A bill calling for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in Liberia to prosecute war crimes criminals and the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) recommendations has been introduced in the United States House of Congress.
The bill, named and styled US Congress H. Resolution 1055 – (115th Congress 2017-2018) was introduced on Friday September 7, 2018 by Representative Daniel M. Donovan Jr., a Republican from New York, and Co-sponsored by Congressman Hank Johnson, Democrat, from Georgia.
The intent of the bill, according to Congressman Donovan Jr., is “…To affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic principles, and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.”
Reports say the move by a member of the US Congress is the first tangible indication that the US and the international community are prepared to decisively deal with issue of impunity in Liberia.
According to the West African Journal Magazine, Representative Donovan’s bill has been agreed to in the U. S. House of Representatives and it has been forwarded to the House’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Congressman Donovan has a background as a former prosecutor and attorney.
He represents the 11th congressional district which covers parts of Kings County and Richmond County southeastern in New York. He was elected in 2015.
According to procedures in the U. S. House of Representatives, bill are generally sent to the Library of Congress from, the Government Publishing Office a day or two after they are introduced. But delay in passage of bills are possible when there is a large bill to print.
The introduction of the bill comes days after authorities in France detained a former rebel commander from the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), for war crimes and crimes against humanity including torture and cannibalism, according to French police on Friday.
Reports say the alleged war crimes criminal identified as naturalized Dutch citizen Kunti K., was arrested in the northeast Paris suburb of Bobigny where he had been hiding out at the home of a friend. He is suspected of torture, murder, slavery, the use of child soldiers and cannibalism between 1993 and 1997.
ULIMO, formed by Alhaji G.V Kromah and other remnants of the erstwhile slain President Samuel Doe regime was established as a counter force against the Charles Taylor National Patriotic Front (NPFL).
Taylor is currently serving a 50 year jail sentence in a UK prison for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone as well as committing atrocities in that country.
Since the end of the Liberian civil war here, not a single perpetrator has been arrested and punish on home soil despite calls by the TRC for prosecution. However, there have been arrests and prosecutions of Liberians in the UK, United States, Belgium and now France.
The introduction of the bill also comes amidst mounting pressure from 75 international non-governmental organizations, the international Justice Group and Liberians for the establishment of the war crimes court.
President Weah is expected to address the UN General Assembly this month in New York. Already, there are reports of some Liberians planning to peacefully protest and call for the establishment of war crimes court.
By Othello B. Garblah