LNBA 2023 Convention Outlines Roadmap for Peace, Stability -Amb. Gang, Cllr. Rennie, Dr. Barbu Discuss the Way Forward

By  Melvin Jackson 

MONROVIA : The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) over the weekend concluded its 2023 National Convention in Ganta City, Nimba County where the Cameroonian Ambassador to Liberia and Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Beng’yela A. Gang, outlined and recommended significant variables to the government of Liberia and the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) for achieving genuine national peace and stability. The auspicious occasion also witnessed LNBA Prexy Sylvester Rennie and Law School President Jallah Barbu providing updates on the gains and challenges of the two main legal institutions that respectively serve as ombudsman and trainer of lawyers in the country, and what they are doing to enhance the dispensation of impartial justice to Liberians.

Tampering Law with Peace and Harmony – Amb. Gang Speaks

Delivering his keynotes address during the opening of the Liberian National Bar Association 2023 convention held in Ganta Nimba county (LNBA) on Friday, December 8, 2023, on the topic: “Maintaining peace, post-election through adherence to the rule of law”, Mr. Gang argued that adherence to the rule of law alone is not enough in maintaining peace and stability.

“The topic on which we speak today: “Maintaining the peace post-election through adherence to the rule of law” is chosen by lawyers and so, naturally, it conveys a bias in favor of the supremacy of the power and role of the rule of law in a matter as complex and cross-cutting as the maintenance of peace in any society, whether post-election or otherwise.

According to the Cameroonian envoy, the quest for and maintenance of peace is such a complex and mercurial goal that the sole reliance on the rule of law alone might not be quite enough in every circumstance to ensure success. He further indicated that his aim is not to underestimate the value of the law.

“My aim is merely to insistently propose that the constant pursuit or provisions of other virtues and human needs such as mutual tolerance, civic education, patriotism, inclusive development, health and employment must accompany the rule of law in any credible endeavor to achieve genuine national peace.

“It’s the expression of the respect which must be accorded to what we call in Cameroon, “Le vivre ensemble” or a kind of “live and let live” when our societies seek peace and social harmony”, Mr. Gang outlined.

Accordingly, he adds that these aspirations indeed are socio-economic and cultural priorities and values that normally seek to be encapsulated by laws and regulations.

He believes that these complementary humanistic variables are critical as the enacted, mechanical artifice of the law and the rule of law in ensuring peace. Mr. Gang underscores the combination that exists between sociological aspiration and legal enactment piloted by the Legislature, the Judiciary, and of course, watched over by a vigilant and buoyant Bar Association that Liberians must, in their search for peace and progress, now put their trust in this post-election period.

“In doing so, society must remain extremely proactive and self-proactive. The international diplomatic scene, since the late 1940s, gives us reason to learn and preach such cautions. Since 1948, the Rule of Law and Human Rights instruments seem to have put more focus on civil and political rights.

“In this manner, such political aspects as the right to vote, freedom of expression, freedom to demonstrate against political institutions, etc. seem to have claimed predominance to the detriment of other proclaimed people-centered, socio-economic and cultural rights such as the rights to education, housing, employment and health,” he stated.

He further narrated that even in the Human Rights Council, some critics have perceived an avowed hierarchy of rights in what should ordinarily be a balanced corpus of equally desirable and truly universal Human Rights Priorities.

At the same time, speaking on the Liberian elections, he further indicated that as the present convention of the LNBA comes against the backdrop of the recently concluded 2023 Liberia Presidential and legislative elections, he commended Liberia for the manifestation of wisdom and tolerance showcased to the world during the election contest.

In furtherance, Ambassador Gang averred that the credibility of Liberia’s political management and social harmony has climbed quite a few notches up the ladder of contemporary, comparative analysis due to the 10 October and 14 November 2023 elections.

“In this unprecedented success, it’s clear that the willing “adherence to the rule of law” by diverse stakeholders both government and the governed, was vital to the recent, acclaimed electoral process. But, make no mistake, it was the popular, patriotic will to avoid fraternal strife, the awareness that, whether Unity Party or the CDC finally prevailed or not, Liberia must never again be set ablaze and it was the determination that no stakeholder is so important that Liberia should return to war just in order to feed his ego,” he noted.

LNBA’s Rennie Gives Update

Speaking on achievements of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), President Sylvester Rennie provided updates on the new program and project initiated by the leadership of the LNBA, noting that the leadership of the Bar has developed a concept note that has been approved by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to ensure that the LNBA provides legal aid awareness for pretrial detainees that would led to decongestion of the Monrovia Central Prison Facility.

“Let me inform you that the leadership of the LNBA prepared a concept note and took it to the Legal Aid Programm of the United Nations Development Program UNDP.  This concept note which is approved by the UNDP is intended to conduct pretrial detainees’ legal aid awareness and decongestion of the Monrovia Central Prison Facility, “Rennie stated, noting that the project is in the amount of US$121,125 to be implemented in phases.

Cllr. Sylvester Rennie further pointed out that the LNBA Legal Aid Programme remains productive and proactive in five of the 15 counties, providing both civil and criminal aid awareness and legal aid services.

He disclosed that their legal aid programs operating in Nimba, Bassa, Bong, Margibi and Montserrado County are robust with impact, contributing to reducing pretrial detainees and crimes across the country.

“During the year under review, a total of 591 cases were heard by our Legal Aid Programme. Of the number, 589 involved criminal cases while two cases were civil. Also, 572 cases dealt with males, while 29 involved females.

“Meanwhile, in 2022-2023, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Carter Center Liberia to provide pro-bono legal aid service in Nimba and Bong, and that project was implemented,” Cllr. Rennie concluded.

Dean Barbu Speaks on Challenges

Also speaking at the well-attended program, the Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, Dr. Jallah A. Barbu, described the lack of salary payment and wages of professors as worrisome, laying the blame squarely at the doorsteps of the Weah/Taylor-led administration.

Dr. Barbie said professors at the institution for over a year plus now had not received pay for the services they provided.

According to him, despite not being paid, the Law School professors in the midst of these challenges execute their duties with integrity and effectiveness, something he believes they should be extolled and congratulated for.

“Let me inform you that most of our professors at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia have not been paid for more than a year at the University of Liberia. Yet, they are making the sacrifice.

“This is not an easy thing to do and so, I want you all to kindly join me to congratulate and thank them for the job they are doing and the immense sacrifices they are making,” Cllr. Dr. Barbu urged.

Over the weekend, hundreds of lawyers including law professors, students as well as members of the Diplomatic Community converged in Ganta City, Nimba County for the celebration of the convention of the Liberian National Bar Association.

The program was held at a local guest house in the county and well attended under the theme: “Maintaining the peace post-election through adherence to the rule of law”. During the program, Ambassador of Cameroon to Liberia and Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Beng’yela Augustine Gang delivered an inspiring and comprehensive keynote address at the occasion.

Furthermore, the Law School Dean disclosed that these professors produce their own sheets and use their offices and everything else to teach and make research. “I want to say to them, thank you very much because I know we couldn’t have reached where we are without your sacrifice,” he noted.

At the same time, Dean Barbu expressed excitement and appreciation for the Law School being recognized and participating in the LNBA activities, while urging the Liberian National Bar Association to make its presence felt at the Law School.

Outlining achievement under his administration as Dean of the Law School, he stated that the law school continues to excel in strengthening its admissions process, improving academic program and infrastructure development.

According to him, the Law School remains steadfast in doing what is right, adding that nobody enters the Law School without passing the examination.

He pointed out that it was all these factors that saved the day, adding that it was the desire that peace should reign so that Liberian youth could enjoy a planned, hopeful future, saying that these are some of the things that spurred such electoral goodwill.

The program brought together hundreds of lawyers including law professors and lawyers, law students, as well as members of the Diplomatic Community, stakeholders and policymakers.

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