US-Based Liberian Human Rights Activist Sues Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, GOL, Taylor

A well known Liberian human rights campaigner and immigration activist in Boston, Massachusetts the United States says he has filed a civil suit against several Liberian war actors in Federal District Court in Boston.

-Charles Taylor - Photo by Toronto Star
Charles Taylor – Photo by Toronto Star

According to Rev. Torli H. Krua, the suit Krupa v Johnson-Sirleaf et al was filed on Friday, March 23, 2018. In an interview, Rev. Krua disclosed that the suit is about justice against torture, injuries and mental anguish.

The Liberian human rights campaigner disclosed that defendants in the suit include former Liberian Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Charles Taylor, former spokesperson of Taylor’s rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu and the Republic of Liberia (RL) now headed by President George M. Weah.

Woewiyu is expected to go on trial in the coming months in Philadelphia on immigration fraud charges.

Rev Krua also said the US Navy is a defendant in the suit, adding that, the war launched by Taylor and supported by former President Johnson-Sirleaf in Liberia would not have been possible without the knowledge of the U.S. Government.

Taylor is serving a 50 year jail sentence in the UK following his conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, slavery and the use of child soldiers.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia
Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia

According to Rev, Krua, who explained the basis of his civil suit which seeks compensatory and punitive damages against the defendants, he and his family back in Liberia were affected by the war; he sustained injuries, the family home was burned down and business destroyed by factional rebels and he and his family had to flee to preserve their lives.

He directly blamed founders of the Association for Constitutional Democracy (ACDL); a U.S. based coalition of exiles which was formed by the likes of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Interim Government Head Professor Dr. Amos Sawyer, Grace Minor, the late Harry A. Greaves Jr, Dr Patrick L. Seyon, Tom Woewiyu, former President Charles Taylor and others for financing the insurgency led by Charles Taylor.

Tom Woewiyu - Photo by VOA
Tom Woewiyu – Photo by VOA

The ACDL’s principal goal was the removal of President Samuel Doe and the return to constitutional governance. However, the effort of the group devolved into material and financial support for Charles Taylor who cobbled together dissident Liberians in West African to obtain guerrilla training and support in Libya and return home to Liberia through the northeastern political sub-division of Nimba Country to wage a horrific rebel campaign of massive death and destruction starting on December 24, 1989 and lasting until 1996.

According the online publication The Perspective, quoting an interview by one of the ACDL founders Dr. Seyon, “… As you have reported before, a few of us, members of the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL) then operating in Washington DC, with the strong persuasion of one of our members, Tom Woewiyu, did try to be of assistance to Mr. Taylor when his rebellious activities seemed headed in the direction of a strong response to protect people in Nimba County from an overreaction of the Doe regime to their invasion of the country. . . We raised the grand sum of $10,000, hardly an amount that could do very much. In fact, it was a mere drop in the bucket. The fact that the sum was so paltry explains why we had so little leverage over Taylor and why he paid so little attention to us, especially when we started raising questions about reports of human rights violations by his troops. Initially, we had committed ourselves to try to do more. But within six months or so, i.e. around the middle of 1990, we had withdrawn any support and any connection with Mr. Taylor and his group on account of the serious atrocities which were taking place, some affecting long standing political allies of ours. (p.9)..”

Liberia-Guinea Map

The former University of Liberia President, in that publication in which he tried to clarify the involvement and support that the ACDL gave Taylor and which led to the deaths of an estimated 250,000 people in Liberia and neighboring countries, further said, “… There are several revelations in Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf’s interview which cause me great concern and which impel me to respond. They are: 1) “. . . a few . . .” members of ACDL supported Charles Taylor in his brutal war campaign; 2) some members of ACDL raised and contributed a sum of $10,000 to Taylor; 3) the money was contributed in order to have “leverage over Taylor”; and 4) “. . . any support [to] and any connection with Taylor. . .” were reportedly withdrawn once it became clear to the contributors/supporters that they could not exercise “leverage over Taylor.” Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf does not say who in fact raised or contributed the money, nor does she name the ACDL members who were the supporters of Taylor.

The suit which names President Johnson-Sirleaf will be the first against her; first since she stepped down in January after 12 years as head of the West African nation.

Rev Krua says he is relying on laws in the U.S. which refugees and victims of torture and human rights abuses based in its jurisdiction can utilize to sue their perpetrators. The U.S. law known as the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), was enacted in 1789 as part of the First Judiciary Act, which provided that “the district court shall have . . . cognizance, concurrent with the courts of the several States, or the circuit courts, as the case may be, of all causes where an alien sues for tort only in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

Scale of Justice
Scale of Justice

A recent case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania involved a civil suit filed by victims and survivors of the Lutheran Church Massacre in Liberia. A former head of Liberia’s Presidential guard Colonel Moses Thomas is facing civil litigation. He has denied involvement in the massacre.

Local and international pressure is mounting on the new Weah Administration in Liberia to fully implement recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

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