The plenary of the Senate has requested its leadership to constitute a seven-member ad hoc committee, to review President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s latest ‘comprehensive’ progress report on the implementation of the recommendations of the June 30, 2009, final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
The Senate’s decision followed a reading last Thursday of a letter from the President accompanied by a voluminous document highlighting areas of progress made so far with respect to the implementation of the TRC report.
It is expected that the names of those constituting the seven-member TRC ad hoc committee will be revealed to plenary, and their time for reporting.
However, an attempt Tuesday to debate the President’s report was aborted when Sinoe County Senator Joseph Nagbe urged his colleagues to defer the debate to a more appropriate time.
The co-chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary argued that due to the voluminous size of the report and its importance, there was a need to set aside a special day for a comprehensive debate.
Maryland County Senator J. Bleh-Bo Brown, who agreed with Senator Nagbe, however suggested that instead of deferring the debate, a special ad hoc committee should be set up to carefully review the report in line with the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord.
Senator H. Dan Morais for his part, said the ad hoc committee would be in place, and reflected that from 1980 (prior to the 14-year civil war), heinous atrocities were committed to the extent that people were executed for rampant corruption and misuse of public office. He said Presidents were dumped on the streets, asking, “don’t you think their families want to know the truth as well?”
“What we want to see coming out of this National Legislature is the truth; so we want to have enough time so that the Senate will help guide this process. I want to believe that sending this document to us by the institution that established the framework is not for us to put it under the table, but to discuss it exhaustively so that what we say will benefit the generation to come,” the Maryland County Senator asserted.
Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, the only Senator who stands accused in the TRC report, said there were two groups of people within the Senate; “one group speaks on sentiment and the other wants strict implementation.”
The leader of the erstwhile Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) said the TRC report was a critical document, which was meant to reconcile the people, but it has turned out to be a political weapon. “We want peace and stability and security in our country; so let us do the right thing, and President Sirleaf is someone with a legal mind; there is a need for us to do due diligent and not to rush.”
Except for Senators J. Milton Teahjay, George Tengbeh and Alphonso Gaye, who were against the ad hoc committee and opted for an open debate, the rest agreed that a specialized committee that will include experts be set up and deliberate the report, and later advise plenary on what pattern to follow during the debate.
In her report, President Sirleaf said overall, there are 207 recommendations contained in the TRC Report some 18 of those are essentially general principles, which do not lend themselves to practical implementation or actualization.
Forty-two are basically concepts intended to facilitate the fostering of good governance progressively.
“For example, it projects a 30-year period for the implementation of a rational reparations program. The establishment of special courts to prosecute persons listed as allegedly bearing the greatest responsibilities for the war and also for crimes against humanity also falls in this category.
Consequently, actual recommendations that are implementable in a short-to-medium timeframe are about 142.”
Referring to a matrix attached her report, President Sirleaf said, “we have implemented or are well advanced in implementing the majority of the recommendations; moreover, a large number of the recommendations are being addressed in the National Vision –Liberia Rising 2030, the National Symbols Project, and the Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peace-building and reconciliation.”
The TRC Report, according to President Sirleaf’s report, proposes a reparation program of approximately US$500 million to be implemented within 30 year period. “In my report of August 2010, I suggested that given the widespread nature of our conflict, individual reparations will be prohibitively expensive and difficult to implement.
“Therefore, we should consider community type reparation through the reconstruction and renewal of institutions and public facilities that were destroyed during the conflict.”