– Written by Bernard Gbayee Goah
In 2009, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was able to file action of damages against the New Broom Newspaper in Liberia, only because her government obtained injunction to close down media institutions based on the content of their reports… especially contrapositive reports against the President.
According to a writ of summons issued by the Civil Law Court, the President filed for Action of Damages in line with the publication of the paper on September 3, 2009 alleging that the President took US$2 million dollars bribe to award a contract.
This was the first of its kind in the history of Liberia for a sitting president to file an action of damages against media institution. But the sticky issue is, Article 61 of the Constitution of Liberia protects a sitting President from being sued while in office as president.
Article 61 of the Liberian Constitution reads: “The President shall be immune from any suits, actions or proceedings, judicial or otherwise, and from arrest, detention or other actions on account of any act done by him (her) while President of Liberia pursuant to any provision of this Constitution or any other laws of the Republic. The President shall not, however, be immune from prosecution upon removal from office for the commission of any criminal act done while President”
But if the President can sue individuals and media institutions, that means the President can as well be sued.
By filling action of damages against the New Broom News Paper in 2009, I am sure President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is aware that she has sacrificed her immunity as stated in Article 61 of the Liberian Constitution!
Ordinary citizens can now sue President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf because she has compromised her Presidential immunity as mentioned in Article 61 of the constitution of Liberia.