4 July 2012

Liberia: Over Threat Against War Crimes Court - PYJ Under Attack

Representative J. Baron Brown, proponent of the controversial war crimes court bill, has termed as an "expensive joke and a big bluff" threat by former warlord now Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson to "kill" his bill at the Legislature.

According to the pro-war crimes Court campaigner [Rep. Brown], Senator Johnson must start to prepare himself for trial because the bill will be passed.

The bill, which is currently before the House of Representatives, among other things seeks to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for Liberia's war years. Senator Johnson, according to the final report of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC) Report, is amongst the most notorious perpetrators of the Liberian armed conflict.

But Senator Johnson has since rubbished the TRC report, describing it as "unrealistic and bias". Senator Johnson, who is generally referred to as PYJ, in a weekend interview with this paper, threatened to "kill" the controversial war crimes court bill before the Legislature.

He said the bill carries no amount of significance and thus will be "killed." He observed that the bill intends to divide Liberia rather than heal the wounds afflicted as a result of the war. Speaking in an exclusive interview with this paper Monday, July 2, 2012, Rep. Brown, in contrast to PYJ, said the bill is in the interest of the Liberian people.

On the claim by Nimba County Senator that his war crimes Court bill lacks significance, the Grand Bassa lawmaker insisted that the bill is hugely significant and will serve as a platform for justice and deterrence to victims and warlords respectively.

Rep. Brown said crafting a bill to prosecute those responsible for mayhem and other atrocities in Liberia are part of his duty as a lawmaker, contrary to claim by Senator Johnson that he [Rep. Brown] lost track of his responsibilities as a lawmaker.

He said the building of roads, clinics and other basic social services suggested by Senator Johnson that he should focus on instead of advocating for a war crimes court in Liberia cannot be actualized when people who killed, raped and destroyed the country go with impunity. Rep. Brown warned that the days of impunity is all over and that Senator Johnson must stand ready to face trial for his "crimes". He said he has already begun building consensus for the passage of the controversial war crimes Court bill at the Legislature.

But Senator Johnson 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. According to him, "Baron Brown and those calling 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 added.

Senator Johnson said the proponent of the bill has lost track of his responsibilities as a lawmaker and has instead opted to instigate division amongst Liberians by sponsor a bill to establish a war crimes court in Liberia.

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