President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has rejected the
US State Department’s 2011 Human Rights report on Liberia claiming the involvement of government officials in corrupt practices with impunity, saying she is not worried about the report.
“Officials engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Low pay levels for the civil service, minimal job training, and few court convictions exacerbated official corruption and a culture of impunity. The government dismissed officials for alleged corruption and recommended others for prosecution,” the report said.
“We are not worried about it, what’s in the report we will look at it,” President Sirleaf told journalists last week at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) upon return from a visit in the United States.
“People who violate the public trust will prosecuted,” the President stressed.
The report, amongst other things, said, “the law does not provide criminal penalties for official corruption, although criminal penalties exist for economic sabotage, mismanagement of funds and other corruption-related acts.”
The reports said the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) investigated 14 corruption cases and recommended all for prosecution, but noted that the capacity of the Justice Ministry was weak to prosecute them.
The report also accused the Ministry of Justice of dropping charges, over the LACC’s objections, against former police chief Beatrice Munah Sieh for irregularities in the procurement of police uniforms.
“Judges were susceptible to bribes for awarding damages in civil cases. Judges sometimes requested bribes to try cases, released detainees from prison, or find defendants not guilty in criminal cases. Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested defendants pay bribes to secure favorable rulings from or appease judges, prosecutors, jurors, and police officers. The Ministry of Justice increased its calls to reform the jury system,” the report said.
Increased government revenues helped to curb corrupt practices. However, government ministries and agencies did not always adhere to public procurement regulations, particularly for natural resource concessions, the report said.
The 2010 Freedom of Information Act provides that the government should release government information not involving national security or military issues upon citizens’ requests, but journalists hit a stonewall in search of access to official information relevant to their publications.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Christiana Tah, described the report as “imbalanced because it failed to mention reforms”, including the building of prisons and court houses, institution of the parole system training of judges and judicial personnel, being undertaken in the justice system in Liberia.