Sen. PYJ’s Man Stalls ‘Report’ on War Crimes Court, TRC Implementations

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(From left) House Judiciary Chairman, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa; Claims & Petitions Committee Chairperson, Rep. Rustonlyn S. Dennis; and Rep. Jeremiah K. Koung, executive member of Sen. Prince Johnson’s party, MDR

-Legislature Ends 1st Session Today

A report from the House’s Joint Committee on implementation of the Truth & Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) recommendations and the establishment of a War & Economic Crimes Court has been stalled by Nimba County District #1 Representative Jeremiah K. Koung.

Rep. Koung is a co-founder and executive member of the Movement for Democracy and Reconciliation (MDR), a party which Senator Prince Y. Johnson heads as standard bearer and political leader.

The report  is entitled: “An update from the Joint Committees on Claims & Petition, the Judiciary; Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning, Peace, Religion & National Reconciliation and Good Governance & Government Reform on the Petitions for the establishment of a Special Criminal Court and the Implementations of the TRC Recommendations.”

Many observers believe that the stalling of the Joint Committee’s report by the Nimba County lawmaker is intended to buttress and prop his party’s standard bearer and kinsman, Senator Johnson, who has expressed strong opposition to the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia.

Senator Johnson, the founder of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), according to the TRC report, was accused of committing egregious crimes ranging from “extortion and massacre, destruction of property, forced recruitment, assault, abduction, torture, forced labor, and rape.”

On Thursday, September 13, Representative Koung expressed his reluctance to vote on a motion seeking to include the Joint Committee’s report on the agenda of the 57th day sitting of the House of Representatives on grounds that Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning was not involved in the hearings that impelled the report.

The co-chairman on the House’s Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning Committee’s objection sparked a debate, with the chairperson on Claims and Petitions, Representative Rustonlyn Dennis, arguing that at least five members of the Ways, Means, Finance & Development Planning Committee had affixed their signatures.

House Speaker Bhofal Chambers’ review of the signatories to the Committee’s report revealed that six out of the 15-member committee had signed, while three of the six-member committee members of the Claim and Petition Committee had also signed.

All the members of the Judiciary Committee affixed their signatures.

“With non-majority signatures of two of three leading committees, it means the update report on the implementation of the Truth & Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) recommendations and the establishment of a War & Economic Crimes Court cannot be included in today’s agenda,” Speaker Chambers said.

“A joint committee report needs a signature of 50+1 members’ signatures,” the Speaker added.

Joint Committee’s Report

According to the report, the House’s Joint Committee received two petitions from the Citizens of Liberia, for the Establishment of a War & Economic Crimes Court and Citizens Against the Establishment of a War & Economic Crimes Court.

“The petitioners called Citizens Against the Establishment of War & Economic Crimes Court’s sole reason was predicated upon the current economic constraint faced by the people of Liberia, terming their counterparts as an enemy against President Weah’s agenda. The other petitioner, Citizens of Liberia for the Establishment of War & Economic Crimes Court, on the other hand, sole motive is to seek justice and to promote peace, unity and abrogate the culture of impunity,” the report said.

The report further said it is on the right trajectory to come up with a substantive document for or against the establishment of a War & Economic Crimes Court and the implementation of the TRC recommendations, having carefully reviewed the TRC report, considered the arrest of alleged war criminal Awaliho Soumaworo aka “Kunti K.” and read and comprehended the resolution introduced by US congressman Daniel Donovan, supporting the call for a war and economic crimes court for Liberia.

“The Joint Committee, however, craved the indulgence of Plenary for a Month of Extension after the House resumes the 2nd Session, to enable it make more informed decisions on the Establishment of the War & Economic Crimes Courts, Specialized Courts, and implementation of the TRC recommendations,” the report said.

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives are expected to close their 1st Session of the House of Representatives today for Constituency (Agricultural), having completed the extension of the 15-day sitting in consonance with Article 32b of the 1986 Constitution, to concur with the Liberian Senate.

The extension of the 1st Session of the 54th Legislature commenced September 1, 2018, and will end September 15, 2018.

The 54th Legislature will resume work for the  2nd Session on Monday, January 14, 2019, and a day’s sitting will begin Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

8 COMMENTS

  1. The War Crime Court however delayed will shortly be established to ensure that the 250,000 civilian lives that were arbitrarily taken away by Prince Johnson and his cohorts(fellow warlords) will at last find justice in a court of law of civilized nations. In this light, Liberians cannot handle this alone as most of the warlord criminals are holding top government positions in Weah’s government.
    We therefore call on the United Nations, the United States, Great Britain, France, West Germany, and all civilized nations around the war to join forces in ensuring that Justice is served in Liberia. Those who bear the greatest responsibility( Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her ACDL, Thomas Woiweyu, Byron Tarr, C.L. Simpson, Jr.,Harry Greaves, Alhaji Kromah, George Borlay, Seku Damatee, George Dweh, Col Tellee, and others who bear the greatest responsibility ) in bringing war on our people killing 250,000 civilians(men, women, children and the elderly) and sending over one million of our citizenry into compulsory exile must face justice before a civilize court of law. This is the duty of well meaning patriotic Liberians as well as the international community. If President George Weah attempts to shield them from prosecution, pressure should come to bear on President Weah and his government by the imposition of stringent political and economic sanctions on him and his government by the international community, until the interest of 200,000 innocent civilians killed is justifiably served. This is a matter of human rights abuse, murder, rape, sex slave, looting, and this should be the concern of all civilized nations around the world to ensure that justice is served and that this type of carnage against innocent civilians never happens again in our history as witnessed by the entire world. “Let justice be done to all men.”

  2. The international community is already involved in bringing justice to the people of Liberia when they capture those accused within their jurisdictions to screen incidents committed in Liberia and in their own boundaries. The point here is that Liberia is no longer at war. If we must keep our boundaries, we should handle our own affairs. Institutions are re-instated. There were no courts in Liberia during the war. Qualified capable Liberian Judges learned to bring litigation to the truth is the purpose of Justice. Just as the President has the right to pardon or execute the law, the Liberian Judge has decisions to make based on the truth. Once the truth is proven, the judge can do nothing else. We also have the option to a capable jury. How would you prove that these crimes were committed in Liberia by these accused? International lawyers already come in our courts to prove cases and incidents in the nation. We only need to build more modern court infrastructures to safely find the truth. We either have to reconcile, move on or bring the accused under our jurisprudence in consonance with our own civil and military code of justice. Tell the people. Do not answer me. My box is not a chat room. Gone in silence.

  3. well if you read the good book you see that god send david to war.so god can send people to fight war but who are the people god is going to send today god send david and he is the king so we see god send the government can god send one or two people no and so if a group of people say god send them to fight I do not believe it

  4. For heaven’s sake, folks, let the legislative process exhaust itself, our Legislature isn’t like the UN Security Council where the vote of only one from the permanent members can irrevocably stop a universally-accepted just-cause action.

    The most important concern for some of us is about both Houses ouses of the Legislature approving establishing war crimes court in a Liberia without adequate security measures and where pervasive poverty is recognized as the greatest threat to national security. Needless to say, there are abundant evidence that neither the U.S nor advanced European countries would ever allow any judicial action to dangerously divide citizens or destabilize their countries. No wonder, then, President Trump’s current National Security Adviser and former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton this week accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) – trier of war crimes suspects – of being “dangerous” and “dead to the US!

    But it would seem that some of our elites in Liberia and the Diaspora just love to create crisis and confusion anytime focus is on changing the miserable lives of our Country-Congo vast majority poor. Not surprisingly, every partisanship-motivated attempt is being made to scuttle any loan arrangement earmarked for funding the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda, while inability to help our poor is being amplified. This isn’t about which political party is in power, rather it speaks volumes about a segment of Liberians strenuously seeking commotion. They say, “be careful what you wish for or you might just get it”!

  5. What I do not understand is implementing the TRC report, What are we going to do with Former president Johnson. By Ellen Johnson becoming president destroyed implementing TRC report. If you implement TRC now when she has already destroyed the implementation, it will be more of Selective implementation. To me it create confusion in the implementation of the report.

    Moses, please note that while it is true that people want to see justice Liberia it is also true that we need justice that will bring peace

  6. From my own logical perspectives, the need for a War Crimes Court is an important factor for the nation to reconcile with itself. One cannot deny that war crimes we’re committed and that there are known and unknown culprits. And the failure of the country to bring to finality the formal recognition of the wat crimes and identities of culprits and their actions leave room for uncivil relationship amongst the citizenry that evidence itself amongst the public officials.

    Abiding by the TRC recommendation for the establishment of a War Crimes Court is one amongst the first step in restoring a peaceful
    non-camouflaged coexistence of citizens with one another. How can folks work together towards economic development if there’s hidden anger, hatred amongst them that manifest itself with the slightest disagreement on issues.

    If the nation can support Rep Donovan’s resolution in the U.S. Congress, and it passes, that would be great from a funding perspective. Because, while the ICC is not a UN body, if the Security Council of the UN supports a War Crimes Court establishment, it will then require UN funding support. If the U.S. Congress supports the War Crimes Court, it will compel its vote on the Security Council for UN funding as well as U.S logistics support. The issue of the U.S foreign policy interest with respect to the ICC should be separated from its support for the establishment of War Crimes Court in a nation lacking the domestic legal framework that works. The U.S. has a domestic legal framework that works and able to prosecute its citizens who commit war crimes. The issue of establishing a War Crimes is not an exclusive legislative decision making prerogative. It is a matter of national interest and they must persue it regardless of their individual opinions on its merit.

    Failure to proceed may result in citizens in the diaspora (most certainly in the U.S) lobbying Congress to pass a bill that would declare known and alledged culprits as persons of interest for War Crimes who should be barred from the U.S. and the freezing of their bank accounts globally, including government officials responsible for establishing the WCC, who refuse to do so solely on neglect. That will force the Legislature to prioritize this issue if national interest.

    My comments in no way suggest I know of any culprit or have determined who should be subject to the Court’s summons and warrants. It’s purely a support for the establishment of the Court.

  7. Yeah right, America is opposed to abortion therefore denies funding for Plan Parenthood-related agencies helping indigent pregnant women in poor countries, but its Legislature, which kicked against any idea of ICC trying US soldiers suspected of war crimes in Afghanistan, will “approve” and provide “logistics” for one in Liberia. Let’s come down from Cloud 9. To avoid an impasse, a compromise can be reached to implement less costly TRC recommendations – without the judicial component – and concentrate on ensuring equality of opportunities for our suffering people: Prioritize rewards over risks in a fragile state.

  8. Sylvester. While I agree to the general ideal you seem to be proposing towards the relief of poverty, I am not convinced of reasons you provide. The decision to implement the TRC recommendations must be by its own merits and not whether there’s support from outside or not. To address your comment on U.S stand on abortion, actually the U.S does support abortion. The current U.S laws protects a woman’s right to abortion. The issue of how U.S. foreign policy concords or differ with its domestic policy has more to do with which political ideology currently rules the nation, by the party that holds the presidency, which controls foreign policy. Domestically, the law shapes what the government does. So, unless abortion right is deemed unconstitutional by the court, it remains the settled law. In the foreign policy arena, the President determines funding prerogatives, unless Congress by a majority vote mandates the President to follow a particular policy, like most matters that impact Israel.

    The policy under the Obama’s administration was more supportive of abortion rights. The Trump’s administration which leans towards opinions of the religious right and conservative constituencies are against abortion rights, and as such they’ll hold back funding.

    Remember, the current U.S. policy from the Obama’s administration supports providing U.S aide to the ICC in enforcement against culprits in countries that lack the ability to enforce arrest warrant. The reason the U.S believes it will not subject its soldiers to ICC arrest and trials is that the U.S. has legal systems that allows for the trial of its citizens (both military and civilians) with the highest standard of integrity. The U.S actually has a War Crimes Court, to try war crimes where the U.S is a party. It’s under the War Crimes Act of 1996. So Rep Donovan’s resolution is not inconsistent with U.S. policies on war crimes. In fact, if Liberia passes a resolution for the establishment of a War Crimes Court, it could probably make the same argument as the U.S. against the ICC. The only difference is that Liberia may lack the ability to enforce judgements.

    If the UN Security Council supports an engagement into a nation, it kicks in UN funding support. If the Congress votes in support of the resolution, the US will certainly vote for a Security Council support.
    Risks and rewards are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but can be appropriately mutually exhaustive. If the nation fails to reach finality on this issue, it might fall back to where it just came from. Pride and hubris on the part of many, is to ignore the hidden anger, and current adversarial relationships, we read about it see on a regular basis even amongst public officials and regions.

    To add to your thought on implementing less costly TRC recommendations, I think the first phase should be a post mortem of accountability. What happened and who are the culprits, and why they did it? The second phase should deal with culpability. Should there be sanctions, baring from public Office, return of ill-gotten wealth to rightful owner, public expression of remorse, etc.?

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