Stephen G. Fellajuah
The Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) has described the action of the Liberian Senate to have recommended the setting up of a “Traditional Justice Commission” with the mandate to analyze and investigate the findings of the TRC final report, instead of a war crime court as recommended in the TRC final report, as a ‘Travesty of Justice and Betrayal of Trust” of the Liberian people.
The Bar pointed out that the rationale provided by the Senate to recommend a Traditional Justice Commission is weak and has no foundation to address criminal accountability for war-era atrocities. The LNBA stated, if the recommendation of the Liberian Senate is given effect, it will only duplicate and grossly undermine the functional responsibilities of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR).
The LNBA said it is utterly expressed dismayed over the failure of the Liberia Legislature to establish the War and Economic Crimes to end impunity for the perpetrators of atrocities during the Liberia’s armed conflict.
The Bar made the statement at a meeting recently the United Ambassador-At Large for Global Criminal Justice, Beth Van Schaack at the US Embassy dear Monrovia. The LNBA leadership at the same time welcomed the visit of the US Ambassador – At- Large for Global Criminal Justice and called on the US government to seize the opportunity to unconditionally stand with the victims with atrocities committed in Libera’s Civil Wars by assisting Liberia in establishing a war and economic crime court to address justice and accountability for abuses suffered during Liberia’s.
“The LNBA wish to remind all that during that during the armed conflicts, Librarian suffered widespread violation of International human rights and humanitarian laws such as killing, rape and other forms of sexual violence, summary executions, mutilation and torture, and used of child combatants”, the Bar lamented.
The LNBA believes that there can be no justification by the Liberian government to delay criminal accountability for war-atrocities due to the popular and widespread support of the subject matter in Liberia.
In a statement signed by the National Secretary General of the Bar, Cllr. Bornor M. Varmah, and issued on October 11, 2022, it said that Liberia has not prosecute anyone for the grave crimes committed during the armed conflicts and is yet to establish a war crime court that the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended in 2009.
The Bar further that it is shameful and embarrassing to note that Judicial Authority in the USA, Belgium, France, Finland and the UK have pursued criminal cases related to Liberian civil war in the recent years, often spurred by civil society efforts without and substantial stride by the Liberian government to address Transitional Justice issues emanating from Liberia’s civil conflict.
“The LNBA maintained that the Liberian people have waited too long for justice and accountability for abuses suffered during the cilvil war without the expressed political will by successive Liberian governments to act consistent with recommendations of the TRC final report”, the statement noted.
It can be recalled that the LNBA in its commitment to fully support the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in 2019, adopted a recent resolution at it Nations Assembly support the establishment of war and economic crimes court and subsequently drafted, validated and presented a Bill to the National Legislature which was considered as a significant milestone for the establishment of a dedicated War and Economic Crimes Court do that victims have greater access to justice for crimes committed against them and fuller scope of perpetrators be made held to account.
After the LNBA’s action, over fifty members of the House of Representatives endorsed a resolution backing the creation of a special court to address the question of criminal accountability for war-eta atrocities.
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