By Naneka A. Hoffman
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Saturday, 13 August 2022, ended a four-day National Palaver Hut Hearing in Sanoyea District, Bong County under the theme “Never Again To War.”
Speaking at the official launch of the palava hut hearing, UNDP Resident Representative Stephen Rodrique said Liberia’s civil war was one of the darkest chapters in human history.
He commended the Human Rights Commission for facilitating several Palaver Hut Hearings in the resolution of 277 cases involving 519 victims and 244 perpetrators.
He called for the implementation of other important recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report.
Mr. Rodrique stressed the need to continue to invest in building peace, promoting justice, accountability, the rule of law, and deepening social cohesion within the society.
Mr. Rodrique explained that traditional forms of justice, which focus less on punishment, are often far more efficient in clearing up cases and maintaining social cohesion.
He suggested that from Rwanda, it was estimated that it would have taken well over 100 years to try cases arising from the genocide.
Yet, he said, the Traditional Gacaca Court heard and resolved them in a few years.
He said the Palava Hut mechanism has provided a safe environment as victims come together to explain their grief for those who hurt them during the civil war to reconcile the differences and find common ground.
The four-day National Palava Hut Hearings have addressed matters of assault, torture, forced displacement, labor, arson attacks, looting and destruction of property and desecration of sacred sites.
Over the past years, the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) has conducted Palava Hut Hearings in different counties.
They were held in Tchien District, Grand Gedeh County (2016); Voinjama District, Lofa County (2017); Tewor District, Grand Cape Mount (2020); and in Central C District, Rivercess County (2021).
Those hearings were held with support from UNDP. The fifth hearing took place in Sanoyea District, Bong County last week.
The delegates visited a mass grave in the county at the end of the four days hearing.
Also Speaking, the Superintendent of Bong County, Esther Yamah Walker said Liberians have the duty to sustain peace.
She appealed to the youth to embrace, forgive and reconcile in resolving their differences in order to bring back a better Liberia.
She explained that only Liberians can build a better Liberia.
She also used the occasion to give chicken and gravel to the chairman of the Independent Commission on Human Rights, Cllr. Dempster T. Brown, as a way of welcoming him into the district.
For his part, the Chairman of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights – Councilor T. Dempster Brown said justice should be given for heinous crimes committed during the civil war if Liberia must sustain the peace and stability.
Cllr. Brown concluded that the Commission on Human Rights will not rest until the war crimes court can be established. –Edited by Winston W. Parley