US Defense and State Departments Asked For Ways To Encourage War Crimes Court In Liberia

By Emmanuel Abalo |African Star Online |

Washington DC, US – A member of Congress in the United States is turning the screws even tighter on the relatively new George M. Weah Administration in the small West African nation of Liberia to bow to calls to implement recommendations in The Final Report of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

New York Republican Representative Daniel M. Donovan, who serves on the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee which has oversight on Africa on Friday asked the US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to advise what their respective Department can do to further encourage Liberia to establish a war crimes court.


US NY Republican Congressman Dan Donovan

The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Republican Ed Royce of California, considers legislation that impacts the diplomatic community, which includes the Department of State, the Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United Nations, and the enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act.

The US House Committee On Foreign Affairs authorization and over sight activities emphasize the following:

  1. Effectiveness of U.S. foreign policy;
  2. Effective implementation of U.S. law;
  3. The review of agencies and programs operating under permanent statutory authority;
  4. The elimination of programs and expenditures that are inefficient, duplicative, or outdated; and
  5. Institutional reform, efficiency, and fiscal discipline.

In his letter to the two US Government officials, Representative Donovan laid out the consequences of the country’s brutal civil war in the 1990s.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

“As you know, from 1991 to 2002, civil war devastated Liberia and Sierra Leone. The violence took the lives of over 200,000 people, displaced over 1,000,000 persons, and saw horrific cases of murder, amputation, mass rape, and other human rights abuses. The heinous crimes that occurred during this time are unspeakable, yet many of the perpetrators hold positions in Liberia’s government. With the presence of Senator Prince Y. Johnson and others, we are seeing Liberia’s slow creep backwards towards the murderous mayhem of its civil war era.…”

Congressman Donovan’s letter to Secretary Mattis And Pompeo is in addition to a congressional resolution he introduced in August to support the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia. That resolution is making its way through the legislative process in the US House.

US State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo

The stepped-up action by Congressman Donovan is in direct response to statement by Liberia’s Foreign Minister Gbehzongar Findley who has indicated that the Weah Administration’s preference is for a national referendum to decide if a war and economic crimes court should be established in contravention of the spirit of the Accra Peace Accord and Liberia’s international obligations.

“…Unfortunately, this vague statement from Minister Findley falls short of genuine and robust commitment to establishing a war crimes tribunal…” Congressman Donovan said.

Liberian President George M. Weah

The Weah Administration has bobbed and weaved and thumbed its nose at international calls to implement recommendations of the TRC to hold accountable those who committed war and economic crimes which led to the deaths of over 250,000 Liberians and the internal and external dislocation of nearly 1 million others.

TRC- Liberia Final Report

Submitted to the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration since 2012, the government including the Legislature has failed to act on implementation of the TRC Report to date.

The UN, international and local non-governmental organizations and the European Union (EU) have 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.

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About Cholo Brooks 13193 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.