Liberia: 'No Money' Govt On War Crimes Court

7 April 2021
The NEWS (Monrovia)

From all indications, the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia for actors in the country's 14 years civil unrest to account for their actions appeared to be farfetched now due to what the government points to as the lack of needed resources.

Information Minister Ledgerhood Julius Rennie told OK FM Monday, April 5, 2021, that the government does not have the resources at this moment to establish the much-talked about war crimes court.

He also said there are big implications relative to the establishment of war crimes court, adding it is not as simple to establish the court.

"Who preside over this court? It is Liberian judges? All of these kind of issues have to be talked about so that at the end of the day, the process will not lead to another round of chaos; we have to be clear here; and that's why there has to be a well thought out documented process," he stated.

He recalled that former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was under pressure to establish war crimes court but did not succeed because of the same challenges this government is facing including lack of resources.

"Sometime we have to look at the political and social environment; the economic ramifications of establishing such court and the legal parameter of such a court; all of these issues have to be looked at; it is not just from a sentimental standpoint ... let's pick up people and put them in jail because somebody says they did this during the war; no! We must be careful so that we don't try to bring justice and then at the end of the day undo the peace," Minister Rennie cautioned.

He emphasized that discussions regarding the establishment of war crimes court have to be treated with caution.

Minister Rennie said even though Liberia seems far away from war, "but you see how fragile our peace is; just when a motorcyclist is hit by a single vehicle, what happened?

On a personal note, Minister Rennie said it would be good for Liberia's international partners who are craving for the establishment of the court to fund a referendum so that the ordinary Liberians can make a decision on the matter, so that nobody will hold somebody responsible tomorrow.

He maintained that "... we have to be careful how we do it so we don't undo the peace... not necessarily meaning war, but it can bring more hurts, more harm than anything else; look, we had the war crime court in Sierra Leone, is the Sierra Leonean society reconciled?

Have we brought peace to the victims or people whose hands are chopped? Babies whose hands were chopped? People are still living in poverty and their villages burnt down; the international community spent almost two, three hundred million dollars on the war crimes court; two, three hundred million dollars you know what it would have done for the ordinary Sierra Leoneans... building their villages and towns and giving them reparation... "

Continuing, he said ... let's be clear in these debates; let's sit across the table with our international friends and some partners and look at these matters; look, I'm in for justice; justice can be done any time, it doesn't have to be today, it can be done; let's fix our economic issues... let fix our socio deprivations issues, 99 years old people are still being called for war crimes in ... Germany. So what's the rush today?"

However, he said if Liberians want to establish the court, the mechanisms will be determined by them through their legislators to deal with it; "... we don't have the resources at this moment to establish one... but if it becomes necessary, as mandated by the people of Liberia, then through their representatives, they will debate these matters, and they will find the way out in dealing with that... "

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