Liberian Earns PhD in International Criminal Law

Dr. Sylvester Sammie in the photo along with his fellow graduates after receiving their degrees

Dr. Sylvester Sammie, a Liberian, has earned a doctorate in International Criminal Law from the University of Groningen Graduate School of Law in Groningen, The Netherlands.

Dr. Sammie's studies examined 100 individual cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes and 10 modes of liability to prove such crimes.

“Combining study with a full-time job and ensuring a work/life balance were the biggest challenges in my life. As a Ph.D. student."

"I was expected to study all the time and be in the office every week and work late every day, not just in headquarters but sometimes in remote locations,” Dr. Sammie added.

Recalling his challenges during schooling days, he said although his studies were difficult he is excited that he completed them.

“Ultimately, I managed to come up with a plan to suit my daily agenda at work and connect with my thesis supervisors. I also found time for hobbies, friends, and family to function at peak level,” he said.

His degree comes at a time when the Liberia National Police (LNP) is investigating reported deaths including two former Liberian presidents' sons, Mr. John H. Tubman, Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert, III, and the female immigration officer, Maude Elliott.

The deceased were all found lying dead in their respective residences with cuts on their heads and bodies. Police say the three deaths have similarities, suggesting that they could have been killed by the same person.

LNP, Deputy Inspector for Crimes Services, Prince Mulbah disclosed that the families and relatives of the deceased are being investigated and in due time the public will be made aware of the facts.

“The family of Dr. William R.Tolbert, III, John H. Tubman, and Maude Elliott are being spoken with. We are zeroing in on possible suspects and hopefully, you will get the facts.  These cases must be solved before we get to Christmas or New year,” he said.

Commenting on the situation, Dr. Sammie is prepared to serve his country at any time when called upon.

“With a Ph.D. in International Criminal Law, I am ready to return to Liberia to help rebuild the criminal justice system and teach law students how to pursue their careers in law at both national and international levels,” he said.

Before acquiring his doctorate, Dr. Sammie obtained an LLM in International Criminal Law from the University of Turin and a master’s degree in Human Rights Law from Scuola Sant’ Anna (University of Pisa). 

He has worked within the United Nations system including the International Criminal Court, ICC, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for over 10 years.

His knowledge of criminal and human rights laws can be pivotal for Liberia as it rebuilds its criminal justice system.

Sammie can be reached through the following email address: