14 November 2012

Liberia Warned - Implement TRC's Report and Recommendation Now to Ensure Peace

The government of Liberia is once again being called to attention and put on notice to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the report of the disbanded Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) submitted about three years ago but are yet to be accorded any concrete and enviable consideration.

Instead of adhering to the outcome of the TRC work which spanned over four to five years and witnessed the commitment of enormous resources, both in human, material and financial capitals, Liberian officials, especially those indicted for various incompatible actions are only bent on brandishing bigotry, defiance and threats.

But with the seeming tickling of time and considering the importance of the TRC report to the sustenance of peace and real security, an advocacy organization has once again raised the red flag, urging the government of one-time rights and social advocate, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to rethink their show of indifference and give the recommendations the attention so deserved.

The Coalition of Liberian civil society organizations which comprises of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) and the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), said it was very essential and high time that the recommendations are executed to the fullest.

In the view of group apart from the importance of the TRC report to the reform process Liberia yearns for, it would ensure and assure peace amongst Liberians.

Chairman of the Transitional Justice Working Group, James Yarsiah who spoke on behalf of the organization called on the government to do what could be seen as unusual by apologizing to Liberians for not being able to provide the needed protection.

"We in the council want the government to apologize that there was a war and we were unable to protect you rater left you vulnerable to the mercy of warring factions and war-lords," he said but the fact is that it was not under the aegis of this government that Liberia went to war.

Besides calls for the unconditional implementations of the TRC report of which reconciliation is topical, he said there was for government to begin memorial projects for counties where people were massacred as a way of memorializing the dead ones.

The establishment of the TRC was agreed in 2003 by various political parties and warring faction leaders during the Peace Accord in Accra, Ghana with the aim of detailing some historical accounts of the war, how and why it came into being, what roles warring factions and individual Liberians played.

More besides, it was seen as a way of helping to deal with some of the mistrusts, misconception and innuendos that characterized the pre and post war era, which were seen as hotspots for the brewing of conflict.

Liberians opted for the establishment of the South-Africa style truth and reconciliation commission as opposed to the establishment of a war crime court to prosecute the perpetrators of the war.

The TRC ended its work over three years ago with a number of recommendations including the lustration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for thirty years in political activities as well as the prosecution of individuals accused of bearing the greatest responsibilities of war crimes and crimes against.

All heads of warring factions and some of their lead frontline commanders are held accountable for some of the worse crimes committed during the course of war.

Since the release of the report, the Government or president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who per the Act that created the commission should take the lead in the implementation of recommendations, has been and continues to demonstrate a spirit of reluctance to doing what is requested of her.

Though the government is seen as not demonstrated excellent and sizable amount of efforts to address the report, the organization has lavished praises on it (government) for having in place a road map for peace, but warned that the implementation aspect of the TRC must stop there.

The Chairperson of NCSCL Madam Frances Greaves said, "All over the word, the implementation of TRC recommendation is the responsibility of governments."

According to her, the civil society council will continue to play such advocacy role until government sees reason to collaborate states actors to break the cycle of impunity and violence in the country.

The Council also expressed concern over what it calls recent confusion, tension, and infighting among government officials at various branches.

Madam Greaves said, "We are raising a red flag over these issues least we delay or forget, we could be over taken by uncertainty that could plunge us into another phase of war."

She observed that the passage of a law and to implement the TRC and recommendations, and enforcement should remain a priority of the law makers and the executives respectively.

"Failure by government to live up to the TRC's report, will amount to a major lapse", Madam Greaves said.

As part of the reconciliation process, the council will this week dedicate Liberia's first National Memorial Project in Samah Kpolokpala Town in Bong County.

The civil society council therefore recommended to government that to provide a simplified version of the road map for peace, in order to increase public awareness and include stakeholders in permanent citizens, chiefs and civil society organizations.

"That the work plan and timeline of the programs of the roadmap be detailed to ensure independent monitoring and evaluated by CSOs and other interest parties.

That memory and demoralization are cardinal parts that help in the process of reconciliation; demoralization moves on from one generation to another reminding all that the ugly and bitter past must not be repeated; among others," the group recommended.

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