The President of the Liberia National Bar Association, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, and other campaigners for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia, have called on the United Nations “to set up a justice mechanism that will enable the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia.
The campaigners over the weekend at a program marking the celebration of ‘International Justice Day,’ said Liberia is powerless to set up a justice mechanism because the leaders are full of ‘greed and cheat,’ adding that establishing war and economic crimes court relies heavily on the shoulders of the International community.
The celebration was held under the theme; “Promoting justice and accountability for past and future crimes in Liberia.”
“As it stands now, Liberia is powerless to set up a justice Mechanism, only the United Nations can save us,” Gongloe said in a frustrating tone.
Cllr. Gongloe, making reference to the United Nations Security Council’s decision to pass a resolution that imposed a war crimes court on Rwanda in 1994, said it is also important to take similar action for the betterment of the society.
He said to trust the government with the establishment of War and Economic Crimes court is impossible because “The justice system in Liberia has been politicized as some of those around President George Weah are even those that should be held accountable for past war crimes perpetrated in Liberia.”
“How do you expect President Weah to act when those around him, including his advisers, are those who committed war crimes in Liberia”, he questioned.
Cllr. Gongloe called for the abolishment of diversionary tactics on the part of the President, George M. Weah, to setup a Transitional Justice Commission, which he warned that it must stop.
Cllr. Gongloe said the decision of the senate to set up the Transitional Justice Committee is against session 10 of the TRC report that gives the decision of the establishment of the Court to the President.
In remarks, Uchenna Emelonye, head of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), expressed willingness of the UN Rights office to provide support that will ensure that people are held accountable for human rights violations perpetrated in Liberia.
Massa Washington, one of the commissioners of the TRC, described the Senate’s decision to establish the TJC as illegal and a violation of article 10 of the Act that was legislated to implement the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accra (CPA).
She said after begging the Liberian people for votes that will enable those senators to represent their interest, “Those Senators have failed to represent those pregnant women whose stomachs were opened, kids that were raped, and those that were recruited as child soldiers that are referred to as zogos today.”
Commissioner Washington, quoting Article 10 of the TRC report under-reporting requirement, said it is the president of the Republic of Liberia that has the responsibility to implement the TRC report, not the Legislature.
She said the role of the Legislature is to invite the President to provide reports on the progress made for the implementation of the establishment of the war and economic crimes court, adding that “undo the TRC, you have to undo President Sirleaf 12 years of presidency and the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, the governance committee, and the general adulating commission because TRC alone of that institution are all the preconditions that were listed in the CPA as mandatory institutions that must take place.”
Emelonye said OHCHR strongly believes that “Holding perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law is the surest guarantee for sustained peace, democracy and development in post conflict society.”
He said it is the duty of every Country to put mechanism in place to protect citizens against human rights violations and to also ensure that accountability mechanisms are in place to deal with violations when they do occur, adding, “Every state can adopt the modality that fits best its situation as long as it serves to end impunity and ensure that the principles of fair trial are adhered to.”
Adama Dempster, Secretary General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy platform said, “This is the time that we, justice actors unite, hold together and remain focused in ensuring that those who committed war crimes in Liberia are held accountable for their actions.”