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The Liberian Constitutions

Declaration 1983 Draft

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1983 Draft Constitution

Following the coup d'etat of April 1980, the military leaders suspended the Liberian Constitution of 1847, which had been in force continuously for 133 years, subject to a number of amendments.  The ruling military council would issue a series of decrees by which the country was constitutionally guided until 1983.  In that year the 25-rnember National Constitution Drafting Commission submitted a new draft Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.  The draft retained the essential republican form with three separate, independent and coordinate branches-the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. It sought to exclude certain 19th-century embellishments that were in the 1847 Constitution, to limit each president to two consecutive four-year terms; to create a Judicial Service Commission, for vetting candidates for judicial appointments; to create an Ombudsman Commission,with powers to investigate misfeasance and malfeasance in the public sector; and to ban military personnel from participation in partisan politics.

 

The Constitution Commission consisted of Amos C. Sawyer, chairman; D.K. Wonsehleay, cochairman; and members: Robert G.W. Azango, J. Gornee N. Barlefay, J. Emmanuel Berry, George D. Browne, Augustus F. Caine, H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr., Bangaly Fofana, Philip G. Gadegbeku, Alfred V.W. Gayflor, Isaac L. George, J. Rudolph Grimes, Abraham L. James, Peter A. Johnson, David D, Kpormakpor, Henry G. Kwekwe, Albert Porte, Patrick L.N. Seyon, J. Teah Tarpeh, Stephen Byron Tarr, B. Mulbah Togbah, Wolor Topor, Rebecca Ware-Wilson, and Tuan Wreh.  (Dunn, D. Elwood , Amos J. Beyan, Carl Patrick Burrowes. Historical Dictionary of Liberia: 2nd Edition. Scarecrow Press, 2001. p86 Used by permission )

The 1983 Constituiton underwent major revisions before it was enacted (See Constitution of 1984).

 

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CONSTITUTION OF 1983

Table of Contents

Arrangement of Articles

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREAMBLE

CHAPTER I STRUCTURE OF THE STATE

CHAPTER II GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NATIONAL POLICY


CHAPTER III FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

CHAPTER IV CITIZENSHIP


CHAPTER V THE LEGISLATURE

CHAPTER VI THE EXECUTIVE CHAPTER

CHAPTER VII THE JUDICIARY CHAPTER

CHAPTER VIII POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS

CHAPTER IX EMERGENCY POWERS

CHAPTER X AUTONOMOUS PUBLIC AGENCIES

CHAPTER XI MISCELLANEOUS


CHAPTER XII AMENDMENTS

CHAPTER XIII TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

SCHEDULE


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CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA ARRANGEMENT OF ARTICLES

PREAMBLE

CHAPTER I STRUCTURE OF THE STATE

1. Power of the People

2. Supremacy of the Constitution

3. Counties of the Republic and Form and Branches of Government

CHAPTER II GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NATIONAL POLICY

4. Unenforceability of General Principles

5. Principles on Unity, Culture and Corruption

6. Principles on Equality in Educational Opportunities

7. Principles on the Management of National Economy

8. Principles on Non-discrimination in Employment Opportunities

9. Principles on Regional and Bilateral Cooperation

10. Publication, Dissemination and Teaching of the Constitution

CHAPTER III FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

11.
a.Right to Life, Liberty ,Security and Property
b.Entitlement to Fundamental Rights
c.Right to Equal Protection of the Law

12. Prohibition Against Slavery and Forced Labor

13.
a. Right to Freedom of Movement
b. Right to Enter and Leave the Republic and Against Expulsion and Extradition of Liberian Citizens

14. Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

15.
a. Right to Freedom of Expression
b. Scope of Right to Freedom of Expression
c. Right of Public to be Informed
d. Limitation of Freedom of Expression

16. Right to Privacy

17. Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association

18. Right to Equal Opportunity in Work and Employment

19. Right not to be Subject to Military Law

20. Right to Jury Trial and Due Process of Law

21.
a. Prohibition of Retroactive Law, Bill of Attainder and Ex Post Facto Law
b. Prohibition Against Illegal Search or Seizure
c. Right to be Informed of Charges and Right to Remain Silent
d. i. Right to Bail ii. Prohibition Against Excessive Bail, Fines and Punishment
e. Prohibition Against Torture or Inhumane Treatment
f. Right to be Presented before Court
g. Right to Habeas Corpus
h. Right to be Presented with Information when Charge with Infamous or Capital Offense
i. Inviolability of Right to Counsel
j. Right to Enjoyment of Civil Rights and Liberties after Service of Penalty or upon Pardon

22.
a. Right to Own Property
b. Scope of Right to Own Property
c. Right of Non-Citizen Missionary, Educational and Benevolent Institutions to Own Real Property
d. Right of Republic to Convey Real Property to Foreign Government

23.
a. Property Right of Spouse in or after Marriage
b. Legislative Enactment of Laws or Devolution of Estates

24.
a. Right of Republic to Expropriate Private Property
b. Forfeiture of Property Right by Denaturalized Citizens
c. Prohibition Against Inclusion of Forfeiture of Right of Inheritance in Punishment for crime

25. Prohibition Against Impairment of Right to Contract

26. Right to Sue the Republic or other Persons for Fundamental Rights Violations

CHAPTER IV CITIZENSHIP

27.
a. Citizenship on Coming into Force of Constitution
b. Eligibility for Citizenship by Birth and Naturalization restricted to Negroes
c. Legislature to Prescribe Standard for Citizenship

28. Citizenship by Parentage

29.
a. Prohibition Against Deprivation of Citizenship in Violation of Constitution
b. Retention of Citizenship by Liberian Female Citizen Acquiring Citizenship of a Foreign Country by Virtue of Marriage

30. Deprivation of Citizenship of the Republic

CHAPTER V THE LEGISLATURE

31. Establishment of Legislature and Houses

32. Qualification for Membership of Legislature

33. Oaths of Members

34. Sessions of Legislature

35. Quorum

36. Power of Legislature

37. Veto of Legislation by President

38. Remuneration for Members of Legislature

39. By-Election to Fill Vacancy

40. Power of Legislature to Adopt Own Rules

41. Legislature to Authorize Census to be Undertaken

42. Adjournment of Legislature

43. Languages to Conduct Business

44. Immunity of Members of Legislature

45. Impeachment Power of legislature

46. Contempt of the Legislature


47. Term of Office of Senators

48. Staggering of Senate

49. Election of Officers of Senate

50. Term of Office of Members of House of Representatives

51. Election of Officers of House of Representatives

CHAPTER VI THE EXECUTIVE

52. Establishment of the Office of President and Tenure of Office of President

53. Establishment of the Office of Vice-President and Prescribing Term of Office

54. Qualification for Election to Office of President and Vice-President

55. Oaths of President and Vice-President

56. Appointment Powers of President

57. a. Method for Appointment of Superintendents of Counties by President

58. President to Appoint Magistrates, Justices of the Peace and Notaries Public

59. Removal Powers of President

60. President's Power to Conduct Foreign Affairs

61. President to Present Annual Legislative Programs

62. Power of President to Pardon

63. Compensation for President and Vice-President

64. Immunity of President

65. Removal of President and Vice-President from Office

66.
a. Conducting of New Elections on Death of Elected President before Inauguration
b. Vice-President to Succeed President in the Event of Vacancy of the Office of President
c. Election of New Vice-President by Senate in the Event of the Death of Vice-President or Vice-president-Elect

67. Succession to the Presidency in the Event of the Creation of Vacancy in Office of the President and the Vice-President.

CHAPTER VII THE JUDICIARY

68. Vesting of Judicial Power in the Courts

69. Supreme Court to Have Final Appellate Jurisdiction

70. Composition of Supreme Court

71. Qualification for Appointment as Justice of Supreme Court

72. Qualification for Appointment as Judge of Subordinate Court

73. Oaths of Justices and Judges

74. Tenure and Impeachment of Justices and Judges

75.
a. Salaries and Allowances of Justices and Judges
b. Retirement age of Justices and Judges
c. Retirement Benefits of Justices and Judges

76. Immunity of Justices and Judges

77. Contempt Power of Courts

78. Power of Supreme Court to Make Rules of Court and Prescribe Code of Conduct for Lawyers

79.
a. Definition of Treason
b. Legislature to Prescribe Punishment for Treason

CHAPTER VIII POLITICAL PARTIES AND ELECTIONS

80.
a. Right to Establish Political Parties
b. Conduct of Elections and Eligibility Criteria for the Exercise of the Right to Vote
c. Right of Liberian Citizens to be Registered
d. Establishment of Legislative Constituencies
e. Power of Electoral Commission to Reapportion Legislative Constituencies

81. Definition of "Association", "Political Parties and "Independent Candidate"

82.
a. Criteria for Registration as a Political Party or Independent Candidate
b. Membership of Political Party or Independent Candidates' Organization
c. Location of Headquarters of Political Party and Independent Candidate
d. Limitation on Name, Objective, Emblem and Motto of Political Party and Candidate
e. Constitution and Rules of Political Party and Independent Candidate

83. Power of Electoral Commission to Deny or Revoke Registration of a Political Party or Independent Candidate

84.
a. Right of Citizen, Political Party, Organization or Association to Canvass for Vote in an Election
b. Deposit by or on Behalf of Candidate as Prerequisite

85.
a. Right of Citizen, Political Party, Association or Organization to Contribute to funds of Political Party or Candidate
b. Prohibition on Possession of Funds Outside the Republic or Contribution from outside the Republic to any Political Party or Candidate
c. Power of Electoral Commission to Examine and Audit the Books of Political Parties or Independent Candidates

86.
a. Time for Conducting General Elections
b. Elections of Public Officers to be Determined by Absolute Majority
c. Power of Electoral Commission to Declare Results of Elections and Right of Appeal by any Aggrieved Party or Candidate
d. Publication of Statements of Assets and Liabilities by Political Parties and Independent Candidates

87. Legislature to Provide Penalties for Violation of Chapter and Enact Laws in Furtherance of Constitution.

CHAPTER IX EMERGENCY POWERS

88. Power of President to Order Armed Forces into State of Combat Readiness

89.
a. Power of President to Declare State of Emergency
b. Conditions Under Which State of Emergency May be Declared

90.
a. Limitations on Use of Emergency Powers
b. Right to Habeas Corpus not Affected by State of Emergency

91. Convening of Legislature to Ratify, Modify or Revoke the Declaration of a State of Emergency

CHAPTER X AUTONOMOUS PUBLIC AGENCIES

92.
a. Establishment of Autonomous Public Agencies
b. Qualification for Appointment to Membership on the Autonomous Public Agencies
c. Salaries of Members
d. Removal of Members
e. Autonomous Agencies to Submit Annual Reports

93. Composition, Tenure of Office and Oaths of Members

94. Powers of the Public Service Commission

95. Right of Legislature to Define Services Constituting the Public Service and Make Laws for Appointment, Promotion and Retirement

JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION
96. Composition, Tenure of Office and Oaths of Members

97. Powers of Judicial Service Commission

98. Commission Investigations of Judicial Officials and Personnel to be Based on Due Process

ELECTORAL COMMISSION
99. Composition, Tenure of Office and Oath of Members

100. Powers of Electoral Commission

OFFICE OF AUDITOR-GENERAL
101.
a. Qualification and Tenure of Auditor-General
b. Power of Legislature to Authorize Audit of the Auditor-General

102. Powers of the Auditor-General


103. Prerequisite for Impeachment Proceedings of Auditor-General

OMBUDSMAN COMMISSION
104. Composition of Commission, Qualification for Appointment to Membership, Tenure of Office and Oaths of Members

105. Powers of Ombudsman Commission

106. Limitations of the powers of the Ombudsman Commission 75

CHAPTER XI MISCELLANEOUS

107.
a. Prohibition of Full-Time or Part-Time Private Employment of Public Officials and Employees
b. Prohibition Against Public Officials and Employees Receiving other Perquisites, Emoluments or Benefits to Perform Duty Legally Required of Them
c. Filing of Statement of Assets and Liabilities by Public Officials and Employees
d. Positions to which Chapter Applies
e. Power of Legislature to Prescribe a Code of Conduct for Public Officials

CHAPTER XII AMENDMENTS

108. Initiation and Process of Amendment

109. Publication of Proposal for Amendment and Separate Itemizing of Amendments Sought

110. Entrenchment of Article Limiting Presidential Term of Office to Two Consecutive 4-Year Terms

CHAPTER XIII TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

111.
a. Persons Elected Prior to Promulgation of Constitution to be Considered Duly Elected Under Constitution
b. Swearing in of Newly Elected President on April 12, 1985 and Coming of Constitution into Force
c. Convening of Newly Elected Legislature
d. Position of Persons Appointed Prior to New Constitution Coming into Force

112.
a. Abrogation of Constitution of July 26, 1847
b. Status of Treaties, Executive and Other Agreements Concluded by Prior Governments
c. Status of Foreign and Domestic Debts Concluded by prior Governments

113.
a. Extension of Term of October Sitting of People's Supreme Court and Appointment of Ad Hoc Court on Dissolution of Supreme Court
b. Continue Sitting of Subordinate Court Until Appointment of New Judges
c. Legal Proceedings Commenced or Concluded not to be Commenced Anew

114.
a. Prohibition Against Questioning in Judicial or Other Forums of Actions taken by or in the Name of People's Redemption Council
b. Prohibition Against Court Entertaining any Action which Brought Change of Government or April 12, 1980 or any other Act by People's Redemption Council

115. Power of Legislature to Prescribe Guidelines and Determine Incapacity of President to Carry out Functions and Duties of Office

SCHEDULE
1. Schedule to Form Integral Part of Constitution
2. Oaths for Public Officials

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