President George Manneh Weah’s preference for dialogue thru “Palava Hut” mechanism, rather than establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia as he reiterated in his speech before the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations Wednesday, 25 September demonstrates his unwillingness to stamp out culture of impunity and promote justice in the country.
Why Liberians from all walks of life, including chiefs and traditional leaders, religious leaders and key stakeholders are expressing support for such court as was contained in recommendations from the recent National Economic Dialogue in Monrovia, the President seems to be playing game with an issue that hinges on the forward march of Liberia.
The President has the audacity to ask the General Assembly why the clamor for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia has become so loud under his administration as if he were blind to the heinous atrocities that were committed during the Liberian Civil War.
No wonder why one of the key actors of the atrocities and a prime suspect for war crimes Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, is now jubilating and expressing support for President Weah’s so-called consultative dialogue with lawmakers at the Capitol on the question of war crimes court, because he knows full well the exercise is a mere publicity stunt that is meant to defeat any honest effort to have such court in place.
One may even ask whether the President’s preferred “Palava Hut” mechanism is different from public hearings already conducted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Liberia at which warlords testified and defended their actions from the civil war with some expressing no remorse.
President Weah stresses the need to agree on a mechanism that would guarantee sustenance of peace, stability, justice, and reconciliation, while enhancing prospects for economic recovery, but what other surest mechanism is there to guarantee such atmosphere if not justice in a competent court where alleged perpetrators would have an opportunity to prove their innocence and walk away with pride.
The President and all those against the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia should look next door Sierra Leone to see the benefit of going thru such exercise. It attracts not just confidence from international partners, but promotes foreign investments, stability and serves as deterrence to others who might think of taking up arms and returning to the bushes for so-called liberation.
Despite recent wave of calls coming from both within government and outside for such, we are beginning to deduce that both the Legislature and the Judiciary presided over by ruling party loyalists would thwart any sincere effort for such court.
But the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change-led government should realize that it has a lot to gain by endorsing the establishment of a war crimes court under its watch. It should therefore, do the honorable thing by taking the path of justice against impunity.