…United Methodist Human Rights Monitor
Jefferson Knight, executive director of the United Methodist Human Rights Monitor, said his institution remains supportive of the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia, “because it is time to address the culture of impunity in the country.”
Knight said if Liberia as a nation must move forward in sustaining peace and stability, it is about time that the government begins to address the issue of impunity which, for far too long, has exempted people accused of crimes, especially heinous crimes, from being punished or free from the injurious consequences of their individual or collective actions against fellow human beings.
He spoke to the Daily Observer recently at the end of a two-day workshop organized by the Faith and Justice Network-Liberia. The workshop was held in Monrovia under the auspices of the Faith and Justice Network of the Mano River basin.
Mr. Knight told participants that if the culture of impunity is not addressed by the current administration, the country may likely slide into “another dark day.”
He said that the country cannot have a lot of people, who committed heinous crimes and also violated International humanitarian laws but don’t have a single word of repentance to ask for forgiveness from the Liberian people.
Knight added that as long as some of those suspected of committing rights violation during the country’s civil crisis continue to be in the corridors of power, the issue of impunity will not be of major concern to them. As such, it is incumbent upon civil society organizations (CSOs), and other stakeholders to keep putting the government’s feet to the fire, in order to establish an economic and war crimes court.
He said that the best way to move forward as a people and nation is to have the alleged economic and war criminals prosecuted, which would serve as deterrent for those who might think it is all over.
“The establishment of an economic and a war crimes court should now be a major priority for this current government,” Knight said.
He also frowned on those “war criminals” for their actions against unarmed civilians during the civil crisis.
“Those family members are still grieving because those who committed these crimes against them are seen moving around with impunity,” something which, he said, is unacceptable in the society.
As one of the facilitators of the training, Mr. Knight recommended that the training be taken to churches, to intensify their effort in monitoring the justice system and human rights issue in the country.
The events brought together human rights monitors from other institutions, including those from the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.