Amidst pressure from all walks of life for the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia to prosecute war and economic crimes perpetrators, former rebel leader Senator Prince Yormie Johnson is instead, calling on Liberians to forget about the past.
Speaking via mobile phone Tuesday, 11th September on a local radio station in Monrovia, the leader of the disbanded rebel group INPFL says he’s entitled to amnesty.“You know two weeks ago, there was a talk show and a young man called and said ‘that foolish man (he called me a foolish man) who called himself pastor, if he lacks sermon, let him preach from John 3:16’ so I thought to preach that on Sunday and preach on the theme amnesty to the cross.”
Senator Johnson continues that he then brought the gospel to Liberia, talking about Liberians coming together, putting the past behind them and walking towards newness of life and forgetting the past.“People are calling for justice, and I said, we are a country of law, not men and that everyone of us should subject ourselves to justice; we want justice; now in seeking justice, the 51st Legislator for the sake of peace and stability of our country, the 51 legislators under Mr. Taylor (don’t forget 1997, you killed my ma, you killed my pa, I will vote for you) so the whole country voted overwhelmingly for a democratic leader and under his regime there was an act passed into law, granting amnesty to all factions and their leaders for everything they did during the conflict,” Senator Johnson narrates.
He recalls that from 1990 to 2003 the act was passed into law and printed into handbill, noting that it is currently in the archives of the Liberian Senate and the House, respectively including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“So in the face of the amnesty law, like the law that PRC passed when they were in power, the PRC also passed a law and it was printed into hand bill, granting PRC members amnesty for whatever they did when they were in office, so in the face of this law, you cannot go after PRC people for executing 15 people on the poles, you can’t go after anybody who was a faction leader doing the crises when there is a law,” Senator Johnson argues.
He also explains the TRC was commissioned by seven members and out of the seven, four commissioners differed with the three on the final report.
The Government of Liberia actually appointed 10 members on the commission with Cllr. Jerome J. Verdier as chairperson, Dede Dolopei, vice chairperson; Oumu K. Syllah, treasurer, Bishop Arthur F. Kulah, member; Sheikh Kafumba F. Konneh, member; Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull, member; Gerald B. Coleman, member, John H. T. Stewart, member, Massa Washington, member, and Henrietta Joy Abena Mensa Bonsu member.
“Dolopei, Rev. Coleman, Sheikh Konneh and Pearl Bull differed with John Steward, Massa Washington and Bonsu because they also wrote their own descending position to the National Legislature, we get all that copy; they excused the three for picking names for prosecution, that they didn’t generally make determination on; there was no evidence to put those people on trial according to the letter written, “selective justice.” They also said that there were people that were invited to the TRC and didn’t show up, but nothing was done to them,” Sen. PYJ details.