– Call For The Establishment Of War Crimes Court Intensifies
By Reuben Sei Waylaun
‘Warlords’ in the country seem to be under pressure as calls for the establishment of war and economic crimes court intensify at home and abroad.
The old Liberian adage that “Ninety-Nine days for rogues one day for the masters” is said to be right at the door steps in the country as those who used to be the men and women during the war years in the country fates almost on the line for prosecution for their alleged roles in the Liberian civil conflict that 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 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.
The full implementation of the TRC’s recommendations was one of challenging issues during the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but all is now turned to her successor, President George Manneh Weah in the country.
Already some aggrieved Liberians have begun protesting calling for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court to bring relieve to victims of the carnage in the country.
They are now calling for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court to prosecute those who allegedly committed crimes against the state and its citizens. Liberians believed the day of the masters has come and are now demanding justice. The then rebels and those who allegedly committed atrocities fates now impending if the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) can be fully implemented.
Liberians from diverse backgrounds once assembled at the grounds of the Capitol Building to petition lawmakers calling for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) final reports in the country since 2009.
Among other things, they are calling for the establishment of war and economic crimes court in the country, saying in the name of justice, there cannot be subjection and in the name of peace there cannot be impunity.
They carried banners with snapshots of some of the gruesome killings of peaceful civilians in the country by those alleged perpetrators. They also carried several placards with various inscriptions regarding justice in the country.
The group wants justice for each and every Liberian who suffered injustices during the Liberian civil conflict which left many persons dead, motherless and fatherless.
They said Liberia cannot have genuine peace without justice indicating that the establishment of the war crimes court is inevitable.
Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, Senators Oscar Cooper, Morris Saytumah, Benoni Urey, Emmanuel Shaw, Charles Taylor, Coocoo Dennis, Lewis Browne among others are listed for economic crimes against the state according to the TRC’s recommendations.
Persons Recommended For Prosecution For Gross Human Rights Violations And War Crimes.
Charles G. Taylor, Prince Yormie Johnson, Roosevelt Johnson, Alhaji G.V. Kromah, George Boley, Thomas Yaya Nimely, Sekou Damante Konneh, Francois Massaquoi among others are listed for prosecution as well.
New UN Human Rights Commissioner Assures:
The new Commissioner of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) in Liberia, Dr. Uchenna Emelonye said they are aware of the recommendations of the TRC.
According to him, they are not going to relax the history of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), but will encourage the government and the citizens of Liberia to determine what they will do in terms of accountability.
“Our theory is peace is not sustainable unless violators of human rights are held accountable, there might be relative peace, but we have experiences in other countries. If accountability is not upheld, peace might happen in the interim, but in the long run, that peace will collapse,” Dr. Emelonye said.
Dr. Emelonye reminded Liberians that if victim of today doesn’t forgive, he will become violator of tomorrow.
“There is this theory that if the victim of today doesn’t forgive, she or he becomes the violators of tomorrow. We don’t want to see that tomorrow,” he added.
Meanwhile, the UNHRC Liberia boss has assured Liberians, government and partners that in the shortest possible time, he will officially speak of the UN position on the issue of accountability in the country.
“We promote accountability as a mechanism for a lasting peace not in Liberia, anywhere in the world,” he concluded.
Human Rights Organizations:
Human rights organizations are also urging the Liberian Government to undertake fair and credible prosecutions of international crimes committed during its two civil wars.
Seventy-six Liberian, African, and international nongovernmental organizations on July 5, 2018 said in a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The submission was made ahead of Liberia’s appearance before the committee, which monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its states parties in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Since the war ended in 2003, the Liberian Government has skirted the issue of criminal accountability for war crimes,” said Hassan Bility, executive director of the Monrovia-based Global Justice and Research Project. “Not one person has been prosecuted for past violations.”
It was alleged that at the 15th Assembly of State Parties meeting at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, impunity for key players of the Liberian civil war which saw the loss of lives of over 250,000 persons was coming to an end anytime soon.
Stephen Rapp, the man who directed the successful prosecution of former Liberian President, Charles Ghankay Taylor, for crimes against humanity says he believes other recommendations from the report of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission must go forward to prevent the country from slipping back into its brutal past.
The U.S. former ambassador for Global War crimes reportedly said he is more than willing to help pull the strings for the establishment of the court so that perpetrators cannot go scot free but that request would have to come from the government first.
Weah To UN General Assembly:
It is widely believed that President Weah is under pressure to sign the documents that will pave the way for the establishment of war and economic crimes court in the country when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly in September this year in the United States of America.