The Coalition for the Establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court has expressed grave concern about the elections and re-election of major warlords and individuals accused of war and economic crimes at various levels of the National Legislature in the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.
Former INPFL rebel leader and now Nimba County Senator, Prince Y. Johnson was declared winner of the recent election, keeping him at the Capitol Building for nine more years in addition to the 18 years he had already served. Another former warlord and leader of the former MODEL rebel group, Thomas Nimley Yaya has also won the Senate seat for Grand Gedeh County.
General prince Y. Johnson was the head of a splinter group of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia-the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). After entering Liberia, Johnson split from the main NPFL then headed by Mayor Charles Ghankay Taylor and founded the INPFL which reportedly committed heinous crimes in the country.
Johnson’s rebel group, the INPFL captured then Liberian President Samuel K. Doe in September 1090 and later killed the sitting President. The INPFL was also accused of coming crimes against humanity and other international crimes in Liberia.
Thomas Yaya Nimley was the head of the Liberia Peace Council (LPC), a rebel group founded by mainly the Krahnethic group. The group was also accused of carrying outmassive destruction, looting and indiscriminately killings of civilians during the war.
The coalition, which comprises of 30 pro-democratic organizations, human rights and civil society organization, religious and faith institutions, traditional leaders, women and youth groups, also expressed disappointment in voters over the elections and reelections of the war and economic crimes suspects to public offices.
The coalition is an embodiment of the April 2023 national conference of justice campaigners, traditional leaders, civil society organizations, war victims, the human rights community and faith-based organizations’ resolution that sets out the ‘path to achieving accountability for past crimes in Liberia’.
Addressing a press conference following a meeting held in Monrovia during the weekend, the Lead Campaigner of the coalition, Adama Dempster said that the election of former warlords in the Legislature has created what he termed as ‘continual road block’ on the passage of a bill establishing the war and economic court over the years.
According to him, the election and re-election of these individuals has propensity to undermine the quest for justice, accountability and the advocacy for instituting war and economic crime court in Liberia.
The coalition re-affirmed its commitment to pursue of justice and accountability for war victims, and survivals alike including women and youth who suffered heinous crimes perpetrated by warlords and fighting groups in Liberia.
The coalition reminded Liberians that the election of these individuals violates the July 2018 United Nations Human Rights Committee conclusive observations which called on Liberia to ensure the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The justice campaigners, human rights campaigners and faith-based organizations and traditional leaders expressed regret that very few steps have been taken to implement the bulk of the recommendations issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009.
The CSO coalition has said it sees the election and re-election of these individuals as a recipe for the continuation of the promotion of the culture of impunity in Liberia and the determinant root cause that undermines the rule of law in the country.
Mr. Dempster called on the Liberian government, regional bodies, including international human rights organizations and the international community to strengthen democracy and the rule of law through the path to achieving accountability for past crimes and the promotion of justice in Liberia. Liberia’s alleged war crimes perpetrator are going scot free
The UN Committee noted with fear that none of the alleged perpetrated of gross human rights violations and war crimes mentioned in the TRC reports have been brought to justice and that some of those individuals are or have been holding executive position in government
The UN Committee also recommended that the Liberian government ensure that alleged perpetrators of gross human rights violations and war crimes are impartially investigated, charged and prosecuted or punished in accordance with the gravity of the acts committed regardless of their status or any domestic legislation on immunity.
The international community also suggested to the government to remove people proven to have been involved in gross human rights violations and war crimes from hold any public office or official position.