Liberians Re-emphasize Establishment Of Economic and War Crimes Courts for Liberia, As Perpetrators Rely On Culture Of Impunity

Flash Back: ‘Child Soldiers’ during Liberia’s senseless civil war (Photo credit: africabriefing.org)

Following nearly fifteen years of bloody civil war in Liberia where over 250, 000 lives were lost with millions dollars of properties were damaged, leaving Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic constitutional activities virtually paralyze, those who intentionally committed these heinous crimes murdering innocent people in cold blood are here moving around the corridors of power with the culture of impunity, a situation that has created serious concern amongst war victims.

These victims many of them whose friends, relatives who were massively murdered by fighters and leaders of armed faction groups, and the destruction of the country’s infrastructural development are seriously demanding the CDC-led government headed by Liberia’s international soccer icon, President George Manneh Weah to make clear his position on the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Courts in Liberia aimed at bringing to book those who have committed these heinous crimes against humanity.

Flash Back: ‘General Prince Y. Johnson of the defunct INPFL now Senator of Nimba County

Many of those who massively murdered innocent people in cold blood during the country’s senseless civil war are now roaming the corridor of power in Liberia, playing on the intelligence of their victims with many of them behaving to be the ‘Most Untouchable’ in the Liberian society have giving room to others to commit similar crimes by following suit, and also considering the facts that others committed heinous crimes without been brought to book.

Despite Liberia been a treaty party to the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), which mandates state-parties to prosecute war crimes, the Liberian leader, President Weah is said to be playing the ‘Deaf Ear’ role by not adhering the continuous outcry of the Liberian people and rights advocates for the immediate establishment of the courts.

Flash Back: Dr. George Boley of the defunct Liberia Peace Council (LPC) now member of the House of Representative of Grand Gedeh County

It can be recalled in 2004, President Weah, then UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador called for the formation and establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia to arrest and prosecute all “warlords” for recruiting and arming children in Liberia.

According to him, “The tribunal when established should be given the authority to identify, locate, arrest and prosecute all those who committed heinous crimes during the devastating and bloody civil war in the country.

Sando Johnson of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) now Senator of Bomi County

Addressing a news conference held at the UNICEF-Liberia headquarters in Monrovia on 23rd April 2004, made specific reference to warlords who forcibly recruited, trained and armed the Liberian children to participate in the 14-year arms conflict. “Those who armed the children and committed heinous crimes against them should be brought to book”, the then UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador addressing the media at that time said.

Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis of Monsterrado County District #4, one of the advocates for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Courts in Liberia

Some Liberians who spoke to the GNN today, Tuesday, May 26, 2020 said it should now be time that President Weah actualizes his call made sixteen years ago (April 23, 2004) welcoming the establishment of the court in Liberia for those who committed these heinous crimes during the civil war be brought to book to answer to allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Speaking to the GNN also said they are perplexed and further questioned over the alleged ‘Downplay or refusal’ of the Liberian leader not to give his blessing for the establishment of both the War and Economic Crimes Courts in Liberia when he was on the vanguard for its establishment, nothing that he now has the authority to do so, and must do so.

Representative Hanson Kiazolu of District #17, Montserrado County, who is a member of the former ruling Unity Party, has been advocating alongside Dennis and other colleagues.

A team of reporters from the GNN in a chat with a cross section of Liberians regarding the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia, they are also calling for the establishment of Economic Crime Court in order to prosecute those they called ‘Economic Vampire’ who have allegedly tricked the Liberian people economically over the years by enriching themselves at the detriment of the country.

In their bid for the establishment of these courts in Liberia, last year (2019) twenty-six members of the House of Representatives also added their voices by signing a resolution calling for the establishment of war and economic crimes court in Liberia.

This move on the part of the lawmakers came in less than week at that time when the Liberian leader President George Weah after sending a communication to the Legislature seeking the body’s advice on the establishment of both a war and economic crimes courts.

In that communication at that time, the Liberian leader said, “As President of the Republic of Liberia, I am committed to a holistic implementation of the National Consensus (recommendations of the dialogue) and do hereby call on the National Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC report, including the establishment of war and economic crime courts,”  President Weah in his communication dated September 12, 2019 stressed.

Prior to Weah’s letter, only 11 representatives had signed the resolution, among them included four lawmakers who are leading the advocacy in the House. That means 17 additional lawmakers have signed the document since it was introduced barely two months after it was first introduced.

During that time, Rustonlyn Dennis, Chair of the House’s Committee on Claims and Petition, who was one of the first backers of the resolution, said the President’s letter has “removed the dark cloud over their advocacy.”

For his part, Representative Thomas Goshua of District #5, Grand Bassa County said “there’s now relief for many Liberians since the President sent the communication to us.” Goshua claims the letter is causing lawmakers from “the ruling parting who were opposing the courts to have a rethink.”

“A couple of them have been hiding [and saying] that the president has not come out full to back what we were doing and because of their party politicking, they have been a little bit quite,” he said.

Surprisingly, Liberians who spoke to the GNN said they are baffled over the delay on the passage of this instrument, but further argued  that perhaps the reasons behind this delay may be a result of many of those who massively took part in the Liberian civil war that killed innocent people and the destruction of the country economically are currently occupying legislative seats in both houses, the House of Representatives and the House of Senate, probably gives rise for the process to be aborted.

Writes: Joel Cholo Brooks

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About Cholo Brooks 12549 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.