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The Liberian Constitutions

Declaration 1983 Draft

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1984 Liberian Constitution

CHAPTER VII
THE JUDICIARY

Article 65   The Judicial Power of the Republic shall be vested in a Supreme Court and such subordinate courts as the legislature may from time to time establish. The courts shall apply both statutory and customary laws in accordance with the standards enacted by the Legislature. Judgments of the Supreme Court shall be final and binding and shall not be subject to appeal or review by any other branch of Government. Nothing in this Article shall prohibit administrative consideration of the Justiciable matter prior to review by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Article 66   The Supreme Court shall be the final arbiter of constitutional issues and shall exercise final appellate jurisdiction in all cases whether emanating from courts of record, courts not of record, administrative agencies, autonomous agencies or any other authority, both as to law and fact except cases involving ambassadors, ministers, or cases in which a county is a party . In all such cases, the Supreme Court shall exercise original jurisdiction. The Legislature shall make no law nor create any exceptions as would deprive the Supreme Court of any of the powers granted herein.

Article 67   The Supreme Court shall comprise of one Chief Justice and four Associate Justices, a majority of whom shall be deemed competent to transact the business of the Court. If a quorum is not obtained to enable the Court to hear any case, a circuit judge in the order of seniority shall sit as an ad hoc justice of the Supreme Court.

 

Article 68   The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court shall, with the consent of the Senate, be appointed and commissioned by the President; provided that any person so appointed shall be:

a) a citizen of Liberia and of good moral character; and

b) a counsellor of the Supreme Court Bar who has practiced for at least 5 years.

 

Article 69   The judges of subordinate courts of record shall, with the consent of the Senate, be appointed and commissioned by the President, provided that any person so appointed shall be:

a) a citizen of Liberia and of good moral character; and

b) an Attorney at Law who has practiced for at least 3 years, or a counsellor of the Supreme Court Bar.

 

Article 70   The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and all judges of subordinate courts shall, before assuming the functions of their office, subscribe to a solemn oath or affirmation to discharge gaithfully and impartially the duties and functions of their office and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the Republic . The oath or affirmation shall be administered by the President or his designee.

 

Article 71   The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior. They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes .

 

Article 72   

a) The Justices of the Supreme Court and all other judges shall receive such salaries, allowances and benefits as shall be established by law. Such salaries shall be subject to taxes as defined by law, provided that they shall not otherwise be diminished. Allowances and benefits paid to Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts may by law be increased but may not be diminished except under a national program enacted by the Legislature; nor shall such allowances and benefits be subject to taxation.

b) The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of seventy; provided, however, that a justice or judge who has attained that age may continue in office for as long as may be necessary to enable him to render judgment or perform any other judicial duty in regard to proceedings entertained by him before he attained that age.

 

Article 73   No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.

 

Article 74   In all matters of contempt of court, whether in the Supreme Court or in other courts, the penalties to be imposed shall be fixed by the Legislature and shall conform to the provisions on Fundamental Rights laid down in this Constitution .

 

Article 75   The Supreme Court shall from time to time make rules of court for the purpose of regulating the practice, procedures and manner by which cases shall be commenced and heard before it and all other subordinate courts. It shall prescribe such code of conduct for lawyers appearing before it and all other subordinate courts as may be necessary to facilitate the proper discharge of the court's functions. Such rules and code, however, shall not contravene any statutory provisions or any provisions of this Constitution.

 

Article 76   

a) Treason against the Republic shall consist of:

(1) levying war against the Republic;

(2) aligning oneself with or aiding and abetting another nation or people with whom Liberia is at war or in a state of war;

(3) acts of espionage for an enemy state;

(4) attempting by overt act to overthrow the Government, rebellion against the Republic, insurrection and mutiny; and

(5) abrogating or attempting to abrogate, subverting or attempting or conspiring to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other means which attempts to undermine this Constitution.

The Legislature shall have the power to declare the punishment for treason; provided, however, that such punishment shall not include a deprivation or forfeiture of the right of inheritance by the convicted person of any property although he may not be entitled to enjoyment thereof for as long as he continues to serve the term of imprisonment imposed after conviction in a court of competent jurisdiction. The right to the enjoyment of any property inherited or otherwise conveyed to or acquired by such convicted person shall be automatically restored upon serving the term of imprisonment or other punishment, or upon an executive pardon by the President . No punishment shall preclude the inheritance and enjoyment, or cause the forfeiture by others entitled thereto, of any property which the convicted person at the time of conviction or subsequent thereto may have possessed or been seized.

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CHAPTER VIII
POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS

Article 77   

a) Since the essence of democracy is free competition of ideas expressed by political parties and political groups as well as by individuals, parties may freely be established to advocate the political opinions of the people. Laws, regulations, decrees or measures which might have the effect of creating a one party state shall be declared unconstitutional.

b) All elections shall be by secret ballot as may be determined by the Elections Commission, and every Liberian citizen not less than 18 years of age, shall have the right to be registered as a voter and to vote in public elections and referenda under this Constitution. The Legislature shall enact laws indicating the category of Liberians who shall not form or become members of political parties.

 

Article 78   As used in this Chapter, unless the context otherwise requires, an "association" means a body of persons, corporate or other, which acts together for a common purpose, and includes a group of people organized for any ethnic, social, cultural, occupational or religious objectives; a "political party" shall be an association with a membership of not less than five hundred qualified voters in each of at least six counties, whose activities include canvassing for votes on any public issue or in support of a candidate for elective public office; and an "independent candidate" shall be a person seeking electoral post or office with or without his own organization, acting independently of a political party .

 

Article 79   No association, by whatever name called, shall function as a political party, nor shall any citizen be an independent candidate for election to public office, unless:

a) the association or independent candidate and his organization meet the minimum registration requirements laid down by the Elections Commission and are registered with it. Registration requirements shall include filing with the Elections Commission a copy of the constitution of the association and guide lines of the independent candidate and his organization, a detailed statement of the names and addresses of the association and its officers or of the independent candidate and the officers of his organization, and fulfillment of the provisions of sub-sections (b), (c), (d) and (e) hereof. Registration by the Elections Commission of any association or independent candidate and his organization shall vest in the entity or candidate and his organization so registered legal personality, with the capacity to own property, real, personal or mixed, to sue and be sued and to hold accounts. A denial of registration or failure by the Elections Commission to register any applicant may be challenged by the applicant in the Supreme Court;

b) the membership of the association or the independent candidate's organization is open to every citizen of Liberia , irrespective of sex, religion or ethnic background, except as otherwise provided in this Constitution.

c) the headquarters of the association or independent candidate and his organization is situated:

(i) in the capital of the Republic where an association is involved or where an independent candidate seeks election to the office of President or Vice President;   

(ii) in the headquarters of the county where an independent candidate seeks election as a Senator; and   

(iii) in the electoral center in the constituency where the candidate seeks election as a member of the House of Representatives or to any other public office;

d) the name, objective, emblem or motto of the association or of the independent candidate and his organization is free from any religious connotations or divisive ethnic implications and that the activities of the association or independent candidate are not limited to a special group or, in the case of an association, limited to a particular geographic area of Liberia;

e) the constitution and rules of the political party shall conform to the provisions of this Constitution, provide for the democratic elections of officers and/or governing body at least once every six years, and ensure the election of officers from as many of the regions and ethnic groupings in the country as possible . All amendments to the Constitution or rules of a political party shall be registered with the Elections Commission no later than ten days from the effective dates of such amendments.

Article 80

a) Parties or organizations which, by reason of their aims or the behaviour of their adherents, seek to impair or abolish the free democratic society of Liberia or to endanger the existence of the Republic shall be denied registration

b) Parties or organization which retain, organize, train or equip any person or group of persons for the use or display of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interest, or arouse reasonable apprehension that they are so organized, trained or equipped, shall be denied registration, or if registered, shall have their registration revoked .

c) Every Liberian citizen shall have the right to be registered in a constituency, and to vote in public elections only in the constituency where registered, either in person or by absentee ballot; provided that such citizen shall have the right to change his voting constituency as may be prescribed by the Legislature .

d) Each constituency shall have an approximately equal population of 20,000, or such number of citizens as the Legislature shall prescribe in keeping with population growth and movements as revealed by a national census; provided that the total number of electoral constituencies in the Republic shall not exceed one hundred.

e) Immediately following a national census and before the next elections, the Elections Commission shall reapportion the constituencies in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population as possible; provided, however, that a constituency must be solely within a county .

Article 81   Any citizen, political party, organization or association, being resident in Liberia, of Liberian nationality or origin, and not other wise disqualified under the provisions of this Constitution and laws of the land, shall have the right to canvass for the votes for any political party or candidate at any election, provided that corporate and business organizations and labor unions are excluded from so canvassing directly or indirectly in whatsoever form.

 

Article 82   

a) Any citizen or citizens, political party association or organization, being of Liberian nationality or origin, shall have the right to contribute to the funds or election expenses of any political party or candidate; provided that corporate and business organizations and labor unions shall be excluded from making any contribution to the funds or expenses of any political party. The Legislature shall by law prescribe the guidelines under which such contributions may be made and the maximum amount which may be contributed.

b) No political party or organization may hold or possess any funds or other assets outside of Liberia; nor may they or any independent candidates retain any funds or assets remitted or sent to them from outside Liberia unless remitted or sent by Liberian citizens residing abroad. Any funds or other assets received directly or indirectly in contravention of this restriction shall be paid over or transferred to the Elections Commission within twenty one days of receipt. Information on all funds received from abroad shall be filed promptly with the Elections Commission.

c) The Elections Commission shall have the power to examine into and order certified audits of the financial transactions of political parties and independent candidates and their organizations. The Commission shall prescribe the kinds of records to be kept and the manner in which they shall be kept. The certified audits shall be conducted by a certified chartered public accountant, not a member of any political party.

 

Article 83   

a) Voting for the President, Vice President, members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives shall be conducted throughout the Republic on the second Tuesday in October of each election year.

b) All elections of public officers shall be determined by an absolute majority of the votes cast. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority in the first ballot, a second ballot shall be conducted on the second Tuesday following. The two candidates who received the greatest numbers of votes on the first ballot shall be designated to participate in the run off election.

c) The returns of the elections shall be declared by the Elections Commission not later than fifteen days after the casting of ballots. Any party or candidate who complains about the manner in which the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to file a com plaint with the Elections Commission. Such complaint must be filed not later than seven days after the announcement of the results of the elections.

The Elections Commission shall, within thirty days of receipt of the complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate. Any political party or independent candidate affected by such decision shall not later than seven days appeal against it to the Supreme Court.

The Elections Commission shall within seven days of receipt of the notice of appeal, forward all the records in the case to the Supreme Court, which not later than seven days thereafter, shall hear and make its determination. If the Supreme Court nullifies or sustains the nullification of the election of any candidate, for whatever reasons, the Elections Commission shall within sixty days of the decision of the Court conduct new elections to fill the vacancy. If the court sustains the election of a candidate, the Elections Commission shall act to effectuate the mandate of the Court.

d) Every political party shall, on September 1 of each year, and every candidate of such political party and every independent candidate shall, not later than thirty days prior to the holding of an election in which he is a candidate, publish and submit to the Elections Commission detailed statements of assets and liabilities . These shall include the enumeration of sources of funds and other assets, plus lists of expenditures. Where the filing of such statements is made in an election year, every political party and independent candidate shall be required to file with the Elections Commission additional detailed supplementary statements of all funds received and expenditures made by them from the date of filing of the original statements to the date of the elections. Any political party or independent candidate who ceases to function shall publish and submit a final financial statement to the Elections Commission.

 

Article 84   The Legislature shall by law provide penalties for any violations of the relevant provisions of this Chapter, and shall enact laws and regulations in furtherance thereof not later than 1986; provided that such penalties, laws or regulations shall not be inconsistent with any provisions of this Constitution.

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CHAPTER IX
EMERGENCY POWERS

 

Article 85   The President, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, may order any portion of the Armed Forces into a state of combat readiness in defence of the Republic, before or after the declaration of a state of emergency, as may be warranted by the situation. All military power or authority shall at all times, however, be held in subordination to the civil authority and the Constitution.

 

Article 86   

a) The President may, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, proclaim and declare the existence of a state of emergency in the Republic or any part thereof. Acting pursuant thereto, the President may suspend or affect certain rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in this Constitution and exercise such other emergency powers as may be necessary and appropriate to take care of the emergency, subject, however, to the limitations contained in this Chapter .

b) A state of emergency may be declared only where there is a threat or outbreak of war or where there is civil unrest affecting the existence, security or well being of the Republic amounting to a clear and present danger.

 

Article 87

a) Emergency powers do not include the power to suspend or abrogate the Constitution, dissolve the Legislature, or suspend or dismiss the Judiciary; and no constitutional amendment shall be promulgated during a state of emergency . Where the Legislature is not in session, it must be convened immediately in special session and remain in session during the entire period of the state of emergency.

b) The writ of habeas corpus shall remain available and exercisable at all times and shall not be suspended on account of any state of emergency. It shall be enjoyed in the most free, easy, inexpensive, expeditious and ample manner. Any person who suffers from a violation of this right may challenge such violation in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Article 88   The President shall, immediately upon the declaration of a state of emergency, but not later than seven days thereafter, lay before the Legislature at its regular session or at a specially convened session, the facts and circumstances leading to such declaration. The Legislature shall within seventy two hours, by joint resolution voted by two thirds of the membership of each house, decide whether the proclamation of a state of emergency is justified or whether the measures taken thereunder are appropriate. If the two thirds vote is not obtained, the emergency automatically shall be revoked. Where the legislature shall deem it necessary to revoked the state of emergency or to modify the measures taken thereunder, the President shall act accordingly and immediately carry out the decisions of the Legislature.

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CHAPTER X
AUTONOMOUS PUBLIC COMMISSIONS

 

Article 89   The following Autonomous Public Commissions are hereby established:

A. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION;

B. ELECTIONS COMMISSION; and

C. GENERAL AUDITING COMMISSION

The Legislature shall enact laws for the governance of these Commissions and create other agencies as may be necessary for the effective operation of Government.

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CHAPTER XI
MISCELLANEOUS

 

Article 90  

a) No person, whether elected or appointed to any public office, shall engage in any other activity which shall be against public policy, or constitute conflict of interest.

b) No person holding public office shall demand and receive any other perquisites, emoluments or benefits, directly or indirectly, on account of any duty required by Government .

c) The Legislature shall, in pursuance of the above provision, prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitute conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof.

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CHAPTER XII
AMENDMENTS

 

Article 91   This Constitution may be amended whenever a proposal by either

(1) two thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature or

(2) a petition submitted to the Legislature, by not fewer than 10,000 citizens which receives the concurrence of two thirds of the membership of both Houses of the Legislature, is ratified by two thirds of the registered voters, voting in a referendum conducted by the Elections Commission not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature.

 

Article 92   Proposed constitutional amendments shall be accompanied by statements setting forth the reasons therefor and shall be published in the Official Gazette and made known to the people through the information services of the Republic. If more than one proposed amendment is to be voted upon in a referendum they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against them separately.

 

Article 93   The limitation of the Presidential term of office to two terms, each of six years duration, may be subject to amendment; provided that the amendment shall not become effective during the term of office of the encumbent President.

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CHAPTER XIII
TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

 

Article 94   

a) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, any person duly elected to any office provided for under this Constitution and under the laws in force immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution shall be deemed to have been duly elected for the purpose of this Constitution and to have assumed the position so occupied on the date of coming into existence of this Constitution.

b) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, elections for the President, Vice President and members of the Legislature, prior to the coming into force of this Constitution, shall be held on the 3rd Tuesday in January 1985. The person so elected President of Liberia shall be inaugurated on the 12th day of April 1985. The President, Vice President and members of the Legislature who are elected for the first term prior to the coming into force of this Constitution, shall serve their respective terms less approximately three months. This Constitution shall come into force simultaneously with that inauguration.

c) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, the People's Redemption Council shall by decree convene a session of the newly elected Legislature before the 12th day of April 1985, to enable the Senate and House of Representatives to organize and elect their officers. Such elections shall be conducted in accordance with the rules and procedures laid down by the Legislature under the suspended Constitution until changed by the new Legislature.

d) Any person who, under the laws extant immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution, held an appointment or was acting in an office shall be deemed to have been appointed, as far as it is consistent with the provisions of this Constitution, to hold or to act in the equivalent office under this Constitution until appointments otherwise provided for under this Constitution shall have been made.

 

Article 95   

a) The Constitution of the Republic of Liberia which came into force on the 26th day of July 1847, and which was suspended on the 12th day of April 1980, is hereby abrogated. Notwithstanding this abrogation, however, any enactment or rule of law in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Constitution, whether derived from the abrogated Constitution or from any source shall, in so far as it is not in consistent with any provision of this Constitution, continue in force as if enacted, issued or made under the authority of this Constitution.

b) All treaties, executive and other international agreements and obligations concluded by the Government of the People's Redemption Council or prior governments in the name of the Republic prior to the coming into force of this Constitution shall continue to be valid and binding on the Republic unless abrogated or cancelled or unless otherwise inconsistent with this Constitution .

c) All foreign and domestic debts or other loans and obligations contracted by the Government of the People's Redemption Council or prior governments or any agency or other authority in the name of the Republic of Liberia prior to the coming into existence of this Constitution, shall continue to be binding on and enforceable by the Republic of Liberia .

Article 96   Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution:

a) The People's Supreme Court of Liberia and all subordinate courts operating prior to the effective date of this Constitution shall continue to so operate, and the Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the People's Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts holding appointments in such courts shall continue to hold such appointments after the coming into existence of this Constitution until their successors are appointed and qualified; provided, however, that all judges of subordinate courts shall remain and preside in their respective resident circuits pending the reconstruction of the Supreme Court . The appointment by the President, with the consent of the Senate, of the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts, shall be made as soon as possible after the coming into force of this Constitution. The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the People's Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts holding office prior thereto, unless reappointed, shall cease to hold office and their function shall automatically devolve upon the newly appointed Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts, respectively.

b) Where any legal or administrative proceeding has been commenced, or a person seeks action by any authority or one acting under the authority of the Government, that matter may be carried on and completed by the person or authority having power or by his successor in office; and it shall not be necessary for any such proceeding to be commenced de novo. Any act completed by any person or authority having power under the existing law shall not be made the subject of review or commenced anew by anyone assuming the authority of that office after the coming into force of this Constitution .

 

Article 97   

a) No executive, legislative, judicial or administrative action taken by the People's Redemption Council or by any persons, whether military or civilian, in the name of that Council pursuant to any of its decrees shall be questioned in any proceedings whatsoever; and, accordingly, it shall not be lawful for any court or other tribunal to make any order or grant any remedy or relief in respect of any such act.

b) No court or other tribunal shall entertain any action whatsoever instituted against the Government of Liberia, whether before or after the coming into force of this Constitution or against any person or persons who assisted in any manner whatsoever in bringing about the change of Government of Liberia on the 12th day of April, 1980, in respect of any act or commission relating to or consequent upon:

(i) the overthrow of the government in power in Liberia before the establishment of the government of the People's Redemption Council;
(ii) the suspension of the Constitution of Liberia of July 26, 1847 ;
(iii) the establishment, functioning and other organs established by the People's Redemption Council; (iv) the imposition of any penalties, including the death penalty, or the confiscation of any property by or under the authority of the People's Redemption Council under a decree made by that Council in pursuance of but not limited to the measures undertaken by the Council to punish persons guilty of crimes and malpractices to the detriment of the Liberian nation, the people, the economy, or the public interest; and (v) the establishment of this Constitution.

 

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