January 01, 2013

From the Bench: Grappling with Liberia’s Legal Issues

An American judge travels into the heat and confusion of Liberia with Lawyers Without Borders.

Hon. Virginia M. Kendall

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We have not stopped sweating since we landed and walked into the tiny two-room airport past the guards with AK-47s. It is hot here in Liberia, a country that remains “off the grid” from years of internal conflict and strife. A small rectangular machine looking more like a water cooler than an air conditioner stands in one corner of the room, and three of us head there for the weak cool breeze it is attempting to emit in the steamy overcrowded waiting area. When we leave the airport for Monrovia, we pass the bombed-out buildings that have long since been abandoned during tougher years, their pockmarked façades broken down first by bullets and then by neglect. Our team is filled with enthusiasm and hope, even though we are wilting in the sun.

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