The prevalence and preponderance of stand-offs between public agencies, within public offices, political parties, arms of government, local government, local courts and other bodies driving a wedge between the demand and supply sides of the Justice System, is enough indication that there is much more to do to let justice be seen as done. I think it was Peter Tosh who sang, “Everyone is crying out for peace, nobody is crying for justice… I don’t want no peace; all I need is equal rights and justice…” You really cannot talk about peace without addressing rights issues.
You see some time ago when Bishop J.P. Humper of the former Truth and Reconciliation Commission was on radio blowing his mind on the seemingly lack-luster attention the Commission’s recommendations is receiving, some people felt it is those usual outbursts of our Men Of God. I say NO! Timeliness is of great essence sometimes. Taking the gun from Bob after he has already killed several people with it will not bring the dead to life, but doing that just when he starts playing with it is a preventive step.
We as a nation failed to prevent the war in the first place…we treated Foday Sankoh’s threats with levity until the shit hit the fan! What Bishop Humper was stressing was that the issues that led to the war are yet to be addressed and as such we remain vulnerable as a nation. What looks proactive about the Liberian TRC are its punitive recommendations. Take the case of banning the seating president from public office for 30years for initially funding Charles Taylor’s war. If this is upheld then it is a hard lesson for politicians. I am not very sure they will bother about the Special Court.
The recognition of a problem alone does not constitute a solution, affirmative actions have to be taken to ensure compliance with recommended solutions. The government White Paper on the TRC Recommendations came out in 2005. Four years on we are still struggling with reparations. Unemployment is yet to be addressed, city populations are rising fast in the midst of poor living conditions and lawlessness is threatening. Look this has nothing to do with party X or party Y. The fact is governments are coming and going, governments indeed have come and gone but our security solution remains largely illusive. What is the problem? Is it that our poverty has got to stinking point or as a nation our priorities are yet to sound straight? Is it that our donor dependence has rendered us ineffective or that the necessary political will is yet to be summed up? Is it that our people are simply attitudinally warped or plainly naive and simplistic?
The cries for justice are getting louder and louder by the day. You go to the courts and you will thank God you are not behind bars. The other day a local court authority was being interviewed on the three Gender Acts. That ageing man’s analysis of the laws was so interestingly realistic that even a legal luminary would agree with him. He kept on stressing the fact that they at the bottom wrung were not consulted adequately enough for their views. One case he cited was the issue of early marriage. He says it is not in all cases that children are forced into marriage; but that the girls get pregnant at their own choice and parents have to consent to the union with the man responsible for the pregnancy.
The issue of inheritance and wife battering also has some grey areas. Who actually determines what goes to whom at death? You see late person’s Will is still highly respected and they are executed by Lawyers. So you see between the law and the Will we have grey areas. Another interesting thing the old man dilated on is the refusal of sex between couples. Is sex compulsory or not? If it is does it need mutual consent? The issue is if a spouse deliberately refuses sex because of jealousy or infidelity is it fair? Does this not promote further infidelity? It is obvious that all these issues cannot be addressed to the satisfaction of all parties. What I know is that one partner’s need for sex does not always coincide with the other partner’s urge. Now the situation where a woman reports a husband for refusing sex, who really is the witness… is the whole issue not an embarrassment? Remember sex happens behind closed doors…at least in most cases. Where does tradition set in? Traditionally sex is the man’s obligation to perform. He does what a female friend calls the makibi sex. She says here the woman goes ahead and lies on the bed naked and ready. The husband then comes in and goes straight into action without any foreplay and no fumbling or talking. Here it appears more a duty than mutual fun. The woman remains inactive while the man pounds vigorously oblivious of the woman’s feelings. This one-sided and archaic form is practiced more in strictly traditional societies which will not rock the cultural boat all in the name of sexual adventure. Things have changed drastically and all forms of patterns and positions are being adopted by the younger generation.
All this is making what I call sex justice much more complex and not even the laws may regulate them.
What needs to be certain about is that justice delivery though critical to the enhancement of mankind; it is also difficult to achieve, given the religious, cultural, economic and political ramifications that can hardly be ignored. At the heart of the problems of justice has to do with economy. The more depraved a person, the more vulnerable he/she is and plays in the hands of the rich. There are cases when the rich takes a poor man to court to demonstrate affluence. Do we need to spend millions of Leones in order to retrieve five hundred thousand Leones? Do we need to ensure that someone sells virtually everything just so as to avoid going to jail? Take the land grabbing habit of people. Even when documents are legitimate someone else with stronger economic standing will offer ten times the cost and the corrupt land owner resells. Do you blame Dr Dennis Sandy for trying to give a human face to land transaction and ownership?
If gold rust what will iron do? You hardly find poor people grabbing lands…it is those with the necessary cash and connections.
Part of the reason why we as a country remain poor even with all the frantic efforts made by leadership after leadership, is that we have not made justice for all our underlining principle. Injustice can be both subject and object. There can be no peace without justice, there can be no development without justice, there can be no trust without justice, and there can be no accountability and transparency without justice. Justice is the basis for all the things that enhance human dignity. It is fool hardy for us as a nation to mess things up and then expect the Western nations to help us clean up. I am sure by now people know that Barrack Obama is President of the United States of America.
Never mind the Gaddafian cry for a United State Of Africa… this will evolve when individual countries have overcome the gross injustices that now keep their compatriots in suppression and untold depravity.
By S. Beny SAM