A Human Rights Officer with the Liberia Country Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) has assured the institution’s continued support for constructive discussions on issues relating to sustainable peace and finding the way forward on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as well as deliberations on other human rights issues in the country.
Francis A. Igiriogu, made the disclosure at the end of a three-day colloquium held in Gbarnga, Bong County, commending the participants for being frank in the discussions and for respecting each other’s views despite differences in opinion.
According to Igiriogu, one thing that was common among every participant was the desire for a peaceful and prosperous Liberia. He assured participants of OHCHR’s continued support in any accountability mechanism they chose to deal with the wounds of the past as long as such framework meets international human rights standards.
“We have noted the recommendations you made after these 3-days of intensive debate; we will continue to provide support for their implementation, especially those that meet international human rights standards,” said Mr. Igiriogu.
He praised participants for the level of interest they showed during the course of their deliberations, and also the organizers for ensuring the success of the colloquium.
Participants include representatives of the government, chiefs, women groups, and members of the civil society organizations from the 15 counties. Others represented the African Union, ECOWAS, and the Embassy of Sweden.
The event was organized by Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) in collaboration with the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) with support from OHCHR Liberia Country Office.
Earlier, former Grand Kru County Senator Blamo Nelson, who served as rapporteur for the final session admonished the participants that the country cannot move forward with implementation of the TRC recommendations unless the citizenry stands firm and say what they want.
“Liberia will not go anywhere with this TRC recommendations unless we as a people stand for it, and say we want to move forward,” said Mr. Nelson.
He added that people elect governments for the sole purpose of entrusting the government with their safety and happiness, and therefore, “if a government fails to do so and people suffer, that government action is a betrayal of the trust of the people,” he said.
Blamo presided over the plenary session of the colloquium where participants were drawn into groups of five with specific topics from where they made recommendations, which were all collated into the joint colloquium statement endorsed at the end of the event.
The event ended with official statement endorsed by all the participants requiring the government to, among other things, establish a war crimes court to prosecute all persons who committed gross human rights violations during the civil war (1989-2003); and that a bill be drafted and be submitted to the legislature for passage into law to protect victims and witnesses; that President George Weah begins to submit his quarterly reports on the implementation of the TRC recommendations to the Legislature, and the Liberian People in accordance with Section 4.4 of the TRC Act.
The Colloquium calls for full and timely implementation of the Reconciliation Roadmap by the government to enact into law, National Unification and Memorial Day, and repeal Decoration Day, while ensuring the reburial of Presidents William R. Tolbert, Jr. and Samuel K. Doe as sign of national reconciliation and peace among Liberians. To establish a Reparations Trust Fund and legislate a National Reparations Program.
It urges that reparations be carried out comprehensively at individual, community and national levels; that there shall be formal launch and financial support for the Palava Hut, and giving attention and support to victims with special needs appearing under the Palava Hut.