27 June 2012

Liberia: Lawmaker Wants War Crimes Court - to Prosecute Ex-Warlords, Financiers

Photo: The New Dawn
Former warlord, turned senator, Prince Y. Johnson.

A member of the 53rd Legislature has submitted a bill in the House of Representatives that calls for the establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia.

In his communication to Plenary of the House, Representative J. Baron Brown said, "It is with honor that I submit to this Honorable body, a bill for the establishment of a war crimes court in the Republic of Liberia, know that, for the ultimate purpose of sustaining the peace, achieving genuine national reconciliation and moving ahead with our national development agenda unhindered, this should becomes the most prudent thing for us to do.

"The Grand Bassa County Lawmaker said the Liberian civil conflict produced many aggressors within and out of Liberia's frontier, who committed some of the worst crimes against humanity. He indicated that some of the aggressors planned, financed, supervised and executed the wanton destruction of the country and its human resources, an action he said that the aggressors considered justified and did not take to be a mistake against the nation and its people. On May 30th 2012, former Liberian President, Charles Taylor was sentenced to eighty years in prison; a verdict that was later reduced to fifty years by the United Nations backed Court sitting in The Hague, for aiding and abetting war in neighboring Sierra Leone.

Since the conviction of the former Liberian leader, there has been mixed reactions in Liberia, with some Liberians calling for a similar war crimes court in the country. Rep.Brown said "These aggressors, if given an inch, are again bent on pursuing the same path that brought Liberia to its heels, impoverished the citizens, while they and their cronies mellow in the resources of the state with demonstrated arrogance. It rests upon our shoulders as representatives of the people to move, to avert the potential reoccurrence of our national nightmare by taking practical steps to restrain the aggressors"According to Rep. Brown, one way to do this is by unwaveringly enacting a law that specifically deals with the issue of war crimes committed in Liberia.

This should be a sufficient deterrence for making a re-entrance into the theater of conflict, with disproportionate consequences. "I crave your indulgence to look favorably on this instrument and give it your best, so as to stop the blood of our dead compatriots from crying for justice and at the same time, protect the living from the evil machination of the aggressors who are bent on going to extra mile." Following the reading of the communication, it was turned over to the House Committee on Judiciary for action. Representative Brown is the second Liberian to send a bill to the 53rd Legislature for enactment. It can be recalled that Cllr. Dempster Brown few days ago also petitioned the legislature calling on them to establish a war crimes court in Liberia.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Accra, Ghana in 2003 for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), has since concluded its work and presented recommendations to the Government of Liberia.The TRC labeled some Liberians as notorious perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and recommending that they be prosecuted while it pardoned others for saying the "truth." The TRC also banned some Liberians from holding public offices for thirty years, a recommendation that has been overruled by the Supreme Court of Liberia.Whether or not the House will endorse the setting-up of a war crimes court in Liberia and its subsequent concurrence by the Liberian Senate remains a million dollar question that needs to be answered. (Author's contact, 231886270297; email:

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