-Wants Restorative over Retributive Justice
House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers has frowned on the establishment of a Special Court to try former warlords who participated in the 14-year civil crisis in Liberia, arguing that it would not breed accurate and sustained peace, unity and development in the country.
In a petitionary but steady tone, Speaker Chambers said he believed the country should seek restorative (healing, curative or uplifting) justice in order to forge ahead and foster the peace and unity, that the country enjoys, as opposed to a retributive (revengeful, retaliatory or punishing) justice, which will re-hash the bitter past.
The House’s Speaker made the remarks at a resort during the opening session of the Delocalized Meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament’s Joint Committee on Communications and Information Technology; Education, Science and Technology; Labor, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture on Monday, August 27, 2018. The week long delocalized meeting will end Friday, August 31, 2018.
The Maryland County District # 2 Representative, who has been member of the House of Representatives since January 2006, and elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature in January 2018, told members of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament, that the country wants to continue in the path of peace and unity and that can only remain so if restorative justice is sought instead of retributive justice.
The Speaker’s latest disapproval of a War Crimes Court for Liberia, which he initially supported, appears to now jive with the persistent efforts by President George M. Weah to avoid retributive justice for victims of the 14-year Liberian civil war.
Interestingly, Chambers made the statement in the presence of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who, while she was in office, shelved the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report and avoided and discussion about the establishment of a War Crimes Court. The Speaker and the former President, who sustained a sour relationship for the past eight years, appear to agree, for the first time, on a critical issue.
Recently, it may be recalled, Speaker Chambers indicated that the Legislature would request for an audit of the causes of the broke government after the 12-year rule of President Ellen Johnson-Sirelaf.
The Speaker said the administration of President George M. Weah inherited a broke government, of which the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has admitted and that the “audit” would be like taking stock or an inventory of what happened, of what led to the “money problem” as well as to take corrective measures.
“Basically we have to be able to take stock (audit); it’s something that is genuinely realistic. We are going to do proper due diligence so as so to make the people to have appreciation of the state of the country’s economy,” Dr. Chambers said at the time.
“It’s not witch-hunting but it is just fair, that accountability must be carried out and that’s the hallmark to make sure that things that occurred and we’ll be able to know how those areas can be cleaned up and how they can be corrected. And [we] want the people to know that the Liberian people’s money are intended for the Liberian people. And that is what we will do relentlessly,” Dr. Chambers indicated.
Meanwhile, up to press time yesterday, a big meeting (high level) of institutions from the three branches of government, which are unswervingly responsible for the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was in progress.
The meeting is being organized for Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs) of government, as well as the Legislature and the Judiciary, to provide fresh updates on the status of their assigned recommendations and to review and validate a draft report (unknown) to be submitted to the President of Liberia for its first report to the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate of the 54th Legislature on the current state of the TRC recommendations.
“As you may be aware, the INCHR serves as the inheritor of the TRC process and bears the mandate to follow up on the implementation of the TRC recommendations and draft the President’s reports to the Legislature on the status of the recommendations in consonance with the Articles 10 and 18.7 of the Legislative Act that established the TRC,” the acting chair of INCHR Rev. Atty. Bartholomew Colley wrote the Legislature. “Also, Section 4.4 of the same Act requires the President of Liberia to provide quarterly updates to the Legislature on the implementation of the TRC recommendations.”
He added: “The purpose of the planned meeting is to therefore accord all responsible MACs involved with the TRC process the opportunity to provide fresh status updates on TRC recommendations they are specifically implementing and jointly review and validate the draft report prepared by the INCHR with the incorporation of any new information. The meeting will also discuss whereby these duty-hearing entities can further strengthen collaboration to maximize progress in achieving their individual and collective tasks.”