Implementation of the New Jury Law (LR0015)
Action Plan: Liberia, Second National Action Plan, 2015-2017
Action Plan Cycle: 2015
Lead Institution: MICAT, LACC, GC, Judiciary, MIA, MFDP
Support Institution(s): UNMIL, PBF
Performance Indicators: Budget approved and transfers made
A functional jury office set up with trained staff
Number of workshops/outrea ch sessions
IRM Midterm Status Summary
For Commitment details, see Liberia Progress Report 2015-2017.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Cluster: Implementation of the new Jury Law
(MICAT, LACC, GC, Judiciary, MIA, MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND DEVELOPMENT PLANNING, with support of UNMIL, PBF, 15 July 2015 – 30 June 2016).
· 2.1.1 Approve budget for the jury management office
· 2.1.2 Set up, recruit and train staff of the jury management central office
· 2.1.3 Awareness raising around the role of juries
(MOJ, Judiciary, JPC, with support of PUL, CENTAL, CEMESP, LMC, UNMIL, 10 October 2015 – 30 June 2017).
· 2.2.1 Publish quarterly analysis of court returns
The Jury Laws were amended in 2013 to modify the process of jury selection. Under these commitments, a newly established Jury Management Office will oversee implementation of the updated law. Prior to the commitment period, implementation of the amended jury laws had stalled. Juries were often randomly selected and comprised citizens with no knowledge of the case being tried. These commitments primarily aim to implement and enforce the amended laws, and to ensure citizens selected to serve on juries are well informed about the case so that trials are conducted fairly.
Commitment 2.1 focuses on the administrative steps needed to implement the amended law. Activities include approving the budget to establish a central Jury Management Office, setting up the central office in Monrovia and regional offices in the counties, and recruiting and training administrative staff. The Jury Management Office will be responsible for jury selection, organizing the central jury pool, and ordering the number of jurors necessary for the functioning of Circuit Courts. It will also educate prospective/selected jurors on the law and legal processes and help them understand their civic duties in the administration of justice as citizens of the Republic of Liberia.
Commitment 2.2 seeks to increase the role of citizens in monitoring the justice system by publishing court returns dates each quarter. Citizen monitoring could make court officials more accountable to the public. As written, though, the commitment lacks specific, measurable plans to improve citizens’ involvement and oversight of the justice system; therefore, the expected impact is minor.
Commitment 2.1: Completed
The budget for creating and staffing the central Jury Management Office has been approved and the office established in Monrovia at the Temple of Justice. In addition, beyond the scope of the commitment, regional jury management offices have been established in eight counties. For more information, please see the 2015–2016 IRM midterm report.
Commitment 2.2: Limited
This commitment had limited progress in the first year of implementation. Data and information on court returns have been collected but judiciary quarterly reports have not been forthcoming. The government’s OGP point of contact states that reports are to be published on the Liberia Open Data Portal, but as the portal is not yet online, the commitment is delayed. For more information, please see the 2015–2016 IRM midterm report.
Commitment 2.1: Completed
The Jury Management Office has been fully operational and engaged in a) jury selection; b) organizing the central jury pool and ordering the number of jurors necessary for the functioning of Circuit Courts and; c) providing education to prospective/selected jurors on the law and legal processes to help them understand their civic duties in the administration of justice.[Note37: Office of the Jury Management, Profile, http://judiciary.gov.lr/jury-management/]
The Jury Management sub-offices have been established in eight of the 16 judicial circuits to date; namely: Montserrado County (first Judicial Circuit), Brand Bassa County (second Judicial Circuit), Grand Gedeh County (seventh Judicial Circuit), Nimba County (eighth Judicial Circuit), Bong County (ninth Judicial Circuit), Lofa County (tenth Judicial Circuit), Bomi county (eleventh Judicial Circuit), and Margibi County (thirteenth Judicial Circuit).
Commitment 2.2: Limited
The self-assessment report indicates this commitment has been completed, however, there is no sufficient evidence to confirm it. The judiciary website (http://judiciary.gov.lr) only provides basic information about judiciary processes and units in the judiciary branch. There is no feature or link that allows the public to access court records and analysis of court returns.
A UNDP/UNMIL joint program “Strengthening the Rule of Law in Liberia: Justice and Security for the Liberian People (2016–2019)”[Note38: “Strengthening the Rule of Law in Liberia: Justice and Security for the Liberian People (2016-2019)”, http://www.lr.undp.org/content/dam/liberia/docs/docs/Procurement%20Notices/Guidance%20Note%20-%20Civil%20Society%20Roster%20(June%202017).pdf] has been developed in close consultation with the Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice and other principal institutional counterparts. The program aims, inter alia, to enhance the capacities of, and public confidence in, the different justice and security institutions, strengthening access to justice, security and protection services, especially for women and girls. Interventions are designed with a view to ensuring sustainability and linking activities to 'system-level' policy development. One of the outcomes of this project is building the capacity of key actors and stakeholders to monitor progress and results in the rule of law developments.
Did It Open Government?
Access to Information: Marginal
Civic Participation: Marginal
The commitment has advanced on the administrative steps needed to implement the recently amended law. The establishment of the Jury Management Office, as well as regional offices, is a huge first step to train and select jurors. However, according to the existing evidence, this commitment had only a marginal effect on opening government practices, as these changes are only the first administrative steps in the implementation of the jury law.
Access to Information: Did Not Change
The judiciary website offers little information about the workings of the justice system or any access to court records. Therefore, there is not sufficient evidence of any change in government practice.
This commitment was carried forward into the next action plan with the following deliverables set as milestones:
· Jury offices established in all 15 counties;
· Training of 300 magistrates across all 15 counties;
· Awareness raising around the roles of juries;
· Track cases in courts to prevent delays in judication;
· Open Justice initiative through which citizens monitor local courts, track cases and follow-up on the return of bond fees
Legislative Monitoring Database
LR0027, 2017, E-Government
Publication of Budget Documents
LR0028, 2017, Anti-Corruption
Freedom of Information (FOI) Act
LR0029, 2017, Access to Information
Citizen Monitoring for the Justice System
LR0030, 2017, Access to Justice
Feedback Mechanism to Build Accountability of the LNP
LR0031, 2017, Access to Information
Capacity Building for Integrity in Government
LR0032, 2017, Anti-Corruption
Transparency in the Land Authority
LR0033, 2017, E-Government
Accountability and Value for Money Through Open Contracting
LR0034, 2017, Access to Information
Beneficial Ownership Registry
LR0035, 2017, Access to Information
Open Data/Citizen Navigation Portal
LR0036, 2017, Access to Information
Commercial Land Use Rights Information
LR0011, 2015, Capacity Building
Open Aid Portal and Publication of Aid Data
LR0012, 2015, Access to Information
Link Financial Management System to Aid Management Platform
LR0013, 2015, Aid
Facilitate Tracking of EVD Funds
LR0014, 2015, Access to Information
Implementation of the New Jury Law
Citzen Monitoring of Justice System
Civic Education and Citizen Engagement Around Offline Tools
Know Your Rights' Initiative
LR0018, 2015, Justice
Passage of Whistleblower Protection Act
LR0020, 2015, Public Participation
Public Service Integrity
LR0021, 2015, Anti-Corruption
Citizen Feedback Platform.
LR0022, 2015, E-Government
LR0023, 2015, Capacity Building
Public Expenditure Management Systems
LR0024, 2015, Capacity Building
Public Safety/ Law Enforecement Reform
LR0025, 2015, E-Government
Open Data Portal
LR0026, 2015, Access to Information
Appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs)
LR0007, 2015, Capacity Building
Popularize Freedom of Information (Foi) Law
LR0008, 2015, Access to Information
Expand Open Budget Initiative
LR0009, 2015, Access to Information
Public Information on Land and Natural Resource Reform
LR0010, 2015, Anti-Corruption
Increase Access to Public Information
LR0001, 2013, Access to Information
Open Budget Initiative
LR0002, 2013, E-Government
Extractive Industries Transparency
LR0003, 2013, Anti-Corruption
Citizens’ Participation and Dialogue
LR0004, 2013, Public Participation
Accountability and Integrity
LR0005, 2013, Anti-Corruption
Technology and Innovation
LR0006, 2013, Access to Information