As War Crimes Establishment Becomes Real, Liberia’s Famous ‘War Lord’ Prince Johnson Begs For Time

Nimba County Senator, Prince Y. Johnson

One of Liberia’s famous warlords during the Liberian senseless and brutal fifteen years civil war, and now Senator in the Liberian Senate, Prince Yormie Johnson recommending that the establishment of war crimes court in the country be done after the tenure of President George Manneh Weah.

Senator Johnson during the Liberian civil war headed the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), however declined to give reason why the special court should be established after the tenure of President Weah.

The former rebel leader and now a lawmaker, during the administration of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made similar plead, with many pundits saying he is afraid to face the law and account for his alleged role in the civil unrests in the country.

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.

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About Cholo Brooks 11624 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.