Liberian Bar Association considers suspending US-sanctioned lawyer Cyrenius Cephus – FrontPageAfrica
monrovia – Solicitor General sanction now suspended Cllr. Sayma Cyrenius Cephus of the US Government Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), based on the Global Magnitsky Act, dealt him more severe blows, the latest being a pending suspension by the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA).
Clr. Cephus, according to the US Treasury report, is being sanctioned, among other things, for allegedly using “his position to obstruct investigations and block prosecutions in corruption cases involving government officials.” Cephas has been accused of tampering with and deliberately withholding evidence in cases involving members of opposition political parties to secure conviction.
These allegations are serious, reprehensible and violate the fundamental principles of the LNBA, which could trigger an investigation and later lead to Cllr. Cephus suspension from the Bar.
The disclosure of an impending suspension from Cllr. Cephus was manufactured by Cllr. Jamal Christopher Dehtho, Jr., the LNBA’s national vice president, at an occasion in Ganta, Nimba County, last week.
Speaking on September 2, 2022 in Ganta, Nimba County, at the opening of a two-day strategic planning retreat organized by the Association of Women Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL), Cllr. Dehtho said the LNBA is considering taking disciplinary action against its suspended member for what he described as “very strong allegations against him by the US government.”
Quoting Rule Seven of the Code of Moral and Professional Conduct for Lawyers Practicing in Liberia, which provides, among other things, that “the primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict, but to ensure that justice is done. The suppression of facts or the concealment of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible and totally unprofessional”.
Clr. Dehtho said the rule prohibits any attorney from engaging in such an act and considers such action to be highly reprehensible and completely unprofessional, noting that the LNBA “welcomes the decision of the U.S. government and that the Bar Association stands ready to ensure that it supports respect for the rule of law in Liberia”.
In the US Treasury Department press release announcing the sanctions against Liberian government officials, it also warns of the consequences for individuals and entities that continue to do business with the three officials.
“In addition, individuals who engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities named today may themselves be subject to penalties or legal action,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the LNBA vice president praised AFELL for its work and the impact the association has had over the years, but encouraged the body to do more.
“You have to focus on outreach and raising awareness, letting people know what you’re doing, including the impact you’ve had as well as your activities,” he said.