The failure for the establishment of the war crimes tribunal in Liberia to prosecute those who perpetrated heinous crimes against innocent people during the Country’s fifteen years of bloody civil war as the United Nations departs the West African state of Liberia has created serious nightmare amongst Liberians who are calling for speedy justice to bring to book war criminals.
Some Liberians, who spoke to the GNN-Liberia over the weekend, said they are worried about the departure of the United Nations Mission to Liberia (UNMIL) without the conclusive decision for the establishment of a war crime tribunal to prosecute those who perpetrated the killings of over 350,000 innocent Liberians and foreign residents during the Country’s brutal civil war.
“Many of those who murdered in cold blood our innocent citizens during the Country bloody civil war are now moving around here freely, and roaming the corridor of power with impunity,” Agnes Q. Thomas a resident of Monrovia who alleged that during the civil war her mother, father and three sisters were butchered by one of the factions in western Liberia told our reporter.
Some of the warlords have secured lucrative jobs in government and private sector, further complacent of the situation their kinsmen went through during the civil war with their families who were brutally murdered in cold blood in their hands.
As a result of all of these atrocities committed by perpetrators from various armed factions during the civil war, the National Transitional Legislative Assembly of Liberia enacted on May 12, 2005 the Act establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia.
Its objectives and purpose is as follow; a. Investigating gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law as well as abuses that occurred, including massacres, sexual violations, murder, extra-judicial killings and economic crimes, such as the exploitation of natural or public resources to perpetuate armed conflicts, during the period January 1979 to October 14, 2003; determining whether these were isolated incidents or part of a systematic pattern; establishing the antecedents, circumstances factors and context of such violations and abuses; and determining those responsible for the commission of the violations and abuses and their motives as well as their impact on victims.
Notwithstanding the period specified herein, the Commission may, on an application by any person or group of persons, pursue the objectives set out in this Article IV (Mandate of the Commission) in respect of any other period preceding 1979.
- Providing a forum that will address issues of impunity, as well as an opportunity for both victims and perpetrators of human rights violations to share their experiences in order to create a clear picture of the past so as to facilitate genuine healing and reconciliation;
- Investigating the antecedents of the crises which gave rise to and impacted the violent conflict in Liberia;
- Conducting a critical review of Liberia’s historical past in order to address falsehoods and misconceptions about the nation’s past socioeconomic and political development.
- Adopting specific mechanisms and procedures to address the experiences of women, children and vulnerable groups, paying particular attention to gender-based violations, as well as to the issue of child soldiers, providing opportunities for them to relate their experiences. Addressing concerns and recommending measures to be taken for the rehabilitation of victims of such violations in the spirit of national reconciliation and healing.
- Compiling a report that includes a comprehensive account of the activities of the Commission and its findings.
Section 5. The TRC shall be established within three months of the enactment into law of this legislation. Upon establishment, the Commission shall be given three months’ preparatory period within which to facilitate activities necessary to begin its mandatory functions. The Commission shall have a two-year lifespan in which to carry out its operational work with a further three months to wrap up its activities and write a report on its activities and findings.
Section 6. The National Legislature may on request by the TRC, by resolution, extend its tenure for an additional period of three months at a time only for good cause(s) shown. In no case shall such a request for the extension be given for more than four times.
Despite efforts being applied by the TRC for the establishment of war crime court in Liberia, the Liberian Government is yet to say whether the decision for the establishment of such court is acceptable on the soil of Liberia.
As the UNMIL is departing the country after years of its stay in Liberia to keep peace, Liberians are expressing fears of the aftermath of its departure when the very individuals who perpetrated the civil war are still hold grounds.
“I am frightened with war drum being beating by one of the powerful perpetrators of our civil war who have vowed to take the presidency during the October 10, 2017 elections. Who knows what will happen when he loses the pending elections in the absence of the United Nations?” Amos Taylor speaking to the GNN-Liberia in an exclusive interview wondered.
Written by Joel Cholo Brooks