STAND Puts Pressure on Senate For WECC -Says No Excuse to Dispense Justice for 250,000 Fallen Citizens

MONROVIA: One of Liberia’s newest civil society organizations appears to be a leading people’s voice in the country, specifically on issues of justice, impunity, peace and democracy. The group, Solidarity & Trust for a New Day or STAND for short, has been particularly vocal in the national drive to see the establishment of a war and economic crimes court. In its latest public statement, the organization increased pressure on the Liberian Senate to quickly follow its counterpart, the House of Representatives, to expeditious pass the legislative resolution crafted for the purpose midwifing the long-sought War and Economic Crimes Court in the country. As The Analyst reports, STAND is also mobilizing common national and international voice to push the current political regime to move fast with the establishment of the Court.

A critical wing of the Liberian Legislature, the House of Senate, is seemingly dragging its feet—some say it is proceeding cautiously—in edifying the Resolution meant to establish, for the first time in the country’s history, a War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) in the country. With what appeared to be a speed of light the House of Representative a fortnight ago passed on the resolution with a near-unanimous approval vote, and send it to the Senate for concurrence.

Two weeks ago, the Senate reported sent the Resolution to a Committee Room, sparking outrage and fear from many quarters that the anti-impunity instrument could join many other national resolutions and draft laws on its shelf.

But a Liberian civil society group, Solidarity & Trust for a New Day (STAND), is not letting the Senate have peace on what some pundits say is a deliberate delay to play its part, sign up to the resolution.

In its most recent press statement on the matter, STAND asserted there can be no excuse or delay in ensuring justice for the over 200,000 innocent Liberians, including women and children, who tragically lost their lives.

According to the organization, the debate on establishing a war crimes court for Liberia has persisted for far too long, despite continuous popular support from the vast majority of Liberians who demand accountability for those responsible for egregious actions against humanity and civilization.

STAND says it agrees that the Boakai administration’s seemingly refusal, like many before it, to uphold its inaugural commitment to establishing an office for the feasibility of the court may be viewed as an endorsement of impunity and injustice.

At the time same, the Liberian civil society organization acknowledged with appreciation the comments made by U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice, Madam Beth Van Shaack, who urged Liberians to seize the opportunity to advocate for justice by supporting the War and Economic Crimes Court, promoting good governance, and facilitating asset recovery in Liberia.

STAND says it stands united with Ambassador Shaack in urging the Liberian Senate to align with the House of Representatives and pass the resolution for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court.

The group noted that while the Boakai government has made significant calls against corruption and announced an asset recovery team, these actions do not seem to demonstrate genuine goodwill towards combating injustices and corruption without sincere efforts to establish the court.

“STAND acknowledges asset recovery as a positive step forward but also emphasizes the urgent moral imperative to promptly hold accountable those responsible for war crimes,” it indicated in the press statement, adding: “Consequently, STAND highlights the risks of solely prioritizing asset recovery without simultaneously ensuring accountability for individuals allegedly implicated in severe human rights violations.”

In light of these concerns, STAND advised the Boakai administration to refrain from prosecutorial delays, proposing a comprehensive yet resolute three-pronged strategy for accountability: actively pursuing prosecutions for war crimes, conducting audits, and recovering assets as required.

The group further commended Ambassador Shaack for her admirable support and also acknowledged the tremendous contributions of the United States Government in fostering accountability, good governance, and justice for victims.

“And to further advance justice in Liberia and build upon the support of the U.S. government and its allies,” STAND also said, “we encourage Ambassador Shaack to persist in her efforts, engaging in meaningful dialogue with policymakers and stakeholders.”

STAND however urged the Ambassador to increase collaboration with civil society organizations and individuals dedicated to these noble causes.

For its party, the group averred it would continue to implore the international community to articulate clear consequences, not only for individuals who threaten or harm advocates but also for policymakers who prolong establishing the courts, “thereby failing to uphold justice and accountability in their cunning political maneuvers”.

Meanwhile, STAND reassured the U.S. government, via its Global Ambassador at Large, that it remains unwavering in mobilizing and cultivating essential awareness among the people of Liberia to inspire widespread civil action, compelling policymakers to support justice initiatives.

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