petition the court for a declaratory judgment against the state.

In the petition, the Citizens Solidarity Council in 2014 questioned the constitutionality of Part Five (5) Section Five (5.1a, b & c, 5.2 a & b) of the National Code of Conduct of the Republic of Liberia.

Section 5.1 a, b & c states that all Officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not: a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; b) use Government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities; c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.

Whereas  5.2 a & b provides that “Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the following shall apply; a) Any Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General, Managing Director and Superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution and a Managing Director appointed by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections; b) Any other official appointed by the President who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three (3) years prior to the date of such public elections.”

Relying on Articles two and 26, the Citizens Solidarity Council sought the direction of the highest court in the land.

However, the high court, in its ruling read by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, said: “In order for a group or organization such as the Citizens Solidarity Council to have standing to sue on behalf of its members, it must demonstrate that it has authorized its chairman or corporate officer to bring the suit.

The court also indicated that the petitioner or its members are real parties of interest with sufficient stake in the case.

The court clarified that a mere interest is not sufficient by itself to render the group or organization adversely affected or aggrieved for which it should be given standing to obtain judicial review.

It added in the ruling that the petitioner must also state facts, injury to make a case or controversy as its members would have made, had they themselves brought the case to court.

The Supreme Court has ordered its clerk to mandate the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Montserrado County to resume jurisdiction over the case and to inform the parties of its judgment.

Meanwhile, the judgment, a copy of which is in the possession of the Liberia News Agency, has indicated that Associate Justices Philip A.Z. Banks and Jamesetta Wolokolie did not sign the judgment for not being in agreement with the opinion of majority members of the bench.

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About Cholo Brooks 15592 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.