Africa

Liberia: Top Judicial Security Chief Accused Of War Crimes; Peaceful March For Justice Planned For Tuesday In NY

A Liberian Rebel Fighter- File Photo

As international pressure mounts on the current Liberian Administration to undertake local and international obligations to prosecute alleged war criminals who have so far enjoyed relative protection and gone with impunity in the West African country since cessation of hostilities in 2003, a source says a team of international investigators is in Liberia and following up on alleged atrocities catalogued in the Final Report of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which completed its work and submitted recommendations to the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration in 2009.

The source says some of the investigators with the newly established advocacy and research entity, the International Justice Group (IJG) include some former support staff of the TRC.

According to information obtained from actual eyewitnesses who spoke to investigators, they recounted how a former Assistant Director of Police for its Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Henry Landford and some foreign nationals were rounded up and executed by rebels of the National Patriotic Front (NPFL) on the orders of Commander Paul Tuazama and one Anthony Komahoun.

Mr Paul Tuazama , Chief of Security At Liberia’s Judiciary

Mr. Tuazama is the current head of security at the Judiciary branch of the Liberian government known as the Temple of Justice which also serves as the official seat of the Supreme Court, the country’s highest court on Capitol Hill.

Director Landford and others were murdered in the NPFL controlled area on Duport Road outside the capital and Kakata, about 34 miles outside of Monrovia.

In 1991, journalists embedded with a contingent of Ecomog peacekeepers visited the eastern Duport Road suburb area for the first time after the cessation of hostilities with the NPFL.

Peacekeepers and journalists were directed by local residents to an area described as the “killing field” where human skeletons and personal effects of victims were scattered and covered by overgrown brush.

Liberian career Government officials, law enforcement officers and ordinary civilians were also allegedly murdered by rebel fighters and death squads allied with some rogue commanders of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) loyal to late President Samuel K. Doe.

Rebel NPFL Small Boy Unit Fighter – File Photo

Victims include Cephus Junius, Chief of Intelligence Unit of the Liberia National (LNP), Williette Scott, Chief of Communications of the LNP.

Williette Scott was a well trained and professional Police officer who was reportedly taken off a line of fleeing residents and executed in NPFL controlled territory by a rebel fighter identified as Joe Mantee.

Still others include a popular Mighty Barrolle soccer team sports enthusiast David Quayle Langston who was allegedly executed in the Paynesville suburbs and prominent and well liked national radio broadcast journalists Tommy Raynes and G. Moses K. Washington.

They were reportedly executed somewhere between 15th Gate and Careysburg area by NPFL rebels.

Others allegedly murdered during this period, according to investigators, include the Deputy Chief of Command of the Bong Mines Police Department Lt.Joe McGill, Lt.Joseph Balls, Detective Thomas Morris and Foday Boikai.

The entire Bong Mines Police Detachment was summarily executed in Kakata by NPFL rebels.

ECOMOG Peacekeeping Troops

Ghanaian ,Sierra Leonean, Guinean, Nigerian And Gambian, Nationals were targeted and ordered executed in the rebel NPFL controller territories simply because their individual countries had seconded peacekeepers to re regional ECOWAS Peace Monitoring Group in Liberia known as ECOMOG.

Lt. Bobby Kpoto

One Lt. Bobby Kpoto now believed to be residing in the United Kingdom murdered Archie Greene who was a graduate of the Cuttington University College(CUC) in Bong County, which is situated central Liberia.

TRC Final Report – Liberia

Investigators say information which they are following up on about summary executions of individuals named were obtained from actual accounts collected during hearings of the TRC held in and out of Liberia.

More information is being gathered by investigators .

Meantime the IJG says it is warning anyone or groups who may want to discredit the integrity of the Liberia’s TRC members and Final Report in an attempt to justify solicitation of international donor funding.

Liberian Rights Activist Vandalark Patricks

In support of international efforts to bring to justice those accused of major atrocities, Liberian Organizers of a March For Peace in Justice say they will hold a peaceful protest on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 in New York near the United Nations headquarters to call on President George M. Weah to prosecute alleged war criminals in Liberia.

In an exclusive interview, with on Sunday, the Chairman of the organizing of the Peace and Justice March Mr. Vandalark Patricks said, ” people are listening and are now aware that the only way Liberia can move forward is when alleged war crimes perpetrators are brought to book for atrocities committed during the war. Weah wants to jeopardize justice for over 250,000 victims. Weah must understand that Article 2 of the Liberian Constitution so that the will of the people prevail.”

Organizers say their peaceful protest is timed to coincide prior to the arrival of President Weah to the UN in New York in order to allow him time to appreciate the seriousness of their call.

Liberian President George M. Weah

President Weah is expected to attend and address the UN General Assembly later in September.

The Weah Administration has not committed to prosecuting war crimes perpetrators in-spite of local and international calls to prioritize the issue.

No one in Liberia has been prosecuted for atrocities committed during the country’s civil war between 1989 – 2003.

An estimated 250,000 people were killed in the bloodletting which almost completely destroyed the country infrastructure and institutions.

Vandalark Patricks, a Liberia rights activist condemned Senator Prince Johnson, a sitting lawmaker from northeastern Nimba County in Liberia, who is also a former war lord and major actor in the war and who was named in the country’s Truth a and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Final Report as a responsible  for some heinous atrocities.

Liberian Former Rebel Warlord and Current Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Mr. Patricks said it was totally unacceptable that Senator Johnson would threaten the country with another war, if attempts were made to hold him accountable for his alleged war crimes.

Those named as perpetrators have not faced prosecution nor have they been found guilty of any crime in Liberia.

Political observers and diplomatic sources say unless President Weah commits to prosecuting alleged war criminals, he will lose international support which he desperately needs to sustain his country’s struggling economy.

The IJG says it is prepared to network with other partners to secure international sanctions and travel ban against government officials if no action is taken.

Already, a US Republican lawmaker Representative Daniel M. Donovan Jr. has introduced a congressional bill which calls for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia.

US President Donald Trump

Future US economic and military assistance to the West African nation may hinge on the Weah Administration’s commitment to bow to congressional pressure for an improved human rights regime and fiscal accountability in Liberia.

The Weah government is already lobbying to open a corridor to Congressional leaders and the White House.

Liberia relies heavily on US economic, diplomatic and military assistance.

Flag of Liberia

In its Fact Sheet on Liberia, the African Affairs Bureau of the U. s State Department in July, 2018 stated that, “…U.S. assistance is focused on consolidating democratic progress; improving capacity, transparency, and accountability of governance institutions; promoting broad-based, market-driven economic growth; improving access to high-quality educational and health services; and professionalizing Liberia’s military and civilian security forces, while helping Liberia build capacity to plan, implement, and sustain its own development efforts in each sector….”

Of the $27 billion in world wide Foreign Assistance planned for 2019 Fiscal Year by the US Government. Liberia stands to gain over $29.3 million for peace and security, democracy, human rights and governance, health and economic development.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine