2 July 2012

Liberia: PYJ - Bill for War Crimes Court Will Be 'Killed'

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

Former warlord now Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson has for the first time spoken on the controversial bill seeking to establish a war crimes Court for Liberia. The bill, which is being sponsored by Grand Bassa County Representative J. Baron Brown, seeks to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibilities for Liberia's war years.

Senator Johnson, according to the final report of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), is amongst the most notorious perpetrators of the Liberian armed conflict. In a weekend interview with this paper, Senator Johnson, who is generally referred to as PYJ, declared that the bill for war crimes court in bill will "die a natural death" at the Legislature.

He said the bill carries no amount of significance and thus will be "killed."

The former presidential contender in the 2011 presidential and legislative elections observed that the bill intends to divide Liberia rather than heal the wounds afflicted as a result of the war. According to him, "Baron Brown and those calling for war crimes court in Liberia need to visit the psychiatrist."

"They are doing this to extort money from international human rights organizations for their selfish aims," he averred. The proponent(Rep. Brown), Senator Johnson further averred, has lost track of his responsibilities as a lawmaker and has instead opted to "instigate division" amongst Liberians by sponsoring a bill to establish a war crimes court in Liberia.

According to him, Rep. Brown should rather focus more on legislations that will improve the conditions of his people including building schools, hospitals and roads. Speaking further, the Nimba County lawmaker warned that a lot of top government officials, including the President would be exposed if a war crimes court is established here.

He further warned that the establishment of a war crimes Court in Liberia would "shake the foundation of Liberia." However, he said the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia is dependent upon a request by the Government of Liberia(GOL) to the United Nation and not limited to a piece of legislation. He said Liberia is at peace now and there was no need to reopen old wounds.

Quizzed as to whether he was afraid of justice, the former INPFL rebel leader said he fought a just war and harbors no regrets. PYJ emphasized that he was happy to have participated in the rebellion, especially for the emancipation of his people from dictatorial regime that pillaged resources and carried out mass killings. "My people will defend me if anyone attempts to target me," PYJ added.

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