Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Due Process Lawsuit: Teage Appeals for Support to Keep Parties Honest

Written by Alvin Teage Jalloh, Esq
Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Source: Liberian Forum

 Click to view writ issued by court

As the public debate surrounding my lawsuit against the Liberian government for its unconstitutional enforcement of several provisions of the Aliens and Nationality Law continues, I would like to provide you with additional facts.

I was born in Bopolu, Liberia, to two natural-born Liberian citizens, and acquired my Liberian citizenship at birth. During the devastating Liberian civil war, I was forced into exile and sought refuge in foreign lands. Although forced into exile, I did not leave my constitutional rights at any of the warring parties' check points that were placed throughout our nation. My constitutional due process right comes from the same Constitution that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, members of the Honorable 52nd Legislature, and members of the Honorable Supreme Court took an oath to defend and uphold.

I understand the political views about dual citizenship. The question in my lawsuit, however, is not about dual citizenship. Nor is it about an alleged renunciation oath as some would have you believe. Not everyone who becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States is required to take a renunciation oath. Rather, the question in my lawsuit is more fundamental to Liberia’s constitutional democracy: whether the government can enforce a statute, which on its face, purports to abrogate the due process clause under Article 20(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.

One of the most profound accomplishments of our framers was the establishment of a document that is the highest law of Liberia. The Constitution establishes three separate, but equal branches of government, and spells out the limited roles and powers of each branch. Among other basic principles essential to our constitutional democracy, the Constitution defines certain fundamental rights of the people which the government may not violate. Due process of law is one of the fundamental rights.

Perhaps the most important, early lesson about due process comes from the Garden of Eden. Although knowing that Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God did not summarily punish Adam and Eve. God interrogates both Adam and Eve, and gives each of them an opportunity to provide an excuse for their transgression before punishing them.

In Liberia, the due process clause is found in Article 20(a) of the Liberian Constitution. It prohibits all levels of the Liberian government, including the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary from depriving any person of life, liberty, property, privilege, or any other right without a hearing and a judgment consistent with due process of law.

The due process requirements are not hollow words without substance. They are rights enumerated in our Constitution, and must be respected and enforced. If a self-executing statute, such as section 22.2 of the Aliens and Nationality Law, deprives a person of life, liberty, property, privilege, or any other right without a hearing and a judgment consistent with due process, that person has been denied the constitutional protection of due process. If a governmental action deprives a person of life, liberty, property, privilege, or any other right without a hearing and a judgment consistent with due process, that person has been denied the constitutional protection of due process.

While politicians play games with people’s rights, the judiciary operates on a different level. The judiciary’s foremost role is to defend and uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, and to protect each person's constitutional, human, civil, and legal rights without regards to public opinion.

Section 22.2 of the Aliens and Nationality Law, which is being challenged in my lawsuit, states that, “The loss of citizenship under Section 22.1 of this title shall result solely from the performance by a citizen of the acts or fulfillment of the conditions specified in such section, and without the institution by the Government of any proceedings to nullify or cancel such citizenship.” This section purports to abrogate the due process clause under Article 20(a) of the Liberian Constitution--the highest law of the land. Section 22.2 will not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

But you are aware that in this cherished Republic of ours, the status quo holds on like a mussel. And misinformation travels fast. Therefore, I am asking for your help in this matter--not with the legal argument. My claims are supported by the Constitution of Liberia, and my legal interests before the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia are being represented by Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, one of the best legal minds we have. Rather, I need you to join others to keep the parties honest.

This case presents a constitutional question that goes beyond the rights of a Liberian from Bopolu who, with all due respect, does not need a piece of paper to tell him he is a Liberian.

If the legislative process can be used to selectively deny a group of Liberians their constitutional rights to due process, then that process presumably could be used to deprive other disfavored groups of Liberians of their constitutional rights.

The question presented in my case is also about you and other Liberians: whether the government of Liberia can enforce a statute, which on its face, purports to abrogate a right that is enumerated in the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.

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Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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