Chair, Law Reform Commission of Liberia
Civil Service, Accountable Policing
Inter-ministerial coordination, External Accountability
training, patronage, depoliticization, corruption, capacity building, budgeting
Fri Jul 24 2009
Philip Banks describes the two years he spent as the minister of justice of Liberia after being appointed to the position in 2007. He outlines the three major areas of improvement that he identified at the advent of his career as minister: seeking to reinforce the prosecution sector, improve national security, and resume the publishing of legal materials by the department. Emphasizing the importance of competent staff, he describes how he revamped the vetting process for both lawyers and policing officials and sought to improve the legal education and knowledge of both lawyers and judges. Furthermore, Banks describes how he sought to improve security in the country, particularly with respect to the high instances of rape, and looked to obtain greater compensation for both police officials and prosecutors. In this regard, he also describes his efforts to increase the numbers and improve the lives of county attorneys. Banks outlines the steps he took to increase budgetary support from the government. Towards the end of the interview, Banks touches upon his experience in dealing with problems such as patronage and nepotism with respect to appointed under-qualified members of the ministry, and concludes with an emphasis on the need for the independence of the ministry and ministry officials from political influences.
At the time of this interview, Philip Banks was the chair of the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of Liberia. He transitioned to this position after having served as the minister of justice for two years, taking office in 2007. Banks also served as the minister of justice for the Interim Government of National Unity from 1990-1994. Moreover, he was the dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia from 1983-1984. Banks has extensive knowledge about legal affairs and served as a consultant for the Government Reform Commission from 1999-2003 as well as the director of Legal and Advisor Affairs on the Constitution Commission from 1981-1983.