MONROVIA — Immigration and customs authorities in the US city of Detroit, Michigan, have deported an alleged Liberian warlord back home.
Varfley Dolleh, 56, was deported on June 21st, but news of his deportation, which is in connection with his alleged role in Liberia’s first civil war, was only made public by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), two days ago. Dolley is a former executive of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (Ulimo), a rebel group accused by Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), of widespread human rights violations, including rape, murder, torture, and sexual enslavement. Dolley is not named in the final report, which former TRC commissioners have repeatedly said it’s not exhaustive.
“ERO Detroit officers will continue to work towards safer communities in Michigan and Ohio,” said Robert Lynch, Director of Detroit ERO Field Office. “It is essential for ICE to enforce final orders of removal for known or suspected human rights violators. These individuals deserve to be held accountable, and they may not evade due process here in the United States no matter how much time has passed.”
Dolley’s deportation comes, amid renewed calls for a war crimes court to prosecute alleged perpetrators of the country’s civil wars—calls that have been ignored by the Sirleaf and Weah administrations. Except for Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, standard bearer of the Liberia People’s Party (LPP), and Alexander Cummings, standard bearer of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), no other leading Liberian presidential candidates have committed to the court if they win October’s election.
Dolley, who had initially been admitted to the US state of New York in 1998, travelled to Canada in 2019. But his application for admission to Detroit-Windsor port in 2022 was denied. He was “served a notice and order of expedited removal and arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
The ex-Ulimo official was then taken into custody, and ordered deported to Liberia by an immigration judge, a decision he did not challenge. Dolley is the second alleged Liberian warlord to be deported to Liberia from the US in connection with Liberia’s civil wars. Representative George Borley, leader of the Liberia Peace Council (LPC), was also deported by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2012.
This story was a collaboration with New Narratives as part of the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.