Africa

US House Committee Passes Resolution for War Crimes Tribunal In Liberia

The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee has unanimously passed a resolution supporting the full implementation of the recommendations of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

US Congress

US Congress

The disclosure was announced on Wednesday by the Resolution lead sponsor New York Republican Daniel M. Donovan Jr.

The Resolution includes the establishment of an Extra Ordinary  War Criminal Tribunal for the small West African nation which was battered by brutal back-to back civil crises in the 1990s.
The Congressional Resolution which was initially introduced on September 7, 2018 eventually gained the support of an additional seven legislative co-sponsors including four Democrats and three Republicans:
Rep. Johnson, Henry C. “Hank,” Jr. [D-GA-4]*
Rep. Fitzpatrick, Brian K. [R-PA-8]
Rep. Sherman, Brad [D-CA-30]
Rep. Smith, Christopher H. [R-NJ-4]
Rep. Bass, Karen [D-CA-37]
Rep. Cicilline, David N. [D-RI-1]
Rep. Perry, Scott [R-PA-4]

According to House Resolution 1055 (H.Res.1055) – “To affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic principles, and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.”

Upon adoption of the Resolution by the House of Representatives, it is attested to by the Clerk of the House of Representatives and published in the Congressional records.

The Resolution will galvanize local and international advocates who are demanding the establishment of a war and economic crimes court to prosecute individuals In Liberia  who are named the Final Report of the TRC for their role in the war including  economic crimes. Liberians are divided on the establishment of the court with some calling for  while others are against.

 

President George M. Weah

President George M. Weah

President George M. Weah has yet to state his official position on the calls for war and economic crimes court since his inauguration although  in the past he has announced his support for the prosecution of warlords.

Several stakeholders and international human rights and advocacy groups including the International Justice Group (IJG) were at the Capitol in Washington DC on Wednesday to support passage of the House  Committee  Resolution.

H. RES. 1055

To affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic principles, and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 7, 2018
Mr. Donovan (for himself and Mr. Johnson of Georgia) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

RESOLUTION
To affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic principles, and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.
Whereas today the United States is home to an estimated 80,000 people of Liberian ancestry in vibrant communities across the country, who have been instrumental in America’s efforts to build a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Liberia;
Whereas Liberia and the United States share close historical, political, and economic ties over the course of a nearly 200-year relationship;

Whereas the people and Government of the United States have a deep interest in Liberia’s democratic stability and postconflict development;

Whereas the civil war from 1991 to 2002 resulted in the death of over 200,000 people in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the displacement of over 1,000,000 persons, and the horrific cases of amputations, mass rape, and human rights abuses conducted under the leadership of Charles Taylor;

Whereas Charles Taylor was convicted through the Special Court for Sierra Leone for 11 different charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, such as rape, sexual abuse, and slavery, and violation of international law, including the use of child soldiers;

Whereas a comprehensive peace agreement was signed by the Government of Liberia, rebel groups, and political parties in 2003;

Whereas the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as established under the 2003 comprehensive peace agreement, was formally created in 2005 with a mandate “to promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation by investigating gross human rights violations and violations of humanitarian law, sexual violations, and economic crimes that occurred between January 1979 and October 2003”;

Whereas the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report in December 2008 recommending the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia and listed individuals, corporations, and institutions recommended for further investigation and prosecution, among other recommendations;
Whereas the Government of Liberia has not fully implemented the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Agreement to date, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal;

Whereas Liberia experienced its first democratic and peaceful transition of power since 1944 after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf respected constitutional term limits and George Weah defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai following a runoff during the 2017 Presidential elections;

Whereas the United States congratulated the people of Liberia on the successful conclusion of the Presidential runoff election and recognized the important role Liberia’s Supreme Court, political parties, security forces, and civil society organizations played in holding a peaceful and transparent contest; and

Whereas the United States Government and American citizens have invested in Liberia to rebuild and support democratic institutions, postconflict recovery, economic growth, improved access to education and health care, professionalization of the country’s military and civilian security forces, and efforts to foster accountability and transparency of government institutions: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) upholds its commitment to maintain and foster the enduring relationship between the people and the Governments of the United States and Liberia;

(2) urges the Government and people of Liberia to support the truth and reconciliation process through full implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal; and

(3) supports efforts by the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development to advance Liberian efforts toward national reconciliation through continued support for the rule of law, effective governance, and the robust role of civil society.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal