(Monrovia)-Human Rights Campaigners and Victims of Liberia respond to President George M. Weah’s recent comments on the Establishment of a War Crimes Court to prosecute past crimes in Liberia, especially whether a War Crimes Court is needed for Peace and Development.
The answer is (YES) and (YES).
A War Crimes Court is the medium through which impunity is addressed for those who bear the greatest responsibility for massacres, summary executions, recruitment of child soldiers, sexual violence and atrocities that constitute gross human rights violations against defenseless women, children, older and other vulnerable persons during the back to back civil wars in Liberia.
A War Crimes Court is the only way to help guarantee that victims of past violations do not become the next generation of perpetrators in another round of violence and blood bath in Liberia.
A War Crimes Court is the only way to help assure that development undertaken after war would not be destroyed in the next war. This court is also the only available deterrent factor for perpetrators.
Let President Weah know that war crimes court is not a matter of choice but a transitional justice process that deals with past human rights violations like in case of Liberia.
There is no need for referendum on the matter of criminal accountability.
The call for a referendum or a general decision will only delay implementation of the July 2018 UN Human Rights Committee conclusions that the Liberian government should establish a process of accountability for past human rights violations and report back in two years.
In addition, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which completed its work nearly ten years ago and which conducted numerous hearings and took numerous statements from victims across Liberia and the diaspora, recommended the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court For Liberia to prosecute past grave crimes.
Liberians this year have conducted multiple marches in the street, most recently on November 12, to campaign for a War Crimes Court, and petitioned our Legislature for implementation of the TRC recommendations, which includes a War Crimes Court.
A national justice conference held on November 9 heard numerous emotional calls for perpetrators to be held to account for past crimes.
The president should further be aware that his recent remarks are interpreted to be against the establishment of the war crimes court, which remains a bitter affront to the following:
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) an outcome of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) held in Accra Ghana, Peace a decision reach by representatives of the Liberian people in 2003;
The July 2018 United Nations Human Rights Committee report (Concluding Observations on Liberia’s commitments to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights ICCPR ratified in 2004);
The United States Congress House Resolution 1055, supporting full implementation of Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, which includes the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia;
- The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) Goal 16 states Global Peace, Global justice and Strong Institutions of which Liberia is a party which call for access to justice for all; and
- PILLAR THREE of the PRO-POOR AGENDA for PROSPERITY AND DEVELOPMENT GOAL, which provides that: A more peaceful, unified society that enables economic transformation and sustainable development, Ending Fragility and the Root Causes of Conflict, Increasing Civic Trust and Coexistence, Ensuring Access to Justice, Rule of Law and Human Rights.
Members of the press President Weah should not pay late service to the US Congress House Resolution 1055; the SDGs Goal 16 Global justice; the Pro poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PADP) Pillar Three. This will only elicit Liberia’s isolation by the international community and even lead to economic and diplomatic strangulation and instate fear amid continuous threats from present perpetrators.
This worrisome development in Liberia has a potential to threaten international peace and security and further waste the billion dollars invested to restored peace in Liberia.
Finally, to do the President much good and stability on the issues, we call on the Ministry of Justice to brief Mr. President on detail of the July 2018 UN Human Rights Committee report, the US Congress House Resolution 1055 in compliance to Liberia’s human rights and bilateral obligations.