Senate Invites SG Cephus, others -To give expert opinions On War Crime Court

The Liberian Senate, in continuation of its desire to follow up on its advice to the President on the possibility of establishing the War and Economic Crime Court for Liberia has extended an invitation to Cllr Saymah Syrenius Cephus, Solicitor General of the Liberia and other stakeholders to a public hearing slated to be held today, Wednesday, July 30, 2021 at the Senate Chambers at 12 Noon.

The purpose of the hearing according to the content of the letter addressed to Cllr. Cephus and others is to gather the views of experts and stakeholders on the report of the leadership of the Senate in respect of the advice that is being sought by the President of the Republic of Liberia on the implementation of the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia.

It is understood from the letter that Cllr. Cephus and the other stakeholders at the public hearing will present views and expert opinions on one of the key recommendations from the Senate to the President which is to set up a Transitional Justice Commission(TJC) to perform some tasks, which include  to determine why the TRC Recommendation have not been fully and timely implemented, to determine whether the TRC fully complies with its statutory mandate, such as face to face meeting between perpetrators of crimes and other offenses and their respective victims, to determine the effect of the August 2003 Act of the Legislature, which granted general amnesty to all participants in the Liberian civil crises and to analyze the credibility/legitimacy issues surrounding the Final Report  of the TRC in respect of the fact that four(4) of the Commissioners did not sign the Final Report, but instead presented a dissenting report.

Other tasks to be performed by the TJC include to examine the effect of the ratifications/accession of Liberia to the Rome Statute in 2004(after the end of the Liberian Civil crisis) on the establishment of a War Crime Court, to consider the separation of the establishment of a War Crimes Court, which has international dimension, from the establishment of an Economic Crimes Court, which already exists within Liberia’s judiciary and for which prosecution can take place using domestic laws, to consider the effect of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia and other legal implications of prosecuting war crimes at a War Crimes Court, as the constitution provides that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all legal proceedings and every person has absolute and unfettered right of appeal to the Supreme Court.

The other two tasks include to review the works and recommendations of the TRC, where necessary, and make additional recommendations when necessary, such as how far back in Liberia’s history should the Transitional Justice process go and To plan and implemented programs and activities to solicit the opinion of the majority of Liberians on the issue of retributive justice versus restorative justice (War Crimes Court, South African style Truth and Reconciliation Commission, etc).

Since the leadership of the Senate made the recommendation for the establishment of the Transitional Justice Commission which will properly study all the legal and socio-economic and political issues associated with setting up a war and economic crime court for Liberia, the citizens are divided on the TRC, with some calling for the establishment of the war and economic crime court while others are opposed to it and instead calling for the South Africa style of TRC where both victims and perpetrators will meet to reconcile moving forward.

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