U.S. House Bill Amendment Will Provide Reward For Arrest-Conviction for War Crimes

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.”

Former Liberian Militia Leaders
Former Liberian Militia Leaders

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:

County Victims Violations
Montserrado 14,980 22,094
Bong 12,546 22,175
Lofa 11,296 18,863
Nimba 7,784 12,794
Bomi 5,970 9,840
Gbarpolu 7,285 13,574
Grand Bassa 6,227 10,739
Margibi 3,394 5,154  
Sinoe 5,706 9,266  
Maryland 3,934 6,162  
Grand Kru 3,296 5,568  
Grand Gedeh 4,010 6,569  
River Gee 4,030 6,839  
Rivercess 2,315 3,566  
Grand Cape Mount 5,768 ,9354  
Unknown 781 1,058  
TOTAL 93,322 163,615  

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

TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier
TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier

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.

U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee

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

 

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

Liberia: How Col. Larry Borteh Was Killed; Other Atrocities and Perpetrators

A team of investigators from the International Justice Group (IJG) says a former member of Liberia’s erstwhile People’s Redemption Council (PRC) military junta which, in 1980, overthrew the civilian Administration of William R. Tolbert Jr.,was killed in 1990 by forces under the command of former rebel commander and leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia Prince Y. Johnson.

Colonel Larry Borteh - File Photo
Colonel Larry Borteh

According to IJG international investigators citing witnesses and family members who they interviewed in Liberia, Colonel Larry Borteh, just prior to his death, was residing at the once prestigious Hotel African in the western outskirts of the capital Monrovia. General Johnson, upon hearing that Colonel Borteh was at Hotel Africa, requested to see him. The area was under the control of Johnson and his INPFL forces.

Johnson is now a senator representing the northeast political sub-division of Nimba County in Liberia.

Colonel Borteh fell out of favor with coup leader Samuel Doe in 1984 following accusations that he and 2 other former PRC members Nicholas Podier and Jerry Friday were plotting against him, Doe. Borteh remained largely in private life after until the onset of the civil war which started in December, 1989.

The former PRC junta member left the hotel accompanied by several INPFL rebels and traveled to the Cotton Tree-Caldwell junction which is a main thoroughfare that leads to central Monrovia but also branches off to the township of Caldwell where Johnson and his rebel outfit had carved out their military base. Form there, Johnson and his rebels would launch frequent deadly attacks on government forces and the main rebel National Patriotic Front (NPFL) led by now jailed former President Charles Taylor. Johnson and his forces also regularly terrorized and indiscriminately killed unarmed and innocent civilians and some of his own forces. Johnson and his INPFL forces looted food and goods from the main seaport known as the Freeport of Monrovia. The port was situated in territory which he controlled on Bushrod Island, west of Monrovia.

Senator Prince Y. Johnson
Former INPFL Rebel Commander Senator Prince Y. Johnson

When Colonel Borteh arrived at the Cotton Tree- Caldwell junction, he was immediately arrested by INPFL forces under the command of one Anthony Sonkarley. He was ordered tied up and weighted down with stones after which he was taken to the nearby Stockton Creek into which he was thrown. Colonel Borteh died from apparent drowning at the hands of the INPFL forces under the control of Johnson. The incident occurred in August, 1990 just before the arrival in Monrovia of the ECOWAS Peace Monitoring Group known as ECOMOG.

It is unclear why Colonel Borteh was singled out and killed by Johnson forces.

Atrocities and Perpetrators

Several individuals have been identified as alleged war criminals responsible for committing heinous crimes against civilians during the war. Some of those named by IJG sources include Major George Dweh, Lt. Bobby Kpoto, Major Nezee Barway and Lt. Col. Michael Tailey The accused were all part of Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) loyal to slain Liberian President Samuel K. Doe and were fingered by investigators for the killing of Doris Toweh Gballah, Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Nah and family, former government Minister Johnny Kpor and the entire Cassell in Monrovia. Others allegedly killed include Mr. and Ms. Samuel D. Greene, John Bright, student activist Wuo Garbe Tappia, Tonia Richardson, Benedict Garlawulo, Robert Quiah, Robert Phillips and Wewe Debar.

The AFL death squads, comprising the named perpetrators allegedly killed Martha Bernard and her sister. One Naomi Gooding and six other women who were taking refuge in the Sinkor suburb were also killed.The victims were all picked from various parts of Monrovia by by death squads.

According to our source, Lt. Colonel Tailey, loyal to former President Doe, was a notorious death squad commander who led government troops to the Lutheran Church compound in the suburb of Sinkor where hundreds of defenseless civilians from the Gio, Mano and other ethnic groups, fleeing targeted violence were taking refuge.

Lt. Col Michael Taily
Lt Col Michael Tailey

Witnesses and survivors said over 600 men, women and children were killed in that massacre although the government at the time denied any involvement and blamed advancing rebels for the attack on the church compound. According to survivors, forces who carried out the Lutheran Church massacre were from the same Krahn ethnic group as then President Doe.

Tailey was subsequently killed in mysterious circumstances on orders of AFL commanders after he was detained on the military base of the AFL known as the Barclay Training Center Barracks in central Monrovia.

Another perpetrator is a former police officer Paul Tuazama who was dismissed from the Liberian National Police (LNP) following the failed coup in 1985 led by another former PRC member and army commander General Thomas G. Quiwonkpa. Investigators say Tuazama operated an NPFL death squad which operated on Duport Road in the Paynesville area, north of the capital Monrovia and allegedly carried a massacre of civilians in that area and in Kakata, which is about 34 miles from the capital Monrovia.

Tuazama currently works at the Liberian judiciary at the Temple of Justice, just a stone throw away from the seat of country’s Legislature and the official offices of President George M.Weah on Capitol Hill.

Local and international pressure is mounting on the Weah Administration to establish a war crimes tribunal and bring to book for prosecution all those identified in the country’s TRC Final Report as responsible for the commission alleged war and economic crimes.

In its Final Report and under the heading,“Statute Establishing the Extraordinary of Liberia” General Part, Article 1 Establishment and Competence, the TRC recommends that,

1. In order to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Republic of Liberia (TRC) to establish an “Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia”, an internationalized domestic court, to combat a culture of impunity, secure justice for victims and ensure that Liberia adheres too, respects and protects prevailing international human rights and humanitarian law standards, an Extraordinary Criminal Court (hereinafter “Court”) is hereby established.

2. The Court shall have all the necessary power and jurisdiction to prosecute persons referred to it by the TRC for gross violations of human rights (GVHR), serious humanitarian law violations (SVLV) and egregious domestic crimes (EDC) as enumerated by this Statute.

3. The seat of the court shall in Monrovia, Liberia.

i. The Court may establish alternative sites to conduct hearings as it deems necessary.

Article 2

Organs of he Court

The Court shall be composed for the following organs

i. Appeals Division

ii. Trial Division

iii. The Office of the Prosecutor and

iv. The Registry

About 98 notorious perpetrators and heads of rebels factions in Liberia were named in the TRC report and recommendation for prosecution for gross human rights violations and war crimes.

Another 54 individuals and entities were recommended for further investigation.

Individuals named by the TRC Final Report are presumed innocent until guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt by the final verdict of the court.

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

The Weah Administration has refused to publicly state its official position on the establishment of the Court but has signaled through some of its officials that this is not a priority for Government. Local and international rights and advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations say they are prepared to turn up public awareness and pressure on the Liberian government in order to ensure justice is served. A U.S. Republican Representative Mr. Daniel M. Donovan Jr. last week introduced a Congressional resolution which calls for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia. The Weah Administration has yet to officially respond to this move.

Diplomatic sources say that additional pressure such as cut in foreign aid to Liberia, a travel ban and sanctions against Liberian government officials will be applied to force the West African nation’s compliance with implementation of recommendations of the TRC.

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: Speaker Backs Restorative Justice For War Crimes Accused

Liberia House Speaker Bhofal Chambers

The Speaker of Liberia’s House of Representatives has reinforced the George M. Weah Administration’s stance against the establishment of a war crimes court in the West African nation to prosecute those who may have committed atrocities and economic crimes during the country’s civil war.

Appearing on the VOA’s Day Break Africa program on Monday morning, Speaker Bhofal Chambers, said the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement stipulates for restorative rather than retributive Justice following completion of the work and submission of the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) since 2009.

The Liberian House Speaker said, based on the Accra Peace Agreement “…the arrangement was that there should be peace and reconciliation in Liberia. There should be restorative justice versus retributive justice. And we who go to conventions and international discussions, where there are treaties, it’s only fair to work out those details and those details must be followed to the letter…”

The Britannica website defines Restorative Justice as a “response to criminal behaviour that focuses on lawbreaker restitution and the resolution of the issues arising from a crime in which victims, offenders, and the community are brought together to restore the harm…”, while the authoritative website also defines Retributive Justice as a “response to criminal behaviour that focuses on the punishment of lawbreakers and the compensation of victims.

In general, the severity of the punishment is proportionate to the seriousness of the crimes…”

The philosophy of Restorative and Retributive Justice is found in ancient law codes from the Near East around 2050 BC. 2000 BC and the well known Babylonia Code of Hammurabi in 1750 BC.

Pressed on terms of the Accra Peace Agreement regarding the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia based on the TRC recommendations, Speaker Chambers emphatically stated that was not the agreement parties subscribed to.

Asked if Liberia is being pressured by the international community to set up a war crimes court, the third in line to the Liberian Presidency denied that international colleagues, ECOWAS, UN, AU and some friendly local diplomatic missions in Liberia were calling for the setting up of a war crimes court in Liberia.

On last Friday, New York Republican Representative Daniel M. Donovan Jr. introduced a Congressional Resolution which calls for the establishment of a war crimes court.

“…More than that, the Liberian people are the people who, should perhaps, set their agenda. If they want the clock to be set back, it will be their decision. But obviously we are reminding our compatriots that when we are in an arrangement, what we agreed upon must be followed,” Speaker Chambers held.

In response to assertions from the Liberian House Speaker in his VOA interview, the former head of Liberia’s TRC Counselor Jerome Verdier said the Speaker “did not understand the provisions of the Accra Peace Agreement and I believe he hasn’t read the TRC Act. The TRC Act domesticated the provisions of the Accra Peace Agreement.”

Former Chairman of Liberia TRC Counselor Jerome Verdier

Counselor Verdier who now serves as Executive Director of the newly formed rights advocacy and research organization the International Justice Group (IJG) countered further that, “and there is no provision in there [Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement] that calls exclusively for restorative justice. And what he doesn’t understand also is that restoring justice is not a process mutually exclusive from the criminal justice process. It is a component of the criminal justice process. It is a component; or an offshoot of the criminal justice process. The Speaker is mistaken or he is trying to intentionally embellish impunity for what he calls restorative justice”.

With the recent apprehension in France of an alleged Liberia war actor, Kunta K., Counselor Verdier disclosed that there is heightened awareness of the need for justice in Liberia and says there are efforts currently underway to indict alleged perpetrators of war crimes in Liberia.

Former Rebel Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson

The former head of Liberia’s TRC specifically named a former warlord and current lawmaker from Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson as one of nearly 100 notorious war crimes perpetrators who may be indicted.

The current Liberian government has repeatedly side-stepped questions on its commitment to the establishment of a war crimes court to prosecute alleged perpetrators who are accused of committing some of the most heinous atrocities during Liberia’s civil war.

President George Weah, a former UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at a news conference at the UNICEF -Liberia Office in Monrovia on April 23, 2004, took a stance for the prosecution of warlords.

Liberian President George. M. Weah

Ambassador Weah added in his call at the time that those to be prosecuted include warlords and military commanders of the various belligerent groups who, for their own selfish gains, brought children into the conflict.

But the Liberia leader has now had a change of heart and is no longer advocating for justice against warlords.

At a recent meeting with opposition leaders in Monrovia, a statement attributed to President Weah said he expressed unwillingness at prosecuting alleged perpetrators since, according to him, they are current government decision makers and that Liberians were all inter-related.

The President has come under heavy criticisms for his lack of commitment to implementing the recommendations of the TRC Final Report.

Supporters of the President defend his stance on non-establishment of a War Crimes Court citing the fragile peace condition in the country and potential for a return to instability.

Map of Liberia

President Weah is expected to travel to New York later in September to give his first address to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Political observers say his address will be the first real opportunity to hear the official position of the Weah Administration which is under heavy local and international pressure to establish a prosecutorial mechanism for dealing with war and economic crimes in the West African country.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Full Text: US Congressional Resolution On War Crimes Court in Liberia

Seal of Liberia

The International Justice Group (IJG) has released a copy of the Congressional Resolution introduced by Republican Representative Daniel M. Donovan Jr. to call for establishment of a war crimes court in the West African nation of Liberia.

The full copy of the Resolution submitted on Friday was copied to The West African Journal Magazine late Sunday.

115TH CONGRESS 2D SESSION

H. RES. 1055

To affirm strong United States-Liberia ties and support for democratic prin- ciples, and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraor- dinary 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 rec- ommendations, including the establishment of an Ex- traordinary 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;

IV

2

Whereas the people and Government of the United States have a deep interest in Liberia’s democratic stability and post conflict 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, in- cluding the use of child soldiers;

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

Liberia TRC Commissioners File Photo

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;

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

3

Whereas the Government of Liberia has not fully implemented the recommendations of the Truth and Reconcili- ation 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 Su- preme 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 through full implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal; and

US House of Representatives

(3) supports efforts by the Department of State and United States Agency for International Develop- ment 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 Magazine

Liberia War And Economic Criminals Hiding Abroad, Say IJG Investigators

The International Justice Group (IJG) war crimes investigators in the United States. South Africa, Europe and Canada say they have discovered about 73 Liberian war and economic criminals residing in the US, Canada and other parts of Europe.

Convicted NPFL Spokesman Tom Woewiyu and Former Rebel INPFL Commander Prince Johnson

According to the IJG Investigators, the individuals listed in the West African country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report  are living under different disguises and names to avoid detection and apprehension by authorities for the roles in the Liberian civil war.

They are from the  Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), National Patriotic Front of of Liberia (NPFL), Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) and the Liberia Peace Council (LPC).
Others in hiding are from the Lofa Defense Force (LDF), MODEL, ULIMO-J, ULIMO-K and the LURD rebel factions.

The accused were involved in heinous atrocities committed between April 14, 1979 up to 2003. A team of international investigators was in Liberia in June to conclude the final stages of investigation of these individuals, a source said.

Some of the non combatants and victims of the Liberia civil conflict included the following:

Mr. & Ms. Samuel Greene
Archie Greene
John Bright
Budu Houge
Charles Gbenyon
Robert Quiah
R. Vanjah Richards
James Coleman
Butler Freeman
Mr & Ms. Johnny Nah
Johnny Kpor
Doris Toweh Gballah
Stephen Yekeson
Stephen Daniels
Tommy Raynes
Samuel Tody and
Browne Paul
Henneh Johnson
Phillip Bowen
Michael Doe
Jackson F. Doe
David Q. Livingstone
Moses Washington
James Turning
Chea Kayea
Roosevelt Savice
Gabriel Kpolleh and
Tonia Richardson

Still other victims are:
Wuo Garbe Tappia
Wewe Debar
Exodus Kerdoe and
Benedict Garlawolu

Thousands in Liberia and Sierra and nationals of other countries who are not listed were  murdered by the rebel factions in violation of the four Geneva Conventions which  protect people who were not (or were no longer) taking part in hostilities, including the sick and wounded,   prisoners of war, and civilians.

Liberia TRC
TRC Liberia – Logo

Since submission of the TRC Report and recommendations, in 2009 to the Liberian government, no one has been held to account for their roles in war and economic crimes.

Local and international pressure is building on the Weah government to favorably respond to calls to establish a war crimes tribunal.

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

The International Justice Group (IJG) earlier this week said, “Under international justice, President Weah’s clear refusal poses serious consequences for Liberia’s prosperity in many ways. From international sanction to other activities such as travel ban of officials and others in government and the country, the pressure will be brought by the International Justice Group  as well as the 76 Group and others…”

The Weah Administration has yet to officially commit to the setting up of a war and economic crimes court.

Liberia – TRC Full Report

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal

Feature: Liberia Must End Impunity and Side With Justice Now

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

Liberia is facing increased pressure to bring to book individuals who have been accused of committing serious human rights abuses and economic crimes during the country’s civil war between 1989 – 2003 in which an estimated 250,000 people were killed and another 1 million others internally and externally dislocated.

Governing administrations including that of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and incumbent President George M. Weah have literally brought the intense spotlight on themselves  and the pressure to implement recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Final Report which was submitted to the Johnson-Sirleaf’s Administration since 2009.

More disappointing is the fact that no one in Liberia has been prosecuted for their alleged criminal actions during the war.

Some supporters of the past President and now President Weah, including some of the accused, are justifying the refusal of government to do the right thing and address the “elephant in  the room” – the outstanding issue of the implementation of the TRC recommendations and accountability for violations of the human rights of civilians and non-combatants.

Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier
Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

In the eyes of the international community and those who stand on the side of justice, the culture of impunity in Liberia is pervasive and contributes to the cycle of violent depravity and criminal activity which sap the moral standing of Liberia and its people.

Also, the public face of  national governance in Liberia is dominated by the same human rights violators and system of impunity. This ridiculous dispensation tells the international community and allied forces of justice, equal rights and morality that Liberia is not yet prepared to be a part of the civilized comity of nations where the country’s past barbarity and bloodletting  are considered hindrances to full participation and respect.

Human Rights

The Webster-Merriam dictionary defines human rights as ” rights (such as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons”.

DSG Amina Mohammed
UN Deputy Sec Gen Amina Mohammed Meets President George Weah

The UN Human Rights Commission defines human rights as  “…rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status.”

The undeniable expectation is that we, as human kind, are all equally entitled to our human rights without any discrimination; whether you live in Sweden, Argentina, North Korea or Liberia. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent, indivisible and God-given.

The Liberian civil war was a clear choice by some to exact and justify their brand of political, social or tribal domination on defenseless citizens through the use of arms, psychological and physical terror and violence. Some argue that the war was a justifiable armed response to threats against their survival by opposing warring elements.

But how does one justify the use of heavy combat and munitions in civilian areas or the targeting of innocent civilians who are fleeing conflict?

Why was it acceptable to attack peacekeepers for the sole purpose of driving them away because a military victory was imminent?

How does the intentional recruitment of vulnerable children through terror for combat and disposal stand up to scrutiny? When is it ok to plunder the common national resources of for personal wealth at the expense of devastatingly poor citizens?

The shameful reluctance of the Sirleaf government and delay by the new Weah Administration to stand on the side of addressing war and economic crimes in order to bring closure to the bloody chapter in national life is a reflection of the non-existence of a moral compass that is so critical to national unity and human decency.

Liberia is signatory to a host of international treaties, conventions and statutes which obligates it to comply with international law.  In fact, Liberia was a signatory to the founding of the United Nations.

Liberia Civil War Injured Victims
Liberia Civil War Injured Victims

The United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), commonly known as the San Francisco Conference, was a convention of delegates from  about 50 Allied nation countries which took place from 25 April 1945 to 26 June 1945 in San Francisco, California, the United States.

In 1963/1965, Liberia joined the UN Human Rights Council which is the successor to the original UN Commission on Human Rights.

Liberia has obligations under international law as a signatory who has ratified the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) . The Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that officially sits in The Hague in the Netherlands and has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The basis for the establishment of a war crimes court and the prosecution of accused individuals are firmly rooted in the Final Report of the TRC. All Liberian fighting factions, as part of the Accra Comprehensive Peace agreement, subscribed to the establishment of the TRC mechanism.

Liberia, by becoming a party to international treaties, assumes obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights.

That obligation to respect means that Liberia must refrain from blocking, interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights by its citizens and others within its borders.

Liberia must be reminded that it is failing miserably in upholding its obligations to comply with international law by its refusal to hold accountable those named in the country’s TRC Report as being responsible for serious human rights violations.

The international community and Liberians at home remain resolute in the march to justice.

Liberia TRC
TRC Liberia – Logo

The intentional delay by the Liberian government to stand on the side of justice must have consequences including the realization that their unacceptable action is tantamount to obstruction of justice.

The expectation is that moral men and women with clarity of conviction in Liberia will stand for the voiceless, the dead and their families and the physically and psychologically scarred and  follow the law and international obligations so that history will be kind to their legacies.

Liberia must act boldly to end impunity and exact justice and accountability now. It can be done!

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine