By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor
The political leaders of the opposition Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander Cummings and the ex-ruling Unity Party, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai have written the Liberian Senate, saying that they won’t appear for the ongoing hearing on implementing recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
Both leaders and their respective parties are also constituent members of the main opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
In their separate communications read in the special session of the senate on Monday, July 12, Mr. Cummings said his invitation to advise the Liberian Senate on recommendations of the TRC as proffered by President George Manneh Weah, violates the report itself.
The ANC leader in his letter notes that he’s constrained to request postponement of his appearance due to short notice from the senate.
According to him, he needs more time to allow him to address key national issues as enshrined in the TRC report, including social, political, and economic concerns.
He also highlights that the spread of the Corona Virus Disease in the country makes it impossible for in-person appearance, but promised to do a written position of his understanding and the way forward in the implementation of the TRC recommendations.
For his part, UP Standard Bearer Joseph Boakai, asks senators to work within the rule of laws both locally and internationally in line with best international practice.
The former president of the Liberian Senate also declines to appear due to the health pandemic.
Meanwhile, Bong County Senator Prince Moye has filed a motion that the communications of the two political leaders be received and findings from the ongoing exercise are forwarded to them as the final decision of the senate. The motion was voted for overwhelmingly by senators.
On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, the leadership of the Liberian Senate on Capitol Hill submitted a three-page document to Plenary, among others, advising President George Manneh Weah to, among others, constitute a transitional justice commission to determine why the TRC recommendations have not been timely and fully implemented; whether the Commission fully complied with its mandates, such as the face-to-face meeting between perpetrators of crimes and other offenses, and the respective victims.
But critics argue the move is a delay tactic against calls for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia, as the TRC recommends prosecution for key actors, including warlords from the country’s protracted civil crises.
President Weah on September 19, 2019, wrote the Senate, seeking its advice on how to proceed with implementation of the TRC final report amid immense pressure by Liberians at home and abroad buttressed by international partners, seeking justice for victims of the bloody 14-year civil war that took about 250, 000 lives and accountability.
But the President’s request has been shelved at the Senate for almost three years despite demand from the public for quick response.
The leadership also advises that its proposed TJC should examine the effect of the August 2003 Act of the Legislature that grants amnesty to participants, including warlords; to analyze credibility and legitimacy issues surrounding the TRC Final Report in respect of the fact four (4) of the Commissioners had serious issues with the Report and consequently, two did sign the document but instead presented a dissenting report.
It further advises the President to examine ratification/accession of Liberia to the Rome Statute in 2004 after the civil war on the establishment of a war crimes court and to separate said court if established, that has an international dimension from an economic crimes court, which already exists in Liberia.
The leadership argues the cardinal purpose for which the TRC was proposed by the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement was “to provide a forum that will address issues of impunity, as well as the opportunity for both the victims and perpetrators of human rights violations to share their experiences, in order to get a clear picture of the past to facilitate genuine healing and reconciliation.”
It points out that in accordance with section 48 of the TRC Report, the President is not obliged to comply with all of the recommendations in the Report, adding that the only requirement for the President’s non-compliance with any of the recommendations is to “show cause” satisfactory to the Legislature, which implies that both the President and the Legislature will eventually determine the best option for healing, reconciliation, and accountability.
“It is clear therefore that the purpose for the establishment of the TRC was to propose measures which will ultimately reconcile the people, and not to open old wounds and divide them further.”
It reminds that signatories of the Comprehensive Peace Accord envisage a South African-style Truth Commission that supported Restorative Justice rather than Retributive Justice, so the same should be held in Liberia.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/peace-not-war-crimes-court/ Editing By Jonathan Browne