Calls for the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia to ensure justice for both victims and perpetrators alike, continue to pour in, with the latest being a resolution coming from the United States Foreign Affairs Committee sponsored by Representative Daniel Donovan, Jr. a Republican representing Staten Island and parts of south Brooklyn..
Representative Daniel Donovan, Jr. has called on President George Weah to ensure that infamous warlord, Prince Y. Johnson (PYJ), now Senator of Nimba County in Northern Liberia, is prosecuted for the crimes he allegedly committed against hundreds, if not thousands, of people during the years of the civil war.
Rep. Donovan, Jr. is an American attorney, former prosecutor and politician. As a Republican, he is currently the United States Representative for New York’s 11th Congressional District, first elected in May 2015 during a special election.
“It is time to put this into action,” Donovan said as he called on President Weah to consider the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in the country.
It is known that Sen. Johnson, in 1990, led rebels of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) under whose command President Samuel K. Doe was arrested at the Free Port of Monrovia, taken to an INPFL base in the Caldwell Community, and then tortured and killed following questioning, some of which had to do with public funds Doe had reportedly stolen while serving as president of the country. Others also reportedly killed at the Free Port included Defense Minister A. Boima Barclay and other military officers,
In view of these and other crimes allegedly committed by Sen. Johnson and a host of others, including George Dweh, James Chelley, etc., a resolution sponsored by Representative Donovan received overwhelming approval and passage from the Plenary of the Lower House of the Congress. It is, therefore, hoped that President Weah, a former ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) who once called for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in Liberia, would be able to actualize it now that he is President.
“Without justice, there cannot be healing for the victims, and the circle of turbulence will become anew,” Rep. Donovan said while presenting the Resolution 1055 of the Congress.
According to Donovan, to allow for the protection of human rights across the world is not only an act of humanitarianism for Americans but a vital concern to the national security of the United States.
“For example, Sen. Prince Y. Johnson is an infamous warlord, who tortured and murdered former President Samuel Doe and many others, and there is a video of him mutilating Samuel Doe. But with the presence of Johnson and other warlords in government, we can see how Liberia is slipping back into the days of chaos,” he said.
Donovan added, “This is why it is crucial to call on President Weah to establish a war crimes tribunal in Liberia.”
Donovan, who is a member of the U.S. Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs, said his electoral district is home to thousands of Liberians, among them victims of terrible actions imposed on them while in Liberia during the days of the war by the likes of Senator Prince Johnson, Representative George Boley, Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh, Alhaji G.V. Kromah, a university instructor, and a host of others alleged perpetrators of war crimes. Some of them are currently enjoying state power and resources at the expense of those who suffered most.
“The Resolution solidifies U.S-Liberia ties and support democratic principles,” Donovan said, adding, “My constituents have directly told me how important it is for them to see Liberia establish an extraordinary war crimes tribunal.”
He said the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report called for the establishment of a war crimes court.
The U.S. has over the years and even now supported the prosecution of all those who have committed war crimes and other related crimes around the world.
It may be recalled that Charles Taylor, Jr. (Chucky Taylor), Thomas Woewiyu, among others, were arrested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and turned over to the U.S. justice system for prosecution, an action that resulted in the conviction of Chucky Taylor and the imposition of a 99-year jail sentence which he began serving since 2006.
Donovan said, “Stopping war crimes before they happen is just as important as ensuring that justice prevails everywhere. This is why I am proud to sponsor House Resolution 1055 to affirm strong United States-Liberian ties and support democratic principles, and call for full implementation of the TRC recommendations, including the establishment of an extraordinary criminal tribunal. Liberia itself recommended the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in its own TRC.”
Although Sen. PYJ has not expressed any remorse for his actions during the war, he has, however, on many occasions said that he fought in defense of his kinsmen, who were then being beheaded by soldiers under the command of Samuel K. Doe.
“I fought in defense of my people,” Johnson declared in reference to Nimbaians, many of whom the Doe government had branded as “enemies of the state.”
As welcoming as the news may be for many Liberians, some feel that putting behind the ugly past for the sake of reconciliation and national healing is the best way forward.
Countering their opinions, though, are human rights lawyers, including Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe and over 80 civil society organizations (CSOs), who are firmly fixed on ensuring that the government sees reason for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to punish those who will be found guilty for crimes against humanity.