NEWS FLASH
To Establish War, Economic Crimes Court in Liberia Lawmakers Secretly Soliciting Signatures?

To Establish War, Economic Crimes Court in Liberia Lawmakers Secretly Soliciting Signatures?

“Act swiftly in the supreme and general interest of the nation and its people,” this statement relative to President George Manneh Weah’s communication seeking legislative consideration for the establishment of a war, economic crimes court in Liberia appears to be resonating very well among members of the Legislature.

According to a well-place source, lawmaker are secretly soliciting signatures to ensure that the rapid implementation of said mandate is achieved.

Up till press time, about 40 Representatives, our credible source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, divulged that they have secured their respective signatures in support of the establishment of the international instrument.

The much publicized campaign, according to reports , is moving very fast with overwhelming support flooding in on a daily basis.

However, there are some challenges as always, according to our source. But the feedbacks as well as prospects leading to getting the necessary signatures through a legislative lobbying process is in full swing.

According to some lawmakers, there were some procedural errors or missteps on the part of the President relatively to the manner and form in which his communication was submitted to that August body.

However, in support of the critical national issue they (lawmakers) are upbeat so far and are righting the wrong to ensure they proceed in the more legal manner and in subsequent time execute such task which has been a public outcry, mainly by the Liberian people since the inception of this Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) led- Government.

According to a political pundit, it is expected that the ruling establishment will act and in a timely faction on this instrument, which when they were in opposition, then craved for said establishment through the staging of several political protests and strike actions in order to draw international attention to the issue something which is now a daily talking point and a major concern to Liberians across the country.

Speaking to reporters recently, a major campaigner for the establishment of war and economic crimes court in Liberia, Mr. Adama Dempster, challenged Liberians to now shift their attention including argument to members of the Legislature to fast strike the process through legislative means, because according to him, they are the direct representatives of the people.

The exercise, which our source added, is just the beginning point to a very long road ahead leading to the full implementation of the document is so far encouraging and will help in the promotion and protection of the rights of people at all times in the future and to as well ensure justice is served to all without boundary.

During Liberia’s armed conflicts from 1989-96 and 1999-2003, Liberians suffered widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law such as mass killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, summary executions, mutilation and torture, and use of child combatants.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which operated between 2006 and 2009, recommended creating a war crimes court – the Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia – to try those responsible for grave crimes committed. Many of the TRC’s recommendations, including for the war crimes court, have never been carried out.

The few cases involving civil wars-era crimes have all occurred outside Liberia before United States and European courts. Authorities have been pursuing cases under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows national courts to try international crimes committed abroad, as well as for crimes related to immigration, such as lying on immigration forms.

“In the past few years we have made significant progress in cases abroad to try alleged perpetrators of Liberia’s wartime crimes,” said Hassan Bility at Global Justice and Research Project and the Secretariat for the Establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia. “But our people should have the chance to see justice at home. Liberia should work with the United Nations and other international partners to set up a court that can hold fair, credible trials.”

Liberians have held marches to campaign for a war crimes court, and petitioned the legislature to carry out the commission’s recommendations. Liberian, African, and international nongovernmental organizations have come together to campaign for justicein Liberia. In May several of the groups released a video appeal for the court, with statements from people of varied backgrounds who took part in a national conference on accountability in Monrovia in November.

The Liberian Bar Association added its support for a war crimes court in April. The Traditional Chiefs Council backed a war crimes court in early September. On September 6, the National Economic Dialogue, attended by 350 Liberians, including members of the government, political parties, youth, and civil society, recommended establishing the court.

In July, lawmakers attended a legislative conference on accountability organized by local and international groups. The joint committee of Liberia’s House of Representatives then put forward a resolution backing the court, which was immediately endorsed by nine lawmakers.

The groups urged the legislature to move ahead with a law to establish the court and request assistance from Liberia’s international partners in the effort, particularly the United Nations, as well as the European Union, African Union, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden. There should also be greater involvement from nongovernmental organizations with expertise in war crimes courts.

Governments and international organizations have supported war crimes courts and developed expertise in recent decades in addressing challenges that often arise with them. Such expertise includes protection and support for witnesses and victims, security for judges and staff, assuring fair legal process, and educating the local population about the court.

“All eyes now turn to our national legislature,” said Aaron Weah at Search for Common Ground-Liberia and the Secretariat for the Establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia. “Some victims have been waiting more than two decades. The legislature should move ahead to establish the court without delay.”

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