Speaker Bhofal Chambers, once a strong advocate for economic and war crimes court for Liberia bites his tongue here, strongly rejecting the establishment of such court in the country.
Instead, the Speaker is now calling for retroactive justice. His sudden U-turn came public while addressing the opening session of the ECOWAS Parliamentarian delocalized meeting in Monrovia this week, stressing that restorative Justice which focuses on rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large will offer genuine peace and stability in Liberia.
He argued that Liberia cannot achieve peace in the absence of true reconciliation, and that restorative justice is the only path to lasting peace and stability.
Prior to his latest call, Chambers has been one of several Liberians strongly advocating for establishment of war crimes court to prosecute actors including warlords who bear greatest responsibility for heinous atrocities committed during the country’s 14-year civil war.
He warns Liberians not to depart from the “Accra Peace Accord” which calls for the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.Officials of this administration are bitterly against establishment of such court here, predicting chaos for the country.
Another key anti-war crimes court member of the 54th Legislature is Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, leader of the defunct rebels Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) that captured and butchered President Doe to death in 1990.
But lead campaigners both in Liberia and the Diaspora says such court could established here sooner than later, giving timeline of two to seven years.
During presentation of a petition to the House of Representatives by group of citizens, seeking the establishment of war crimes court, Speaker Chambers termed the document as ambiguous.
On May 09, this year, dressed in black, group of Liberians staged a peaceful demonstration at the Capitol, urging their lawmakers to set up a war and economic crimes court to end years of impunity.
They are demanding trial for those who bear the greatest responsibilities for the atrocities of the 14 years civil war, which formally ended in 2003 and those who have allegedly pillaged the country’s economic resources over the years.
Under the banner “Citizens of the Republic of Liberia,” the group carried placards and chanted slogans, calling for justice in line with citizens’ right to peaceful assembly under Article 17 of the Constitution.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne