— Expects Senate concurrence
The Daily Observer has gathered that eight representatives have added their signatures to the already 43 obtained earlier, totaling 51, of the 73 lawmakers to compel the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in the country.
The lawmakers’ decision, came five days after President George Weah’s message to the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in which he outlined major steps to bring justice for atrocities committed during Liberia’s civil wars (1989-2003) by endorsing a war and economic crimes court.
On September 23, the Daily Observer reported that 43 representatives had signed the Resolution for the Establishment of a war and economic crimes court, and six signatures were needed to oblige the House of Representatives to legally act on the document as the Liberian Constitution calls for at least two-thirds membership of both Houses.
In an exclusive interview with three (names withheld) of those wanting the establishment of war and economic crime court on Monday, September 30, they said that the “Resolution for the Establishment of the War and Economic Crime Court” is expected to be on the House Agenda on Wednesday, October 1, 2019, for onward transmission to the Senate for a concurrence of the signatures of at least 19 Senators, which is two-thirds of the Senate.
They said in separate interviews that if the Senate concurred, with the Resolution on the Establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court it will be sent to the President for approval or attestation, and then be printed into handbills.
The anonymous representatives told the Daily Observer that Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah, who is allegedly accused as being one of the perpetrators, signed the resolution and, when contacted, confirmed signing and said that he (Kolubah) is poised to exonerate himself before the court.
The sources said Deputy Speaker Prince Moye also signed as well as Representative Edward Karfiah. But the source failed to state whether Speaker Bhofal Chambers has signed or not. But sources in the Speaker’s office said that the Speaker also affixed his signature.
Whether the Speaker affixed his signature or not, his leadership as head of the House of Representatives and the 54th Legislature will make it possible to pass the establishment of the war and economic crime court, which has been lingering since 2005 and during the 51st Legislature.
Four of the nine representatives from Nimba County have signed the Resolution, including Representatives Larry Younquoi and Joseph Somwarbi.
Most of the members of the Independent Legislative Caucus, including Representatives Ivar Jones, Francis Dopoh, Rustonlyn Dennis, Hanson Kiazolu, Dixon Seeboe and Mary Karwor, also signed the Resolution.
It can be recalled on Wednesday, September 25, while addressing the 193 members of the UNGA High-Level General Debate, President Weah hailed and recounted the United Nations contributions to Liberia, which in recent years include the restoration of peace and stability following over 14 years of civil unrest. The president divulged that Liberia has begun proceedings for the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as he vowed to listen and do the will of the Liberian people.
He said the TRC report calls for the establishment of an extraordinary criminal tribunal to prosecute those identified as having committed gross violations of human rights and economic crimes between 1979 and 2003; the TRC, importantly, also recommended the use of a conflict-resolution mechanism which has been traditionally used in Liberia and is called the “Palava Hut.” This is a mechanism whereby various district meetings, conducted by community elders, would see perpetrators publicly request forgiveness from their victims and where the aims of restorative justice could be served.
“It is important to bring closure to the wounds from the 14 years of Liberia’s brutal civil war, and we need to agree on a mechanism that would guarantee the sustenance of peace, stability, justice and reconciliation as well as enhance our prospects for economic recovery,” President Weah further said.
Before traveling to attend the UNGA, the president, in a letter to the Legislature dated September 12, 2019, wrote: “I … do hereby call on the Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report, including the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court.”
Accordingly, Adama Dempster of Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia has reportedly said that “President Weah’s support for a war and economic crimes court is an important step for victims and for helping to ensure the violence that brought so much pain and loss to Liberia will not happen again.”