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“Judiciary Is Not A Mere Gov’t Agency” -Chief Justice Yuoh Warns

By Grace Q. Bryant

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh empathically states that her bench will not allow the Judiciary to be treated as a mere governmental agency.

She reiterated that it is the constitutional Branch of the Liberian government and therefore its budget, fiscal allotments and salary disbursement are not subject to the whims and caprices of ministers, directors and supervisors of the Ministry of Finance.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the March Term of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Yuoh laid emphasis on Section 21.3 of the Judiciary Financial Autonomy Act (2006), which states: “The Supreme Court shall submit to the Bureau of the Budget annual estimates of the expenditure and appropriations, supplies and services including personnel as well as funds appropriated for retirement pension and death benefits necessary for the maintenance and operation of the courts and such supplemental and deficiency estimates as may be required from time to time for the same purposes.”

It further states that all funds shall be deposited in bank accounts which shall be operated and admonished by the Judicial Branch, under the overall supervision of the Chief Justice according to the budget.

According to her, the Law is to protect the Judiciary from undue financial or political influence from the other two branches of government while at the same time maintaining a strong, efficient and robust Judiciary.

“The Supreme Court is very resolute and determined to protect the Independence of the Judiciary through any and every legal means available including exercising its contempt powers where there is a violation of the Judicial Financial Autonomy Act (2006),” she noted.

She expressed that the Supreme Court expects nothing less but full compliance with Judicial Financial Autonomy Act (2006).

In Article 72(a), “The Justices of the Supreme Court and all other Judges shall receive such salaries, allowances and benefits as shall be established by law. Such salaries shall be subject to taxes as defined by law, provided that they shall not otherwise be diminished. Allowances and benefits paid to Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts may by law be increased but may not be diminished except under a national program enacted by the Legislature; nor shall such allowance and benefits be subject to taxation.”

” The standardization Act targets only a specific group of government employees rather than the national and residents of the Republic of Liberia, which includes the private sector. Therefore, by virtue of the fact that the standardization Act targets only employees of the government,” Chief Justice Yuoh noted.

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