Liberia’s outgoing Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) based in London, the United Kingdom, Atty. Isaac W. Jackson, Jr. is calling on the United States Government through its Embassy near Monrovia to deny visas to Liberian Justices and Judges deemed to be corrupt as was done in the case of Mr. Andrew Wonploe, former Director of Passport.
“For Liberia’s fledgling democracy to grow in strength, the international community needs to help prevent the re-emergence of a puppet Supreme Court in the country “, Jackson stressed’.
According to a release issued in Monrovia, Atty. Jackson recalls that the U.S State Department reports have repeatedly criticized the Judiciary for being corrupt, emphasizing that only an independent judiciary will produce a better Liberia; not a corrupt and compromised Court.
At the same time, the Liberian Permanent Rep to the IMO has written a formal letter of complaint to the Judicial Inquiry Commission, accusing Chief Justice Korkpor of violating the principles of natural justice, Judicial Canons 9, 10, 11, 16 and 28, as well as Article 20 (a) of the Constitution of Liberia. In his letter dated September 21, 2020, Jackson says that contrary to Judicial canons, 9, 10, 11, 16 and 28, His Honor, Chief Justice Korkpor proceeded to suspend his license to practice law based on a mere newspaper reportage – a suspension, and threat of permanent disbarment, announced in an Opinion which at the same time sided with the Executive to dismiss him from serving as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ensuring that he return home with his family unemployed, and effectively without a form of professional livelihood to support and care for himself, his wife, and his three innocent children.
Also, in his letter, Jackson accused Chief Justice Korkpor for violating the rule-of-thumb regarding the use of quotation marks. According to Atty. Jackson, in reciting the attribution made to him in the April 22, 2019 edition of FrontPageAfrica Newspaper relative to Chief Justice Korkpor’s claim of being insulted by him, the Chief Justice imputed to him words that he (Jackson) neither said nor were reported by the newspaper.
The former deputy information minister says these steps are the first geared towards seeking the intervention of the ECOWAS Court into the matter he termed as injustice and violation of his Constitutional as well as human rights.
According to the release, Atty. Jackson has instructed his team of lawyers, headed by Cllr. Finley Yujay Karngar, to take his grievances to the Abuja-based ECOWAS Court which exclusively deals with human rights issues in the West African Sub-region,
The Supreme Court of Liberia earlier this month denied Atty. Jackson’s petition for a prohibition on his removal as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO, bringing to a closure a two-year legal battle which now grants the George Weah led-administration the greenlight to recall him.
He was at the same time suspended from the practice of law for one calendar year due to what the Supreme Court Bench considered as invectives by him on the Chief Justice during the course of the hearing.
But Atty. Jackson said that contrary to the judicial oath, and to the agreeable silence of the four other distinguished Honorable Members of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice ordained himself, in obvious repudiation of the principles of natural justice, to be his accuser, judge and punisher, all at the same time.
According to Atty. Jackson, lawyers are not only trained to accept a Court’s Opinion; they’re also expected to disagree with a Court’s ruling, and to state politely their disagreements.
In his grievances to the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the outgoing Permanent Rep to the IMO, among other issues, stated that no matter how, in the opinion and words of the Chief Justice, “egregious, unprovoked, assault and insult” the attribution made to him in the FrontPageAfrica Newspaper, he (Jackson) was justly entitled to be heard (due process of law) before the decision to suspend his license was reached as stated in the Supreme Court’s Opinion.
“That I was served no NOTICE from the Supreme Court regarding contempt charges against me. Also, I was given no opportunity to mount a defence against Chief Justice, Korkpor’s allegation of being insulted by me. That contrary to judicial canons 9 and 28, the Chief Justice proceeded to bundle the two cases – the one which I brought before the Court against the all-powerful Executive, and the other which the Honorable Chief Justice himself placed before the Court, and without the benefit of hearing from me, persuaded his honorable colleagues that I was guilty as he had charged”, he continues in his letter of complaint.
Jackson’s letter of complaint also accuses Chief Justice Korkpor of taking absolutely no action to penelize the Executive for disobeying and disregarding the Supreme Court’s Order to renew he and his family diplomatic passports despites his best efforts to draw the attention of His Honor, the Chief Justice and the Honorable Supreme Court to the willful and blatant disregard of its directives issued to the Executive through the Offices of the Solicitor General on April 16, 2019. He argues that in many jurisdictions, the blatant and publicly challenging refusal to comply with and disregard for the decision and directive of a court, let alone the highest court in the land, will be considered grounds for criminal contempt. However, Jackson says the revere is happened in his case, in that, he and his family are still without renewed diplomatic passports as the Supreme Court looks on helplessly.
Atty. Jackson, according to the release, has described as the most dangerous and strange departure from the principles of natural justice the conduct of His Honor, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Sr: “I respectfully request an investigation be conducted into the matter which I have faithfully and truthfully submitted before the Judicial Inquiry Commission”, he concludes in his letter.
It can be recalled that on May 20, 2019, His Honor, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Sr. rudely interrupted and stopped the President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, while in speech-flight for criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision that impeached former Associate Justice Kabineh Jan’eh.
The situation drew barrage of criticisms against the Chief Justice, with one renowned lawyer who, on the basis of anonymity state, “It has never happened in the history of the LNBA since its formation in 1907 for any Chief Justice to stop a Bar President’s speech no matter how unpleasant that speech is as in the case of Gongloe”. The legal luminary went on to further challenge any historian to prove him wrong and show the record or the reference.
Atty. Jackson had contested that his appointment on September 23, 2016 as Liberia’s Permanent Rep to the IMO would only expire in September of 2021 as a five-year tenured position in keeping with the Maritime Act of 2010 and Article 89 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.
Upon his ascendency to the presidency, President George M. Weah named Mr. Moses Owen Browne to the post as a replacement for Atty. Jackson in flagrant disregard to the Maritime Act of 2010.
Atty. Jackson then filed a Writ of Prohibition at the Supreme Court of Liberia, protesting the President’s appointment. Upon conducting preliminary hearings into the Case, on July 23, 2018, the Supreme Court issued a Stay Order, requesting all parties to return to status quo ante. However, the Executive refused to abide by the Stay Order with apparent impunity, in that, Jackson and his Family diplomatic passports were never renewed till the case was decided September 4, 2020.