Liberia News: Boakai ‘Na Joking’

At Long Last Signs Resolution Establishing War & Economic Crimes Court

By Mark N. Mengonfia

Monrovia-May-3-2024-TNR:President Joseph Nyuma Boakai appears not to be joking when it comes to making people (those who bear the highest responsibility of war crimes) to account for their past dreadful actions during the over 14 years of civil unrest in Liberia.

The Liberian leader yesterday put the last nail to the coffin by signing a resolution for the establishment of War and Economic Crime Court office to try those who committed heinous atrocities during the country’s brutal civil war.

Apart from signing of the Resolution at the Tea House on the grounds of the Executive Mansion,, President Boakai also signed Executive Order 131 establishing the Office of the War and Economic Crimes Court.

Executive Order #131 signed by the president recounts how “ the Republic of Liberia underwent fourteen years of civil war, during the course of which numerous atrocities, including murder, genocide, rape, destruction of properties, and looting of the natural and other resources of the nation were committed by various warring factions and individuals.”

It also recalls how the TRC Report cataloged some of the war and economic crimes committed during the Liberian civil war and listed certain organizations and individuals who engaged in or were otherwise complacent in the perpetration of war crimes, as well as others who allegedly committed economic crimes against the Republic and the people of Liberia, and predicated thereon, recommended the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia to prosecute those responsible for the commission of the enumerated war crimes, as the term is defined internationally.

“The failure of successive Legislatures and Executive to attend to the recommendations of the TRC and to actualize the setting up of a court to address the issues of war crimes and a court to deal with issues of economic crimes committed against the Republic, or take action to address the war crimes allegations levied in the Report or the atrocities said to have been carried out, left a painful void in the nation and amongst its people, and hampered the quest for national unity” the resolution said.

“The House of Representatives of the Fifty-Fifth Legislature of Liberia passed a Resolution, number 001/2024, on April 8, 2024, advocating its approval for the setting up of a war and economic crimes court; and which Resolution was concurred with by the Liberian Senate, carrying the title “mechanism for the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court and Domestic Anti-Corruption Court for War and Economic Crime.”

The Liberian leader said the signing of the resolution and the establishment of the court will end impunity in Liberia as thousands of Liberians as well as foreign nationals lost their lives during the country’s nearly 14 years of civil conflict that devastated every fabric of the nation.

According to the Liberian leader, signing the resolution is what the people of Liberia need and they expressed it through their lawmakers.

Now that the War and Economic Crimes Court resolution has been signed by the Liberian President with an Executive Order establishing the Office of the War and Economic Crimes Court, all is now set for the process of introducing a Bill at the Legislature to kickstart the process.

Liberians have since anticipated the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia since the end of the devastating civil war, but succeeding administrations including the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and George Weah administrations refused to act on the establishment of the court.

The signing of the resolution is a major achievement for the Boakai administration fulfilling one of his many promises to the Liberian people.

Recently, the Liberian Senate’s Plenary unanimously signed a Joint Resolution calling for establishing a War and Economic Crimes Court to end Liberia’s culture of impunity. The resolution earlier signed by majority members of the House of Representatives was forwarded to the Liberian Senate, craving its concurrence upon a thorough review.

28 of the 29 members of the Senate affixed their signatures to the document on Tuesday, 9 April 2024, including NimbaCounty Senator Prince Y. Johnson and Grand Gedeh County Senator Thomas Yaya Nimely.

Both men have been fierce opponents of the establishment of the court in recent weeks, often claiming that it will not solve Liberia’s problems.

For decades, Liberians have been requesting the establishment of the war and economic crimes court to ensure accountability for those responsible for atrocities and economic crimes committed during and after the country’s civil war.Approximately 250,000 lives were lost during Liberia’s civil conflict, and properties worth millions of dollars were destroyed.

Economic crimes and other abuses continue in the country even after the war because there has been no precedent to deter these crimes.

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