Continuous fears and threats from former warlords, including some ordinary Liberians that increased calls for war crimes court for Liberia is a recipe for chaos has been dismissed here as vague threats.Liberian war crimes court campaigner Hassa Bility says former warlords issuing threats don’t have power anymore to wage war and sustain it in the country, saying “Nobody can threaten Liberia.”
He notes that the fears have shifted from victims of the war to the perpetrators of atrocities, who are now issuing threats. Liberian warlords are over a dozen, prominent among them include Field marshal General Prince Johnson of the defunct INPFL, Sekou Damate Conneh, leader of the disbanded LURD rebels, Thomas Yaya Nimely of MODEL, retired professor Alhaji G.V. Kromah, leader of former rebels ULIMO-K, Dr. George S. Boley, leader of the defunct Liberia Peace Council or LPC rebels, jailed former president Charles Taylor and generals of his (Taylor’s) defunct NPFL rebels.
Dr. Boley and Gen. Prince Yormie Johnson are current members of the 54th Liberian Legislature, and the former is a deportee from the United States where he was held and tried for arming child soldiers during the Liberian Civil War.
The leader of the disbanded Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia or INPFL Senator Prince Yormie Johnson recently threatened that if dragged before a war crimes court, his followers would return to the bush with single barrel guns.
Sen. Johnson also claims he has immunity from prosecution, citing that during the transitional administration of former Head of State Charles Gyude Bryant, the Liberian Legislature enacted a law, granting immunity to leaders of former warring factions and ex-fighters here.
But speaking on a live talk show in Monrovia recently, Bility, who heads the Global Justice and Research Project in Liberia, assured that neither the sub-region nor the rest of the world would standby to allow any ex-warlord to threaten Liberia.
He insists that former Liberian warlords lack capacity to mobilize fighters and wage war against the country, underscoring that no neighboring country is willing to support violence against Liberia.He had appeared on the show to welcome the recent passage by the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee of a resolution sponsored by U.S. Lawmaker Daniel Donovan, calling for full implementation of the TRC final reports and recommendations.
“My constitutes have directly told me how important it is for them that Liberia established an extraordinary war crimes tribunal”, Representative Donovan notes and adds that the TRC report clearly calls for the establishment of war crimes court.
As campaign mounts both in the country and abroad for such court, a big conference is being planned in Monrovia next month to continue the debate with the former lead prosecution of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, Stephen Rapp, among international guests expected to attend.
-Story by Jonathan Browne