WASHINGTON DC October 9, 2019
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE ARE THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR THRONE. MERCY AND TRUTH ARE RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. ESV PSALM 89:14
HIS EXCELLENCY GEORGE M WEAH
REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
MONROVIA – LIBERIA
HER EXECELLENCY JEWEL HOWARD TAYLOR
VICE PRESIDENT & PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
MONROVIA – LIBERIA
HON BOIPHAL CHAMBERS
SPEAKER & MEMBERS
THE HONORABLE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
LIBERIA NATIONAL LEGISLATURE
MONROVIA – LIBERIA
HON ALBERT CHIE
PRESIDENT PROTEMPORARE & MEMBERS
THE HONORABLE SENATE
LIBERIA NATIONAL LEGISLATURE
MONROVIA – LIBERIA
HON CLLR S MUSA DEAN
ATTORNEY GENERAL & MINISTER OF JUSTICE
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
MONROVIA – LIBERIA
RE: PETITION FOR THE FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF ALL THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TRC OF LIBERIA, MOST PARTICULARLY, THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EXTRAORDINARY CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR WAR AND ECONOMIC CRIMES COMMITTED IN THE TERRITORY OF THE REPUBIC OF LIBERIA.
DISTINGUISHED HONORABLE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
We present you sincerest compliments and respectfully present you this accompanying and attached Petition for the full implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC of Liberia with particular mention, reference to the Establishment of An Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for War and Economic Crimes Committed in Liberia, which draft legislation or statute we submit as initially drafted and submitted by the TRC and submitted as an appendix to its report presented to you all, through your respective offices and officeholders at the time.
We are currently reviewing the aforesaid draft legislation with a view to strengthening it, remove the likelihood of corruption and conflicts of interest, to conform to best practices, thus adjusting to current realities.
Our suggestions will be forwarded to you shortly for incorporation into the draft for consideration before the Statue of the Court is passed into law. WHICH WE HUMBLY URGE YOU DO SOONEST AS A MATTER OF NATIONAL PRIORITY.
A Plea for Justice
- On being elected as President of Liberia, we sent a letter of congratulation to then President -Elect, George M Weah, congratulating him and reminding him of the national premium attached to the need for justice in Liberia to bring closure to the war era and foster national healing and reconciliation. We certain this plea has fallen on duck’s back.
- We need not emphasize that without justice, nothing will go right in Liberia; without justice, we would have failed to create the enabling and secured climate or environment for foreign direct investment in our country; without justice we strengthen impunity, lawlessness and deemphasize the rule of law as that guarding safeguard of the rights of all for the institutionalization of a just, equitable and fair society that enhances the rights of our people to equal protection and equal opportunity for all.
- Without justice, we are going nowhere, and no one is fooled thereby. We are neither fooled, nor impressed and so we think it is with fellow justice advocates or the international community. Our country is dying, our people are suffering, our national institutions are in a state of national decline, and with declining living standards we are negatively impacting the stability of the family, undermining the fabric of our society and the sustainability of the future as you preside over a decadent system that serves you and your parochial interest only.
You are presiding over a predatory system that eats all and leaves nothing to the poor, vulnerable, hapless people you claim to represent. IF YOU CANNOT GIVE THEM JUSTICE, THEN WHAT ELSE IS LEFT FOR YOU TO GIVE – NOTHING!
- There will be justice in Liberia, it’s a MUST! Whether you do the most honorable thing and foster it or not, it will be done now or later for the good of Liberia and its people. To resist justice is evil … GOD SAYS “I WILL BREAK THE STRENGTH OF THE WICKED, BUT I WILL INCREASE THE POWER OF THE GODLY… Psalm 75:10; evil and ungodly people hate justice and against their will justice and the rule of law will be instituted in Liberia.
- “…When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. When the righteous flourish, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, people groan. When justice rules a nation, everyone is glad; when injustice rules, everyone groans” Proverbs 29:2 A man who remains stiff-necked after much reproof will suddenly be shattered beyond recovery.
- It is now clear that His Excellency, The President has no intention of instituting justice in Liberia. For us, the charge is great and the pledge to defend and advance justice is unwavering. Anyone who hates justice is evil, ignorant and blind. The President must wake up to the demands of his people and the world. The President is blind!
- He needs us as leaders to help make him see the reality that justice is a must for Liberia and the world is not a Liberian theater, Liberia is just another player. We cannot all pretend to be blind and have the blind leading the blind, because the world will ignore us, and we will be led to fall into a ditch. Matthew 15:14 says “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch”.
- Your Excellencies, Distinguished, Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen, we will all fail, fall in shame and cover ourselves with dishonor and disgrace, when we allow ourselves to be blindly led and fail to advance the pursuit of justice in Liberia.
- Ours is a nation of victims – war, exploitation, neglect, corruption, ethnicity, ignorance, disease, poverty, greediness, crimes of all sorts including against humanity, injustice and impunity, unpatrioticism, nepotism, wanton human rights violation, discrimination against the elderly and the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society, including youth and women issues and challenges – in dire need of justice through a system of law and order that guarantees justice and equality, and equal opportunities for all. We cannot afford to be a land of impunity!
- The failure of Johnson- Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, to perform her constitutional duties cannot serve as an excuse or justification for President Weah’s nonperformance or failure to act in his capacity as President where warranted like in the implementation of All the Recommendations of the TRC, including the Establishment of the Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia. Such noncompliance by The President is a violation of the TRC Law which calls for the full implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC. It is a settled law – it is fait accompli – it can never be changed, modified or amended. The President, the National legislature and courts must accept it, there is no other alternative but to accept it; it is the established law of the land.
Is President Weah up for Justice
- Could President Weah have established otherwise, that he is a man of justice or “the feminist in chief”? No!
- The perpetrators of the heinous crimes against Justina Taylor, to date have neither been charged, investigated or condemned by the Weah Government for the attempted murder, molestation and sexual abuse by Jefferson Koijee and his agents who have been positively identified as: Wolobah Kesselly, Nigel Appleton, Stephen Dolo and Jones Blamo and others in the higher echelon of the criminal network;
- Amidst this heinous crime and assault on the dignity, personality and life of Ms. Taylor the Government of President Weah is so complicit in the crime that neither the Weah Government nor its so-called Gender Minister, could not even as much pretend to be a women’s advocate by condemning the crime or reassuring women of Liberia that under her leadership, the Weah Government will protect every woman in Liberia;
- The Government of Liberia handling of Ms Taylor’s release from hospital was anything but shameful. It was an appalling gross violation of her human rights and the rule of law and the justice principles of good governance – Gangsterism!
- We commend and applaud the gallantry of some members of the society who went out to resist the injustice and safe a life. We admire their courage and admonish the people of Liberia to remain vigilant and resist, oppose, injustices everywhere and in all its manifestations – Bravo!
- Amidst allegations that President Weah made a pact with President Johnson Sirleaf and Senator Prince Johnson to shield them and their family from justice, President Weah has clandestinely enlisted, recruited and mobilized for active duties on his Government’s payroll the following ex-combatants and demobilized ex generals:
- General Ofori Diah…ULIMO J/LURD
- Marshall Dennis …MODEL
- Nathaniel McGill…NPFL
- Charles Bright …NPFL
- Archie Williams …NPFL
- Stewart Briggs…NPFL
- Logan Davis …NPFL
- Sam Joe… LPC/MODEL
- Samuel Wlue… MODEL
- Edwin Snowe …NPFL
- Sam Saryon …. INPFL
- Todd Garlo …ULIMO K
- Prince Johnson …INPFL
- Zortawon Tatus …INPFL
- Saymah Syrenus Cephus…NPFL, etc, etc
Passing the Buck
- Liberia is a republican form of constitutional democracy in which the three branches of government (the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) perform equal, but distinct coordinating functions (executing the law, making the law and interpreting the law, respectively) of government. One branch cannot perform the functions of the other or constitutionally or legally be called upon to do so.
- The function of the Chief Executive, The President is to Execute the law. The TRC Law provides that all the recommendations of the TRC shall be implemented. By this, there is no question as to whether The Recommendations of the TRC should be implemented or not – They must be implemented according to law by The President. The President cannot pass the buck. The buck stops with him. He cannot in good faith ask the legislature to advise him on matters of executive actions. The Legislature functions are not to advice the President on matters of the TRC Law or Implementing the Recommendations of the TRC. The Legislative function is to make the laws, pass legislation that give effect to the TRC Recommendations.
- The President has a corps of advisors, including lawyers who are hired to give him advice on any and all matters of state claiming the attention of the President. Instead of asking the Legislature for advice, The President ought to, and the Legislature ought to demand that the President make periodic (quarterly) reports to the Legislature on the manner of execution of all the Recommendations of the TRC, according to the TRC Law.
- The President intends to play the games of former President Sirleaf, failing to realize that times have changed and President Sirleaf made several of such reports to the National Legislature, on her efforts to implement the TRC Report, lauding the TRC for the good work of the Commission which she highlighted was good for the social-economic, democratic and progressive development of the Country, including its peace, reconciliation and security objectives.
- Unfortunately, the Judiciary out played President Sirleaf at her own games and deceive her into thinking she could escape, renege on her obligations to implement the TRC Report as Chief Executive, President of Liberia.
- The conniving, subservient Judiciary rendered President Sirleaf an advisory opinion on the TRC Report, which under our law is illegal and has no place in Liberia’s Jurisprudence. In the absence of any real controversy, the decision of the then Lewis Bench was illegal, of no legal effect and a complete nullity. Justice advocates the world, over have ignored the bogus ruling as if the event of its occurrence did not happen at all.
- In the same spirit of subservience, the current Korkpor Bench impeached one of its own (Justice Kabineh Ja’neh) in outright and very explicit terms violated the Constitution of Liberia to please the President and advance his imperial pursuits as president of Liberia.
- “… and they shall judge the people with just judgment…You shall not pervert justice, you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the lord your GOD is giving you. Deuteronomy 16:19,20
- THE PRESIDENT CANNOT PASS THE BUCK. THE BUCK STOPS WITH PRESIDENT WEAH IN ALL EXECUTIVE MATTERS INCLUDING THE FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE TRC REPORT and THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE WAR AND ECONOMIC CRIMES COURT.
Fear vs Interest
- Most people who opposed the TRC or its recommendations on the War Crimes Court did so either out of fear or interest. In time past, unlike now with greater understanding, some Liberians were initially opposed to the court because they mistakenly believed such push for justice will lead to another war. With proper understanding, all Liberians now understand that the establishment of the court will:
- Deliver justice for millions of victims of the war and abuses of the war;
- By pursuing justice, the backward culture of impunity will be addressed;
- By pursuing justice, the rule of law will be reestablished and given firmer roots in Liberia’s body politics;
- Rampant corruption (remember leading cause for 1980 coup d’état) will lead to another round of violent conflict and war, while establishing the court and instituting justice will prevent the recurrence of violent conflicts and wars in Liberia;
- Establishment of the court will lead to restoration security and stability to Liberia, and enhance the agenda for national peace and reconciliation in Liberia;
- The establishment of the court and instituting justice in Liberia will stimulate trust and rebuild public trust in national institutions;
- The institution of justice in Liberia will rebuild confidence rekindle the trust relationship between citizens and government and begin to shift the way people in Liberia see government from corrupt institution to one of trust partnership;
- The institution of the court and justice in Liberia will be an opportunity for those who feel falsely accused to exonerate themselves (clear their names) in a credible and public way;
- Instituting justice and the court will create the thriving environment for foreign investment in the country;
- Public confidence in Liberia business climate will be restored and foreign investors will be secured in a non-threatening, peaceful and business conducive and safe environment that will attract credible and real investors, not the fly-by-night crooks and criminals who come with deals that benefit themselves and corrupt politicians and not the people(owners of papa’s land) in any substantially beneficial way;
- The institutionalization of justice and the rule of law will enhance Healing, sustainable reconciliation, unity, peace and security in Liberia;
- Establishment of the WECC will enhance, credible, substantial justice and the rule of law in Liberia and put the nation, Liberia in proper alignment with the perfect will of GOD for the nation;
- Apart from those citizens who harbored genuine fears of war-like retaliation from ex warlords like Prince Yormie Johnson and others, should justice through the WECCC be established, there are those like former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Prince Johnson, himself and now President Weah who are opposed to the WECC either because they desire to shield others, meaning their friends, relatives, political allies, protégé, business, economic or commercial interests from justice or because of their involvement one way or another with the conflict as sympathizers, supporters, zealots who, by their thoughts, words or deeds were less than neutral but complicit in the conflict.
- The TRC made recommendations for continued investigation of individuals and cases it had interest in investigating but could not do so because of resource or time limitations. The TRC received information on two of such persons, President George M Weah and DR H Boima Fahnbulleh, JR.
- The TRC obtained information with two leads with respect to President George M Weah soliciting funds from The Ivory Coast in support of the MODEL Warring faction. The TRC had just closed its investigations so it had neither the time nor the resources to pursue those leads which were a Liberian politician and one-time presidential candidate in Liberia and a soccer star now resident in Ivory Coast.
- The TRC had concluded in the case of Dr Fahnbulleh that even though he was engaged in Liberian war efforts, his activities did not progress to Liberian soil across the Liberian border and there were not any verifiable evidence or credible witness at the time to establish otherwise. Subsequently, information received by The TRC suggested that while the foregoing findings was true, Dr Fahnbulleh was however shrewd in his dealings, passing arms and men across the border to warring faction(s) in Liberia.
- The IJG is considering commissioning an investigation into the war roles and belligerent activities of President Weah with the MODEL Warring Faction and the intensity or fullest extent of Dr Fahnbulleh’s belligerence during the war.
- Unfortunately, our President is blind. If we as leaders do not act now to redirect the destiny of our country, we will be led to the abyss and a dismal failure of justice, lawlessness and continued war will be on our shoulders. For us, we refused to be so led in the wrong direction and will maintain our unshakable stance for justice, fight for respect for the rule of law and human rights and justice and advance Liberia to the heights of justice, equality, equal protection and equal opportunity for all before the law.
- The failure of President Sirleaf to perform her constitutional duties and obligations to the Liberian people and the International Community that has invested substantially to restore and sustain Liberia’s peace can neither be an excuse or justification for your nonperformance, Mr. President.
- Establishment of the WECC must be a welcomed development for Liberia, not only will it boost the Liberian economy, but it will boost the capacity of the corrupt judiciary, entrench the international law regime in the country and advance Liberia’s international law jurisprudence and human rights and humanitarian law regimes that may eventually lead Liberia to becoming a Universal Jurisdiction where there is no save haven for war crimes, crimes against humanity and International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law violations and violators;
TRC Implementation Unit (TRC-IU)
- We, the IJG announce the formal establishment of the TRC IMPLEMENTATION UNIT (TRC-IU) comprising Commissioners of the erstwhile TRC with objective to
- Monitor the full implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC;
- Advocate the scrupulous and full implementation of all recommendations of the TRC including Establishment of the Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Economic and War Crimes Committed in Liberia;
- Provide public education and awareness information to the general public and Government, civil society on the work, reports and recommendations of the TRC;
- Campaign in alliance with The Independent Human Rights Commission (INHRC), The Transitional Justice Working Group (TJRG) and other civil society organizations for the full implementation of all the Recommendations of the TRC as contained in the TRC Report;
- Advocate for the protection and defense of human rights, free speech and association;
- Make quarterly report on the implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC beginning November 1, 2019;
- Petition the Government of Liberia through the President or the National Legislature to promulgate laws, adopt public policy options that advances and accentuates the full implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC beginning with this Petition for the Establishment of the Extraordinary Criminal Court on War and Economic Crimes
- The TRC Law is an active law, fait accompli, it can neither be abolished, amended or changed; the only action of the law remaining outstanding is the full implementation of all The Recommendations of the TRC Report;
- The National Legislature does not and cannot legally advice the Head of State on any executive action related to the Full Implementation of The TRC Recommendations; actions by The Head of State in that direction is unwittingly unwise, camouflage, deceptive ploy to pass the buck to the National Legislature and renege on his national obligations, thereby abdicating his national duty, imposed by law, for reasons already stated above; if the Head of State fails or is unable or reluctant to perform his national duties imposed by law, it is only best that he steps aside and give another Liberian the chance to carry on the business of national governance;
- The only role reserved for the National Legislature by the TRC Law is to receive the Report from the TRC and receive bills for enactment into law that fulfills the full implementation of the TRC Recommendations like the one we are presenting to today which was previously presented as an Appendix to the TRC Report ten (10) years ago when released and presented to the National Legislature. See Article X, Section 43 of the TRC Law;
- There is no question or doubt as to whether the TRC Recommendations should be implemented. While the TRC Law specifies that the Report is presented to the National Legislature (in order to enhance its check-and-balance or oversight function) Section 43, the Recommendations are presented to the Head of State (Article VII, Section 26(j), and further in Article X, Section 48, providing that “… All recommendations shall be implemented…” : And the Head of State must report to the National Legislature and not the other way around with the Legislature Reporting to the President on its advice to him.
“Section 48: The Head of State shall report to the National Legislature within three months of receipt of the TRC Report and on a quarterly basis, thereafter as to the implementation of the Commission’s Recommendations. All recommendations shall be implemented. Where the implementation of any Recommendation has not been complied with, the Legislature shall require the Head of State to show cause for such noncompliance” PLEASE NOTE THE MANDATORY WORD “SHALL”.
- The issue that remains and significantly confronts Government is how to implement all the over 142 pieces of Recommendations contained in the TRC Report, including a comprehensive recommendation for dual citizenship. We hereby present this Petition for The Establishment of the Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for War and Economic Crimes (The War Crimes Court or WECC), thus enactment into law.
- The TRC-IU is established for this purpose, to advise Government on how to foster the full implementation of all the Recommendations of the TRC Report. The TRC-IU will give technical advice, devise a strategy and implementation schedule into long to short and medium terms recommendations for implementation priorities, provide rationale, work plan and national development objectives each recommendation is made to accomplish, be it socio – economic, political, development, unity, peace, reconciliation or justice, security objectives of national development. The IJG offers this service which will be made to Government upon request. All Commissioners of the erstwhile TRC are members of the TRC-IU.
- On a related peace and justice issue
- We condemn the violence of the Weah Government, perpetuated against the private radio station of ROOT FM of Mr. Henry Costa, host of the popular but critical talk show, the Costa Show. The violent actions of the Weah Government were not only dictatorial but a distasteful abuse of power, violation of the rule of law principles of good governance, and a blatant violation of the constitution and laws of the land which guarantees rights to free speech and privacy, etc
- The Government of Liberia has no legal authority to shut down a private radio station by use of brute force and vandalism. Whatever issues the government has with the private radio station of Mr. Costa, the Government’s best recourse was to the courts and not a resort to brute force which has now threatened the peace and sanguinity of the society;
- This diabolical and lawless action of the Weah Government is reminiscent of the dying days of President Charles Taylor when he, in similar fashion shut down the private radio facility without recourse to the rule of law and the courts. We hasten but to reflect on these dark days of President Taylor, when massive human rights violations, injustices against innocent and armless citizens became common place, just as public corruption and dictatorial behaviors like this hasten the demise of his despotic rule.
Jerome J. Verdier, Sr (Cllr)