Curtain Draws on War/Economic Crimes Impunity -US Congress Receives 300K Liberian Signatures

Liberians got a reprieve from war on August 18, 2003 when the warring parties, politicians and civil society organizations penned their signatures unto the landmark Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) which pave the way for a return to democratic governance and reconstruction following a decade-long uncivil carnage. Among others, one of the chief accomplishments of the CPA was the call to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Following a protracted period of hearings, the TRC then called for, among other things, the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court to end the culture of impunity.

Nearly two decades down the line, Liberians who continue to yearn for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court now see a glimmer of hope at the end of the dark tunnel, as a conglomeration of civil society organization including the Liberians United for Justice & Accountability, Global Initiative For Justice, International Justice Group, and Movement for Justice in Liberia, among others, have presented 300,000 signatures in support of U.S. House Resolutions 1055 and 907 to the United States Congress through Republican Congressman Chris Smith.

Presenting the signatures to Congressman Chris Smith, the Executive Director of the Movement for Justice in Liberia Atlanta Georgia USA and Member of the Board of Directors for International Justice Group in Washington DC, Mrs. Ysndi Martin Kpeyei, flanked by Mrs.Lucy Kaer, Prominent Liberia citizen;  Dr. Alan White, former Chief Investigator of the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone; Mr. James Rogers and Cllr. Thomas Asumana of the Global  Initiative For Justice, Beltsville, Maryland, extolled the role of the US Government in ensuring an end to the culture of impunity in Liberia, Africa and the world.

“We want to present to you about 300,000 signatures based on the work you did with us last year on the 21st of June, for human rights protection of the TRC in Liberia. I know the Congress is supporting us financially, because that has been their excuse. Another excuse was that the people were not ready for a war and economic crimes court. This is a proof that the people are ready. We just want to present the signatures to you, and would appreciate you giving a few words to the Liberian people to let us know where you stand at this point. Across the country, you’ve listened to us, given us hope, especially for the women of Liberia. You made us proud, we are heard because you created the space,” Mrs. Kpeyei started as she presented the 300,000 signatures to Representative Chris Smith.

Responding, the US Congressman said the presentation of 300,000 signatures obtained from Liberians who want a war and economic crimes courts established is a tremendous achievement.

“Thank you so much for the 300,000 signatures. What a powerful testimony. You all have done an amazing job in making hundreds further aware of the need for a tribunal. You know, it is one thing to have a court in Sierra Leone; they done a tremendous job on that. Charles Taylor is now serving 50 years; but there are so many people who committed atrocities that are on the streets in Liberia and nothing is being done. Justice delayed is justice denied. So my hope, as Chair of Africa Foreign Affairs Committee and also Chair of Human Rights in the US Congress, is that this tribunal is absolutely necessary. It is also prescribed by law. It has to be done, and legally speaking, it has to be done as well.

“Thank you for the leadership you have provided to Liberia first and foremost, and to the world, to understand the need to hold perpetrators of heinous crimes to account. Without that, impunity reigns. So everyone who committed atrocities and crimes should be held to account. 300,000 signatures is an enormous amount of work that shows the people of Liberia are ready. That tells us at the Congress – Democrats and Republican alike; the Senate and House alike, and the White House, that this is something we have to get behind; and appeal to the people in Government that there should be no more delay,” Congressman Smith enthused.

It can be recalled that US Congress Resolution 1055 was passed by the House in December 2018 to affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic principles, calling for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.

 Resolution 907, introduced by Representative Gregory W. Meeks on February 2, 2022 seeks to affirm America’s commitment to support progress toward transparency, accountable institutions, and other tenets of good governance in the Republic of Liberia.

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