Liberia: Deputy Speaker Talks On War Crimes

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.

The Deputy Speaker of the Liberian house of Representative, Hon. Fonati Koffa said he is not against the establishment of War crimes Court in Liberia, but recommended that such process be led by the International Criminal Court.

Hon. Koffa is a lawyer with vast local and international experience. He served as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee .

At such he added: "the ICC is the best option to handle the process than a war and economic crimes court." Hon. Koffa continue: "I am absolutely Ten Hundred percent in favor of war crimes court so that those who bear the greatest responsibilities of killing over 250,000 Liberian people be brought to justice."

He however observed some issues that may come out in the process of the prosecution. The amnesty which was granted to the warring faction leaders that prevents any action against them by local courts.He made the call at a press conference on Wednesday at his capital building office.

According to him, if such local court is established, it will lack the jurisdiction over the warlords.

"If I am arrested and indicted, my first defense is that the court lacks jurisdiction. Do you know how long it will take to adjudicate that- if I filed a motion to the Supreme court?... But why can't we just convince the ICC and say please come help us with this thing?"

For such court to be set up, there is a need to look at key security sector among others. For instance, infrastructure and human resource.

He pointed out that an earlier seminar conducted by the University of Nottingham

which was attended by some government officials, there were disagreements in some areas over the draft legislation. Especially, the clause which called for the courts' judgment to be the final.

In his mind, such will be in violation of the Constitution of Liberia, which called for the Supreme Court of Liberia to be the final arbiter of justice. So, for him, the best way forward was for the ICC to lead.

"You can't divest the appellate jurisdiction of the supreme court to a mere statue. That is a constitutional amendment. if you don't want the Supreme court of Liberia to review war crimes decision or appeal, you have to do it by constitution amendment. There is no international treaty that divest the jurisdiction of the supreme court of its appellate jurisdiction except the ICC. The ICC does not divest jurisdiction; it has concurrent jurisdiction."

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