The debate over whether or not Liberia should establish war and economic crimes court has deeply polarized the nation. There are those who think money and other resources meant to organize and run the court and dispense punitive justice could be used to improve the social economic wellbeing of victims in particularly and the country in general. Others want the culture of impunity dismantled and deterrence constructed for willful murder of people, wanton destruction of infrastructure and the woeful pillage of state resources. One Liberia group that is upbeat about the latter is the International Justice Group (IJG) coincidentally established and headed by the man who presided over the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission TRC) that produced a controversial report still haunting common national consensus. Last week, the IJC issued a petition reportedly targeting key members of Government calling a full and comprehensive implementation of recommendations his TRC produced nearly a decade ago. As The Analyst reports, Cllr. Jerome Verdier contends that doing otherwise could take Liberia back to the pariah state it was as a result of the civil war.
Former Chairperson of the defunct Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission and one of the lead campaigners for the establishment of war and economic crimes court in Liberia has tendered a strongly worded petition to the Government of Liberia for the expeditious establishment of the court.
Cllr. Jerome Verdier headed the LTRC, which following two years of consultation and investigation, produced a voluminous report recommending a range of actions for justice and future peace in Liberia.
The preamble of the petition done under his newly formed International Justice Group noted “massive abuse of human rights during the Liberian civil war [which] intolerably incensed the sensibilities not only of the Liberian people but also the sympathetic international community that bore the brunt of the material cost leading to the comprehensive restoration of peace and civil governance to Liberia.”
The IJG also recalled that it was reported and incontrovertibly documented by the TRC massive violations of human rights laws occurred in Liberia whereby massive war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in Liberia alongside widespread violations of International Human rights Law (IHRL), International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and the Laws of War, and massive crimes against innocent women and children which crimes continue today in the Liberian society with impunity.
The group further noted that amidst the widespread abuse of human rights, the wanton looting of the Liberian economy was noticeably egregious, as was rampant corruption committed on an unprecedented scale during the war, after the war, during the transitional governments and during the two term rule of Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which corruption continued after her retirement from office, whereby Economic Crime and rampant corruption are continuously committed with impunity in Liberia.
“WHEREAS, the twin evils of human rights violations and economic crimes are continuously committed in Liberia with the attending consequences of perpetually victimizing the Liberian people and impoverishing them to such an extent that the nation cannot survive without international aid and subsistence,” the IJG contends that “the establishment of the war crimes court for Liberia is sine qua non to the attainment of national peace and development; national reconciliation and unity and security in Liberia.”
IJG says without justice, “Liberia will never make progress beyond the war experience and the country risks returning to its once pariah status as a nation without the respect for the rule of law and justice.”
The group has therefore called on the Government of Liberia to urgently pass into law a draft statute for the establishment of the war and economic crimes extraordinary tribunal which draft statute was attached as an appendix to the TRC REPORT when it was first presented to the Government of Liberia about ten (10) years ago.
IJG said in the petition it was reviewing the said draft statute with the objective to remove the likelihood for corruption and potential conflict of interests, thus rendering it more compliant with international standards and best practices, in which respect the review report will be presented to the National Legislature for consideration and inclusion into the final draft for passage into law.
The Verdier-headed IJG implored Government to also adopt urgent measures and policy actions and directives towards the full implementation of all the Recommendations of the TRC Report.
“The IJG has established the TRC-IU (TRC IMPLEMENTATION UNIT) which will advocate for the full implementation of all the TRC Recommendations contained in the TRC REPORT, create awareness and render technical assistance to Government towards the full implementation of the TRC Recommendations, upon request from the Government,” said the petition reportedly addressed to President Weah and his Vice, Madam Taylor, the National Legislature and the Ministry of Justice.