Washington DC USA – April 1, 2019: A Bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to, “Amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to provide for rewards for the arrest and conviction of certain foreign nationals who have committed genocide or war crimes.”
Known as H.R. 1819, North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District Republican Virginia Foxx introduced the bill on March 18, 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
There are direct implications for Liberian warlords, if the proposed Bill, becomes law in the United States.
Several major war actors named in Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) are yet to face prosecution for their roles in gross human rights abuses during the wars in the West African country in the 1990’s. A TRC Final Report was submitted to the Government of Liberia in June 2012 but recommendations contained therein have since been ignored.
The TRC, in its Final Report catalogued location, victims and types of violations committed by the various militias in Liberia’s civil war as follows:
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Of the various violations cited by the TRC Final Report, the top five included Displacement, Killings, Assault, Abduction and Looting by militias.
88 % of Violations were committed by the NPFL, LURD, Liberia Peace Council, Militia, ULIMO, MODEL and the Armed Forces of Liberia during the wars in the 1990s; the NPFL and LURD being the top two, according to the TRC. 19 Perpetrators were named for cooperating with the TRC process and not recommended for Prosecution.
The Leaders of the 8 major warring factions recommended for Prosecution included:
Charles G. Taylor – NPFL
Prince Y. Johnson – INPFL
Roosevelt Johnson (Deceased) – ULIMO & ULIMO-J
Alhaji G.V. Kromah – ULIMO & ULIMO-K
George Boley – Liberia Peace Council
Thomas Yayah Nimely – MODELl
Sekou Damate Konneh – LURD and
Francois Massaquoi (Deceased) – Lofa Defense Force
Those named as bearing the greatest responsibility for extra judicial excesses included leaders of the various militias, some of whom presently serve in the Liberian Government.
Former rebel leader turned former President Charles G. Taylor is serving a 50 years jail term in the UK following his conviction for his role in the war in the war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Prince Y. Johnson is a Senator from Nimba County in Liberia’s National Legislature. No one has been prosecuted in Liberia for their role in war and economic crimes.
Other war actors who fled Liberia are being being identified, arrested and prosecuted in the United States and Europe.
The latest Bill is an attempt by the U.S. Congress to hold accountable perpetrators in Liberia and others elsewhere around the world for their roles in genocide and war crimes.
The major perpetrators have been identified in Liberia and their arrests will facilitate prosecution in a court whose location is to be determined, once it is up an running. The TRC Final Report recommended the mechanism for the establishment of a War Crimes Court.
Additional Congressional Bills are also making their way through Committees in the U.S. for the setting up of a War Crime Tribunal in Liberia. Once the H.R. 1819 becomes law in the U.S. the State Department will work with various U.S. agencies to implement the provision of the reward for the arrest abnd conviction of those foreign nationals who have committed genocide or war crimes.
Recently, two Liberian rights groups – the Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJL) and the International Justice Group (IJG) visited the office the U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington DC to offer support for, “House Resolution 1055 among other things seeks to affirm strong United States- Liberia ties and support for democratic principles. The Resolution also calls for the full implementat ion of the Truth and Reconci l iat ion Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia…”
The Weah Government in Liberia is refusing to committ to implementation of the TRC Report, inspite of urgings of local and international rights organizations, the United Nations, European Union and the U.S. Government.
By Our International Affairs Editor
West African Journal Magazine