Legislative Conference on War Crimes Court Begins Today

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(From left) Professor Olympia Beko, head of the international criminal justice unit of the human rights law centre, University of Nottingham, and David Scheffer, first U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues (1997-2001), will provide expert advice to members of the Legislature and Liberian stakeholders working on the Draft Act

Civitas Maxima, an organization that represented victims of War Crimes and civil society organizations will begin a two-day major conference on accountability for war crimes with members of the 54th Legislature.

The conference will be held at a resort in Monrovia from July 18-19, 2019. It has invited selected members of the House of Representatives, the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), civil society organizations and two international experts.

According to Civitas Maxima, the conference is organized in collaboration with the administration of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, the Secretariat for the Establishment of War Crimes Court in Liberia, and the Global Justice and Research Project. It was organized upon the request of the House Committees on Claims and Petitions, Judiciary, Good Governance and Government Reform and the Ways, Means and Finance.

The legislative conference on War Crimes comes nine months after the national Justice Conference, held in 2018, and since the US House of Representatives passed on November 13, 2018, the H. Res 1055–115th bill, which aims to affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic principles, and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations, particularly the establishment of an extraordinary criminal tribunal for Liberia.

Despite report of the Liberian TRC issued on June 30, 2009, which recommended criminal prosecutions, and the establishment of a specialized international tribunal, nobody was ever investigated, prosecuted or tried in Liberia for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the two violent civil wars (1989-1997, 1999-2003).

“The country is witnessing a real awakening when it comes to the call for accountability for war crimes. Many members of the Liberian Legislature recently mobilized to fulfill their obligations of implementing the TRC, which includes the establishment of a tribunal to judge crimes committed during the civil wars.

“A strong legislative group is currently working on a resolution to be submitted to members of both houses to rally support for this cause. Following the debate, they are planning to introduce a draft Bill. The Liberian Bar Association set up a committee to work on this bill and its executive council endorsed and adopted a draft Act to establish an extraordinary tribunal for war and economic crimes for Liberia this year,” Civitas Maxima said in a press statement.

During the Legislative conference, Professor Olympia Beko, head of the international criminal justice unit of the human rights law centre, University of Nottingham, and David Scheffer, first U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues (1997-2001), will provide expert advice to members of the Legislature and Liberian stakeholders working on the Draft Act to Establish an Extraordinary Tribunal for War and Economic Crimes for Liberia via video-conference.

The two individuals negotiated and coordinated U.S. support for the establishment and operation of international and hybrid criminal tribunals.

The Civitas Maxima release added that the two-day conference is intended to provide understanding among legislators on accountability issues for past crimes, and to explain the background of a Draft Resolution and the content of the Draft Act.

“The conference will also feature presentations on international criminal law, as well as lessons learned from other countries in Africa, where similar courts were established,” the release said.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Instead of a war crime court, how about war museum, a day or week of memorial and make it a part of curriculum in every school in Liberia.

    • Good ideas for a war Museum to named and shamed those major actors of the war and to teach our children,students and others about events that led to the crises in Liberia, instead of the war crime court, which will further divide the country and its peoples.

      • I do agree that a war museum could serve to educate not just Liberians and the world, but future generation. However, I am curious just how a war crime court establishment will bring about division in the country. Would you care to elaborate on that Mr. Flomo? Do you not think we could have both?

  2. I am on my way to the village, to inform the elders about this development. I hope that this is the beginning, of the end of this long debacle. Thank God, justice will finally be served.

  3. There is already a statute erected in the vicinity of the Maheh River in Bomi County in remembrance of this tragic event.

    However, no statute or museum can ever replace the loss of the innocent lives of our brothers and sisters.

    Some advocates against the establishment of a World Crime Court in Liberia, do so on the grounds that they were not affected by this brutal event in any major way; so, unfortunately, they are incapable of imagining the socio-cultural and socio-political implications this incident holds for Liberia if the authorities continue on a course of resisting the setting up of a court to bring the perpetrators of the heinous acts, to justice.

    The blood of our brothers and sisters is crying for justice! Until Liberians understand that one of the reasons for the dysphoria (unease, anxiety, and agitation) which has overtaken our society is that our leaders are dis-investing their emotions and attention towards this issue like they should, Liberia will know no true peace.

  4. Perhaps war crime would have been quashed or abandoned and Liberians would have forgiven and forgotten about it, but the mistake was allowing the very individuals who brought carnage to the nation to serve in government. It did not seem morally right or logical, but was politically expedient and so we ended up with what we have. It seems these warlords were not only rewarded for the carnage, but they also show no sense of remorse for their actions by pillaging the nation. This in my opinion exacerbate the outcry for war crime court and I think the country should have one. If these warlords had shown some sense of remorse and turn the table for the good of the country, then maybe we wouldn’t have been talking about war crime court today.

  5. Hello everyone,
    War Museum and War Crimes Court are all good, but which one should we have first?
    Will Museum will come later after those that the court deems liable for crimes against humanity are identified and punished. This way, we will have a story to tell.

  6. Any consideration of a war crimes court should consider the hidden costs involved for the State. The Liberian government will have to pay for certain aspects of the trials. In some instances, one trial may cost US$20m. Then add the cost of incarceration. Sierra Leone is paying US$23m per year for the incarceration of its prisoners in the UK and Rwanda. Then add the cost of construction of a special court building for the trials. Not every court is suitable for a war crime trial.

  7. If such a court is possible, EJS should be the first to be arrested. Anything other than that, it is a big FARCE, and cherry picking, as Mamadu Bah just said. Outsiders are telling us who did wrong, and who is not to be implicated. One would have thought by now, Liberian, smart as we claim to be, will know our wrong doers. A community of individuls that cannot speak for themselves, unless outsiders do, are bound to repeat CHAOS.

    As the cherry picking of wrong doers prosecuting continues, the so call crime court is cherry picking the perpetrators, and for some reasons are avoiding some of the big fishes because of COZY relationship between they (war crime court), and would be perpetrators.

    I was a victim during this war: 3 brothers, a step fathers and an uncle. However; if the wrong doers will be brought to justice, let us not cherry pick the wrong doers. Let everone who took part have their time before a court.

    One must start counting, begaining from ‘1’, not from ’20’, or ’30’.

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