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Friday, July 19, 2024

SENATE REVIEW LOOMS: ASSESSING JUDGE JOHNSON’S CONTROVERSIAL NOMINATION TO LIBERIA’S HIGH COURT

Date:

MONROVIA – In recent publications surrounding the nomination of Judge Cianah Clinton Johnson to the Supreme Court of Liberia, grave concerns have been raised regarding the integrity of Liberia’s judicial process. Judge Johnson’s nomination by President Boakai has sparked controversy due to her involvement in high-profile cases, notably the Maria Luyken trafficking trial, which has left many questioning the fairness and transparency of the Liberian legal system.

Judge Cianah Clinton Johnson, currently nominated for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, has faced scrutiny over her handling of cases, particularly one involving Maria Luyken, accused of child trafficking. Despite being found guilty by Criminal Court ‘B’, Maria Luyken has not been incarcerated, leading to accusations of preferential treatment based on her connections and influence.

In October 2020, Criminal Court ‘B’ ruled that Maria Luyken was guilty of child trafficking, specifically for unlawfully sending children abroad without parental consent. This case highlighted systemic issues within Liberia’s legal framework, where despite a guilty verdict, enforcement of justice appeared to falter. Critics argue that such failures undermine public trust in the judiciary and perpetuate a culture of impunity for the connected few.

Maria Luyken, known for her involvement with the West African Children Support Network, allegedly used her adoption agency as a front for trafficking children out of Liberia. Despite previous controversies and legal actions against her, including the removal of 35 children from her agency in 2009 and allegations of mistreatment, her ability to evade incarceration has raised serious questions about the effectiveness of Liberia’s legal system in combating such crimes.

The forthcoming confirmation hearing in the Liberian Senate for Judge Cianah Clinton Johnson adds another layer of scrutiny to her nomination. Senators will soon deliberate on her suitability for the Supreme Court, there is a growing call for thorough vetting and accountability in light of her handling of cases like Maria Luyken’s. Stakeholders have emphasized the need for the Senate to uphold rigorous standards in confirming judicial nominees, ensuring that individuals appointed to the highest court uphold the constitution and demonstrate a commitment to fair and impartial justice.

The reluctance or failure to enforce court rulings like the one against Maria Luyken not only undermines the rule of law but also reinforces perceptions of a justice system that favors the powerful and well-connected over ordinary citizens. This case underscores the need for comprehensive reforms within Liberia’s judiciary to ensure that justice is administered fairly and transparently, without regard to social status or political influence.

Political commentators have called upon President Boakai and the Unity Party-led government to reassess the nomination of Judge Cianah Clinton Johnson. It is argued that her involvement in cases where justice has not been seen to be served raises significant doubts about her suitability for a position on the Supreme Court, where upholding the constitution and ensuring equal justice under the law are paramount responsibilities. Moreover, there is a pressing need for the Ministry of Justice to take decisive action to enforce court rulings and hold individuals like Maria Luyken accountable for their crimes. This would not only restore faith in Liberia’s legal institutions but also send a clear message that no one is above the law, regardless of their social or political standing.

As Liberia steers its path forward, the decisions made regarding judicial appointments and the enforcement of court rulings will be crucial in shaping the country’s future and restoring public trust in its institutions. Achieving these goals requires a commitment to transparency, accountability, and the rule of law. By ensuring that justice is applied consistently and without bias, Liberia can take significant strides towards building a fair and equitable society where the rights of all citizens are protected and upheld.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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