LNBA Chides Lawmakers on WECC -Welcomes Visit of US Envoy to Liberia

MONROVIA –  As the call for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court(WECC) continues to gain traction in the country, the Leadership of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) says, it is utterly dismayed over the gross failure of the Liberian legislature to establish the War and Economic Crimes Court to end impunity for perpetrators of atrocities during Liberia’s armed conflicts while also appreciating the recent visit of Ms. Beth Van Schaack, the United States Ambassador-At-Large for Global Criminal Justice who was in the country to access how far the government has reached to implement the recommendation of the Truth and Recommendation Commission(TRC)

The LNBA made the statement recently during a meeting it held with the US envoy at the US Embassy near Monrovia where she called on the US Government to seize opportunity to unconditionally stand with victims of atrocities committed in Liberia’s civil wars by assisting Liberia in establishing a war and economic crimes court to address justice and accountability for abuses suffered during Liberia’s civil conflicts.

“The LNBA wishes to remind all that during the armed conflicts, Liberians suffered widespread violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws such as killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, summary executions, mutilation and torture, and use of child combatants. The LNBA believes that there can be no justification by the Liberian Government to delay criminal accountability for war-era atrocities due to the popular and widespread support of the subject matter in Liberia

“Liberia has not prosecuted anyone for the grave crimes committed during its armed conflicts and is yet to establish a war and economic crimes court that the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)recommended in 2009. The Bar says, it is shameful and embarrassing to note that Judicial Authorities in the USA, Belgium, France, Finland and the UK have pursued criminal cases related to Liberian civil war in recent years, often spurred by civil society efforts without any substantial stride by the Liberian Government to address Transitional Justice issues emanating from Liberia’s civil conflict”, the legal fraternity said in a statement released to the media and signed by Cllr. Bornor M. Varmah, Secretary General of LNBA

It  maintained that  Liberians have waited too long for justice and accountability for abuses suffered during the civil war without the expressed political; will by successive Liberian governments to act consistent with the recommendations of the TRC final report, the statement noted.

It can be recalled that the LNBA in its commitment to fully support the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in 2019, adopted a resolution at its National Assembly to support the establishment of war and economic crimes court and subsequently drafted, validated and presented a Bill to the National Legislature which was considered as a significant milestone for the establishment of a dedicated War and Economic Crimes Court so that victims have greatest access to justice for the crimes committed against them and a fuller scope of perpetrators be held to account. Subsequent to the LNBA’s action, over fifty members of the House of Representatives endorsed a resolution backing the creation of a special court to address the question of criminal accountability for war-era atrocities.

Meanwhile, the LNBA has described the action of the Liberian Senate to have recommended the setting up of a “Transitional Justice Commission” with the mandate to analyze and investigate the findings of the TRC final report, instead of a war crime court as recommended in the TRC final report, as “travesty of justice and betrayal of trust” of the Liberian people. The Bar says, the rationale provided by the Senate to recommend a Transitional Justice Commission is weak and has no foundation to address criminal accountability for war-era atrocities. The LNBA states, if the recommendation of the Liberian Senate is given effect, it will only duplicate and grossly undermine the functional responsibilities of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR).

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