A delegation of officials of the Liberian Council of Churches recently held a meeting with the Speaker of the 54th National Legislature Dr. Bhofal Chambers, expressing concerns about the delay of the pending Senatorial by-elections, the progress of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report and the constitutionally envisaged National Census, a press release said yesterday.
Rev. Dr. Kortu Brown, head of the council’s delegation, told Speaker Chambers that they have sought his audience as part of their efforts to engage government constructively as its strives to meet and grapple with huge national and constitutional compliance obligations.
Rev. Brown, however, assured the Speaker of the Council’s willingness to keep a close working relationship with the Government of Liberia (GoL) as the Council looks to seeing a better and unified Liberia, following the conduct of an intense and rather acrimonious electoral process last year.
During the meeting, House Speaker Chambers told the Liberia Council of Churches visiting delegation that the senatorial by-election will go ahead and lamented that the process got delayed due to some technical and pressing challenges.
Speaker Chambers further told the clergymen that the National Legislature will work with the Executive Branch of government in making the realization of the National Census attainable in the time frame as provided by law.
On account of the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report’, Speaker Chambers said he believes there were more lies than truth told during the hearing process of the TRC. He said most war actors and persons who bear greater responsibilities for crimes committed in Liberia during the civil upheaval did not say much about the extent of the atrocities they committed.
Speaker Chambers, however, said it’s about time that the country looks forward to adapting a roadmap, to attain restorative justice as compared to retributive justice.
The Speaker said it’s been several years now since the war ended in Liberia, and Liberians are yelling for more infrastructure developments and economic emancipation. He added that restorative justice also heals wounds inasmuch as truth telling is the hallmark.
Meanwhile, restorative justice has been defined as a legal system of criminal justice that deals with the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the society, while retributive justice is a system of criminal justice based on the punishment of offenders rather than on rehabilitation, the release concluded.
However a leading rights and justice campaigner(name withheld) has come down hard on Speaker Chambers, charging that the Speaker’s words ring hollow because he as a member of the 53rd Legislature, rather than hold President Sirleaf’s feet to the fire, did or said virtually nothing about President Sirleaf’s blatant failure to make periodic reports to the Legislature on progress being made at the time in the implementation of the TRC report.
Further, according to the rights and justice campaigner, Speaker Chambers has no color of right whatsoever, to decide on behalf of the Liberian people whether or not individuals should be held to account for their crimes. As concerns “restorative justice” which the Speaker now says he favors, the campaigner noted that “Reparations” is also a form of restorative justice which the TRC had recommended but which members of the Legislature virtually ignored, preferring instead to pass into law sweetheart deals, meaning bogus concession agreements, most of which have not benefited the people in any shape or form.
He cited the Exxon Mobil agreement as one such bogus agreement which did not meet tests of probity but which was passed into law without a whimper of protest from Representative Chambers now Speaker of the House.