Authority at the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), with support from its international partners, says the Commission will this year embark on the construction of several memorials across Liberia.
The Commission’s Acting Chair, Bartholomew B. Colley, informed journalists on Friday, January 24, 2020, that INCHR in the erections of memorials will go across the 15 counties.
Mr. Colley said actions taken so far are for the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, and the Liberia Reconciliation Roadmap. In the recommendations of the TRC, the government, through the INCHR, is to build memorial sites to memorialize Liberians who were massacred during the war, pay reparations to victims, and carry out palava hut discussions so that victims will face perpetrators.
He named the Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, the policy framework of the Liberian Government on national reconciliation, as obligations by the INCHR, to spearhead the implementation of three, of the 207 recommendations of the TRC: Memorialization, Healing and reconciliation through the National Palava Hut Program and Reparations.
He noted that the TRC has identified 155 massacre sites and mass graves across the Country, and recommended that the memories of the victims be honored and kept alive through the construction of memorials at these various locations.
“We want to inform and report to the people of Liberia and the global community that the Commission has made some progress relative to the implementation of the memorialization recommendation as part of its aforesaid transitional justice mandate,” he declared.
Meanwhile, Mr. Colley has further disclosed that with the support of the United Nations Peace Building Fund (PBF) and the Government of Liberia, the INCHR has constructed the Du-Port Road Memorial in Paynesville, and the Maher Memorial in Bomi County.
He said that the DU-Port Road Memorial was dedicated in 2017, but it is currently being improved upon and they are on the finishing touches. According to him, the Maher Memorial has been completed and it is expected to be officially dedicated soon.
He also disclosed that the first phase of the project prioritizes the construction of five memorials in Nimba, Bong, Margibi, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties. “Grand Cape Mount Memorial is almost completed and these structures are expected to be dedicated by President George M. Weah between February and March 2020,” said Colley.
The second phase, which he said will focus on, Lofa, Grand Bassa, River Cess, and Gbarpolu counties, is also expected to commence this year. “Feasibility studies and awarding of the contracts are already in progress,” he told journalists.
Chairman Colley said the commission has received additional funding from the PBF for the construction of 14 additional memorials under the “Advancing Reconciliation through Legislative Reforms and Civic Engagement Projects” through the UNDP and with support from the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Liberia.
He added that with the support from the office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Liberia, the INCHR, in collaboration with the Transitional Justice Working Group, the CSO Human Rights Advocacy Platform and the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, have held a national colloquium that discussed and suggested the way forward on the implementation of the TRC recommendations.
The INCHR says it has started to place GIS Coordinates on all mass grave sites across the country, noting that GIS Coordinates have been placed on a total of 54 graves in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado counties.
The Commission, with support from the PBF and UN Women, has also completed a research to understand and advise on gender dimension within the various peace structures and programs in Liberia.
Amid this progress, the INCHR, however, said it has not been able to jumpstart the TRC recommendations on reparations because of the government’s prevailing failure to treat reparations as an indispensable component of the country’s struggling transitional justice process.
The INCHR recalled that since the dawn of the final TRC report in 2009, GoL is yet to muster the political will to craft a single policy paper on how it intends to proceed with the establishment of the US$500 million Reparation Trust Fund for the period of thirty years as proposed by the TRC, let alone mention the consideration of any minimum budgetary allocations to initiate the program.
The TRC recommendations on reparations speaks about the establishment of a trust fund by government that each Liberian in the diaspora should contribute at least US$1.00 to it; and that the government should also take ownership of the EJ Roye building on Ashman street.
However, the Reconciliation Roadmap, as stated earlier, mandates the INCHR to spearhead the implementation of three of the 207 recommendations which especially deal with memorialization, national healing and reconciliation through the Palava Hurt.