In our Wednesday, May 12 edition, we published a front page story captioned: Dangerous! Anti TRC Elements. The story quoted the International Center for Transitional Justice or ICTJ as saying it was worried that anti-TRC elements will impede the country’s hard-won peace, and further entrench the culture of impunity that has characterized Liberia’s political landscape since its founding in 1847.
In its recently launched report on the TRC’s work, the ICTJ noted that the TRC report, like many other processes has its strengths and weaknesses, but provides an opportunity for Liberians to continue the process of dealing with its past in order to prevent recurrence of the country’s turbulent history.
The ICTJ, in its 31-page report, expressed fear that the anti-TRC forces could once again delay vital measures to address the rights of victims, restore confidence in the country’s public institutions, and reconcile its people. These anti-TRC forces referred to by the international rights group, we believe, who may have one way or the other condemned the TRC report because of some deficiencies it may have. We at the New Dawn, do share the concern or fear being expressed by the ICTJ, judging from the huge millions, efforts and time invested in the entire process.
We do also acknowledge some of the deficiencies in the report that has and continued to cause alarm in Monrovia and the rest of the country, most especially the names of individuals who were never given the opportunity for statement, appearance before the TRC or any meeting with their “victims.”
This is one key issue that those who spearheaded the TRC process in Liberia have not been able to justifiably address. We are also quite knowledgeable about the appearance in camera of some individuals, who one way or the other participated or contributed to all or some of the wars which occasioned the commission of some of the most heinous crimes, but were not listed or indicted by the TRC. And this is something yet to be explained to the Liberian people for proper understanding.
Opposition to the TRC report by some Liberians not involved with the crisis may also be a result of what many of them referred to as the process of “selective Justice.” While we concur with the position of ICTJ, we also think those who headed the TRC process must told by these same international groups that there were “short circuits” in their work, and that some of the issues raised in this editorial must identified with fear or favor to avoid future recurrence.
While these issues are raised with those who propelled the TRC process, we do also challenge members of the international community, most especially those who pumped in the cash, to ensure through pressure on the Ellen Sirleaf Administration, implementation of whatever came out of the TRC process. The international community stood with Liberia and Liberians all through the war years and peace efforts, and the decision for what we enjoy today as peace in our country did not only rest in our hands, and so should be reason why we should be told that the implementation of the outcome of the TRC process was left with us, Liberians.
This, we think, is a very unfair statement. The President was charged with the responsibility of implementing these findings, but has since been on a “snail-paced drive” with the process. We do believe that had the President not been listed as one of the perpetrators, implementation of the findings would have been more than speedy.
The TRC was the only option acceptable by all in Accra, Ghana in 2003 to address the numerous human rights violations during our country’s civil wars, and if there were qualms, the necessity corrections should have been made during legislation at the then Transitional Legislative Assembly under the National Transitional Government of Liberia, which incorporated all of the fighting forces, political parties and civil society. That was then. But for now, we must implement the TRC findings.