MONROVIA-Many Liberian warlords that took part in the country’s civil war are said to be in worry due to the regular arrests of former rebel fighters and their subsequent trials outside and in Liberia.
There were several rebel groups that came to light during the over decade of war. For instance, the National Patriotic Party (NPP) led by former president, Charles Taylor who is currently in jail in the UK serving 50 years jail sentence, Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County who headed the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) and Alhaji G.V. Kromah, United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO-K) and ULIMO-J; also headed by Roosevelt Johnson.
Others are: Sekou Damate Konneh, Liberia United For Reconciliation and Development (LURD) Thomas Yaya Nimley- Movement for Democracy in Liberia-MODEL as well as George Boley (now member of parliament), Liberia Peace Council-LPC
In recent times, a former rebel commander, Alieu Koisha trial is taking place outside of Liberia while Gabriel Massaquoi, of Sierra Leone trial is said to be taking place at unknown location in the country [this is yet to be confirmed].
There are reports from civil society and international groups that many of Liberia’s warlords are becoming uncomfortable with the trials gradually coming to their door steps.
“We think before any war crimes court takes place here, the government of Liberia must approve of it. Also, both houses need to pass that into law. Not only TRC report people will go by here,” Prince Johnson told this paper recently.
He said, “There is no need for war crimes court here. It will not come. Liberians agreed in 2003 in Accra, Ghana for the TRC and not war crimes court. So, it will not work.”
For his part, Konneh told this paper some time ago that what all parties agreed to in Accra, Ghana should be respected. “We all agreed about the TRC and not war crimes Tribunal.”
But in the USA, Liberia’s traditional friend some members of congress have also been calling for the implementation of the final report of the TRC.
For instance, New York Republican Representative Daniel M. Donovan, who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee which has oversight on Africa asked the former US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to advise what their respective Departments can do to further encourage Liberia to establish a war crimes court.
The report was submitted to former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration in 2012, but not much was done with it.
To add it up, the UN, international and local nongovernmental organizations and the European Union (EU) made formal and informal representations to the Weah government to address outstanding issues of accountability for war and economic crimes allegedly committed in Liberia by major actors.
But Senator Johnson said such request by various groups will go against the spirit of the TRC documents singed onto in Accra in 2003.