House Judiciary Chair Favors War Crimes Court, Removal of Tenured Posts

Rep. Koffa: “I'm in favor of setting up war crimes court, but it is the issue of timing.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives J. Fonati Koffa, a lawyer by profession, says he is in support of the prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes committed during Liberia’s 14-year civil war, but says more time is needed for the present government to act on it.

The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative told journalists on Friday, December 14, 2018, during his year-end media engagement at the Capitol Building, that the country’s 14-year civil war was a source of deep division, adding, “Nobody would want to be in favor of impunity.”

“I am in favor of war crimes court, but it is the issue of the timing. When the time comes, the appropriate legislation will be put together to do what we need to do, but the government that has been asked will do it in its own time and season,” Rep. Koffa said.

However, Koffa failed to say when would be a right time to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes.

Koffa’s revelation of his support for a “war and economic crimes court” is in contrast to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers’ views against such development.

Chambers has of late frowned on the establishment of such a court in the country — a complete about-face from his earlier position held during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. At that time Chambers, being sharply at odds with the nation’s first female president, staunchly advocated for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia and recommended her first for prosecution.

Now having apparently switched his persuasion on the matter, pundits believe he has betrayed the cause of justice for victims of war crimes.

Speaker Chambers said he believed that the country should seek restorative justice (healing, curative or uplifting) in order to forge ahead and foster peace and unity that the country enjoys than retributive justice (revengeful, retaliatory or punishing) which will picture the bitter past.

In a related development, Rep. Koffa hailed President George Weah because he scrapped some tenured positions, noting that the President acted legally by submitting to the Legislature a bill to erase some tenured positions.

He believes that the President’s action is constitutionally correct, arguing that it is not wrong for one President to right what is wrong, which he thinks is legitimate, according to Article 56 of the 1986 Constitution.

Article 56 says: “All cabinet ministers’ deputies and assistant cabinets ministers, ambassadors, ministers, consuls, superintendents of counties, and other government officials, both military and civilian, appointed by the President pursuant to the Constitution shall hold their positions at the pleasure of the President.”

In spite of the Article 56 provision, many tenured positions in Liberia exist because the institutions for which they are responsible are integrity institutions that should be protected from interference by government. Other institutions bearing tenured positions are members of international parastatals that require a level of fixity in member-country representation for the larger (international) body to properly function.

President Weah’s frustration with tenured positions was kindled when his attempt to appoint a member of his political party, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), to well-paying and influential positions in government were met with stiff resistance, in one case at the level of the Supreme Court.  In that instance, the President decided to dismiss Liberia’s permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Atty. Isaac Jackson, so that a CDC partisan could be appointed to the position. Jackson sought and was granted a stay order on the President’s decision by the Supreme Court of Liberia because he had 18 months left to complete his tenure.

Weah’s IMO appointment has remained in limbo since then. Few months later, the President decided he would have the Legislature do away with all tenured positions, a move which many legislators have overwhelmingly embraced.

Rep. Koffa pledged support to the “legal impeachment proceedings” of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, but did not explain why he excluded himself from the Ad-Hoc Committee to write the impeachment proceedings against Associate Justice Ja’neh.


  1. The timing for war crimes court is right because victims and perpetrators are dying in Liberia. The dead cannot speak so the right time is now so that more victims and perpetrators will not die before the law can be administed.

    Weah and CDC party need to stop playing politic with the plights of victims in Liberia.

  2. We’re just full of for nothing frivolity, what’s the chatter about “integrity institutions” when EJS lost her war on corruption and in capitulation christened the vice a ‘vampire’? These tenured positions are an imposition on the new administration; a violation of Chapter 1, Article 1 of the constitution ref the people’s sovereign right “to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments”; and in this particular case, an example of arrogant nepotism, which resulted in unconscionable waste amidst pervasive poverty of over 60 percent of the population. President Bio reportedly used Executive Order to refill tenured positions while a legislative bill is being shepherded through parliament to legally terminate them.

  3. Hon. Fonati Koffa, please do not use the House of Representatives to hold hostage the initial steps necessary to establish a war crimes court. Secondly, why are you silent on the establishment of the Economic Crimes Court?

  4. Rep Koffa is enjoying relative peace provided by our international communities through blood, sweat and billion of dollars, so forget about war crime court, what our country is facing is call economic sabotage causing hardship for majority of the citizens. Therefore what we need is economic crime court to go after all alledge criminals that caused this sabotage. The war has been over 20 year enjoying its peace so forget it no war crime court honorable man we want our stolen money. Use the money for war crime court to built our deplorable highway- this will bring relief on our people. My question is how many times have you visited your constituency?……. that is one of your constitutional mandate you were elected to fulfill. Before deciding meet the people and let them tell you what they want. Good governance

  5. Yap! I recommend all tenured positions in Liberia to be scrapped or burned beyond recognition. They deserve to be.

    The tenured institutional employees can continue to write about malfeasance in the government without being tenured. They have nothing to be afraid of. I mean zilch!

    Good Lord. Every employee must be evaluated. In the US, all employees get to be evaluated. Why not Liberian tenured employees? Are they loose cannons?

    By the way, who evaluates Liberian tenured employees? To whom do all tenured employees in Liberia report? To their international partners? Do the international partners have control over Liberia?

    Let it be bluntly stated: The reason all tenured positions are about to be quashed, if they haven’t been in Liberia, is that the evaluation process took place. It was secretly done! Of course not on the basis of hatred or grudge. But rather for the good of the country.

  6. Hon.Koffa was a member of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Administration. Why did he bring about the establishment of the Economic and War Crimes’ Court? There are plenty of unsolved corrupt Cases that brought suffering on Liberians in the Country during Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Administration. Why did he recommend the Court sooner? Oh now that he is in House of Representatives and has the freedom to prosecute those that brought hardship on Liberians, right? I believe he must be charged too because they failed to investigate these cases in due time or are in fear of their implication.


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