Liberia: IJG Calls for Full Implementation of TRC Report

Cllr. Jerome Verdier, Executive Director of the International Justice Group

…. Welcomes Legislature’s action on WECC establishment but wants Executive to be more decisive in pursuit of justice

The International Justice Group (IJG) and partners are urging President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr to move forward with the full implementation of all The Recommendations of the TRC, especially, the Establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) without further delays. 

Having vowed to establish the WECC and campaigned on that commitment, President Boakai is under obligations — moral, political, and, as a matter of justice and rule of law — to move forward and establish the Court. 

being the nation’s eldest statesman and the anti-corruption and rule of law icon he has been regarded for many years. 

It is nearly fifteen (15) years since the TRC presented its final report to the Government of Liberia and two successive prior administrations failed to make conscious efforts to implement these recommendations or make any progress whatsoever.

While past administrations have taken steps towards incorporating aspects of the recommendations, there is a perceived need for a more explicit acknowledgment and dedication to the reconciliation, good governance, and peace objectives outlined in the TRC report. 

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's Administration initiated both national visioning and decentralization programs, while immediate past President George Weah implemented a dual citizenship law, whistleblower law, and the decriminalization of free speech laws, which are all part of the TRC Recommendations.

These past leaders initiated these legal instruments, though, without acknowledging that they were TRC Recommendations and pursuing thereby, the reconciliation, Good Governance, and peace objectives inherent in those recommendations and their subsequent political actions. 

The IJG, in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Cllr. Jerome Verdier, and Chairman for the partners, Mike Mueller, said Boakai needs to be candid and also honest with the Liberian people and the world, who are waiting to see an end to the culture of impunity in Liberia.  

The legal framework, as outlined in Article X Section 48 of the TRC Act, places the onus on the Head of State to report to the National Legislature on the implementation of the TRC recommendations.

Article X Section 48 of the TRC Act says: “The Head of State shall report to the National Legislature within three months of receipt of the report of the TRC, and on a quarterly basis thereafter, as to the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. All recommendations shall be implemented. Where the implementation of any recommendation has not been complied with, the Legislature shall require the Head of State to show cause for such noncompliance.”

Against this backdrop, IJG emphasized the significance of executive actions in advancing the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court and noted ongoing efforts to drive forward this process through constructive engagement with national leaders. Members of the House of Representatives recently passed the WECC instrument and had it sent to the Senate for concurrence.

IJG described the Lower House’s swift action as noteworthy but added that executive action is the singular most important action that is needed to move the process forward.

“We reserve compliments for the Speaker of the House and members of the Chamber for the resolution recently passed by that august body,” Verdier and Mueller noted in the statement. “Even with that momentous action by the House of Representatives, not much is known, if any, of the President’s reaction or actions thereafter.”

IJG noted in its statement that it has, along with international partners and others, adopted measures to move the establishment of the WECC process forward by presenting a draft law — an Act to Establish the Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal of The Republic of Liberia, commonly referred to as The War and Economic Crimes Court to President Boakai and other top national leaders.

“The draft law was presented to His Excellency the President and other members of the Government including the Speaker, The Vice President and President of the Liberian Senate, The President Pro-tempore of The Senate, and the Minister of Justice,” the statement revealed. 

As the timeline for reporting to the National Legislature approaches, the IJG and its partners anticipate proactive steps from President Boakai's administration in moving towards the full implementation of the TRC Report, particularly in the establishment of the WAECC.

“While no significant actions have been taken to date, the IJG and Partners expect that the President, in the first quarter of his Administration, ending March 22, 2024, will report to the National Legislature on the efforts of his administration to fully implement the TRC Report or be required by the said National Legislature to do so, in keeping with the law,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the collective efforts of all stakeholders are crucial in upholding justice, accountability, and the rule of law in Liberia, IJG and its partners said.