Liberia: U.S. Senator Young to Lobby for War Crimes Court

Liberia: Govt. Not Interested in War Crimes Court for Now

-Discloses Alliance for Transitional Justice-Liberia

The Alliance for Transitional Justice (ATJ), a human rights group of the United Methodist Church-Liberia, HAS said they have established relations with US Senator Todd Young of the State of Indiana to speedily sponsor and introduce H. Res 1055-115th Congress (2017-2018), which the US House of Representatives passed on November 13, 2018, to be placed on the floor of the House of Senate for discussion and possible concurrence.

The H. Res 1055 aims "to affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic principles, and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia."

ATJ maintained that the Government of Liberia (GoL) has not fully implemented the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Agreement to date, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal.

The Alliance National chairman, Jeremiah S. Swen, made the disclosure on Sunday, May 19, 2019, at the inaugural ceremony of officials-elect of the Alliance. He said their relationship with Senator Young has been positive to the extent that the senator has agreed to sponsor the H.Res 1055 and also push it on the floor of the Senate. "This partnership seeks to encourage his leadership, introduction and sponsorship of H.Res 1055 passed by the US House of Representation on November 13, 2018 for the senate concurrence and passage into law by the US Government," Swen said.

The US House of Representatives, among other things, agreed that that:

"Whereas, today the United States is home to an estimated 80,000 people of Liberian ancestry in vibrant communities across the country, who have been instrumental in America's efforts to build a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Liberia; Whereas Liberia and the United States share close historical, political, and economic ties over the course of a nearly 200-year relationship; Whereas the people and Government of the United States have a deep interest in Liberia's democratic stability and post conflict development;

"Whereas the civil war from 1991 to 2002 resulted in the death of over 250,000 people in Sierra Leone and Liberia; the displacement of over 1,000,000 persons; and the horrific cases of amputations, mass rape, and human rights abuses conducted under the leadership of Charles Taylor;

Whereas Charles Taylor was convicted through the Special Court for Sierra Leone for 11 different charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, such as rape, sexual abuse, and slavery, and violation of international law, including the use of child soldiers;"

Whereas a comprehensive peace agreement was signed by the GoL, rebel groups, and political parties in 2003;

"Whereas the TRC as established under the 2003 comprehensive peace agreement, was formally created in 2005 with a mandate, 'to promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation by investigating gross human rights violations and violations of humanitarian law, sexual violations, and economic crimes that occurred between January 1979, and October 2003.'

Whereas the TRC released a report in December 2008, recommending the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia and listed individuals, corporations, and institutions recommended for further investigation and prosecution, among other recommendations;

Whereas the GoL has not fully implemented the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Agreement to date, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal;"

Swen also encouraged Liberians throughout the country and those in the Diaspora to embrace justice as the sustainable vehicle for national healing, reconciliation, and sustainable peace.

"War Crimes Court don't target a region, county, religion, tribe or family, but it squarely addresses crimes committed by an individual with his conscious knowledge and fully executed," the Alliance for Transitional Justice chair explained.

On the issue of impunity, Swen believes that Liberia is not cursed, but that, "our failure to see the truth and pursue it is our problem. If we must succeed and surpass our prewar status, we must boldly defeat impunity, corruption and waste in our government."

Swen urged the Weah-led government to establish a National Technical Committee that will comprise Civil Society organizations, the Liberia Council of Churches, Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, National Traditional Council, the Liberia Bar Association, the Independent National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice to timely develop a draft national roadmap for the holistic implementation of the TRC report, and the establishment of an Extraordinary Tribunal on War Crimes.

"We also recommend that the Weah-led government develops a National Colloquium alongside with international partners that will create the platform where representatives of the 15 political sub-division will be opportune to review the draft National Roadmap developed by the National Technical Committee and approve same," Swen admonished the president.

According to Swen, Liberia is a founding member of the United Nations, and a member of the global community, "so we expected our leadership to honor and respect international treaties and resolution(s) signed in the interest of humanity."

"Our government had contradicted the confidence and trust reposed prior to its ascendancy. They were elected by popular mandate of the population, so we asked them to listen and lead by the expectation of the people," Mr. Swen said.

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