Liberia: More Push for War Crimes Court

As part of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) process, former rebels in Liberia wait to exchange their weapons for cash. They will also attend training for reinsertion into civilian life.

-Following Mark Jabateh's alleged threat

Following a recent threat by Mark Jabateh to kill Liberia's Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. if a single Mandingo man got killed in a land dispute, the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) has intensified the call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court to curtail impunity of war crimes here.

LNBA president Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe told judicial reporters Monday, 26 April that impunity is too much in the country to the extent that some perpetrators of war crimes are even calling upon their war - time allies and those they commanded to rise up for whatever grievances they have."And that is why we are calling on all Liberians, all Liberians to, to support the establishment of the extraordinary tribunal for war and economic crimes," Cllr. Gongloe says.

Cllr. Gongloe condemns Jabateh's threat on the life of Chief Justice Korkpor, saying the Judicial branch, just like the other two branches of government, has challenges and the citizens, especially lawyers, are working to help improve the system."But that should not give anybody in this country the right to threaten any judge, any magistrate, any Justice of the Supreme Court based on how they see their work," Gongloe warns.

The LNBA president cautions that Liberians have to work for building a country of rule of law, noting that if you are not satisfied with a magistrate, judge or Justices of the Supreme Court, there are legal processes to seek redress including their removal.

"None of those processes includes the killing of any of those judges or even committing violence against them. That is a crime," he says.According to Cllr. Gongloe, this is one of the reasons why the LNBA is taking the lead to ensure that the extraordinary tribunal for war and economic crimes court as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is established in Liberia.

He believes that the establishment of such a court is the only way that Liberia will slow down or probably curtail the level of violence and impunity.

In the same vein, the Bar president discloses that he recently had nearly two hours meeting with the American Ambassador to Liberia Michael A. McCarthy, and subsequently with a UN authority in Liberia and spoke on a wide range of issues including corruption, the judicial system and governance issues as well as providing legal aid to access to justice.

Gongloe says he "was very satisfied leaving that meeting that the world is prepared to support Liberia if the people of Liberia are prepared for accountability."He applauds the American Embassy for its decision to deny people that are considered corrupt in the three branches of government visas.

The LNBA president further appeals to the American Embassy to spread its tentacles to make sure that people even at the civil service level who ... are stealing from Liberians should not be given visas to go to the United States.

Gongloe believes that the United States will be making itself a co - conspirator by continuing to allow into that country people who are visibly stealing from Liberians.

"I also appealed to the American Ambassador that through his office, the United States government should persuade the EU [European Union] Countries, also to deny visas to people working in the three branches of government that are corrupt," says Gongloe.

In a recent interview with Spoon FM, Mr. Mark Jabateh is seen in a video accusing Chief Justice Korkpor of allegedly being behind a land dispute in Nimba County.

Recent violent clashes in the county followed a demolition exercise carried out on Monday, 19 April 2021 based on a court eviction order issued by the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie, Nimba County.

The demolished buildings were situated on disputed land between the Jabateh and Donzo families on one hand and Fred Johnson on the other.

Dispute over this parcel of land has been going for a protracted period of time.

Joint security officers including Police and Liberia Immigration Services (LIS), were seen guarding the site on the Dunbar Field around the Saclepea Parking Station.

In May 2019, a case over the same place where stirred the recent violent demonstration in Nimba was filed before the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and that case was between the Government of Liberia and the members of the Mandingo tribe of Ganta, Nimba County.

The suit in question emanated from a long-standing land dispute, which was offset by the "illegal occupation" of real properties of residents of Ganta, who are mainly the members of the Mandingo tribe, who fled the country during the war.

However, Jabateh, claimed in the interview last week Mandingos are being marginalized in Nimba County because Chief Justice Korkpor has appointed Manor people as judges in the county instead of appointing Vai people from Grand Cape Mount County to serve as judges in Nimba County.

He claimed that some ex - fighters were due to carry out an alleged attack on a Mosque in Gnata at night, thereby calling on the police and the army to intervene.

As such, Jabateh vowed that "if a single Mandingo man is killed in Ganata, that means we will kill the Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia because he is responsible for the land dispute in Nimba County."

"If a single Mandingo man is killed in Nimba County today, some of us will sacrifice our lives because enough is enough! We have been marginalized. We have been marginalized. When Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf came she failed to settle the land dispute in Nimba County, it's continuing," he says in the interview.

He indicated that he was mobilizing his brothers and sisters, monitoring the situation in Nimba County and threatened that if there was any attempt by any group of people to kill a single Mandingo man, that means maybe ECOWAS or UN will come in.

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