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Liberia Pressed At UN To Announce Decision On War Crimes Prosecution

Flag of Liberia

The Liberian delegation appearing before the UN Human Rights Committee says the Government of Liberia will shortly issue a public statement on how it proposes to address accountability for serious crimes and human rights violations committed during the Liberian civil wars.

HRW Elise Keppler

According to Ms Elise Keppler, the Associate Director of the International Justice Program of Human Rights Watch (HRW), the pledge of the Liberia government “… falls short of what is needed , but it’s a move in the right direction”. In a statement issued on Tuesday, HRW official noted that, ” Liberians have been waiting for many years to see justice for the atrocities suffered during the country’s civil wars – including massacres, summary executions. rapes, torture, and mutilation. Nine years, since Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission issues its report, which called for a special war crimes court tot be set up, not a single person has been tried for war crimes. A handful of cases involving civil war era crimes have been pursued abroad…”

HRW disclosed that when the Liberia delegation which appeared on Monday before the UN body was pressed to say how the Government is responding to the many calls for justice, it responded that, “…Liberia has thus far focused on reconciliation, and argued that President George Weah’s administration is still relatively new. But it conceded that more more Liberians are coming forward to press for justice and indicated it would ‘soon’ issue a public statement on accountability for past crimes.”

Liberian President George M. Weah

Recently 76 international and local groups and non-governmental bodies urged the Liberian government to hold human rights violators responsible for alleged crimes committed during the civil wars. The new Weah Administration has been dragging its feet in issuing a firm commitment to implementation of the Final Report of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

It is unclear how soon the Liberian government will issue its public statement and if it will once and for all commit to responding to cries for Justice.

‘It may only be the smallest of steps, but for a country that lived through 14 years of war and for victims whio suffered the worst crimes imaginable, the promised statement offers a glimmer of hope that one day justice will be served,” HRW official said.

Map of Liberia

Meantime, international investigators say with the conviction of former CharlesTaylor association and rebel spokesman Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu in the U.S. on federal immigration fraud, they are presently pursuing other human rights violators in and out of Liberia.

Investigators are reportedly making regular visits to Liberia to identify victims and survivors and collect evidence for future prosecutions.

http://webtv.un.org/watch/consideration-of-liberia-contd-3501st-meeting-123rd-session-of-human-rights-committee/5807531493001/

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

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