‘Lawmakers Against War Crimes Court are State Enemies’

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Rev. Jallah, AJN Regional Executive Director believes that genuine peace should be backed by the rule of law.

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.

Some members of ATJ pose shortly after the consultation meeting ended.

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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. The lawmakers of Liberia were elected by the voters of Liberia. Therefore, it is owed to the Liberians by the lawmakers to show good judgment during their deliberations. Up to date, the lawmakers who have yet to endorse the war crimes court concept have been silent. Nothing is known about why they are refusing to endorse the concept of such a court. It’s an obligation on their part to inform the Liberian people!

  2. The war and economic crime courts will help to ease the pain and dissatisfaction among us as Liberian. It hurts to see people who murdered or raped your parents, relatives or friends walked freely without any form of punishments. I can’t wait for that day where people will be held accountable for their actions.

  3. The war crimes court and the implementation of the TRC recommendations re-awaken the genie of Liberia’s devastation out of the bottle. And for this reason, whenever the subject comes up, certain lawmakers become finicky.

    The remarks made by Representative Korgar, that the setting up of the war crimes court will stop the rapid development of Nimba County, are absurd. On the contrary, the refusal of lawmakers like he and his clique have become the stalemate in the process.

    They are prolonging the sufferings of Liberians and stalling all efforts towards a rapid recovery of the country from the devastating tribal carnage.

    Why can’t these anti-war crimes court lawmakers just take a moment and reflect on why investment is not flowing into the country like it should? Is it because they now see themselves as the chosen ones, and they therefore seize the opportunity to indulge in insane wealth accumulation and the abuse of power at the languishing and decaying of their countrymen?

    Various speculations exist about why the lawmakers, in the like of Krogar, refuse to allow for the establishment of the court. High on the list of speculations is, many of them were in fact instigators and prosecutors of the war. They participated in its planning and mobilization as well as its execution.

    An argument could be made that some of these war crime criminals acted under the impulse of self-preservation, a natural tendency for living beings to defend themselves, when they face threats. However, the United Nations and many other ligit human rights organizations have gathered credible evidence of unprecedented atrocities that were waged against innocent women, children, and the feeble, leaving over approximately 250,000 civilians dead.

    How can Nimba County and Liberia at large move forward in the midst of the acrimony and the irreconcilable differences that this tragedy has brought on the nation?

    How can Nimba County and Liberia at large move forward, when the scars of the nation have not been healed and the government, which was overwhelmingly elected to bring about a true social change, is in fact behaving in ways reminiscent of the same old past?

    Liberia will not realize its national development and social progress goals without genuine social cohesion. And this is achievable if only the anti-war crimes court lawmakers can have a change of hearts and allow the TRC recommendations be implemented for the good of the country.

  4. Silly laws that will cost more expenditures, change of documents, and bring more crisis and poverty to the Liberian people should rate the law makers incompetence. The only important and immediate issue right now is to make available Liberian notes on the market. Needless to mention and easily seen as authentic, these new bank notes will automatically displace, if properly infused, will displace the notes in question to normalize the present economic situation in Liberian. Legislators who delay this circulation are either greedy to become a part of the process but cannot because it is not a legislative legislation or they envy the change to debit the smart move to Liberian financial governing. We will listen to no foolish laws. We will fix the financial situation to avoid the inflation, whether corrupt lawmakers like it or not. Such officials will no more purge penury on this Land of liberty. Face Liberians. It cost money to make money. The cost to print one Liberian money note is the same as printing a single 1000 Liberian bank note. Liberians will print the 35 billions and see for themselves. If printed already, will pay be the ones to pay the cost. We will not delay. The Liberian people will live.
    Do not answer me. Under God’s command, the Liberian people will take their own money themselves to improve their way of life.

  5. Our preferential obligation as a nation is to save our financial burden. Not to please few revoked components of the past and present administrations who suppress Liberians and their wealthy resources to make themselves accumulate on the people’s expense, while craving to make multiple citizenry laws to escape with these local products as was done in the past, that brought the war, we just left. No longer will we allow this. Gone to silence. Liberians will be told.

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