LIBERIA: Corruption Rampant In Security Sector –Judge Chenoweth Alleges

KAKATA, May 15 (LINA) – The Resident Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Kakata, Margibi County, Judge Mardea Tarr-Chenoweth, says corruption is endemic in the security sector, particularly among the police.

Judge Chenoweth said a survey conducted among Liberians found that trust in the police is extremely low.

She said in the survey report, only 2% of Liberians said that the police were not corrupt, while 44% believes that all police officers are corrupt and 42% that they don’t deserve trust at all.

Judge Chenoweth made the statement Monday at the 13th Judicial Circuit Court when she delivered the Judge’s Charge at the opening of court for its May Term.

She further quoted the report as saying that police officers reportedly routinely extort money from citizens at all stages of a case; from registering complaints to requiring money to go to a crime scene, to obtaining release from detention, among others.

“In some other instances, accused persons have also charged the police of manipulating cases to change civil matters to criminal cases and that since the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), people are now kept at some police detention cells beyond the legally stipulated 48 hours period with no justification,” Judge Chenoweth further stated.

She also said, on the other hand, according to the same survey, some 25% of Liberians don’t trust the courts, while 23% believe that all judges are corrupt, and 3% feel the judges are not corrupt.

“These widely different levels of trust towards the country’s justice sector institutions will bear heavily on the sustenance of the democracy in our country,” she pointed out.

The female judge maintained that the perception of trust of the security and justice sector actors are especially important since experience shows that when the public does not have confidence in the institutions whose mandate is to protect citizens, then violence is more likely, as individuals feel they need to take the law into their own hands.

In his response to the Judge’s Charge, Margibi County Attorney Cllr. H. Deddeh J. Wilson welcomed the remarks made by Judge Chenoweth and assured her office’s full cooperation and collaboration during the May Term of court.

Cllr. Willson further assured the Judge that she will be very meticulous in the discharge of her duties during the entire May Term so as to bring transparent justice to all parties.

Over 50 cases, including 47 criminal and 13 civil cases are on the docket, with rape topping (8) followed by three murder cases for the 2019 May Term.

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