The war crimes bill before U.S. Congress

 

The United States Government for the very first time sends a very strong signal on growing calls for the establishing of a war crimes court for Liberia by the introduction of Resolution 1055 in the 2nd Session of the 115th Congress, seeking a war crimes tribunal for Liberia to prosecute suspected perpetrators of war and economic crimes here.

The resolution was introduced in Congress on Friday, September 7, 2018 by U.S. Lawmaker Daniel M. Donovan Jr., a Republican from New York, and Co-sponsored by Congressman Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia.

The action by Congress comes at the time when officials in Liberia are providing variant interpretations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process in the country which calls for prosecution of people, who committed heinous crimes during the civil war as contained in its final recommendation.

Some members of the 54th Liberian Legislature, including Speaker Bohfa Chambers and Senator Prince Johnson are vehemently against war crimes court, with the Speaker calling for restorative justice instead, while Sen. Johnson, a former rebel leader, is claiming amnesty from prosecution.

But in their joint resolution, both Representative Donovan, Jr. andCongressman Johnson remind that the Government of Liberia has not fully implemented the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Agreement to date, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal, noting the TRC listed individuals, corporations, and institutions recommended for further investigation and prosecution, among other recommendations.

The bills before the U.S. Congress seems to strongly indicate that America wants an end to impunity in Liberia, and those who think it is business as usual, should rethink now.

Even Liberians themselves are calling for justice. Too often, they have been threatened and misled by people who plunged their lives in misery to believing if they entrusted them with state power the country will be better. But that’s an illusion.

As long as warlords and their political advisors and financiers continue to parade the corridors of power in our nation despite their past deeds, this nation will continuously swim in a vicious circle of fragile peace and violence.

We can but only hope the Weah administration will exercise wisdom and good leadership for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of our fellow compatriots, including women, children and elders were forced to their graves thru the barrel of the gun, by heading the call from the U.S. Congress and Liberians both at home and abroad for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to stamp out impunity.

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