Liberia: Bishop Kortu K. Brown Intensifies Calls For The Establishment Of A War and Economic Crimes Court
MONROVIA – The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), through its President Bishop Kortu K. Brown, has disclosed that the entrenched “chapter of impunity” in Liberia can only come to an end through the establishment of a court to guarantee the prosecution of those accused of committing atrocities, war and economic crimes in the country.
Bishop Brown stated that all national stakeholders, including members of the National Legislature should take “decisive” actions to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes and public officials who got rich overnight are made to exonerate themselves in a court of competent jurisdiction.
He emphasized that the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) signals the need for the consolidation of the rule of law, justice, accountability, promotion of good governance and sustaining lasting peace and stability in Liberia.
He made these comments in an interview with Reporters at his residence in Brewerville, outside Monrovia on Monday, May 24.
Bishop Brown added that for these good attributes of democracy to flourish to another level in Liberia, the country and its national stakeholders should not “brush aside” the establishment of the WECC.
He stated that Liberians have given trust and confidence to the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah to better their lives, maintain the peace and help move the country forward, and as such, the citizens’ proposal intended to bring to an end the culture of impunity should not be downplayed.
He said the popular proposal from citizens calling for the establishment of the court will be a help to everyone, including the accused, accusers and ensure that the “chapter of impunity” which continue to haunt the country and citizens for nearly 20 years is closed.
“There is a chapter of impunity that we have not addressed since the civil war. We have not done our homework and we are still being haunted for not being able to address the chapter of impunity. There is a need for us to address the chapter of impunity in our country. The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) believes that impunity should be addressed in Liberia. ‘Majority of Liberians believe that the way to do it is through the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC)”.
Bishop Brown further stressed the need for a national stakeholder consultation to be held to unearth ways forward for the establishment of the court.
“We have to bring to closure the civil war and when we do not address this chapter of impunity, it’s difficult for us to bring a closure to the civil crisis. That’s where we are and that’s what all this wrangling is about. This is haunting us; anywhere you go around the world now people will ask you able the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court. Liberia should not fail now; Liberia should engage, consult and promote a stakeholder consultative on the way forward”.
He expressed disappointment over why Liberia-which suffered from years of civil conflicts-cannot close a chapter on the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court and forge ahead.
“The Weah led-government should be able to encourage serious stakeholders’ dialogue on this issue so that we can be able to consummate. Let’s stop beating around the bush and going around this issue because after nearly 20 years, this issue is still haunting us, and we should not run away from it”.
Bishop Brown observed that calls for the establishment of the court in recent times are on the increase, because of the high level of violence in various communities across Liberia as the perpetrators continue to walk with impunity.
This, he maintained, is not a good representation of Liberia and its people.
‘Slow and dribbling’
Bishop Brown further attributed the prolong delay in the establishment of the WECC in Liberia to the entrenched slow to act syndrome that has engulfed the nation.
He observed that the formation of the court in Liberia has not been prioritized over the years by the relevant state actors.
“Liberians like to dribble. We are slow and we don’t prioritize; you do not have a common objective. If you want to see this country move forward, then you have to take actions that will help it move forward and put the country first in everything that we do”.
He noted that the establishment of the court in the post-conflict nation is overdue, and as such, the need for such to be done will continue to haunt Liberia and its citizens in the future if concrete actions are not taken now.
Bishop Brown said Liberia should not be waiting for its friendly nations or international partners to issue statement before acting on issues that citizens have been yielding for or expressing concerns about.
“It is our slowness that makes our country the way it is. Our recovery efforts are so slow and painful. We go around to other people countries and admire it, but we all have probably the same opportunities; we all go to the IMF or World Bank meetings or fora in the world, but how come other people make advancement more than we do? We are slow people”.
“We believed in celebrating little things; we are move by small, small things we do and we do not go for the big things. If we do not emphasize on working with other people, we’re going to create bumps in our ways and it will make it difficult for us to make the kind of achievements that we want to make”.
He observed that the high level of fear among citizens, including perpetrators and state actors remain a major obstacle to the fulfillment of the court establishment in Liberia.
Bishop Brown added that state actors and others should now embrace measures and cut the fear away to help bring the “chapter of impunity” to a close.
Bishop Brown maintained that no one should be threatening the peace and stability of the nation amid calls for the establishment of the court in the nation.
According to him, citizens, regardless of political or financial strength must remain loyal to the protection of the country’s peace and stability and desist from engaging into violent acts or making comments that are anti-peace.
“Nobody should be threatening chaos or violence. Nobody should be saying that they will bring down Liberia because they have been asked to account. If you have been asked to go to court, it doesn’t mean you are guilty; you have been asked to exonerate yourself”.
Bishop Brown emphasized that all citizens, including those accused of committing war and economic crimes are under obligation to ensure the “forward movement” of the country.
Watch and see
Meanwhile, Bishop Brown has urged Liberians to continue to remain patient and wait on their lawmakers to take action against a request from President George Manneh Weah on the establishment of the court.
According to him, a determination can also be made by the lawmakers either through legislative action or referendum by the citizens’ on previous law, which grants amnesty to former warlords.
Bishop Brown pointed out that members of the National Legislature must speedily respond to the Liberian Chief Executive in the interest of those who elected them.
“We have to wait and see what they will do. We can’t just be turning around in the same place as a nation; we have to bring this chapter to a close. We as Liberians alone cannot develop this country; we need the support of our friends and we need the collaboration of our neighbors”.
He added that Liberia should put itself on the “right footing” by giving listening ears to its good neighbors and partners, who are always willing to help during times of need, by rapidly responding to the concerns being raised over the establishment of the court.
“We have to address the call for this delay. We can’t allow our country to be seen as an unserious country and so, we need to address the call for a war and economic crimes court. There are many people who believe that a lot of people got rich overnight during the civil wars and even now. So, this is a very serious issue and we need to address it”.
He pointed out that the more Liberia continues to shy away from the establishment of the WECC, the country and its citizens will continue to be haunted in the future with additional problems relative to the rule of law and violence in the society.
Bishop Brown indicated that Liberia’s investment opportunities will be jeopardized if actions are not taken to boost investors’ confidence in doing businesses in the country by holding people accountable for their crimes committed in keeping with the rule of law.