‘Do Not Fear Threats If War Crimes Courts Are Established’

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Melron Nicol-Wilson told the LNBA that if Liberians are afraid of their own security, they should ask the international community to provide security for the process.

-Sierra Leone High Court official cautions Liberians, as LNBA endorses implementation of the TRC’s recommendations

Melron Nicol-Wilson, the barrister and solicitor of the High Court of Sierra Leone, says there is no reason for Liberians to harbor any fear of instability, if the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations that called for the establishment of a War and Economic Crime Courts were to be implemented.

Mr. Wilson, also a human rights lawyer, believes that people who committed crimes against humanity must be punished, in order to put an end to impunity.

His comment was contained in a speech he delivered when he served as one of the panelists during a three-day (March 28-30, 2019), Assembly of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), held in Kakata City, Margibi County.

Meanwhile, the LNBA overwhelmingly approved, voted for the implementation of the TRC’s report, including in particular, the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia.

The Bar also calls on the government and all necessary state and non-state actors to take the necessary action in the realization of their approved decision.

Mr. Wilson added that those suspected of committing the worst crimes during Liberia’s civil war were no longer powerful to create instability in the country.

“They are no longer active to cause instability, so do not fear their threats if the courts were to be established,” the human rights lawyer told members of the LNBA, noting, “war crimes court will not undermine your country’s peace and stability.”

Wilson informed his audience that if Liberians were afraid of their own security, they should ask the international community to provide security for the process.

“The international community is disappointed over the slow pace of your implementation of the TRC recommendations, and now is the time for you to see the opportunity to act,” Wilson told his colleagues.

He spoke on the topic, “Accountability or Impunity, Putting a Closure to the 14 Years.”

He said in the case of Sierra Leone , the chapter for the bitter past has been closed, and respect for the rule of law has since been restored.

Wilson believes that the failure to hold war crime suspects accountable is an act of punishing people for lesser crimes, and letting people of greater crimes off the hook, “hence, a recipe for the commission of more heinous crimes.”

He meanwhile used the occasion to challenge members of the LNBA to play an active role in ensuring that Liberians accept or reject the TRC recommendation.

Counselor Francis Johnson Allison, former chief justice and Attorney Bartholomew B. Colley, Acting head of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, were two other panelists that presented on the same topic.

For Allison, there was a need to put an end to impunity by ensuring that those who perpetrated crimes against humanity are prosecuted and punished if found guilty.

“Failure to punish people who committed crimes will serve as an incentive for the continuous abuse of human rights and the commission of more crimes in the country,” the female lawyer maintained. She also previously served as Chief Justice of Liberia.

According to the former Chief Justice, accountability was not optional, thereby suggesting that Liberia should follow the experiences of Rwanda (East Africa) and Sierra Leone (West Africa) in ensuring accountability.

“Punishing crime is not self-executing, but the citizens should be involved because sovereignty does not reside with leaders, but the people, therefore, it is the people that must take the lead to maintaining law and order,” Johnson noted.

In his intervention, Atty. Colley said impunity or accountability in Liberia has been a “soft process.”

“For too long, we have been held hostage, but it is now time for us to ensure that the recommendations iare implemented,” Colley said.

He said he is of the opinion that interactive warring over land, human rights violations and commercial trade and political legitimacy were some of the reasons behind the 14 years (1989-2003) civil crisis.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The injustice of our justice system is this: the unemployed youth who picks pocket downtown Monrovia is arrested, prosecuted and punished in keeping with the law; meanwhile the warlord who masterminded murder, cannibalism, and rape is elected to public office. And when the question of accountability is raised, some people, for their own political convenience, begin to trumpet the call for reconciliation. What an irony! It is akin to lynching a smaller thief while electing the bigger thief to public office.

  2. One would imagine that by now Liberia has become a sane society; but, I beg to differ that it is not.

    Lately, as in the past, Liberians have begun witnessing the murders of people whom others may suspect of being engaged in witchcraft; the appearance of sanctioned killings of individuals whom, as rumors circulate, the Weah administration does not like; the torching of police stations by people who feel that they must take the law into their hands because justice has been denied them.

    Why should citizens become so callous and mendacious to the point that they commit such crimes after all the serious crises that their country has gone through? It goes back to the same talk about impunity which everybody including international experts on human rights are alluding to; and, that is people who commit crimes against humanity must face the consequences for their acts; not so, it sparks a cascading effect. In other words, violence will eventually beget violence.

    Nevertheless, President Weah, the Pro-Poor Evangelist, appears tranquil in the midst of the growing uproar that the country maybe reverting to its saddest past. Instead, he is trekking from place to place promoting his development agenda pretending like all is well.

    How can he achieve his developmental goals in the midst of the unfathomable and visible scars of an unprecedented civil war? Worst, his intransigence to give even an iota of thought to the setting up of a world crime court, only helps to fuel the speculations that violent crimes are intensifying in Liberia because criminals are emboldened by the fact that this government may not be able to tackle the very intractable and divisive social issue of impunity.

    Time will tell.

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