Int’l Justice Group Warns That Liberia Is Risking Sanctions

Washington DC, USA – August 8, 2019:

“That Liberia is a kleptocracy, this we know, but overwhelming tendencies of criminality, impunity, autocracy, banal disregard for human rights, and the elementary principles of good governance are worrying signs that, if corrective measures are not taken to reverse this trend, Liberia may slide back to the pariah state status it once was…”  – Cllr Jerome J. Verdier, Sr.

IJG Executive Director and Former Liberia TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier Sr.
IJG Executive Director and Former Liberia TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier Sr.

Perversion of Justice

Speaking with journalists Thursday from Washington DC, Capital of the United States of America, a press statement of the IJG quoted the learned Counselor at Law as condemning the acts of criminal elements within government to pervert the ends of justice which got Cllr Varney Sherman off the hook in the Sable Mining bribery scandal case in Liberia.

 Criminal Conspiracy

The IJG statement said the Justice advocacy group has reliably unearthed that the presiding Judge in the Sable Mining case, His Honor Judge Peter Gbenewelee, the prosecution team headed by the Honorable Justice Minister, Cllr F. Musah Dean, Solicitor General, Cllr Cyrenius Cephas, County Attorney, Cllr Edward Martin and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Honorable Nathaniel McGill constituted themselves into a criminal syndicate to pervert justice in order that Cllr Varney Sherman be let of the hook and set free by minimizing evidence, executive coercion, diminution of records and other artifices to guarantee the acquittal of Cllr Varney Sherman on all charges. To ensure this, without let, His Honor Justice Nagbe posited himself in court at the acquittal verdict to demonstrate solidarity with the scheme in pledge of loyalty to the Chief Executive.

 “Tit for Tat”

According to the international Justice advocacy group statement, copied to West African Journal Magazine, it noted that the Varney Sherman/Sable Mining conspiracy to subvert the justice process was cooked up by the Executive Branch of Government led by Honorable Nathaniel McGill, who criminally solicited and enlisted the help of Cllr Varney Sherman, Senator Grand Cape Mount County, to overtly violate Article 73 of the Constitution of Liberia in order to facilitate the  unsavory impeachment of  Justice Kabineh Ja’neh through a kangaroo trial, in return for a promise by Honorable Nathaniel McGill, guaranteed by his boss, to get him acquitted of all charges in the Sable Mining Bribery Case, thus making way for Justice Joseph Nagbe’s enrollment.

Justice Kabineh Ja’neh was impeached for judgment he rendered in his judicial and official capacity as “Justice in Chambers Presiding” contrary to the expressed provisions of Article 73 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, providing:

“Article 73 No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made, or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”

Justice Ja’neh, having been impeached, however illegal and unconstitutional it was, Cllr Varney Sherman has performed his part of the deal and was accordingly acquitted, as promised, following the visit of Justice Joseph Nagbe, at court under the gavel of His Honor Judge Peter Gbenewelee, said to be the stepson of Cllr Varney Sherman. The Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, Cllr Frank Musa Dean, was one of Cllr Sherman’s Defense Counsels initially when the case was docketed in court.

Important also, is that the Honorable Minister of Justice, Cllr. Dean began, in earnest, his legal career at the Sherman & Sherman Law Office, and for many years was a member of Cllr Varney Sherman’s Law Office corps of lawyers and were for a long time publicly known to be buddies and inseparable craft masters.

Spiraling Violence

The IJG asserted that the introduction of violence and thuggery into the political space is abhorrent and ridiculously reminiscent of the ruthless era of the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) Youth Wing Task Force of the late President Samuel K. Doe.

“As ruthless as the NDPL era was, what is obtaining in George Weah’s Liberia is the euphoric escalation of violence, thuggery and lawlessness, threatening the democratic space and thereby constituting a major threat to our democratic aspirations for a free, open and competitive society without fear or intimidation but with security, protection and equal opportunity for all.”

What started as an isolated event with Honorable Yongblee Karngar Lawrence and the opposition Liberty Party (LP), spilled over to Honorable Yeke Kolubah who complained on diverse occasions of attempts by government operatives to kill him and some children within his electoral district.

Liberia President George M. Weah
Liberia President George M. Weah

Now, violence and gangster-style killings have taken on a national fervor, law and order is rapidly breaking down and a state of anarchy and lawlessness is brewing in Liberia and the Weah Government as yet remains silent spurring widespread suspicions that the President, is without doubt, behind the violence by his CDC’s goons to intimidate and coerce the opposition into submission and clamp down dissent as part of his political ambition to become a dictator in power for 27 years or more, surpassing President William V.S. Tubman.

Weah to be blamed?

  1. While it is true that all the problems of Liberia are not attributable to Mr. Weah, his non-chalant disposition on corruption and human rights and his seeming condonement of the violence is a flaw of his presidency, pointing to a leadership deficit demanding attention.
  2. The President is indecisive, demonstrating a lack of authority and capacity over his men and cannot rein them in to follow the law or operate within the confines of the law. Asset declaration is a case in point.
  3. The social life of the president is more of a priority to him than the welfare of the poor people who voted him to office.
  4. The President, wanting in knowledge and sophistication has surrounded himself with low life figures who have no vision or love for the country.
  5. The President and his team have failed to adopt any appreciable policy approach to address the issues confronting the country. They have no plan for redressing the economy, stimulating national development or national reconciliation.
  6. To date, the President and his team have failed to embrace or appreciate the mammoth demands for the establishment of the War Crimes Court in full implementation of the TRC Report and in furtherance of US House Resolution HR 1055.
  7. The President is giving lip service to accountability and corruption issues. Neither Mr. President nor his officials have been audited or complied with the assets declaration requirements of law. Just as the both the National Legislature and the Honorable Supreme Court have never been audited, Continuing the policies of Former President Sirleaf, rendering these venerable branches of government as now national institutions of corruption and disgrace.
  8. The President granted a construction contract to his friend he claimed offered him a plane as gift without making full disclosure to the national legislature or the people of Liberia directly as to the nature of the gift as is customarily the case. Bribery is an impeachable offense against the integrity of the state.
  9. The President presided over the criminal misapplication of US25m intended for a mapping exercise to remove excess liquidity from the Liberian market. With the explicit consent of the President the money was diverted for private, instead of public use, and a parallel market in foreign exchange was created to exchange missing Liberian banknotes with the US banknotes, bordering on exchange rate manipulation, insider dealing, money laundering, embezzlement, misappropriation of entrusted property, theft of property and fraud.
  10. The President and the Chief Justice presided over a bribery scheme to illegally and unconstitutionally remove a sitting Justice of The Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, in express violation of the Constitution of Liberia, which OATH all elected and commission officers swore to defend and protect, the expressed violation of which renders the House of Representatives, The Chief Justice and President of Liberia unfit to hold office, hence, an impeachable offense.
  11. The President has directly supervised the stealing of public money for personal causes but without accountability. The President withdrew US$80m out of the Liberian International Reserves in New York. Out of this amount only US$55 could be accounted for at the Central Bank. The difference of US$25m was commandeered from the airport to the Rehab Residence of the President. This deliberate, blatant act of thievery by the President is a felonious transgression that renders him unfit for the public trust and office he occupies.
  12. The President, for repressive and dictatorial purposes, embarked upon rearming ex-rebel chiefs of staff that the International Community spent millions of US Dollars to disarm in furtherance of the Comprehensive Accra Peace Accord. This singular act by the President undermines the peace and security of the nation and is against the spirit of Security Sector Reform, and the Demobilization and Demobilization Rehabilitation (DDR) and also against the drive of the nation to move beyond the war experience in pursuit of National Reconciliation:
  1. General Ofari Diah – Asst. NSA Director for leeward Counties, former Chief of Staff, LURD;
  2. General Augustine Nagbe, INPFL
  3. General Daniel K. Bracewell, NPFL
  4. General Ciapha Norman, NPFL
  5. General Charles Bright, NPFL
  6. Other Generals and fighters, remobilize by the President includes Prince Toe, Sam Saryon, Sampson Nieger, Benjamin Taylor, etc

Risking Sanctions and International Isolation

The justice advocacy group is advising the Government of President Weah to be mindful of the precarious situation the country is in now and urgently adopt realistic proactive policies on human rights and justice; corruption and impunity; and good governance to project Liberia as a burgeoning democracy and a success story post UN intervention.

Liberia-Political Map
Liberia-Political Map

The statement further said that the posturing of an autocratic state does not portend well for the country. Manipulating the ouster of a Justice of the Supreme Court because of opinions or judgement rendered during active duty on the bench is unconstitutional and therefore illegal, unpatriotic and immoral, the IGJ statement warned.

The IJG statement further lamented that corruption in government is at an all-time high while essential social services, including hospitals, education, schools, healthcare, sanitation, hygiene and other public services are left wanting as the living standards of the Liberian people continue in rapid decline.

The IJG Statement further decried the government for turning a blind eye to massive human rights abuses, especially against women and the girl children. The alarming rate of murders from rape and other forms of sexual assaults and abuses throughout the country is a cause for condemnation underpinned by the callous indifference of the government, especially the President to condemn these brazen acts of criminal cowardice or demand swift and prompt investigations that will redress the wrongs against our precious women and help to restore their dignity.

The statement called for strong governmental actions from all branches of government against these wanton acts of human rights abuses including the recent deaths of two prison inmates in Nimba County, which sad incidences occurred unnoticed by government or its functionaries and the society at large.

“We condemn this state of affairs in the country and calls on all civil society actors and the international community to deplore government’s lack of action and indecisiveness over human rights, corruption and important national issues including the issue of justice, war crimes court and the full implementation of the TRC Report.

The absence of a well-articulated, conspicuously pro-people policies on changing or strengthening rape laws, like castration of perpetrators, public interest, transparency in government and proper stewardship of scarce resource and justice is a pro-impunity, pro-corruption and anti-people policy, a stance this Weah Government must consider moving away from. Otherwise, our government risk international sanctions and the isolation of the state to the detriment of our people and regression of gains already realized, the statement from the IJG signed by its Executive Director Counselor Jerome J. Verdier Sr. concluded.

By Our International Affairs Correspondent in Washington DC

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

Accused Liberian War Criminal Indicted In Switzerland: To Face Trial

Geneva, Switzerland, March 26, 2019: It appears that a former Liberian rebel and war actor will face prosecution in Europe, Switzerland after all.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber

The SWI swissinfo.ch – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) reports that after nearly five years of investigation, the country’s Swiss Attorney General has issued an indictment of Alieu Kosiah for war crimes he allegedly committed during Liberia’s back-to-back wars and his case will now goes to trial.

A statement from the Office of the Swiss Attorney General seen on Tuesday by the West African Journal Magazine says, “The defendant is accused of having ordered the murder respectively murdering or participating in the murder of civilians and soldiers hors de combat, desecrated a corpse of a civilian, raped a civilian, ordered the cruel treatment of civilians, recruited and employed a child soldier, ordered several pillages and ordered and/or participated in forced transports of goods and ammunition by civilians.”

Accused War Criminal Alieu Kosiah
Accused War Criminal Alieu Kosiah

Mr. Kosiah was picked up and detained in Switzerland since 2014 and he is the first person to be held for prosecution on charges brought by the Office of the Swiss Attorney General.

Following criminal complaints filed by several Liberians in 2014, the accused Mr. Kosiah was identified as a former rebel commander with the United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO). He has been a resident of Switzerland. The Attorney General then launched an investigation into criminal charges that Kosiah was responsible for committing war crimes in Liberia.

According to the Office of the  Swiss Attorney General, the collection of evidence against the accused was complicated by what it called the “lack of cooperation from Liberia and long period of time which had elapsed since the events in Liberia.”

About 25 witnesses have given testimonies to the Office of the Swiss Attorney General which has also received legal assistance from several international organizations.

Former Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson
Former Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Liberia was wracked by  horrendous civil wars in the 1990s. Various militias are accused of committing gross human rights abuses against unarmed civilians including the intentional dislocation of large sections of the populations.

Following the wars, belligerents agreed to the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which completed its work in June, 2012, submitted its Final Report to the Liberian Government and among several recommendations called for the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal to prosecute those identified as responsible for gross war and economic crimes.

But The Government of Liberia has been reluctant to implement recommendations of the TRC.

Accused Agnes Taylor and Tom Woweiyu
Accused Agnes Taylor and Tom Woweiyu

Some of those accused in the report including former rebel warlord turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL) have angrily rejected any attempts to bring them to justice and have vowed to resist the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal in the West African country. The main rebel leader Charles Taylor turned former President Charles Taylor was forced from office, later arrested, prosecuted and convicted on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity for supporting rebels who carried out atrocities in Sierra Leone in return for “blood diamonds”. He is presently serving a 50 year jail term.

The reluctance of the new Weah Government to commit to fully implementing the recommendations of the TRC, in spite of calls the local rights groups and the international community, has led to a campaign to support the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal in Liberia.

President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor - File Photo
President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor – File Photo

Support for proposed Congressional House Bill 1055 is growing in the U.S. for the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal.

Seal of International Justice Group
Seal of International Justice Group

Last week a rights groups including the Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJL) and the International Justice Group (IJG) led supporters to the office of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and presented a statement in which they said, “… we are equally optimistic that Resolution 1055 will be a reality, War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia will be a success story, and corruption and impunity will become history. It is only when we achieve these milestones, will we become an economically, socially and politically vibrant nation..”

Seal of Movement For Justice In Liberia
Seal of Movement For Justice In Liberia

Already, some supporters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) led Government are accusing rights groups of supporting the “economic strangulation” of the Weah government by their statement to U.S. House Speaker Pelosi.

Several Liberian war actors including former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Tom Woweiyu, Agnes Reeves Taylor and Martina Johnson are facing international justice. Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah” Jabateh, a former ULIMO rebel commander, is currently serving a 30 year prison term on immigration fraud charges in the U.S.

Sealed indictments have been drawn up against some Liberians which have been accused of war and economic crimes in Liberia.

Political Map of Liberia
Political Map of Liberia

Others accused of committing atrocities and who fled the country are living under assumed names in parts of Africa, Europe and the United States. One of such persons is a former commander in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who, in the early days of the rebel invasion in Liberia, led a death squad that murdered a prominent Liberian architect and Mayor of the suburban city of Clay Ashland, Mayor Mr. R. Vanjah Richards. At the time, the Defense Ministry in Liberia said Major Johnson and his men “deviated from their mission”. Johnson later disappeared from Liberia.

West African Journal Magazine has been reliably informed by credible sources that the accused, Henry K. Johnson, is hiding out in the U.S.

International investigators say they will continue to pursue accused Liberia war and economic criminals and bring them to justice or bring justice to them.

By Our Correspondents in Europe, Liberia and the U.S.

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

 

IJG Says Dispatching Investigators To Liberia To Monitor & Collect Data On Threats To Activists

Washington DC, USA and Monrovia, Liberia- February 11, 2019: The International Justice Group (IJG) says it has dispatched a team of Investigators to Liberia as a result of increased security threats to several civic and human rights organizations and activists.

International Justice Group (IJG)

According to a representative of the IJG, it says it has received credible information through its contacts in the West African country and social media monitor. and is concerned that senior operatives of the ruling party and auxiliaries, some of whom are disguised, are intimidating, issuing threats of death and bodily harm to others who freely express critical views of the Government.

Liberia’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah last year lashed out at the media over its reportage against the Government and openly threatened to “weaponize” supporters against the media.

Ruling CDC Party Mulbah Morlu

Two weeks ago, the Chairman of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Mulbah Morlu, at a hastily arranged partisans meeting at his party’s headquarters in Monrovia, accused the opposition bloc and supporters of supporting the assassination of President George M. Weah.

“There are a few supporters of the three political parties, that we’ve documented, that post on social media calling in people to take up arms against the President. And one of them came out to say that the President should be assassinated…” Morlu quoting social media charged.

He, however, presented no evidence to substantiate his accusation that the posters were opposition supporters.

Dolakeh Jonathan Saye Taryor

A member of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) Dolakeh Jonathan Saye Taryor, in a strong reaction to Morlu’s accusations, called them “reckless and irresponsible” and an attempt to instill fear among citizens.

He told the West African Journal Magazine, in a telephone interview on Sunday night, that the ANC and coalition of opposition political parties are committed to maintaining the peace in Liberia.

Mr. Taryor scoffed at Morlu’s “assassination” accusation, adding that, “…the assassination of President Weah, will not, in anyway, install the opposition in power..”, and called Morlu’s Statement simply false.

Coalition of Opposition Political Parties – Liberia

The opposition member challenged the credibility of the current CDC Chairman Morlu and his “ridiculous” claim a couple of years ago that, he, Morlu, met former US President Barack Obama at a summit in Ghana where he claimed, they both held “high level talks”.

There is no proof of this Obama meeting that Morlu claimed.

Taryor said the CDC Chairman was attempting to deflect from the prevailing issues of the missing “16 billion” Liberian dollars scandal, proof of the provision of 78,000 chairs to schools, as claimed by President Weah in his State of The Union Address on January 28, 2019, the deteriorating economy under the CDC-led government and other missteps.

The opposition member called for a state investigation of the CDC Chairman over the “incendiary” accusations, which, he said, have the potential to cause chaos and endanger the lives of opposition leaders and supporters.

“IJG is saying its Investigators will be fully stationed in Liberia indefinitely to monitor Human Rights Violations and has recommended several Liberians to the US and European governments for travel restrictions.”

The global research and rights organization says the IJG is currently lobbying in Washington DC, the United States Senate for full Congressional passage of House of Representatives Resolution (H.Res) 1055 which calls for the full implementation of the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the establishment of a Special tribunal for Liberia.

Seal of the US House of Representatives

The Resolution which was introduced September, 2018, and agreed to by the House of Representatives last November, “…Supports efforts by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to advance Liberian national reconciliation…”

Map of Liberia

According to the group, it says it is collecting data on alleged crimes being committed under the current Liberian Administration and will advocate for accountability for all economic and rights abuses.

By Our Justice Reporter In Washington DC, USA and National Politics Correspondent In Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

World Bank Says Half Of Liberia’s Population Is Living in Poverty

Economic indicators cited by the World Bank confirm that the economy of the West African nation of Liberia continues to decline. 

World Bank Logo

According to its recently published overview of the the economic situation in Liberia, on October 12, 2018, the World Bank states that, “…The fiscal deficit widened to 5.2% of GDP in FY2018 compared to 4.8% of GDP in FY17, due to a significant short-fall in revenues and higher than anticipated non-discretionary expenditures. The shortfall in revenues (20% of the approved budget) is due to the slower than anticipated economic activities due to prolonged period of political uncertainty, tax waiver policies in the run up to the presidential elections, unresolved court dispute with respect to the collection of petroleum levy and lower than projected donor grants. Public sector wage bill as a percent of GDP overshot its target by one percentage point to 9.9% of GDP. Overall, the core non-discretionary expenditures such as the wage bill and interest payments constituted about 75% of domestic revenues…”

President George M. Weah

Since its inauguration in January, 2018, the George M. Weah Administration has been paralyzed by economic headwinds brought on by the global slump in commodity prices, rising global oil prices, withdrawal of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)in March, the outbreak of the Ebola pandemic between 2014 –  2016, an anemic agricultural sector, drops in donor inflow and diaspora remittances. 

The World Bank says the attending consequences of the economic malaise are, “…The resultant rise in the cost of living and limited employment opportunities continue to undermine the welfare of Liberians. According to the 2016 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES), more than half of the population (50.9%) is living in poverty. Poverty is more than two times higher in rural areas (71.6%) than in urban areas (31.5%) and is overall lower in Monrovia than in the rest of the country. 

Local commodities

Transfers and remittances have a low impact on poverty in Liberia: for the poorest and most vulnerable households, transfers are neither widely prevalent nor high enough value to address the needs of the poor…”

Although the UN served notice of the eventual drawdown and exit of its mission in Liberia over a period of time, the country developed no strategic plans to sustain the economic shock of the loss of hard currency from the exit of the UN Mission. 

Since 2005, UNMIL’s expenses for operations in Liberia amounted to about $7.5 billion USD and was considered as a main source for the availability of much needed hard currency in the country. 

The Weah Administration has identified opportunities in road connectivity, energy and ports but investments have been slow to come even after nearly 10 months. 

Medium term, the World Bank paints an optimistic outlook for Liberia saying, 

“…The new Administration is expected to mitigate these risks by embarking on policy reforms that will promote economic diversification, improve the investment climate, promote domestic revenue mobilization and to ensure prudent borrowing strategy.”

Map of Liberia

In Liberia, the reality of the economic free fall is manifesting itself in increasing and unaffordable prices of basic commodities and resignation of struggling citizens to even harder times.  157 Liberian dollars are currently equivalent to 1 US dollar. 

Despite calls to the Weah Administration to show a feasible economic plan and strategy to stem the national economic challenges, Government has remained largely silent. 

The opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) political party recently told Liberians to be truly concerned about the current direction of the country.

ANC leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings strongly criticized the Weah Administration over its lack of organization and planning and refusal to accept recommendations to address its lack of capacity and knowledge about economic and governance matters. 

The ANC leader Cummings has said although the opposition has no obligation to assist, “the government is arrogant in reaching out for assistance and the country is in trouble; yet it was the duty of all Liberians to help do what they can even if they, the government, feel that they don’t need help.”

ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings.

He referenced an ANC economic blueprint which the party offered to the Weah government shortly after it took up governance of the country. 

Political observers  and diplomatic sources say Liberia offers no real international strategic importance and the refusal of the Weah Administration to implement much needed fiscal reforms and address issues of war and economic crimes are impacting its ability to attract sympathetic donor funding and investments from western countries and long time allies. 

The global accountability and justice advocacy group the International Justice Group (IJG), in a statement issued in August on the issue of war and economic crimes, warned that, “…Under international justice, President Weah’s clear refusal poses serious consequences for Liberia’s prosperity in many ways. 

From international sanctions to other activities such as travel ban of officials and others in government and the country, the pressure will be brought to bear by the International Justice Group as well as the 76 Group and others…”

Under heavy pressure and declining local favorability, the ruling Congress for Democratic Change Government has undertaken a full court effort to open a corridor to influential United States Congressional leaders for assistance to open the tap of US and international funding for the poor West African nation.

A congressional source on Capitol Hill says any consideration to approve loans to Liberia will have to address outstanding issues of war and economic crimes, corruption and governmental reforms. 

Currently, a congressional resolution supporting the implementation of the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and supported by the IJG and some international non-governmental organizations is making its way through committee in the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. 

The resolution introduced by Republican Dan Donovan Jr.  of New York calls for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) recommendations, including the establishment of an extraordinary criminal tribunal for Liberia.

Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah has so far avoided taking a position on the implementation of the TRC recommendations; although he, at one point, voiced support for the prosecution of warlords in Liberia. 

If the resolution passes US House of Representatives plenary, it will add additional pressure on the Weah Administration to directly address past war and economic crimes. 

Liberia GDP Trend

According to the Trading Economics website, “External Debt in Liberia increased to 676.40 USD Million in the second quarter of 2018 from 649 USD Million in the first quarter of 2018. External Debt in Liberia averaged 533.56 USD Million from 2009 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 1681.92 USD Million in the third quarter of 2009 and a record low of 222.80 USD Million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

 By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine 

Press Statement: PEACEFUL PROTESTORS ARE TRUE PATRIOTS, NOT NOISE MAKERS

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE GROUP ( IJG)

PRESS STATEMENT

For immediate release

Peaceful protests is a fundamental right of free speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia, Universal Declarstion of Human Rights and multiple international covenants and declarations of theUnited Nations, the AU, ECOWAS, to which Liberia is a part is undeniable.

The Americans and European Bodies also have guaranteed that espouse and respect the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Liberia House Speaker Bhofal Chambers

For the Speaker of the Liberian lower House of Representatives to declare that demonstrators are noise makers exposes a fundamental flaw in the Speaker’s understanding and appreciation for “contemporary democracy”.

Liberia’s peaceful demonstrators are the Bosses of the Honorable Speaker. They are the ones who pay his fat salary, he is accountable to them and this Government of President Weah must listen to them.

Said statement appearing in the October 19th Edition of the Frontpage Newspaper, attributed to the Honorable Speaker is callously reckless and irresponsible. It demonstrates that the Honorable Speaker doesn’t know his place in Government and is unfit to be the people’s representative.

No immunity from criminal Investigation

Ongoing investigation or future investigations into the very shameful “missing money” saga is of the nature a criminal investigation from which there is no immunity for members of the Honorable National Legislature.

The immunity they enjoy is to ensure they perform their job, the business of the people of Liberia, without hindrances and restraints but not to shield the Honorable members of the National Legislature From criminal investigations, crime or prosecution for the commission crimes. A member of the National Legislature can be arrested for a misdemeanor as low as infraction of public peace or disorderly conduct or any infamous crimes in hot persist.

There is no protection of a Legislator from investigation for the commission of a crime. HONORABLE

LEGISLATORS ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW, AND NO ONE IS.

“Contemporary Democracy” puts no one above the law, nor does it shield anyone from justice who does a wrong, breaks the law or conspire to steal money, launder money or engage in currency manipulation and economic crimes. While the entire body of the HonorableHouse of Representative may not be subject to current criminal investigations, but individual members may so be where the evidence leads and be prosecuted and they cannot hide under the cover of that Honorable Body to extenuate impunity and impede the ends of justice.

Serious Crimes we’re committed

The investigation into the “missing money” saga are potentially very serious crimes and the Government of President Weah must regard it as such. Indications are that the saga points to a conspiracy to commit crimes like money laundering, currency manipulation, insider or illegal dealings in currency and counterfeiting and if this Honorable Body is found to be involved, liable or found to be complicit or culpable, the Honorable Legislature will be thereby discredited, its immunity lowered to face justice or be disbanded.

Servant Leadership

In our scheme of democracy, our leaders are expected to be servants of the people, subject to their desires for good governance and accountability.

So, when the people demand “bring back our money” they are not saying they know where the container of money is, Mr. Speaker, they are saying they know that the authorities of state took the container of money and it is the authorities who, therefore know where the money is, and the money is their (public) property and are demanding you all must bring back their money from under your beds, in your cupboards and closets, garages, in your cars and wherever they have new started to elude suspicions and discoveries.

Legislative Break

The National Legislature is entitled to annual breaks, which the late President Samuel Doe designated as “agriculture break” so legislators can spend time with their people in their constituencies to emphasize the importance of agriculture to Liberia’s economic resurgence.

This break by the Legislature is compulsory, constitutional and must hold. It is not within the purview of the Honorable Legislature to, on their own accord, terminate their annual break. So, they must continue on break and if they end it for any reason other than Presidential Perogative, then they are on their own and any monies paid to them will be illegal, corruption amounting to gross abuse of public office and authority.

Map of Liberia

The Honorable National Legislature can only be recalled from break by The President for state emergency reasons or similar inputs. Since no such state of emergency exists, at the moment, President Weah will be well advised not to recall the Legislature and spare the national treasury such High sum to pay US$10,000 as legislators are said to be demanding. So, please, Mr President, Dr George M Weah, let the Legislators enjoy their break to rest and interact and consult with their constituencies inkeeping with law. In the absence of the Honorable Legislature on recess any law you desire can wait and Executive Orders are available to remedy such situation pending their return.

Authority to Print Money

While the Honorable National Legislature May have intended to limit the CBL to printing a certain amount of new Liberia Currency to 5 Billion Liberia Dollars, the communication transmitted to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) is suspect.

The communication, wether by design, miscommunication or a criminal conspiracy or scheme from which individual members of the Honorable Legislature or the entire body benefited is yet undetermined.

Instead of limiting the CBL, the communication from the National Legislature to the CBL did not express or contain any such restrictions or limits. Instead, the communication authorized the CBL to use all the constitutional authority of the National Legislature to print new money when in closing the Honorable National Legislature unwittingly and unnecessarily said “ In view of the above and with the Power assigned to the Legislature under Article 35(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority “

With this expressed authorization and Blessings of the National Legislature coupled with the scope, power and authority conferred on the CBL by the CBL ACT, the Legislature explicitly delegated, assigned and arrogated to the CBL all its powers and authority to print new Liberian Currency in any amount the CBL so desires.

And, with information becoming clearer and clearer that some members of the National Legislature shared in the proceeds of the looted container of Liberian money, we may be getting closer and closer to a grand national conspiracy to commit fraud, theft of property, money laundering. and other economic crimes against the people of Liberia, on a scale like never

before seen in the history of Liberia.

Recommendations

1. That the Government enacts very strong anti-corruption laws that makes it easier to punish corrupt officials of government and recover stolen assets for public use. The IJG offers its services and is willing to assist government in this direction

2. That the Government of President Weah establishes a SALARIES AND RENUMERATION COMMISSION to regulate, set parity standards that creates equity and fair standards in salaries and renumeration in the public sector to reward experience and merit and encourage productivity in the public sector and bring in line the very high salaries of public sector officials with economic realities and the living standards of the people, which at the moment is disproportionately too high or at best unrealistic.

3. Review of the CBL ACT to remove any and all anomalies found within the act so that the relationship between the. Legislature and the CBL can be less suspicious which clarification of roles, scope of functions and authorities will eliminate.

ISSUED BY AUTHORITY

IJG

This 20th day of October, AD 2018

Signed:

Jerome J Verdier, Sr (Cllr)

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

-END-

International Justice Group Seeks Explanation of Missing Bank Notes In Liberia

WASHINGTON, DC ––In the past two days and prior to that, Liberia has been stained by lots of serious economic crimes––from money laundering, organized corruption to illicit contracts and the abuse of power to possess state assets such as the International Trust Company (ITC) which has now been renamed as the International Bank.

Scales of Justice

According to a blog posted on its website, the IJG says some of these deadly criminal acts allegedly date back several years, particularly in the last two decades. However, these crimes became excessive in the past 21 years, beginning in 1997 to 2018.

Meanwhile, the IJG fullest attention is drawn to the recent extreme and undue level of theft of public funds and the misuse of public trust exhibited in the country with the printing and personal possession of more than LD$16 billion Liberian

dollars which cannot be traced or accounted for so far.

Accordingly, the printed funds disappeared despite documents showing that the previous and current Liberian administrations were fully aware of the funds’ arrival in the country.

WHY IS THE CDC-LED ADMINISTRATION REFUSING TO AUDIT THE ADMINISTRATION OF FORMER PRESIDENT SIRLEAF?

From all applications and indications, this action by those allegedly involved, including those who authorized and approved such activities, is considered an economic crime in general and money laundering to be specific.

The IJG calls on the current Liberian President George M. Weah and former President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to explain to the Liberian people and the international community, in clear terms and unwavering terms, what happened to the money and where it is. The IJG is also engaged with the international community and various international financial security institutions, global intelligence agencies and others to ensure that a full investigation in this matter is reached, especially since money laundering of this nature has global implications including the fact that the money was printed in Lebanon.

Map of Liberia

The IJG urges President Weah and the Liberian government to institute an immediate inquiry into all financial and economic crimes committed in Liberia in the past 20 years. We also call on President Weah to heed the call of the Liberian people, Liberia’s international partners, and global human rights organizations to commit to the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia.

“There can be no genuine reconciliation, unity, peace, and development in any nation without justice. Liberia and the Liberian government need to do the right thing by establishing and supporting an international framework that holds accountable anyone who committed these crimes”, says IJG Executive Director Counselor Jerome J. Verdier, Sr.

“The ongoing money laundering saga in Liberia is because of rewarding impunity and protecting murders and abusers in Liberia. This must stop now! Or else, President Weah’s administration, his officials and officials from former President Sirleaf’s administration will have to make a decisive choice: endure international isolation including a travel ban and asset forfeiture or elect to protect war and economic criminals,” said IJG’s Chief Counselor Verdier.

The IJG is putting in place a mechanism to ensure that all those accused of war and economic crimes, money laundering etc. will be exposed to the international justice system for tough actions, including asset tracing/tracking and confiscation, international arrests, trial, and imprisonment if found guilty.

The IJG calls on all foreign diplomatic missions accredited to Liberia and West Africa to refrain from granting travel visas to Liberian national (both civilians and officials) and others suspected of economic and war crimes in Liberia to enforce the doctrine that impunity has no space in civilized societies.

This is not the first time that a missing container saga occurred under a presidential watch. In 2007 two ships allegedly with printed money disappeared at the National Port Authority in Monrovia. Then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf cried when her National Security Agency told her that former Minister Morris Saytumah, now a Senator for Bomi County, was responsible as part of a Criminal Cartel. That criminal cartel is still operational, and impunity is fueling their zest for the crime.

We also recall the mishandling of the EBOLA funds; the US$30 million maternity fund, etc., the Japanese Fund, the Police Uniform corruption saga, the Executive Mansion’s annual revolving funds/allocations, the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company’s corruption, the milking of NOCAL and stealing of funds obligated through multiple contract deals; the Ministry of Public Works/Nigerian Praise Tony Lawal’s millions of dollars illicit and unfinished contracts corruption, and the multiple public theft and organized corruption at the Ministry of Finance from 2011 to 2018.

President George M Weah

We are of the firmed opinion that the Weah Administration believes it can benefit from ignoring national, regional and international calls for justice and accountability in Liberia, thereby furthering the institutionalizations of the impunity it hopes will not hold them accountable for crimes they intend to commit.

If the current government, under President Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), fails to pursue justice by refusing to fully implement all the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia and the various audit reports which implicated higher government officials, some of whom filed annual taxes every year in the U.S. reporting bogus earnings and committing fraud, theft and economic crimes generally as U.S. citizens, THE GOVERNMENT RUNS THE RISK OF TURNING LIBERIA TO THE PARIAH STATE IT ONCE WAS.

In another development, the IJG will file a formal complaint and Freedom of Information’s request to obtain the tax filing documents of individuals with U.S. citizenship or Permanent Resident status, have filed taxes in the U.S. while working in Liberia (and with the Liberian government, past and present) and have under-reported their alleged stolen wealth obtained through organized corruption and money laundering.

An additional request will be made to the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Internal Revenue Service at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The reason for this is to expose and investigate the stolen wealth these individuals acquired from Liberia over the past few years.  In the coming weeks, the IJG will name all those suspected of economic crimes and organized corruption in Liberia during the past and current Liberian administration and will submit same to the international criminal justice system, including Liberia’s partners.

Amongst those suspected include former cabinet ministers, deputies, assistants, heads of autonomous agencies, members of the legislature, and some well-connected business people, family members and friends of those in power.

Finally, there is credible information that prominent Liberian journalist Philibert Browne and his family are in danger, receiving constant threats from individuals and gangs allegedly claiming to be operatives and supporters of the authorities. He is under serious threat, his wife and children all received death threats on their cell phones including on Facebook.

We applaud the Weah Administration and the Liberian police force for deploying several police officers including armed men at Mr. Browne’s place for their personal protection.

Ex-President Sirleaf presents President Weah with a golden football. Who is protecting who?

Mr. Browne, publisher of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, is the publisher/investigative journalist who first broke the story about the missing money and the container when, in June this year, IJG’s investigators visited Liberia as part of the ongoing fact-finding on organized corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.

On behalf of the international community and Liberia’s foreign partners that are watching the unfolding circumstances in the country, we urge the Liberian government to continue to provide protection for Journalist Browne and his family. Meanwhile, a small team of the IJG investigators will continue to remain in Liberia to gather additional information on economic and war crimes.

International Justice Group ((IJG)

Washington DC USA

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