Cllr. Verdier Warns US Amb-at-large -To Steer Clear of NGOs Steeped in Conflict of Interest

MONROVIA – The International Justice Group, headed by renowned human rights lawyer Jerome Verdier who once chaired Liberia’s vaunted Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), is sounding a serious caveat to US Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice (GCJ), Beth Van Schaack, to be extra careful on how she goes about pursuing justice for war and economic crimes victims in Liberia. Cllr. Jerome Verdier has sent his caveat to former and current member of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) which significantly links with Hassan Bility, Director of Global Justice Research Project (GJRP) and Alain Werner, Executive Director, of Civitas Maxima (CM).

While expressing in a recent press release his thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of the United States of America for the stance taken against corrupt Liberian government officials which saw key members of President George M. Weah’s cabinet facing the Magnitsky sanctions, Counsellor Jerome Verdier warned Ambassador Schaack against dealing with these non-governmental organizations, CJA, GJRP and CM, who have accordingly been variously involved with perjury, witness coaching and fabricating evidence against accused persons and potential candidates for war crimes prosecutions, the most recent case being the Trial of Gibril Massaquoi who was brazenly acquitted by a Finnish Court.   

“We believe, Madam Ambassador, that your involvement with this process at such a high level and the pedigree of your involvement with these organizations listed above present a clear situation of conflict of interest which warrants your recusal, Madam Ambassador.

“We believe conducts described above violate and run counter to the tenets of natural and substantial justice, which seeks not to just convict or imprison, but to establish the truth and seek conviction through the presentation of credible evidence during an impartial trial before an open court of competent jurisdiction, thereby guaranteeing that justice, free and fair, is done.

“The conducts of these organizations explicitly sought to undermine the criminal justice systems and the rule of law in several jurisdictions of western countries, including that of the United States, upholding that the vaunted principles that fair and just prosecution should always remain the lofty and inviolable standards of the criminal justice system. 

“We further believe, Madam Ambassador, that the pursuit of justice is a noble calling of true advocates with a public interest objective which does not accrue to them the benefits of bounty hunters, masquerades, fortune hunters and mercenaries as some actors in the justice advocacy spheres have turned up to be. They represent falsehoods, undermine the genuine pursuit of justice, make a mockery of this noble pursuit and are nothing beyond a disgrace to the body of justice advocacy,” the IJG stated categorically.

It can be recalled that the US Government recently acknowledged the sterling work that the Global Justice and Research Project is doing in Liberia to provide data on acts of war and heinous crimes perpetrated against the citizens during and after the bloody civil conflict, the United States Embassy, through the office of the Global Crime Justice has glowingly praised Mr. Hassan Bility for pushing the case for justice in Liberia.

Making the assertion via Twitter on October 7, 2022 following a meeting with civil society actors, United States Ambassador At Large for Global Criminal Justice (GCJ), Dr. Beth Van Schaack, noted the important role that Mr. Bility and his GJRP group are playing to bring justice victims of war crimes and end the culture of impunity in Liberia.

“Hassan Bility is doing amazing and courageous work for Justice for all Liberians through the organization Global Justice & Research Project. The U.S. supports these important efforts for justice!” Amb. Van Schaack said.

Her statement followed last Thursday’s meeting with Liberian civil society actors to discuss their work and brainstorm on how the U.S. and Liberia can partner to support human rights and justice and accountability for victims of Liberia’s civil wars.

Those attending the engagement were from Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), NAYMOTE-Liberia, Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), The Carter Center Liberia, Liberia Council of Churches, Liberia National Bar Association, the Female Lawyers Association of Liberia, among others.

“The United States has stood and will continue to stand by the Liberian people in their work toward justice,” the US Embassy had noted in a press release.

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