“WECC Resolution Extremely Significant” -Speaker Koffa, rules out immunity for anyone

MONROVIA: Amidst the acclamation being accorded the decision of the House of Representatives for its bold initiative to rekindle the hope of Liberians for justice through the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court, the Speaker of the 55th national legislature Hon. Fonati Jonathan Koffa has said the resolution was an extremely significant move since the end of the civil war in Liberia just as he ruled out the possibility of an immunity window that will shield anyone indicted to face justice if the WECC takes place.

Speaking to the famous Focus on Africa program aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC) yesterday and monitored by The Analyst, Speaker who was visibly excited by the lawmakers under his leadership said that after more than two decades of the devastating civil conflict, the action of the lawmakers has moved the country closer to obtain justice from an unforgettable national disaster that claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003 and properties worth millions were destroyed in the process.


“We think it is an extremely significant move, since the end of the civil war in Liberia. This is the first time a legislative action has begun to initiate the issue of punitive and accountability in Liberia and we will ensure that nothing stalls it”, Speaker Koffa said.

The Grand Kru lawmaker said previously the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which called for justice for the victims of the heinous crimes perpetrated by various combatants in the protracted civil crisis set the stage and there was some legislation to guide the process. He said the process suffered some setback when it was stalled before it could resonate with the people but fortunately “it has now being initiated by the resolution of the House.”

Responding to a question where there could be a possibility of some actors enjoying immunity that could shield them from appearing for the hearings at the court when it is established, Speaker Koffa said the issue of removal of immunity for political leaders has not been established, whether legally or constitutionally, stressing that  though there are some issues referred to in the comprehensive peace accord signed in Accra, Ghana by stakeholders that ended the civil war Accra, “we will need to look at those things but the first thing we will need to do is to initiate a process which will have to do with a statute, once that statute is negotiated  and enacted, then we will go into a process and it is in that process and based in the statute, immunity could occur but I do not believe anyone has immunity”.

“It has taken long to get here because some of those actors or some of those who were named by the TRC as being those bearing the greatest responsibilities have been principal actors in the Liberian political process and the political class in Liberia has made some determination that in order to maintain peace, you will have some of these issues go”, Koffa said while responding to a question why it has taken that long for the court to be actualized.

Speaker Koffa rejected the suggestion that the monumental resolution calling for the establishment of WECC could be the project of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and his UP government, insisting that the entire process has to be given to the Liberian people because of their resilience and commitment to ensure that justice comes to the land finally.

“This is a Liberian centered project and the reason why the international partners will be involved has to do with the issues of capacity.

“We lack the judges, the prosecutors who are trained, they have to be trained, they have to be capacitated. So that is the issue at hand. There is a collective conscience that has spoken to this process that has brought it thus far. So I think the President leading the executive along with the legislature, having one mind and the political will on this issue has brought it from the center”, Speaker Koffa said.

The speaker further said at this stage it was good to allay fear that the process could be undermined or there could be some external interference because like any other political process, this one could not be seen differently “so there will be proponents and there will be opponents.

When asked whether the long time it has taken for the WECC to take place might not have affected the evidence gathering level or evidence might have lost or the main victims might have lost interest, Speaker Koffa said there was a possibility that certain setbacks, some of which was listed by the journalist could affect the momentum needed but a good quantum of information and evidence is available from most of the victims of the war.

“There is always a possibility of that but during the truth and reconciliation hearings, a lot of this evidence was taking and preserved, a lot of testimonies were taken and preserved, a lot of witnesses are still around, I think memory refreshed, it is very traumatic, that people you would not believe remembered details even 20 years on because these things really happened to them; because these are things they really witnessed, very traumatic in their lives, things that were monumental in their lives, that they cannot easily forget”, he said.

He said Liberia will leverage on the experience of the Sierra Leonean success story with the War and Economic Crimes Court where former President Charles Taylor of Liberia was prosecuted first before taken to The Hague where he was again tried and finally convicted.


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