43 Lawmakers Sign for War, Economic Crime Courts

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Members of the House of Representatives voting on one of the President's priority bills.

— President’s Propositions on Dual Citizenship, as well as Articles 45 and 48 to be “reworded”

Forty three of the seventy three Representatives have so far affixed their signatures on a Resolution to establish the War, Economic Crime Court in Liberia, the Daily Observer has reliably gathered.

Margibi County District #2 Representative Ivar Jones, also confirmed in a telephone conversation over the weekend that he signed the document since Wednesday, August 28, 2019, and was among the first batch of the lawmakers, who strongly support the establishment of War, Economic Crime Courts in the country to end impunity.

Montserrado County District #17 Representative Hanson Kiazolu and chairman of the Unity Party (UP) Legislative Caucus, also told the Daily Observer that was signing the Resolution to join Bong County District #4 Representative Robert Womah, who is also from the UP.

The UP caucus chairman said that other like-minded lawmakers, including Representatives Francis Dopoh, Dixon Seeboe, Rustonlyn Suakoko Dennis, and Mary Karwor, also signed the Resolution.

Representative Thomas Goshua of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), also joined Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry P. Younquoi, who earlier expressed support to the creation of the War , Economic Crime Courts in the country.

“We have spoken through our signatures, and there are remaining six signatures to have the two-thirds that would be forwarded to the Senate for concurrence,” Rep. Kiazolu said.

It can be recalled that Representatives Womba and Younquoi, in separate interviews, informed journalists that their decisions to support the creation of the Special Courts are to end impunity in the country, and allow perpetrators of the wars to give account of human rights and economic abuses by exonerating themselves in open court.

Grand Gedeh County District #2 Representative, George S. Boley: “The sooner the war crime court is established, the better it would be for Liberia.”

Some of Nimba County lawmakers, including  Districts #1 and #4 Representatives, Jeremiah Koung and Gonpu Kargon, respectively (both supporters of Senator Prince Y. Johnson) did not sign the Resolution. They have expressed displeasure over the establishment of the War Crime Court.

Political pundits are arguing the endorsements of the  establishment of the War, Economic Crime Courts and the eight propositions for constitutional, printing of new banknotes and some priority bills. These were some of the prime reasons the recent Presidential-Legislative Retreat that was hosted from Friday, August 16 – Saturday, August 17, 2019.

The President’s recent communications are evidence of the four weeks’ extension of the 2nd Sitting of the 54th Legislature.

The President informed the Legislature that he is committed to a holistic implementation of the National Consensus, and do hereby call on the Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, including the establishment of the Economic and War Crime Courts.

The President also told the Legislature in another communication that the Central bank of Liberia (CBL) has advised him that the economy may be seriously affected due to the unaccounted local currency infused in the economy that is causing high inflation, and has recommended the printing of LS$35 billion new currency to replace the existing ones.

Meanwhile, the President has written for the consideration of eight propositions to amend certain sections of the Constitution of Liberia (1986).

The Daily Observer has learned that among the eight suggested propositions, the House of Representatives is considering the passage, but with modifications on the ‘dual citizenship’ that any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; but a citizen of Liberia may hold the citizenship of another country, but shall not qualify or contest elected position and shall not be appointed or to hold positions of Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassadors, Minister of Defense and Minister of Justice.

Also, the House of Representatives has agreed to scrub propositions two and eight to amend Article 45 to provide for filling vacancies created by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise of senators, as well as suggested amendment Article 80 (f) to address historical imbalances and gender inequality experienced by the female population, one female constituency seat shall be established and reserved exclusively for women representatives in each county.

The lawmakers argued that democracy is expensive, and therefore, by-elections must exist and elections must be equally conducted for such a position as may deem necessary.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Article 45 amended: In the event of financial and monetary hardships, Congressional vacancies will be filled by appointments through special arrangements supervised by the superintendents of the counties in which these vacancies may occur.
    Amending Article 45 is a good idea. Bi-elections are expensive and divisive. We need to look at the bright side of things and the situation the country faces at this time.

    • Not surprising at all, with such backward thinking. In that case then why don’t we hold election for president every 12 years, since it is more expensive than a by-election? Will the supervision of by-elections by superintendents make them more credible, when those superintendents are beholden to the president? Don’t you see that as another way of solidifying the power of the presidency with such byzantine formula? People like you are a disgrace to educated people for these shallow thinking. There are surely other pragmatic ways of raising the monies needed for such incidentals, than denying citizens their rights to have representatives/senators of their choice and instead create an imperial presidency. Shame on you.

  2. If there are seventy-three Lower House members and Forty-three have signed on in order for the economic and war crimes court to be established, then it’s over with. Once established, it is hoped that the proceedings will be methodical.

    There are some lingering questions though. Charles Taylor, the mastermind of the bloody senseless war is locked up in a British prison. The question is this: will Taylor be re-charged in a Liberian war crimes court? Is there a possibility for Taylor’s exoneration if his legal team produces an exculpatory evidence? Or will there be a proxy examination of Taylor? Then there is Madam EJS. Her involvement in the Liberian “destablization period” is unclear.
    What remains to be discussed is whether severe jail terms will be handed down to the guilty ones if anyone is found guilty.

    The dual citizenship issue also raises heckles. It is not certain whether many lawmakers fully support this concept. For instance, once a person was born in Liberia into the union of a Liberian couple, that person is technically a Liberian! However, if a Liberian changed his or her status because of an economic or political reason, that Liberian is not a foreign monster, but rather a Liberian.

    First of all, there was a bloody, senseless war in Liberia. During that painful period, some diaspora Liberians changed their status in order to obtain scholarship in pursuit of education. Now, some of those erudite Liberians (I am not one of them) are eager to return to their country of birth. As good as it is to be back in one’s country, sadly, the diaspora Liberians are being told that they can and cannot do some openly available government jobs.

    But wait a minute. While they were away studying and working, the diaspora Liberians helped in terms of stabilizing the Liberian economy. The stabilization of the Liberian economy occurred by way of remittances through Western Union, Money Gram and other money transfer network. So although they were naturalized because of undue hardship, otherwise known as (“can’t help so monkey ate pepper”) in the Liberian vernacular, the educated diaspora Liberians are being punished.

    What on earth are the lawmakers afraid of? If the lawmakers are not petrified, why are they engaged in this form of blatant discrimination?

    • Mr. Legalist, where in Liberian Immigration law or perhaps the constitution does it state, a Liberian can change his/her citizenship for extenuating reasons and still retain his or her Liberian citizenship? see why you were retired from playing any more active role in legal matters? You talk like a street peddler yet, you claim to be a lawyer? For your information there are host of countries like Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UAE, Kuwait, Japan, India, Botswana, Ethiopia, Congo (DRC), Indonesia, Qatar,China and the list goes on that do not allow dual citizenship and yet, have thriving (few exceptions) as you may well be aware. And diasporans don’t send monies to their governments directly per se, rather they send their monies to their families, even though it impacts/benefits the overall economy of the particular country somehow. The point being with or without diaspora remittances, Liberia will still survive. So hold your money all you want and let’s see who will suffer, the government or your families? Too darn much of this carrots and sticks negotiation.

  3. A wise person once said, “Liberia’s brain-drain is the world’s brain-gain.”

    What will it take for Liberia’s Lawmakers to realize that some progressive countries in Africa are finally waking up! These countries are feverishly searching for solutions to the massive brain-drain taking place on the continent of Africa? The Western World is gaining from Africa’s brain-drain!!

    Several progressive countries in Africa are now finding remedy to Africa’s dilemma (brain-drain). These progressive countries are enacting sensible dual citizenship laws to accommodate talented citizens from the diaspora to help build their respective countries.

    Liberia’s dual-citizenship law could follow similar dual-citizenship criteria set forth in Ghana’s constitution that limits critical positions to holders of only Ghanaian citizenship and not those of dual citizenship.

    “43 Lawmakers Sign for War, Economic Crime Courts.”

    “We have spoken through our signatures, and there are remaining six signatures to have the two-thirds that would be forwarded to the Senate for concurrence,” said Rep. Kiazolu on votes to establish war and economic crime court in Liberia.

    It is commendable to see these Lawmakers exercised their patriotic duty in trying to bring long overdue justice for those innocent victims who died in Liberia’s civil war.

    Similarly, why is it so difficult for these same enthusiastic lawmakers to show their patriotic duty when it comes to voting for reduction in their high salaries they are receiving in a poor economic bankrupt country like Liberia?

    A wise person also said, “Patriotic talk is no proof of patriotism. Anyone can wave a flag. The real patriots live their patriotism in everything they do.”

    Lawmakers show your real patriotism where it hurts the most: by reducing your inflated salaries and cutting back on other emoluments (travel, vehicle, housing allowances, etc.) paid for by the Liberian tax payers.

  4. Pete Gboyo,
    You’ve badly misunderstood what I wrote. Because of that, I will try my level best in terms of setting the record straight.

    First of all my fellow countryman, I am not a lawyer. Don’t assume like that! Nice try though.

    Secondly, I’ve never said in my above piece that diaspora Liberians had at anytime paid their remittances to the government. Come on Gboyo. What should be understood by you is that remittances help in terms of stabilizing countries in which money is wired.

    Without a shred of doubt, the government is not the sole agent of economic stability. Of course, the government is counted on to put forth sound economic policies. But to the extent of reality, outside money that diaspora Liberians wire in our country from time to time, helps in terms of beefing up the economy.

    Gboyo, to say that Liberians “can” change their citizenship is something you’re saying. I didn’t say that. I said that some diaspora Liberians changed their status because of a litany of reasons. The pursuit of education in the US is enhanced if one’s status changes from an F-1 visa to a Permanent Residence status or to citizenship status. In the past, F-1 holders were students who paid more school fees than a citizen. When the Liberian war erupted, many Liberians scattered. There was no way money could be wired in the states. So those who went to college during those turbulent times of ours had to become creative.

    Let’s get on with it Sir.

  5. Gboyo,
    You’re right. Without money being wired in the country, Liberians will survive.

    The truth must be told. I can assure you beyond doubt that if money is not wired in from Liberians abroad, there’ll be more suffering in the country than now. Of course, the Liberian economy will be affected. It’s illogical to say that without remittances, the Liberian economy will go on well.

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