FULL TEXT – A Special Statement on Ending Impunity in Liberia by Alexander B. Cummings, Political Leader, Alternative National Congress (ANC)
My fellow Liberians,
Once again, the careless and irresponsible attitude of the Liberian Government is being exposed. Under this George Weah-led Government, Liberia continues to be internationally disgraced, shamed and laughed at.
Giving people justice and ending impunity are not issues over which any responsible government ought to wait to be publicly chastised by its international partners. These are things responsible governments do to cleanse the soul of a nation, and to keep countries secure, stable and peaceful.
We have all seen what it means for our country to breakdown and become lawless. And so, Liberia does not need to wait and be reminded to do the things we need to do to build a more just society that will punish crimes. This is the only way to make our society truly law-abiding.
However, it is hard to stop stealing in government when the people who should be stopping the stealing, and setting the good examples by not stealing, are actually the rogues. It is also hard to punish anyone for crimes, however bad, when the leaders are looking for special favors from the criminals, or are themselves, benefiting from the crimes.
Whether it is done by Presidents or Ministers – whether it is done by a friend, opposition, or relative – stealing from the people is wrong. We cannot continue to pretend that one day, stealing in government will stop by itself. We have to stop it ourselves, because as we continue to see, it is keeping too many of our people poor.
Whether it is done by warlords or presidents, killing innocent people, mysteriously or in the name of war, is also wrong. To stop it, we must investigate seriously and punish anyone involved.
Enough is enough!
We must stop the stealing in government. We must stop the looting of our country. We must stop the killing of innocent people. We must end impunity for crimes. We must become a more just and safer society. I feel very strongly about this, and I know that we can do it.
Placing individuals above the law, and not holding each other fully accountable for crimes, are practices that have kept us backward for far too long. This is why I support the establishment of a war crimes court, and a court on economic crimes.
These courts will help us find justice for victims. Hopefully, they will lay painful memories of loved ones, and innocent souls to their deserved eternal rests. I believe they will also lift the weight off the shoulders of accused persons who believe themselves to be innocent or wrongly accused. A court is not just a place to seek punishment. It is a place to find truth, to award justice, and to set the innocent or wrongly accused, free.
Importantly, these courts will help us heal, be reconciled, and not continue to live in fear of each other. And especially for a court on economic crimes, I believe it ought to not be limited to only the commission of economic crimes during the war but that it must have jurisdictions to deal with past, current and future economic crimes such as stealing from the people, and passing deals that cheat Liberia and Liberians.
Finally, I know establishing these courts will not be easy. There are many questions to be answered. Public opinions and concerns differ. Lawyers tell me there are a lot of things we will need to do.
But I support the establishments of these courts because I believe it is the right thing to do for our country. It will help us to change for the better, and to be more accountable to each other.
I also know that turning a blind eye to crimes in the name of peace will give us no peace. And so, even if it is hard – even if it scares us – we must find the way to do it. We must also find the help we will need to do it. But in the end, we must do it for ourselves, and for our children.
We have to change, if we will become a country that will give justice fairly and blindly to all who seek it. From rape and the acceptance of bribes by judges and other public officials, to crimes against humanity and stealing from the Liberian people, we must be a country that will hold everyone accountable. When we do this, our children and their children will live in a more just, peaceful, prosperous and reconciled society than we have today. We owe this to ourselves and to future generations.
I thank you. God Bless You and God Bless Liberia.