The House of Representatives, on Friday, October 4, failed to include and discuss a resolution to establish a war crimes court in Liberia after a full submission of the “Resolution on the establishment of War Crimes Court in the country” to the Chief Clerk of the House’s office on Thursday, October 3, 2019.
If the eight-page Resolution on the establishment of a war crimes court did not appear on the Monday, October 7 agenda, the last session day of the House of Representatives for adjournment, it means the Resolution has suffered a setback; it is no longer a done deal and is, therefore, inevitably deferred for the 3rd Sitting, which will begin on the second working Monday, January 13, 2020.
The Senate formally recessed for the 2nd Sitting over the weekend.
As has been repeatedly reported by the Daily Observer, the Resolution has a signature of 50 out of the 73 members of the House of Representatives, which is little over two-thirds of the Lower House.
In Friday’s session, the Chairperson on the House Claims and Petition, Montserrado County District #4 Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis, visibly enraged broke into tears when the movant, Bong County District #1 Representative Albert Hill, rejected her amendments for inclusion and discussion on “Resolution on the establishment of War Crimes Court in Liberia,” and “Article 96” on the House Agenda as part of the business of the day.
In an uncontrollable and fuming tone in session, she described Rep. Hill’s action as “misplaced, displaced and disgraced,” arguing that the Bong County lawmaker, who is one of the signatories to the Resolution, did not know the essence of what she claimed as “integrity document.”
In protest, she walked out of the House chamber, muttering “nonsense,” especially to a denial of the Resolution to be placed on Friday’s agenda for automatic forwarding to the Senate for concurrence.
Montserrado County Districts #10 and #13 Representatives Yekeh Kolubah and Edward Flomo respectively, and Margibi County District #3 Representative Ellen Attoh-Wreh, in session, openly joined Rep. Dennis to condemn Rep. Hill for rejecting the Resolution.
Disappointed at Speaker Chambers
In a press conference, immediately after the session, Rep. Dennis said she was disappointed at Speaker Bhofal Chambers for “shamefully masterminding the removal of the Resolution on the agenda,” an allegation the Speaker rejected and said it was excluded in keeping with Legislative practice.
The House Claims and Petition chairperson said it was disheartening for the Speaker, who was once a champion for the establishment of a war crimes court, to refuse to put the Resolution on the agenda, and described his action as “misbehavior.”
She said the Resolution was formally launched at the Du-port Road Cemetery Memorial on Thursday, October 3, 2019.
“We have 50 signatures, which is more than two-thirds of our membership, calling for the establishment of a war crimes court and even have the propensity to remove him,” she said.
Speaker Chambers’ Response
Also, in a brief chat with journalists, the Speaker categorically denied removing the Resolution from the agenda as Rep. Dennis allegedly accused him of and said the failure to include and discuss the Resolution was the prerogative of the movant – Rep. Hill – who denied Rep. Dennis’ amendments.
He added that besides that rejection, the Plenary had earlier voted to carry the Resolution to establish a war crimes court to their respective constituents for subsequent discussions during the 3rd Sitting following the president’s two-page letter for advice and guidance on the creation of a war crimes court.
The Speaker said that it was agreed that there will be consultations to help lawmakers to make an informed decision.
Besides the House Committee on Claims and Petition efforts on establishing a war crimes court, President George Weah also wrote members of the House of Representatives to advise and guide him on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations and the establishment of a war crime court.
“I am committed to a holistic implementation of the National Consensus, and do hereby call on the Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC report, including the establishment of the Economic and War Crimes Courts,” the president wrote.
The House of Representatives expresses its support for full implementation of the TRC recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court, and commits to working with President Weah for the court’s establishment.
Based on section 48 of the TRC Act that provides that “The Head of State shall report to the National Legislature within three months of the receipt of the report of the TRC, and on a quarterly basis thereafter, as to the implementation of the Commission’s recommendation ‘and’ and all recommendations shall be implemented and ‘where the implementation of any recommendation has not complied with, the Legislature shall require the Head of State to show cause of such-non-compliance.Therefore, this matter before us is overdue and that the President should act effectively, immediately on said Legislative enactment without seeking advice from the Legislature because the TRC is already an Act of Enactment by the Legislature that is awaiting presidential approval.”
- Rep. Lawrence Morris, District #1, Montserrado County
- Rep. Jimmy Smith, District #2, Montserrado County
- Rep. Rustonlyn Dennis, District #4, Montserrado County
- Rep. Samuel Enders, District #6, Montserrado County
- Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, District #10, Montserrado County
- Rep. Richard Koon, District #11, Montserrado County
- Rep. George Samah, District #12, Montserrado County
- Rep. Edward Flomo, District #13, Montserrado County
- Rep. Abraham Corneh, District #14, Montserrado County
- Rep. Abu Kamara, District #15, Montserrado County
- Rep. Hanson Kiazolu, District #17, Montserrado County
- Rep. Hans Barchue, District #1, Grand Bassa County
- Rep. Mary Karwor, District #2, Grand Bassa County
- Rep. Matthew Joe, District #3, Grand Bassa County
- Rep. Vicent Willie, District #4, Grand Bassa County
- Rep. Thomas Goshua, District #5, Grand Bassa County
- Rep. Cryton Duncan, District #1, Sinoe County
- Rep. J. Nagbe Sloh, District #2, Sinoe County
- Rep. P. Mike Jurry, District #1, Maryland County
- Rep. Isaac Rolands, District #3, Maryland County
- Rep. Bob Sheriff, District #1, Grand Cape Mount County
- Rep. Mambu Sonii, District #2, Grand Cape Mount Co.
- Rep. Emerson Kamara, District #3, Grand Cape Mount Co.
- Rep. Albert Hills, District #1, Bong County
- Rep. Prince Moye, District #2, Bong County
- Rep. J. Marvin Cole, District #3, Bong County
- Rep. Robert Womba, District #4, Bong County
- Rep. Edward Karfiah, District #5, Bong County
- Rep. Joseph Kolleh, District #7, Bong County
- Rep. Francis Nyumalin, District #1, Lofa County
- Rep. Julie Wiah, District #2, Lofa County
- Rep. Clarence Massaquoi, District #3, Lofa County
- Rep. Beyan Howard, District #5, Lofa County
- Rep. Prince Tokpa, District #1, Nimba County
- Rep. Joseph Somwarbi, District #3, Nimba County
- Rep. Rogers Domah, District #7, Nimba County
- Rep. Larry Younquoi, District #8, Nimba County
- Rep. Zoe Pennue, District #1, Grand Gedeh County
- Rep. Alex Grant, District #3, Grand Gedeh County
- Rep. Tibelrosa Tarponweh, District #1, Margibi Co.
- Rep. Ivar Jones, District #2, Margibi County
- Rep. Ellen A. Attoh-Wreh, District #3, Margibi Co.
- Rep. Ben Fofana, District #4, Margibi County
- Rep. Clarence Gahr, District #5, Margibi County
- Rep. Byron Zahnwea, District #2, River Cess County
- Rep. Alexander Poure, District #1, River Gee County
- Rep. Francis Young, District #2, River Gee County
- Rep. Francis Dopoh, District 3, River Gee County
- Rep. Alfred Koiwood, District #1, Gbarpolu County
- Rep. Joseph Matthew, District #3, Gbarpolu County