Koijee Wants TRC Report Implemented; Calls for War, Economic Crimes Court -Wants Pres. Weah Establish PUL-led Special TRC Report Board

The establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia, as a means to end the culture of impunity that has been heightened as a result of the long-running civil crisis, was one of key recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. This particular TRC recommendation formed the basis for the opposition community’s clamoring against the erstwhile Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, from 2005 to 2017. Surprisingly, however, since the ascendency of the Weah administration to power, proponents of a war and economic crimes court who themselves are now in political power, have seemingly developed a lackluster attitude for this aspect of the TRC, sometimes even citing as excuse the fluid security situation that exists after the withdrawal of the United Nations Peacekeepers from Liberia while Security Sector Reforms are still being implemented.

It therefore became somewhat astonishing when a stalwart of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) recommended that the President of Liberia appoints a Special TRC Report Board led by the PUL and civil society representation for the full implementation of the TRC Report so that a War Crimes Court and an Economic Crimes court will be eventually be set up to ensure that impunity in the land will be addressed and discouraged forever.

Making the affirmation Tuesday, May 3, 2022 when he served as keynote speaker at the Press Union of Liberia observance of World Press Day in River Gee County, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee committed to work against Digital Siege in Liberia, a main theme of the WPFD program.

“I will be a Champion of Countering Journalism under Digital Siege in any form, shape or manner in my country irrespective of my status, creed, position or location in my country or under the globe. By this declaration, I am citing the collective commitment of the government to press freedom,” Mayor Koijee declared.

In support of promoting transparency and independence of the Liberian media, Mayor Koijee, among other things, recommended “that the President of Liberia should appoint a Special TRC Report Board led by the PUL and civil society representation for the full implementation of the TRC Report so that a War Crimes Court and an Economic Crimes court will be eventually be set up to ensure that impunity in the land will be addressed and discouraged forever.”

Major Koijee also recommended that the accreditation process on the establishment of media institutions within the country should not be solely left with the government; the Press Union of Liberia conducts a pre-vetting of all requests for accreditation of media institutions, print or electronic and submit the outcomes afterwards to the responsible government institutions for consideration; and that an independent body, preferably a board or committee, comprising citizens with the moral rectitude and integrity, technical expertise, and experience serve as a watchdog over the media since the media serves as the watchdog of society.

The Lord Mayor of the City of Monrovia further recommended that the PUL strengthens its measures on journalists and media practitioners who use their platform purely for political motives in gross disregard for their ethical responsibilities thus compromising their independence; and set up a PUL Media Council on Waste Management to work with city governments in all of the 15 counties and sensitize their population on the need to take responsibility for waste which could become a national health and security threat.

The call by the Monrovia City Mayor comes against the backdrop of mounting calls at home and aboard for the Weah administration to accelerate the establishment of a war and economic crimes court.

It can be recalled in May 2018, visiting United Nations Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed enjoined the Weah administration to implement the recommendations of the TRC report, and for the Liberian legislature to support local peace and reconciliation.

“These would be timely measures that would assure Liberians that there is strong resolve to see a conclusion to this process,” Ms. Mohammed had stated at the time.

 However, CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu, voicing concerns of the ruling party, said it was foolhardy to expect the newly installed Weah administration to push for implementation of the TRC in the wake of the final withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces, while Liberia is still in the infancy of its Security Sector Reform.

“We had the opportunity to implement that report when UNMIL was helping to provide security. Our security is in its struggling stage. We have constraints of logistics and training and at the very departure program of the UNMIL, is the day she is asking this President to implement the TRC report?” Morlu had said at the time.

In light of the backdrop, pundits see Mayor Koijee’s World Press Freedom Day commitment as a complete deviation from the CDC Government’s lukewarm attitude regarding implementation of the TRC report.

“Jefferson Koijee is a smart young man who despite his oratory flaws, is positioning himself for something bigger. If the recommendation he made about the TRC report in River Gee was never sanctioned by the CDC authority, then my respect for him has grown ever higher,” says a ranking member of the opposition camp who preferred not to be named.

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