18 October 2018

Liberia: Saclepea Mayor Against War Crimes Court

Saclepea City Mayor in Nimba County has condemned the setting up of a war crimes and economic crimes court in the country, "because such exercise would delay the country's development programs."

Mayor Jeremiah Nyagian's comment was aired on Radio Saclapea on Tuesday, October 10, when he called on those advocating the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia to abolish their appeal, rather seek unity among the citizens and their foreign partners to rebuild the country.

Nyagian said Liberians should support development, rather than seeking for a war crimes court that will create another wound of hatred.

Mayor Nyagian, who was recently appointed to the position, said the issue of a war crimes court will be a calculated witch-hunt, where individuals perceived as former fighters from any of the erstwhile warring factions would be targeted. In so doing, he noted, the accused will not have fair justice.

"The call for war crimes court in Liberia is said to be supported by some government officials to get at some individuals, while others say it will undermine the country's peace," he said.

Mayor Nyagian out-rightly condemned those who he said are the masterminds of the establishment of war crimes court, asserting that they are not doing any good for the unity of the country.

He said that if a war crimes court is established with the intention to prosecute a single individual for an alleged role in the Liberian civil crisis (1989-2003), "that idea will not be fair to the country, because the country's civil war was not fought by an individual."

The call for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia has been trending on talk shows on nearly all the local radio stations in Nimba County, with many of the callers expressing opposing views taking into consideration the country's development drives.

Recently, Nimba County Superintendent, David Dorr Cooper, said if the war crimes court issue is done to cover all Liberians, it will not be fair and would not be considered as justice for all.

Many Nimbaians have argued that the timing now was no longer important. During the 12-year administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, "people did not call for the establishment of a war crimes court," they are saying.

Some of the callers of the views that advocating for the establishment of a war crimes court now will undermine the government, and stall most of the development initiatives.

Those supporting the establishment of a war crimes court have also argued that people accused of committing crimes against unarmed civilians as documented in the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) report, should face justice to serve as a deterrent.

Authors

Ishmael F. Menkor

Liberia

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