Editorial: ECOWAS Court Of Justice Issues Landmark Ruling In Kabina Ja’neh’s Case

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THE ECOWAS COURT of Justice has issued a landmark ruling, ordering the compensation of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Kabina Ja’neh, US$200,000, his reinstatement as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court or, in the alternative, to grant him the right to retire from service on the date of notification of this judgment with full pension benefits as if he had retired at the normal retirement age for Justices of the Supreme Court. The Court observed that under Chapter VII, Article 72 (B) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution he was guaranteed the holding and protection of office as Associate Justice during good behavior until the age of seventy (70). The ECOWAS Court of Justice ruled in the face of the government’s position that it was incompetent to review, interpret and apply the national constitution and domestic laws of Member States

IN SUIT NO., ECW/CCJ/APP/33/19, the applicant through his Counsel, Femi Falana, leading six other lawyers,  alleged that his removal violated his human rights, particularly the right to fair hearing and impartial trial, right to work and dignity of person guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, he claimed that the purported impeachment, trial, conviction, removal from office and replacement violated the Liberian Constitution.

THE APPLICANT FURTHER alleged that the respondent subjected him to impeachment proceedings with no prescribed rules of procedure, thereby depriving him of his fundamental right to fair hearing, as stipulated in the 1986 Liberian Constitution.

THE APPLICANT SAID that when the impeachment trial commenced at the Liberian Senate on February 13, 2019, he filed a motion to recuse, asking that the Chief Justice should not preside over the applicant’s impeachment trial since he signed the judgment of the Supreme Court in a case that was listed as one of grounds for his impeachment.

HE SUBMITTED THAT allowing the Chief Justice, Justice Francis Korkpor, Sr. to preside would be tantamount to a conflict of interest with the possibility of bias as he was involved in several facets of the impeachment proceedings and was expected to recuse himself in order to adhere to the tenets of justice.

BUT THE RESPONDENT, represented by the Attorney  General, Counsellor Lafayette B. Gould, Sr., denied violating the human rights of the applicant and submitted that the impeachment of the applicant was done through a political process, which also followed the due process of law as laid down in Section 43 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. The State urged the Court to declare that the application is inadmissible because the Community Court is incompetent to review, interpret and apply the national constitution and domestic laws of Member States.

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