Lawmakers Discuss Ellen’s War Crimes Court Letter

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Members of the House of Representatives are expected to discuss today the establishment of an ‘Extraordinary War Criminal Court’ as part of their constitutional mandate for establishing special courts in the country.

President Sirleaf’s letter to the Legislature is inarguably in line with the constitution since it requires the joint effort of the Executive and the Legislature.
The debate on the Special Criminal Court in the House Plenary will emanate from reports of the Joint Committees on Peace and Reconciliation and Judiciary owing to a letter from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. In her letter dated September 22, the President gives a comprehensive progress report on the implementation of the recommendation of the June 30, 2009 Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Representatives of Nimba and Bomi counties, Ricks Toweh and Cllr. S. Gayah Karmo, are the chairmen on Peace and Reconciliation and Judiciary.

The joint Committee was mandated by Plenary – the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives – to investigate, scrutinize and advise it, after one week.

According to the President’s letter, there are 207 recommendations contained in the TRC Report.
“Some 18 of those are essentially general principles, which do not lend themselves to practical implementation of actualization,” the President wrote. “Forty-two are basically concepts intended to facilitate the fostering of good governance progressively.”

“For example, it projects a 30-year period for the implementation of a national reparations program. The establishment of special courts to prosecute persons listed as allegedly bearing the greatest responsibilities for the war and also for crimes against humanity also falls in this category,” President Sirleaf observed.
“Consequently, actual recommendations that are implementable in a short-to-medium time-frame are about 142,” the President said.

The President informed the lawmakers that she has implemented or is well advanced in implementing a majority of the recommendations – arguing that a large number of the recommendations are being addressed in the National Vision – Liberia Rising 2030, such as the National Symbols Project and the Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peace-building and Reconciliation.

The President pointed out that in her August 27, 2010 progress report, a Task force was constituted to review the TRC Report and Recommendations and advise on implementation.

“The Task Force compartmentalized the TRC Report into four key categories: Historicity and Memorialization, Reparations, Reconciliation, and Prosecution and Lustration,” the President wrote.

The Reparations category accounts for eight recommendations, and entreats government to assume all of its obligations under international and domestic laws to provide reparations for all those individuals and communities victimized by the years of hostility and conflict.

“The TRC report proposes a reparation program of approximately US$500 million to be implemented within a 30 year period. In my report of August 2010, I suggested that given the widespread nature of our conflict, individual reparations will be prohibitively expensive and difficult to implement,” the President argued in her letter.

“Therefore, we should consider community type reparation through reconstruction and renewal of institutions and public facilities that were destroyed during the conflicts,” the President proposed.

Two members of the Joint Committee on Peace and Reconciliation and Judiciary told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview yesterday that the Committee’s report on the comprehensive progress on the implementation of the recommendation of the June 30, 2009 Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) are ready, but would likely be postponed owing to the signing of the book of condolence of the fallen Lofa Representative, Fofi Sahr Baimba.

“It will or will not be discussed today, but according to Plenary’s mandate, today we should have discussed our Committees’ report,” the Representatives said.

“Since we have to sign the condolence book in the afternoon, we will have session in the morning, but if there isn’t a simple quorum owing to the signing of the book of condolence, Tuesday’s agenda will be tabled for Thursday,” they added.


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