Welcoming President Weah’s Call to Establish a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia

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At long last, President Weah has officially communicated to the National Legislature, expressing his desire and intention to establish a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia. In his communication, President Weah, amongst other things, declared: “As President of Liberia, I am committed to a holistic implementation to 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 Crime Courts.”

President Weah’s communication to the Legislature came in the wake of the recently concluded National Economic Dialogue which highlighted amongst its recommendations, the unanimous call for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia. When he addressed the Dialogue on September 4, 2019, President Weah pledged to follow through on the recommendations coming out of the Dialogue.

The President stressed, “Let me assure you, as President, that my Administration will take your recommendations under serious advisement and, where and when necessary, will back them with the political will required for successful implementation.”

And true to his word, President Weah has demonstrated the requisite political will by communicating to the Legislature his desire and intention to establish the War and Economic Crimes Court, thus dispelling doubts that he would have not dared do so at all for fear of losing political support from Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson who is listed in the TRC report as a major perpetrator of gross human rights violations.

To the contrary, President Weah has chosen to run the gauntlet come what may and, for taking this decision, the Daily Observer highly commends him for this bold stance, something which his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf regrettably failed to do. By establishing the Court, President Weah will be taking a major step in the fight against impunity in our nation.

Indeed, the implications of this act run far and deep and may stand out as a hallmark achievement of this government. But President Weah has not stopped there; he has also effected the removal of Gabriel Nyekan as head of the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI).

This newspaper, in its September 13, 2019 editorial, entitled, “Axe Your Sacred Cows and Let The Chips Fall, Mr. President, or Risk Falling With Them!”, warned President Weah against the dangers posed to the Liberia’s natural resource governance by the prospects of being delisted from the international transparency index of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

The Daily Observer noted that threats to have Liberia delisted from the index stem from Liberia’s failure to produce progress reports in accordance with its obligations as well as the illegal and unceremonious removal of LEITI’s head of secretariat, Konah Karmo whose selection was done through a competitive process set into motion by the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG).

The Daily Observer wrote. “It appears that either the President may not have fully apprised himself of the Act or that he may have been misled and ill-advised into taking the action to dismiss Konah Karmo, who was selected through a competitive recruitment process”.

Whatever the case, the Daily Observer welcomes the move by President Weah for it suggests that he is not, after all, as impervious to public concerns as the actions and utterances of some his lieutenants may tend to suggest. The current ongoing “Asset Recovery” exercise, for example, is another step which, if taken to its logical conclusion, will mark an important step forward in the fight against impunity.

Indeed, all is not lost even if it appears that officials of this government are neck deep in corruption. For one thing, the wheels of justice never stop turning even if it appears so and the arms of the law are indeed very long. That three-quarters of a century (74 years) after the end of the second World War in 1945, Nazi War criminals are still being hunted down should remind those legislators who oppose the setting up of a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia they are on the wrong side of history.

Further, suggestions by some legislators that they be provided with logistics to take the President’s communication to the people is completely unacceptable because legislators who are already being paid for their agricultural breaks should use some of that time and money to consult with their constituencies.

Moreover, legislators meet in session only twice a week with the remainder days for consultation with their constituencies. Additionally, legislators have just recently been paid handsome amounts of money to return from break to deliberate on some matters and pass some bills. Such a demand for “logistics”, meaning CASH, is, in the opinion of this newspaper, unconscionable and akin to extortion and blackmail.

Why? It is because the demand suggests that, should government or President Weah fail to cow-tow to their demands, they will not pass the bill to establish a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia. Interestingly, the National Council of Chiefs and Elders have already spoken in support of a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia.

This newspaper recalls that during the Ellen Sirleaf Presidency legislators made similar demands for cash and logistics to take the TRC report to their constituencies but failed to deliver anything and President Sirleaf did not demonstrate any real interest in acting on the recommendations of the report.

Additionally, legislators failed in their responsibility to demand regular quarterly reports from President Sirleaf on progress being made at the time, in the implementation of TRC recommendations.

President Weah should instead call their bluff and withhold the distribution of logistics (cash) to support their intended so-called consultations with the people, for it is nothing more than a disguised attempt to “eat”, and as the “old people” say, to “lick beyond the elbows”.

Let those legislators who oppose the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court stand up and be counted so that Liberia and the world will know who they are and what they stand for.

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