Against growing public chorus for the establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia, a number of prominent Liberians and institutions including the Catholic Bishops Conference and Liberia’s most recent, Nobel laureate, Laymah Gbowee, have enjoined cause with Rights advocates and publicly declared their support for the establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia.
And now a victim, Mrs. Suzana Vaye, widow of the late Isaac Vaye, the Public Works engineer killed allegedly on orders of Charles Taylor, has entered the fray saying she still feels the psycho-social pains she inherited from the unlawful killing of her husband on June 4, 2003 by forces loyal to jailed former President Charles Taylor.
Although, Mrs. Vaye says she feels happy that some friends of her late husband help her with the five children he left behind, she says pains inflicted on her and many others, including foreigners in the country, cannot be resolved by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations that have already become dusty on the shelves.
Instead, she contends that she and other war victims in the country will only be satisfied and their pains relieved if a war crime court is established to bring to justice perpetrators who are seen walking freely in the country.
“The TRC is not enough; I will want the war crime court to be established here to hold perpetrators who inflicted pains on us accountable for what they did. We do not want recurrence of what happened in this country. There are thousands of single mothers whose husbands were killed and are grieving like me,” she said.
Mrs. Vaye who spoke to this newspaper on recently during celebration of this year’s Mothers Day at the Calvary Baptist Church in Sinkor, Monrovia, noted in a quivering tone, “those who did these things are in this country walking freely and boasting for what they did. They are in high positions and enjoying taxpayers’ money. These people, no matter what happens and how long it takes, must be brought to justice.”
According to her, Liberia currently has a lot of mentally ill people roaming the streets. Mrs. Vaye believes that while drug abuse is one factor causing the problem, she said trauma inherited from the war is another major cause.
“You see some children walking in the streets mad today. Some of these people were forced to have sexual intercourse with their own mothers under the influence of the guns. Some also opened bellies of pregnant women to see the child in those women’s stomach. God made human in His own image, and as long as you do such to human beings, you did it to God, and so I believe He will allow justice to take place here one day,” she added.
She said since her husband was murdered 15 years ago, she has been receiving assistance from his friends who knew him, and this is how she has been able to bring up her five children to the point that four of them have graduated from university with one about to complete his college education.
Isaac Vaye was a Civil Engineer working with the Ministry of Public when he and John Yormie (both Nimbaians), were arrested on June 4, 2003, murdered and their bodies allegedly dumped behind a container along the railroad near Ganta, Nimba County.
Isaac Vaye was not a politician neither is there any record of his involvement as a combatant or figure of authority in any of the warring factions during the prolonged civil conflict in Liberia.
Unlike John Yormie who had previously served with the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL) as a commander, there is no record of Vaye’s participation in the civil conflict as a combatant. It is therefore unclear why he was killed.
But former NPFL General Suah Debleh a.ka. “General Something the Cause” appearing before the TRC in 2008, told the world that Vaye was killed because he had accompanied Yormie to Charles Taylor’s “White Flower” residence in Congo Town. The former NPFL General further said that Yormie was escorted into Taylor’s house where he (Taylor) was at the time meeting with his officials to discuss unfolding developments in the civil crisis. This was in 2003 when Taylor returned form Peace talks in Accra Ghana where he was handed an unsealed indictment nailing him for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone.
During the period, a lot of uncertainty was created about Taylor’s return to the country given the unsealed indictment which had been handed to him by Chief Prosecutor, Alan White. For a time it had appeared that Taylor would have indeed been arrested by Ghanaian authorities but a statement by chief Presidential body-guard, the feared SSS commander, Benjamin Yeaten, threatening to execute Ghanaian nationals residing in Liberia was probably sufficient to deter the Ghanaian government from turning the tables on Taylor.
And Taylor returned, first accusing his vice President Moses Blah and John Yormie of plotting along with others to overthrow him, According to the former General, a very incensed Charles Taylor, upon coming face to face with Yormie, drew a knife and plucked out Yormie’s eye saying to Yormie “you have always been involved in overthrowing governments but this my government will the last you will over-throw”.
Madame Susanah Vaye, appearing before the TRC subsequently, told the world that her husband had made a frantic phone call to her telling with much alarm that Yormie was bleeding and appeared to have been in grave danger. Few seconds later the phone went off and she never again heard from her husband. But according to former NPFL General Suah Debleh, Vaye was told by a top officer that once having entered Taylor’s compound and borne witness to happenings thee there was no way he could be allowed to leave with this life intact.
He and Yormie, according to Debleh were bound hand and foot and trussed into a vehicle and taken under heavily armed escort to Nimba where they were allegedly killed and their bodies dumped. For her part, Madame Susannah Vaye has sworn to leave no stone unturned to ensure that a War Crimes Court is established in Liberia so that the perpetrators of such a heinous crime are brought to book in order to end impunity.
It can be recalled that when warlords and civil society groups converged in Accra, Ghana in 2003 to find a solution to end the Liberian war, they fashioned out the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) that called for the establishment of the TRC.
Following the completion of its work in 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended prosecution for those who bore the greatest responsibilities, while others including former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were also recommended to be banned from politics for 30 years.
The TRC recommendations are yet to be implemented even after serving two terms despite the ban proscribing her involvement in politics for 30 years. Other alleged perpetrators like Senator Prince Johnson, Sando Johnson, George Boley and others are serving in the Legislature while there are many more in and out of government who have not been held to account.,