…Alan White Tells Liberians

Monrovia-April-15-2024-TNR:With the recent signing of the Resolution establishing the War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia, former United Nations Chief Investigator for Sierra Leone War crimes Tribunal, Dr. Alan White says rumors about protection of war actors under Liberia’s domestic law from War and Economic Courts are unwarranted and advises that under international law proceedings no one is immune from prosecution.

The former UN Chief Investigator’s statement comes in the wake of claims from various individuals that there was an Amnesty Law passed in 2003 or immunity was given to all parties during the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord.

Dr. White in an exclusive interview with a local daily stated that the War and Economic crimes Court will be established similarly to the United Nations backed Special Court for Sierra Leone which prosecuted individuals under international Law. He added, “So, as a result no individual will be immune from prosecution.”

The former Chief Investigator for the Special Court for Sierra Leone further noted that all persons bearing the greater responsibilities for War and Economic crimes regardless of status will be prosecuted backing stepping earlier claims in various quarters that an amnesty law was passed in 2003 by the Joint Legislature under former President Charles G. Taylor is still in force.

Dr. Whited said the Joint Resolution did not create a War Crimes and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia, however, it demonstrated the support of both the House of Representative and the Senate the will of the people and now pave the way for President Joseph N. Boakai to request assistance from the United Nations and establish the office of War Crimes and Economic Crimes Court to facilitate and coordinate the establishment of the court.

On the issue of what’s the next step following the signing into law by President Boakai, Dr. White with over 20 years’ experience in international war crimes prosecution said President Boakai will now need to issue an Executive Order  directing the establishment of the court and work out all modalities with both national and international including various governments, such as, the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the United Nations to begin the legal framework and agreement between the Government of Liberia and the UN for ratification by the Liberian Legislature  and enacted into law and signed by the President of Liberia.

Dr. White indicated that this will attract greater international support, including the granting by the United Nations the best international recognition and international legal legitimacy to harness both financial and technical support as one of the best experiences coming out of the Sierra Leone backed court.

He said the official endorsement by the UN Security Council Resolution supporting the establishment of the court by the agreement with the Government of Liberia office of War Crimes and Economic crimes will pave the way for the appointment by the United Nations Secretary General the Court’s Chief Prosecutors, Deputy Prosecutors, and Court Registrars as required under international criminal prosecution proceedings.

Dr. Alan White stated that this has been a 20-year quest for justice for the Liberian people and the 250,000 victims killed during civil wars. The court will be located in Monrovia where the people of Liberia can witness justice and accountability first hand.

He said the trials can be streamed live to the people outside Monrovia where they can watch though local and social media sites. Dr. White envisioned the Judiciary to contain multiple Trial Chambers as well as an Appeal Chambers to expeditiously try cases and address appeal issues.

The special court for Sierra Leone started off with only on trial chambers which slowed down the judicial process significantly.

“So, it is anticipated that having multiple Trial chambers established early on will expatiate the process.  These are types of modalities that will be addressed by the Office of War Crimes and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia in consultation with the UN and other stakeholders and using best practices, and lessons learned from the Special Court for Sierra Leone.” Dr. Alan White added.

On the issue of prosecution of Economic crimes as vehemently rejected by many including the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the former War crimes Chief Investigator Dr. Alan White layoff fears for the prosecution of former government officials including other public officials for corruption as speculated.

Dr. White explained that the Economic Crimes Committee during the civil wars can be prosecuted as war crimes under the charges of pillaging and looting which addresses the stealing of government funds, government resources, and stealing money or property from individuals. The crimes that occurred outside the temporal jurisdiction of the court can be prosecuted under Liberian domestic law in Liberian domestic courts.

On the security of the state amidst the passage of the resolution and subsequent rollout of the War and Economic crimes court, Dr. Allen White, firstly lauded members of both Houses of the Liberia Legislature for the endorsement of the War and Economic crimes court establishment.

He encouraged Liberians that it is the right time to move ahead with healing the wounds millions who had suffered the post-traumatic stress of war crimes.

Recounting on experiences from Sierra Leone, Dr. White recalled threats by former Minister of Internal Affairs in Sierra Leone, Chief Hinga Norman, who commended over 10,000 Kamajors as part of those Civil Defense Force (CDF), comprised of Traditional Hunters and his public statement about not being taken to the Special Court.

“However, the day of his arrest on March 10, 2003, led to public jubilation and his public trial in Freetown was witnessed and hear by thousands of Sierra Leoneans who got to witness justice for the first and see hand that no one was above the law,” he added.

Alan White, “Despite multiple threats the trial went without an incident for well over a year and this is the part helped the healing process of the people of Sierra Leone as Chief HingaNorman was arguably the most powerful man in Sierra Leone at the time because he had all the security assets under his command and control.”

“For Liberia, it is up to all Liberians to support the genuine commitment of President Joseph N. Boakai to restore genuine peace through the combination of retributive and restorative Justice unlike the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for restorative justice.”

White said he remains confident that Liberia and victims of injustices and wars will now find answers from war actors for a lasting peace built on respect for the rule of law.

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