Ongoing efforts by the international community to bring to book perpetrators of war crimes and other hideous abuses in Liberia during the country’s 14-year civil war seem to be making significant progress with reports of the arrest of several high profile actors from the April 12, 1980 military coup to the December 24, 1989 rebel invasion that took several hundred thousand lives.
News last week of the arrest and subsequent appearance in court in London, United Kingdom of Agnes Reeves Taylor, the 51-year-old ex-wife of jailed former Liberian President Charles Ghankay for alleged torture amid current rumor of the probable apprehension of ex-rebel leader Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, clearly indicates that the world is gradually folding the curtains against impunity, particularly war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Several actors from the Doe regime, including ex-army officer Jeffrey Gbatu, who carried out summary executions during that era, have already been arrested and detained in the United States.
Another Liberian warlord, Dr. George SingbeBolay, was deported from the United States few years ago for commanding child soldiers in Liberia. Dr. Bolay, who worked in the government of slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe, is currently in the country, preferring to remain very inconspicuous.
The list of ex-warlords and former generals in Liberia is not exhausted in this editorial, but the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia compiles an exhaustive roster of ex-generals and rebel leaders who committed hideous atrocities with recommendation for prosecution.
From all indications, the international community is sending a very strong signal to the rest of us, specifically Liberians that the days of men and women, who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity here, are numbered, as they would have to account for their deeds in court irrespective of status.
We must depart from the culture of impunity, and now is the time. No one should use the barrel of the gun to slaughter innocent people, including women and children under the guise of so-called liberation.
Some of them are even shameless, trying to justify their wicked acts by constructing senseless analogies on faulty premises just to portray themselves as “good guys” when the souls of their victims cry for justice.
The current campaign by the international community should ring bell in the minds of ex-warlords parading the corridor of power in our country that they are not off the hook. It is only a matter of time and they will be brought to book.
We believe strongly that this is the surest way to stop impunity in our land and any part of the world. Men and women, who take unto themselves the exclusive power to judge and condemn to death fellow human beings thru the muzzle of the gun should be punished with penalties that are commensurate with their crimes to serve as deterrence to those contemplating on treading similar route.