Cllr. Cephus Becomes International Defense Counsel -Admitted Under IRMCT Rules 42 and 43

MONROVIA: Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, the former Solicitor-General and Chief Prosecutor of the Republic of Liberia has become a full-fledged international criminal lawyer and has been admitted under the United nations backed  International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Courts and Tribunals(IRMCT) the (Mechanism)  in the Hague, The Netherlands,  and Arusha, Tanzania respectively. With his admission as a qualified, experienced and competent international Defense Counsel, Cllr. Cephus is the first Liberian citizen ever to reach this far  and  is expected to be called anytime for assignment, but has already  declared to the Court to be available, willing and ready to take up assignments including taking up cases of convicted persons for which the Court is seeking competent and experienced criminal lawyers. Here are excerpts of what drove his burning desire to become an international criminal lawyer.

In 2006, I was among dozens of students who   graduated from Liberia’s premier law school, the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia. The keynote Speaker was the venerable Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, an ambidextrous politician of immaculate skills and elusiveness; a “Political Maestro” par excellence and Africa’s first female President. I fondly remember the broad smiles across her face while presenting my certificate, and she said:  “Go and represent people of every clime.”  I simply smiled,   received my certificate, and went back to my seat, but this statement    lingered on in my mind   for many years, and still does today. In a country where “big lawyers” are only known among the wretched population, but lack competitiveness in any international courts or among their peers beyond the borders of Liberia, what else could a rookie like me  do to live up to President’s expectation, was something that I seriously reckoned.

However, 18 years on, I am now living with the challenge of Madame Sirleaf. The Registrar for the United Nations backed International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Courts and Tribunals (IRMCT) the (Mechanism)  officially announced and published on May 24, 2024  my admission  as DEFENSE COUNSEL of the IRMCT  under RULE 43,  having first been  admitted under Rule 42 in 2017.   With this admission, I am duly qualified and competent to represent convicted persons, indigent persons and accused before the Court.

As a solemn commitment  to “represent people of every clime” in the words of   President Sirleaf in 2006,  I  have   declared my continued availability at all times any assignment from the Court,  and openly  warranted  to represent indigent suspects  and  accused.

Thank you, good old Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; your challenge to me has fallen on fertile soils. Many a time and too often, I disagreed with Ellen during her reign, and I went to court many times, challenging some of the excesses of her administration, and in most instances, I won some and lost some of the cases. Interestingly, I stayed the course and contributed, in the words of Professor Philip A.Z. Banks, III, in his many recommendations written on my behalf to many international criminal courts and tribunals, that I contributed  to the development, growth and interpretation of  constitutional law in Liberia.

During Ellen’s reign there were more highs than lows that caught our attention and that imposed upon us the challenge to take greater responsibility and market ourselves.  She gave us a taste of a government that ought to be    led by men and women who should know better  and who should  understand the value of tolerance and respect  our  unfettered freedom to critically judge them by both their words and deeds and acrimoniously grade them  by whatever standards. Madame President, my credentials as an esteemed Defense Counsel a d Prosecuting Attorney  has been critically vetted by my peers, and declared  competent to practice as an international Defense Counsel before all international criminal courts and tribunals.

Truly, our unbridled determination,  to promote and defend these values, no matter our diversity,  is continuously renewed not just by the will power to  dare  but  to fearlessly  compete with others internationally at every level no matter the queer names of our institutions  on  the social scale but by the content of our  creativities and  the character of  our  works.   Thank you Madame President, I kept the promise.

Therefore,  on the  auspicious occasions of my admission to the   International Residual Mechanism for Courts and Tribunals,  ,first, under Rule 42 in 2017 and now Rule 43 in  2024,   and  my previous qualification by the International   Criminal Court(ICC) in  The Hague(2016), the United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon(STL)(2017), the Justinian Lawyers(JL)(2018), the European Criminal Bar Association(ECBA)(2016), the European Fraud and Compliance Lawyers(EFCL)(2016), International Association of Prosecutors(IAP)(2019),   and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR) in Arusha, Tanzania(2014),  I hereby dedicate this admission, to Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female President  and then I submit that I  reconfirm and reaffirm the dedication of my professional legal services to  people of every clime,  and I  pledge to represent indigent persons and accused irrespective of their race, creed and color.

3 Comments
  1. Jake Doe says

    Where are those buyers and sellers of sanctions??? Well, no wonder Cummings ended up crying about “disbelieving voting results.“

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  3. Samuel Gobah says

    Congratulations Sir. and thanks to Madam President for the inspiration. Go and serve with diligence, integrity and distinction. God bless.

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