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GeneralLiberia news

Liberian rights campaigners call for war crime court

-present resolution to U.S. Government

Rights community in Liberia, war crimes victims and justice actors have officially presented a resolution to the Government of the United States, calling for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia. 

A dispatch from the United States says the resolution was presented to the Desk Officer on Liberia at the African Bureau within the Department of States, witnessed by Democratic and Republican Congressional staff and the U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes. 

According to the dispatch, the Secretary General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, Adama Dempster, in collaboration with Human Rights Watch and the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) held several meetings before presenting the resolution recently, reaffirming Liberians’ commitment to call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court here.

The resolution, endorsed by civil society, justice campaigners, war victims and survivors and the human rights community in Liberia, highlights Section 46 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Act, considering civil society organizations as moral guarantors of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) charged with the responsibility to monitor and campaign for the scrupulous implementation of all recommendations contained in the TRC report.

Counts 3 & 4 of the document calls on the U.S. Government, a historic friend of the people of Liberia, and particularly through the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia and the Office of Global Criminal Justice, to take action to stand with victims by supporting the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia.

The document requests assistance to conduct needs assessment on setting up a court that can conduct fair, credible trials of civil wars-era crimes, encouraging a consultative process with the victims and survivors of war crimes, and delivering an unequivocal message to the Liberian government and the public in support of the court.

The resolution added that all efforts should be made to emulate actions taken in the region such as the recent trial of the 2009 stadium massacre in Guinea, prosecutions for atrocious crimes in Sierra Leone before the hybrid Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic, and the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal to deliver justice against crimes and atrocities, including sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers, torture, summary executions and massacres of civilians committed over the course of the civil wars-era that continued to go unpunished.

In response, U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes Ambassador Beth Van Schaack, tweeted:  “Great to meet again with Adama Dempster and discuss civil society’s collective resolution demanding justice for Liberia.

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Impunity for war crimes continues to affect all of Liberian society, and we stand with victims as they seek accountability.”

In the aftermath of the presentation of the resolution and engagement with Congress, Mr. Dempster had the opportunity to attend the launch of the US-Africa Policy Working Group- chaired by Congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) on May 11, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

At the launch, 20 Members of Congress committed to building partnerships with the continent of Africa. 

As stated in her opening remark, Rep. Omar said: “the Working Group will be active on the various urgent crises in Africa, from the conflicts in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the rash of coups and instability in West Africa and the Sahel. 

But just as importantly, we will also spend time focusing on the continent’s many success stories, from Senegal’s extraordinary leadership in global health to the inspiring African movements for democracy and human rights.”

Representing Liberia amongst other African representatives, Dempster had constructive and insightful conversations with Rep. Omar and other congressional leaders on the future of Liberia’s path to justice, promotion, and protection of human rights and democracy.

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