Legislature Must Act on War Crimes Court -Says Bishop Kortu Brown

The President of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), Bishop Kortu K. Brown has added his voice to the other many others calling for the establishment of the War and Economic Crime Court (WECC) by calling on the National Legislature to act on the communication sent to them in 2019 by President George Manneh Weah seeking the advice of the body on the possibility of setting the court in Liberia.

Speaking to news men in Monrovia last week, the outspoken cleric decried the legislature lukewarm approach to the endorsement of a war crimes court in the country.” “The Legislature cannot neglect a cardinal national duty to addressing impunity and bringing closure to the civil war”, the religious leader said. He added that it was high time the country put the lingering issue of this court behind us stressing that people must account for what they did during the civil war.

The cleric opined that said court should not only take into account prosecution for human rights abuses and economic crimes but must also consider reparations for ordinary Liberians who bore the brunt of the civil war because the lives of people need to be rebuilt both economically and psychologically.

“Private properties and whole communities were destroyed. We must ensure that we don’t come this way again”, he added while reiterating the call for a national Stakeholders’ dialogue on the way forward for the WECC, reconciliation and national cohesion

Bishop Brown called on Liberians to embrace the quest for justice and reconciliation without which it will be difficult to build a stronger society based on the rule of law, accountability, transparency and good governance.

“All Liberians must see the proposal for a war and economic crimes court in this direction and not as a witch-hunt. We must address impunity and bring closure to the civil war. The body must not continue to give the public the impression that it is lazy and idle” he said

Bishop Brown while addressing the media also spoke on the national legislature in the governance set up of the country especially in the fight against corruption stating that since the return to Constitutional rule in 2006, much emphasis has been placed on ensuring transparency and accountability in the Executive branch of Government. He said that the bulk of the work of the local integrity institutions including the General Auditing Commission, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, etc. have been partially focused with the Legislature even holding hearings only on reports from the agents of the Executive Branch.

“When will the Legislature be audited?”, Bishop Brown inquired, adding, “for the Legislature to promote transparency and accountability, it also must be seen to be antiseptic. It must be completely free from contamination. It is time for the body to show that it is serious about fighting fraud, waste and abuse by being audited”

He called on the General Auditing Commission to formally request an audit of the Legislature through communications to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Pro-Temp of the Senate. The Legislature has not been audited in 15 years since the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf which ran from 2006 to 2017.

The outspoken cleric described the present political climate as “political groping” adding “Liberian Politicians campaign more for the jobs they seek and focus less on what they are supposed to do when elected. This is affecting the country’s performance. We are 3 years away from the next Presidential and Legislature elections and the whole country is already in campaign mode. People in public offices are spending more time politically strategizing for the next elections than carrying out their official functions. It is unfortunate that people appear largely more interested in holding political positions than in advancing the recovery and development of their communities and country”, he retorted.

On the recent Referendum to amend the tenure of President, Vice President and Members of the House of Representatives and Senate, he said the Liberia Council of Churches opposed the referendum on grounds that it was poorly arranged thereby contributing to the lack of adequate public information.

“But the concerns included the consequences reduced tenures of the reported offices will have on the country given the frequencies of elections that such actions will ignite or require. There will hardly be any work in the country because people will spend all their time campaigning for the next elections”, he said.

Bishop Brown said he believes that it will strongly contribute to the “populous politics” approach where people will say and/or propose any “crazy thing” – no matter how dangerous or unfit it is for the country – just to be popular with the people so they can win the next election.

“Liberian politicians have to be sincere with themselves and their country. They must stop playing games with the lives of the people. Unless the right things are done or the right decisions made, the country will continue to wallop in misery, hunger, poverty and chaos”, adding, “God is watching us. We must stop postponing the future of our country as the Israelis did when Jesus came to the earth about 2,000 years ago as recorded in St. Matthew Chapter 23 verses 37, 38 and 39”. He said

Speaking on the recent violence in Grand Gedeh County, Bishop Brown condemned in the strongest possible terms the growing wave of violence in the country. “The level of intolerance in the country is unacceptable. It is sending the wrong message to the outside world and making it difficult for our development partners to believe that we are serious about moving our country forward. We must stop the violence. We must have a dialogue. We must promote reconciliation, justice, rule of law and national cohesion if we must advance the small gains we have made since after the civil war”, he cautioned.

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