December 8, 2008 Press Briefing

Tuesday, 9th December 2008
Members of the Press:

The issue of corruption in our society continues to occupy center stage in various sectors of Liberian society.  This is a healthy debate which the President highly welcomes, as together we map out a national strategy to fight this menace.

Notwithstanding, views continue to emerge from a number of quarters which give our people the impression that the President is not doing enough to tackle the issue of corruption.  We view such statements as a deliberate attempt to give the impression that the President and her Government are paying lip service to the fight against corruption. When the President delivered a policy statement on corruption last week, she stated that more than 50 cases have been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution. A comprehensive list is being compiled summarizing those cases and other actions the President has instituted to fight corruption.  This is not a fight that can be won overnight.

The President remains steadfast in her commitment to weed out corruption in Liberia. In addition to the recently submitted General Auditing Commission audit reports, the President has also received reports from other Government agencies and is acting on reports and investigations submitted to her office by agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) as well as the Ministry of National Security (MNS).

The President is also expeditiously acting on all GAC audits reported to her office. Based on the reports and investigations submitted, the President has made recommendations to the Justice Ministry about specific action to be taken. It may interest you to note that in the case of the Bong County escrow account which involved some irregularities, the President went beyond the recommendation of the General Auditing Commission in the actions taken against those allegedly involved.  

The freezing of assets of individuals suspected of corruption is another option the President believes would help the fight against corruption. Assets freeze, you may know, involves legislation by our lawmakers. The cooperation of that body would be crucial in the passage of the assets freeze bill. The President believes that given the urgency of the issue of corruption, the Legislature will act accordingly in this regard.

We are in the process of compiling the Presidentís recommendations to the Justice Ministry, and that information will be available to the public as soon as it is finalized. The Minister of Justice, Cllr. Philip A.Z. Banks, will duly hold a press conference to explain to the public the intricacies of the 50 or so cases on corruption before him, and the challenges the Justice Ministry faces. One of those challenges is that there is only one court mandated to handle economic sabotage cases, and at the moment Criminal Court ĎCí is being held up by two economic sabotage cases, which have been going on for nearly two years now. It is the Presidentís hope that her suggestion of the establishment of a fast track court to adjudicate corruption cases will be looked into expeditiously.

As the world observes World Anti-Corruption Day on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, the President wishes to inform the public again that her zero tolerance policy on corruption in Liberia is as firm as ever.

Finally, the President wishes to congratulate all local farmers who participated in the just ended National Agricultural Fair in Voinjama, Lofa County. Special congratulations also go to Chief Zanzan Karwor for winning the 2008 first place prize in rice production. The President also congratulates Nimba County Superintendent, Robert Karmei, who came 2nd in rice production, as well as other farmers and counties that won prizes in various areas.  The President encourages all farmers to continue their efforts to grow more food.