Liberia: Presidential Aspirant Opposes War Crimes Court
... “This is because most of the warlords including Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County and Representative George Boley of Grand Gedeh County have constituencies that are willing to violently resist any attempt to prosecute them,” Yorfee said at a press conference in Monrovia over the weekend.
The political leader of the Liberia Rebuilding Party (LRP), one of the newest political parties in the country, has firmly opposed the establishment of a war and economic crimes court.
Cllr. Luther Yorfee fears that the establishment of a tribunal would trigger a new wave of violence or take the country back to war.
“This is because most of the warlords including Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County and Representative George Boley of Grand Gedeh County have constituencies that are willing to violently resist any attempt to prosecute them,” Yorfee said at a press conference in Monrovia over the weekend.
According to the lawyer turned politician, the most visible point of prosecution is to protect the public, and to identify unwanted behaviors and punish them in an attempt to rehabilitate those who commit them and deter others from becoming involved in criminal activity.
“Deterrence makes society a safer place in which to live,” Yorfee said. “Senator Johnson and Rep. Boley are making our society a safer place. They are investing in our human resources development. Are they not making our society safer?” Yorfee asked.
“Look at Senator Johnson; he has built learning institutions in our country, where our people's capacities have been built. He is providing scholarships to our people,” noted Yorfee. “After twenty years now and with the level of development they are undertaking in the country, should we prosecute them? Are they not making our society safe?”
The issue of war crimes court refers to the establishment of a court or tribunal to prosecute individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights violations committed during the civil wars that took place in Liberia from 1989 to 2003. The conflicts resulted in the loss of numerous lives and widespread atrocities, including massacres, rape, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers.
But efforts to establish a war crimes court in Liberia have been ongoing for several years and following the end of the second Liberian civil war in 2003, the United Nations (UN) and the Liberian government set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate human rights abuses committed during the conflicts. The TRC published its final report in 2009, recommending the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia to prosecute those responsible for the most serious crimes.
Since then, progress toward establishing a dedicated war crimes court has been slow and faced various challenges. One of the main obstacles has been obtaining political support and cooperation from the Liberian government and key stakeholders. There have been debates within Liberia about the best approach to achieve justice and reconciliation, with some arguing for a local mechanism and others advocating for an international court.
In recent years, there has been renewed international pressure and advocacy for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia. Civil society organizations, human rights groups, and some international partners have called for accountability and justice for the victims of the conflicts. The Liberian government has also shown some willingness to address past atrocities, but the path toward establishing a formal court is still uncertain
And so for Yorfee, the war crime court is the best opposition for Liberia, saying if his political party were to win the pending October 10 presidential election, he would propose a bill for the establishment of a Truth and Forgiveness Commission instead of the war and economic crimes court.
This commission, Yorfee said, would provide a place of confession, where the perpetrators will go to tell his victims or survivors that they are sorry for the wrongs committed against them.