-The Reasons Ellen’s Administration Failed To Establish Special Court of Justice?

By Reuben Sei Waylaun

At long last, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has revealed the reasons behind the failure of her administration to establish a special court of justice for people who committed atrocities and heinous crimes during the brutal 14-year Liberian civil unrest.

former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The former Liberian leader’s administration came under serious public criticisms for her reported failure to implement the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

In its recommendations, the TRC calls for the prosecution of those who committed atrocities in the country and banning other Liberians including the former Liberian leader herself from holding public offices for thirty years for their roles in the war.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf herself told the TRC during its nationwide hearing that she gave US$10,000.00 to the convicted leader of the then National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), Charles Ghankay Taylor, but the reasons behind the amount yet to be known.

flashback: militia soldiers in Liberia

However, after exiting the Liberian presidency following her 12-year regime, the former Liberian chief executive has revealed the reasons behind her failure to established the special court of justice in the country.

In an exclusive interview with the BRINKWIRE after receiving this year’s Mo Ibrahim Prize in Kigali, Rwanda, madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said her administration tried to establish a court because they had so many people that were major leaders of war, warlords, who not only were a part of society, but had been elected by their people to different positions.

“If you consider the thousands and thousands of people that were involved in atrocities, you would have had to have spent all your resources, time and technology on the courts. That’s not to say we don’t believe in justice. But if you look at the history of nations, the sequence and timing of justice has to take place in consideration of the context of the society,” she defended.

The former Unity Political leader said she is referring to all of those who were considered warlords, perpetrators or participants.

“It’s hard to pinpoint any one person. There are key people and there were thousands of other people. And we were coming out of all these years of conflict. What we wanted to do was [to build] peace, to get people to have a commitment to a future that we have reconciliation, that we have justice, that we have basic developments returned to them. We couldn’t do it in those first initial years. We chose not to do things that would have taken us back to war. Because the record is clear. Post-conflict countries that do not manage well, revert to war,” she added.

flashback: Liberia seeking refuge

At the same time, madam Sirleaf said the most overwhelming achievement was sustained peace.

“As you know, Liberia had almost two decades of conflict that destroyed our economy, our institutions, hurt and displaced a lot of people. In a few months’ time, we can say proudly that we have had 15 consecutive years of peace. And we’ve also [furthered]the protection and promotion of freedoms, Liberia’s civil society, Liberian people generally. The media for once had full access and full liberties to take part in society, to criticize, to comment, to pass judgement – sometimes to even be irresponsible.

“Having been devastated for so long, I think what we were able to accomplish in terms of returning the economy to growth, rebuilding institutions and rebuilding infrastructure gave them hope that the future will be secured,” she recounted.

She said governance is changing on the African continent which is manifested in the many peaceful transitions taking place across the continent.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first woman to receive the prestigious Ibrahim Prize, awarded to African leaders for good governance and commendable leadership. Sirleaf took office after Liberia emerged from a 14-year civil war.

Meanwhile, while Sirleaf is criticized for Liberia’s struggling infrastructure development and the handling of corruption in her administration, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said Liberia was the only African country to improve in every category of the organization’s Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

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