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GC Calls For Special Court To Fast-Track Election Disputes
Date Uploaded: May 10, 2017

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GC Calls For Special Court To Fast-Track Election Disputes

By Joseph Toe

MONROVIA, May 9 (LINA) - The Governance Commission (GC) has recommended the establishment of a special court of intermediate jurisdiction to address electoral disputes.

The advantage of said court, according to the GC’s 2016 Annual Report on Liberia’s electoral system for 2017 released recently, is that it will help ease the Supreme Court docket and reinforce confidence in the electoral system.

The GC indicated that such court would be truly independent of the National Elections Commission (NEC), unlike the elections magistrates who are appointed by NEC.

The lack of independence of election Magistrates from the NEC and their dual roles as supervisors of elections as well as hearing officers in election disputes resolution was an issue raised by experts which, according to the GC, gave birth to the recommendation. 

GC noted the fact that election magistrates are recruited, trained, and appointed by NEC; they supervise elections, serve as hearing officers in resolving disputes and report rulings to the Board of Commissioners, their appointing and supervising authority.

The Commission added: “It becomes worrisome where, according to the records, NEC has upheld the decisions of election magistrates in virtually 100 percent of the complaints investigated by magistrates.”

Quoting human rights advocate Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe in the report, the Commission said “this is tantamount to asking an agency to render judgment against itself.”

“This situation could lead to an erosion of confidence in a critical part of the electoral system, especially in the face of what could well be an avalanche of elections disputes in the 2017 elections,” the report quoted Gongloe as saying. 

The GC also quoted Cllr. David Jallah in its report as stressing how important an impartial NEC is to the transparency of the electoral process and to Liberia’s fledgling democracy and, therefore, the need to review current dispute resolution arrangements where NEC is both “judge and jury.”

LINA JGT/TSS/PTK

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