Analysis of the Dual Legal System
Feb. 11, 2010
Since February 2009, a Legal Working Group (LWG) comprised of Liberian legal experts has worked to evaluate the current status of, and ways forward for, the dual legal system in Liberia. The LWG was created under the auspices of The Ministry of Justice and supported by UNMIL Legal and Judicial System Support Division, United States Institute for Peace (USIP), George Washington University, and The Carter Center. Over the year, the LWG held seven meetings to examine key issues facing the Liberian justice sector including constitutional questions of separation of powers, due process and equality, and the legal framework governing the dual system. To ensure the involvement of a wide cross section of stakeholders the LWG held forums in Bomi, Bong, and Grand Gedeh counties, and a forum in Monrovia with members of the National Traditional Council. Experts in the relationship between customary and formal justice from Ghana and Sierra Leone were also consulted.
On December 10, 2009, LWG formally adopted its findings. The document (1) outlines the LWG's baseline findings of fact about the dual justice system; (2) identifies the primary considerations and principles the LWG believes should guide justice reform policy-making; and (3) begins to define policy questions for reforming the dual justice system.
On February 11, a meeting was convened by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Judiciary to examine the LWG's findings in preparation for a National Conference on these issues to be held in April 2010. The meeting, entitled Ministry Consultations in Preparation for a National Conference on Enhancing Access to Justice, was supported by UNMIL Legal and Judicial System Support Division, The United Nations Development Programme, George Washington University, The United States Institute for Peace, and The Carter Center. The meeting included discussion of a range of options available for addressing the issues raised by the LWG and made preliminary recommendations for an agenda for the National Conference. In March, the Government of Liberia will also hold consultations with civil society, local justice officials, and traditional leaders in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, Gbarnga, Bong County, and Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.