Liberia: 'No Fear, No Favor' Commissioned TRC Chairperson Vouches

21 February 2006

Yesterday, President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf commissioned members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) at the Parlors of the Executive Mansion in an elaborate program, with the Chairperson of the Commission, Cllr. Jerome Verdier pledging the body's full commitment to the attainment of the goals and objectives it was established.

In his statement minutes after they were duly commissioned by President Sirleaf in the full view of the Speaker and members of the National Legislature, members of cabinet and diplomatic corps, as well as the head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Alan Doss, Cllr. Verdier pledged: "We will follow every lead and pursue the truth without fear or favor. We will be faithful to our mandate, and remain independent and impartial in its pursuit." Cllr. Verdier on behalf of members of the TRC also promised to be transparent and accountable in all their actions and prudent in the use of resources entrusted to the commission.

"This is an assurance we take seriously, we pledge to uphold internationally accepted standards of financial reporting and accountability," he said in a prepared statement.

In order to facilitate their respective functions to which they have been commissioned, the TRC wants its designated offices at the Old Executive Pavilion be renovated with what Chairperson Verdier called "outmost dispatch for our timely use." Besides calling for the renovation of the designated offices, the TRC urged President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf to appoint "a TRC Liaison Officer" to ensure the full authority and capacity as required by Section 21 of the TRC Act.

The essence of the action, according to Cllr. Verdier is to enable the members of the TRC fulfill their mandate "expeditiously and free of constraint." He called on Liberians to join in what he called "national quest for lasting peace and reconciliation, unity and security for all so that at the end of the TRC process, the rebirth of a reformed nation will be a reality.

Recounting the duties of the TRC, Cllr. Verdier told Liberians that the TRC was justified in a society so polarized by long years of war and civil strive.

According to the TRC Chairperson, the commission is intended to give voice to the "dead and lay the foundation for a more secure and better future in which democracy and accountability will flourish and impunity will be a culture of the past." He made it plain that the TRC process is "neither a judicial forum nor a court or tribunal; it is a forum for reconstructive interchange between victims and perpetrators alike." Cllr. Verdier also indicated that it is about rebuilding and reconciling than it is about retribution.

"It is about accountability over impunity; and it is to promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation," adding that no Liberian is immune from the process," he added.

Commissioned members include, Cllr. Jerome Verdier, Cllr. Pearl-Brown Bull, Bishop Arthur Kulah, Rev. Ambassador Gerald Coleman, among others.

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