Senator Nyoblee Karnga-Lawrence Senate Pro-Tempore

Liberian Senate Finally Signs Joint Resolution For The Establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court

The plenary of the Liberian Senate has unanimously signed the Joint Resolution calling for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in the country to end the culture of impunity.

The resolution which was earlier signed by majority members of the House of Representatives was forwarded to the Liberian Senate craving its concurrence upon a thorough review.

Sources closed to that august body, said 28 of the 29 members of the Senate affixed their individual signatures to the document on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 except Maryland County Senator James Biney who abstained following due diligence accorded the resolution before signing the paper.

The Chair of the relevant body – the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Claims and Petitions, Sinoe County Senator, Cllr. Augustine Chea told the plenary that the document signed by the Liberian Senate is entirely a new version of the august body as such, it is being sent back to the House of Representatives for their concurrence for onwards submission to the Office of the President of the Republic as the Judicial Committee worked with the Committee on Security, Defense, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs.

The document said the Joint Resolution, the Extraordinary Criminal Court to be established shall be known as UN backed “Special War Crimes Court for Liberia” (SWACCOL) to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between the period 1979 and 2003 under Article 34(f).

Consistent with Article 34(e)(b)(j)(l) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, the Executive shall develop a legal framework and submit the same to the Legislature for enactment into law for the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Court (ACC) focusing from 1979 to 2003.

The agreement also said the President shall write the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States Government expressing the Liberian Government’s intention to establish the Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal on Liberian soil or alternatively to a country to be designated.

The Liberian Leader shall further request financial and other assistance; develop a financial resource mobilization plan and submit it to the United Nations, the EU, the US Government, and other international partners to seek financial and economic support for the establishment and operations of the court.

“That the President shall report to the Legislature as to the progress made on the establishment of the two courts as well as challenges, if any, or outcome(s) of his engagements with the United Nations, the EU, the US Government, and other international partners regarding the resource mobilization plan and results, including domestic resource mobilization through the budgetary process, pursuant this Resolution,” the document said.

“That consistent with Chapter 2, Article 5(c) of the 1986 Constitution, the President shall issue an Executive Order to establish the Office of War Crimes (OWC) within the Ministry of Justice, and appoint forthwith, a Special Envoy or Officer-In-Charge (OIC), duly certified by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, or the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR) or any other International Courts and Tribunals with the relevant experience, qualification and competence in international criminal law and practice, to organize and coordinate all actions and activities regarding the Court and assist the President to mobilize resources and do all that is legally feasible, including the establishment of a secretariat, where applicable, to facilitate its operations and the successful implementation of its mandate, among others, done in consultation with the UN, the EU, the US, and/or other independent parties,” it added.

The Joint Resolution furthered that to jump-start this renewed campaign of national reconciliation and healing as the final phase of Liberia’s recovery process, the President shall implement the following recommendations of the TRC; (a) Offer apology on behalf of the State to the many victims and the people of Liberia in general for its role in the conflict and for the injuries and losses sustained by individuals and communities.

It called on the Liberian Government to work with the United Nations, the EU, the US Government, and other international partners to set up a Reparation Trust Fund (RTF) for victims and communities worst affected by the conflict, to benefit through direct financial assistance or through development programs and projects.

The document also wants the state to continue the National Palava Hut Program and other programs for national healing, peace building and reconciliation and construct a national monument to commemorate the victims of the atrocities, to serve as a reminder of the war and to create a national consciousness against armed conflicts.

“WHEREFORE, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives hereunto affix their signatures this 8th day of April A. D. 2024,” the Joint Resolution stressed.

Meanwhile, our legislative reporter said the Joint Resolution is an initial step taken by the 55th National Legislature as the full establishment of such a court shall be done through a bill or an act to be passed by the Legislature, signed by the President and finally printed into a handbill for its implementation.

Credit: PNA

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