Says Reverend Tolbert T. Jallah of the Faith and Justice Network
The Regional Executive Director of the Faith and Justice Network (FJN) on Friday, September 20, 2019, pleaded with Liberians to see any lawmakers that will not vote in favor of the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in the country as “state enemies.”
Reverend Tolbert T. Jallah said lawmakers need to understand that the only way the country can move forward is to see that victims of the country’s wars get justice which, according to him, will help to put Liberia back on the trajectory of sustainable development.
“This is why we have to hold lawmakers responsible if we have to miss this golden opportunity and to see those against establishing the court as enemies of the country,” Rev. Jallah said when he spoke at the opening of a one-day national stakeholders consultation meeting of civil society organizations (CSOS) on the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations.
FJN is an advocacy network of churches and church-related institutions in the Mano River Union (MRU) Basin, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and La Cote d’Ivoire, that engage faith-based communities to eliminate social and economic injustices.
The consultation forum, organized by the Alliance for Transitional Justice (ATJ), is in support of President George Weah’s commitment to the House of Representatives on the creation of the Special Court and the implementation of the full TRC recommendations.
It was held at the United Methodist Church conference room in Sinkor, Monrovia.
Jallah informed his audience that “justice delayed is justice denied, and to avert the scenario, it is now time for our lawmakers to vote and take steps to prosecute those accused of perpetrating violence during the civil wars, to ensure lasting peace and social healing.”
He expressed disappointment in that since the TRC recommendations were made a few years ago, “absolutely nothing has been done to prosecute a single person for alleged atrocities committed during the country’s civil wars.”
“This is an embarrassment for both the government and ordinary Liberians,” Jallah said.
He also said that it would be an unfortunate thing if the lawmakers did not vote for the establishment of the court, adding: “This means that future generations will not have the experienced that their parents went through at some time in the country’s history. It is only the establishment of the court that will bring the solution to some of the problems, specifically to achieve genuine reconciliation.”
Jallah is of the strong conviction that the ultimate means to sustaining peace, genuine reconciliation and development is through the establishment of the court.
“We must seek to end the scourge of impunity in Liberia by using the law and holding people accountable for their wrongdoing,” Jallah informed his audience, who nodded in apparent approval of his statement.
Also, Jeremiah S. Swen, founder and national chairperson of FTJ, called on lawmakers not to politicize the implementation of the TRC recommendations, emphasizing the President’s commitment to establish the court.
“There is no more time for any one to protect the interest of any individual in the legal business, because sustaining our peace is bigger than anyone’s interest. So let us remove politics from the implementation of the TRC recommendations,” Swen said.
He also used the occasion to inform the FTJ members comprising 14 CSOs that include the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC).
“By December of this year, we are going to celebrate a 10-year anniversary of the TRC recommendations to tell the world and our lawmakers about our seriousness for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court,” Swen said.
He added, “So we are calling on President Weah to schedule an emergency sitting of the lawmakers in November, though they will be on their break, to ensure the speedy approval of the establishment of the court, because somebody needs to take responsibility for some of the massacres committed during the civil wars.”
“Somebody has to account for the massacre at the Lutheran Church and in several other places across the country, because this is the only way we can put an end to impunity,” Swen said.
In his intervention, Reverend Christopher Toe, LCC General Secretary, reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to supporting the ATJ for the full implementation of the TRC recommendations.
Toe also suggested that they should engage locals to ensure that they take ownership of the ongoing campaign in favor of the establishment of the war and economic crimes court.
Meanwhile, Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel G. Korgar has, with immediate effect, withdrawn his support from the pending establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia. He and Senator Prince Y. Johnson are first cousins, hailing from Nyor-Gomaplay Town, near the Liberia/Ivory Coast border.
Korgar told reporters in Nimba County over the weekend that the provision leading to the establishment of the war and economic crimes court needs to be “critically studied,” or else he was backing off or withdrawing his support from the establishment of the court.
He said that the documents President George Weah recently submitted to members of the 54th Legislature were intended to seek the lawmakers’ advice, but could not explain what prompted him (Korgar) to have signed the documents.
“Looking at the current economic status of this nation and other challenges, I think it is not prudent now to establish the court,” Korgar told Radio Nimba.
The issue surrounding the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia is among some of the key issues on local radio stations across Nimba.
Recently, Senator Prince Y. Johnson was on air telling residents not to pay any attention to the issue surrounding the coming of a war and economic crimes court, rather they should concentrate on how to develop the county.
Among the 11 members of the 54th Nimba Legislative Caucus, Representative Larry P. Younquoi has been the main person advocating for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court, for which he congratulated President Weah for listening to calls to establish the court.