-In Establishing War Crimes Court
By Reuben Sei Waylaun
Nimba County Senator and former head of the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), Senator Prince Yormie Johnson alias ‘PYJ’ wants the establishment of war crimes court in the country to take place after the tenure of President George Manneh Weah.
Senator Johnson has not given reason why the special court should be established after the tenure of President Weah, he made similar plead during the administration of then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, with many pundits saying he is afraid to face the law and account for his alleged role in the civil unrests in the country.
This might be six years from now or twelve years from now based on the outcome of the next presidential elections in 2023.
The controversial Nimba County Senator is among several Liberians listed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for prosecution for allegedly committing heinous crimes and crimes against humanity during the brutal Liberian civil war between 1979 and 2003.
The Liberian civil conflict claimed more than 250,000 lives and destroyed the country’s infrastructures. Liberians suffered tremendously over the course of the country’s two armed conflicts spanning more than 14 years.
Abuses during the war years included summary executions, large-scale massacres, rape and other forms of sexual violence, mutilation and torture, and widespread forced conscription and use of child combatants.
Liberians have been waiting many years to see justice for the atrocities suffered during the country’s civil wars. It’s Nine years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its report, which called for a special war crimes court to be set up, however, not a single person has been tried in Liberia for war crimes.
A handful of cases involving civil war-era crimes have been pursued abroad. Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) submitted its recommendations to the Liberian Government during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in which the establishment of war and economic crimes court top, there have been series of calls to ensure the implementation of the TRC’s recommendations.
Speaking recently at a meeting with opposition political parties in the country, the political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey called for the establishment of war crimes court in the country.
However, Senator Prince Yormie Johnson alias ‘PYJ’, one of those alleged of committing heinous crimes has endorsed the establishment of the war crimes court, but said it should be established after the tenure of President George Manneh Weah.
According to him, he is not afraid of war crimes court, but begged for time after the administration of President Weah.
The former rebel leader now evangelist of the gospel made these statements Sunday at his church in Paynesville, outside Monrovia when he delivered his sermon.
“If you want war crimes court, we are not afraid. I am a professional soldier and I will die as a soldier; thus, I am a politician. They shouldn’t continue to threaten us, but let them wait let Mr. George Weah time finish so they can come, that’s what I said,” he said.
Senator Johnson was responding to claims from former Liberia Maritime Affairs boss and now political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP) and confidant of convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor, Benoni Urey when he openly endorsed the immediate establishment of the war crimes court in the country.
In an interview with journalists, Urey calls for the establishment of war crimes court in the country to try those who allegedly committed crimes against the state and its citizens.
Urey himself is listed for committing economic crimes during the civil war in the country and also alleged of trading diamond for arms in close consultation with Taylor, allegations he has since refuted.
But Senator Prince Yormie Johnson maintains that Urey himself hands are not clean.
“They are not serious, they got rich over night from our sweat, they looted the country and established Lonestar and undermined to go to Sierra Leone. Let Mr. Lonestar owner knows very well that Taylor being in the Hague is not because of Liberia. He just turned against me because I refused to support him to be president, he paid my fare to go in Ghana to go see one white guy they called Allan White to sign communique for me to be VP to him and what I saw there was not too unique because it was a covert operation to get rid of us having taken me from the airport to the outskirts of Accra and I have to be patient and come back safely,” PYJ added.
Senator Johnson said President George Weah already has plan as leader of the country.
“That now you tell George Weah what kind of platform he must bring. Today Taylor is in the Hague because of his involvement in Sierra Leone and not in Liberia,” he noted.