Home Governance Alleged Armed Robbers Will Be Released If… …Newly Commissioned Criminal Court ‘D’ Judge Asserts

Alleged Armed Robbers Will Be Released If… …Newly Commissioned Criminal Court ‘D’ Judge Asserts

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MONROVIA: The newly commissioned Resident Judge of Criminal ‘Court D’, at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Mameita Sirleaf, has informed the Ministry of Justice that she will be left with no alternative but to set freed pre-trial detainees accused of the crime of armed robbery if the government delayed in prosecuting them.

Criminal Court ‘D’ where Judge Sirleaf currently presides is responsible for cases bordering on acts of armed robbery.
She issued the word of cautions on Monday, May 8, 2023, as she assumed duty relative to her appointment as judge of the court.

She made the statements at program marking the opening of the May 2023 Criminal Courts A, B, C, D, and E, at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
The Judge has maintained that suspected armed robbers could be let out of prisons in respect of the country’s criminal procedure laws if their prosecution is delayed by the government.

Under Liberian laws, the Executive Branch of government is charged with the implementation or enforcement of the laws of the country; the Judiciary interprets the laws; while Legislature makes the laws.

Judge Sirleaf’s action, if implemented, would be backed by Chapter 18.2 of the criminal procure laws.
Chapter 18.2 of the law provides that unless for good cause, a court of competent jurisdiction shall discharge of a complaint against a defendant who has been indicted by the end of the next term of court after his arrest for any indictable offense.
Judge Sirleaf: “We know that it may be bad to release people accused of a felonious crime, such as armed robbery, but it will be equally wrong and illegal to detain an innocent person in jail for a long period of time who has not been found guilty. This means that this court can dismiss a criminal case if they are not indicted on time.”
Judge Sirleaf’s stance comes on the heels of media and other reports that the Monrovia Central Prison (South-Beach) including other prison facilities across the country are overcrowded with pretrial detainees.
It has been estimated that pretrial detainees at the South Beach account for 77% of prisoners. South Beach currently stands as Liberia’s most populated prison.
The prolonged delay in adjudicating cases keeps thousands of individuals incarcerated without trial, exacerbating the risk of increased criminality among pretrial detainees, undermining fundamental human rights, and significantly eroding public trust in the justice system, experts say.
The Criminal Court ‘D’ Judge noted that the Court would release any individuals accused of armed robbery if the Ministry of Justice failed to provide evidence for two subsequent terms of the court.
The judge said: “Prolonged detention without a trial is a violation of those rights, if anyone should infringe on the constitutional rights of any of our citizens, know that they too have the right to come to court for redress.”
“They are entitled to a speedy trial under our judicial system. I am now facing the reality of the challenges faced by prosecutors to expeditiously indict and prosecute pre-trial detainees in the absence of adequate financial support,” she maintained.
Judge Sirleaf added that many accused persons are languishing behind bars, contrary to the spirit and intent of the Constitution, which guarantees speedy justice.
She pointed out that as a judge; she is under legal and moral duty to ensure that the rights of all irrespective of position in society are guaranteed.

“We note therefore, that the intent of the author of our Constitution is that the government will provide resources to ensure that criminal cases are timely tried to protect the rights of the accused in pre-trial detention and the rights and security of those out of jail.”

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