U.S.-Based Liberian Journalist Joins War Crimes Court Advocacy

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Journalist Wade William: "Weah needs to take a strong stand."

A Liberian female journalist in the United States has joined the race to pursue the establishment of a war crimes court in the country, and has, therefore, challenged President George Weah to take a strong stand that would be in the interest of the state instead of individuals.

Ms. Wade Williams, an advocate for women’s rights in the media, told this paper on October 4, 2018, through telephone conversation and Facebook message, that she believes President Weah’s claiming to be neutral in the Liberian conflict stands a better chance to make a decision that would bring justice to survivors of the war to end impunity.

Being a woman who has interacted with scores of female victims of the war and reported on their ordeals, Ms Williams said many Liberian women who were raped during the war are still living in fear arising from psychosocial depression, and the only way they can be relieved of the pains they are enduring is to see the perpetrators named and shamed for their evil deeds.

“It is inconceivable that in a country where many women and children were raped, tortured and maimed by rebel factions for almost two decades no one will answer for these crimes; it is an affront to justice and basic human decency that no one will answer for the atrocities committed during the Liberian Civil War,” Ms Williams said.

She emphasized that the over 250,000 people killed in cold blood and thousands of women and children raped need justice, and that President Weah, who campaigned for change and is now at the head of the government, should without compromise take a strong stance that would meet this popular demand of the Liberian people and the international community.

She, like others who have expressed similar views earlier, believes that there can be no genuine peace in Liberia if justice is trampled upon, and that the Weah Administration might fail the Liberian people if the President refuses to institute justice to end impunity in the country.

In recent days, U.S. Congressman Daniel Donavan has been championing a resolution calling for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) final recommendations and the establishment of an extraordinary court to prosecute people who bear the greatest responsibility in the atrocities committed during the war.

Once it is passed, the resolution, which is now before the U.S. Congress, will put pressure on the George Weah Administration to establish the court.

“We welcome the fact that we have international partners who are pushing for justice on our behalf.  Sierra Leone did it; Liberia can do it, and we need to put an end to the decadence that continues in our country,” Ms. Williams added.

Prior to joining the advocacy for the establishment of a war crimes court, Wade Williams and some other Liberian journalists in the United States visited the U.S. Congress, putting forward their request before the U.S. Government to help bring justice to the people of Liberia.

The journalists were concerned that warlords and perpetrators of crimes were injecting fear in survivors by threatening the peace in order to perpetuate themselves in power, while others were also using the same method to win votes and occupy prestigious public positions.

At the time, President George Weah served as a UNICEF Ambassador and proposed the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia. But having taken over the country as President, he has been skeptical in the establishment of the court and has promised to engage in public dialogues to consolidate reconciliation.

But survivors and victims of the war continue to come out with a call for the establishment of a war crimes court.

One of those to speak to the Daily Observer was David Moore of Bomi County, who narrated that rebels of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) killed his brothers while some of his sisters were raped.

He said the failure of the Weah Administration to allow the establishment of a war crimes court will lead him to failure and that will invite a curse on the country.

While President Weah was addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York recently, Liberians living in New York converged near the UN Headquarters to register their concern for justice and an end to impunity through a peaceful demonstration.

About a week ago, Human Rights lawyer Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe said warlords and perpetrators of war crimes have used fear tactics to intimidate survivors and victims of the war, but now it is time that advocates return the fear to the warlords and perpetrators because fear itself is a form of justice.

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