LNBA Disappointed Over Judicial Budget By: Yassah J Wright

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The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), says that it is disappointed and surprised about the budgetary allocation made by the government of Liberia to the Judiciary Branch of government. Speaking, the President of LNBA Cllr Sylvester D. Rennie, said the judiciary branch of government has been treated in the past as an ordinary agency of government, when it had to do with budgetary allocation which has undermined and impeded the activities of the courts and other functionaries of the judiciary. The LNBA President Rennie stated that out of a total budget appropriation for 2024, of seven hundred thirty eight million eight hundred fifty nine thousand eight hundred thirty seven united states dollars, (US$738,859,837), the Judiciary is allotted seventeen million united states dollars (US$17,000,000), of 2024 budget. President Rennie stressed that it is very inadequate to address some of the pressing challenges faced by the judiciary which include construction of judicial Complexes in some of the counties amongst other. A question asked by In-profile Daily Reporter states”Can the Supreme Court pursuant to its inherent power of judicial review compel the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government regardless of the economic realities or revenue envelope of the country to increase the budget of the Judiciary unconditionally? Cllr. Rennie revealed that the rule of law is a pivotal pillar under the arrest agenda of President Joseph N. Boakai, government and to subject or allot such a very low amount for a branch of government which has completing compelling priorities, while ordinary agencies under the Executive branch of government are allotted more in their budget, is a disservice to the rule of law sector which undermines access to justice. LNBA President Rennie further stated that the judiciary in its drive to provide access to justice has a Public Defense Program, where Public Defenders are hired under its budget to cater mainly to indigent clients around the Country. “These Public Defenders have not had incentives for the past years to strengthen and capacitate themselves in the work they do and in an attempt to incentivize them, it is just proper that the budget of the Judiciary be increased because the recent budget allocated to the judiciary in the tone of seventeen million united states dollars (US$17, 000,000) is insufficient and unrealistic” LNBA President Rennie noted  It can be re-called on June 6, 2024, the Supreme Court has raised objections to the proposed $17 million and a one-off contingency amount of $3 million, constituting 2.8% of the 2024 national budget, allocated to the Judiciary Branch of Government. The nation’s highest court deemed the allocation as “grossly inadequate”, asserting that it could impede the judiciary’s capacity to function optimally. The Judiciary, in a press release circulated on Wednesday, said the insufficiency of the current budget emphasizes its potential to hinder the judiciary’s ability to ensure fair, efficient and timely delivery of justice. The concerns centers around the essential resources required for the judiciary to operate effectively, raising questions about the adequacy of the proposed budget allocation.

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