Monrovia – As the debate for the establishment of war and economic crimes court continues, accusing fingers are being pointed at the CDC-led government for going back on a principle it held for more than a decade while in opposition.
Report by J. H. Webster Clayeh, [email protected]
The recent twist of events has cast doubts over the ruling party’s support based on the flip-floppy stance of President Geroge Manneh Weah and the seemingly deviant posture of Speaker Bhofal Chambers, who is also a stalwart of the ruling party.
Recently, Speaker Chambers refused to include on the agenda of the House’s plenary for discussion, a resolution that had been signed and adopted by 51 representatives who are backers of the establishment for the war and economic crimes court.
Speaker Chambers’ action has drawn ire from local and international advocates pushing for perpetrators of the 14 years civil unrest, which caused the death of an estimated 250,000 people, to be prosecuted.
While activists and politicians supporting the courts exert pressure from both political and civil society fronts, ordinary Liberians are growing increasingly frustrated. They are lashing at the government for playing double standard.
FrontPage Africa has been gathering the views of some of these Liberians that are growing frustrated over the handling of the war and economic crimes court process.
“As for me, more especially a criminal justice practitioner and somebody who understands the commission of crimes and the punishment thereof, investigation and all of those things, I think the establishment of the war crimes court is very much essential for all Liberians.
I don’t think that the government is not willing. If the Legislators who responsible for the passing of bills, they themselves can put signatures together in making sure that the war crimes court can be established in Liberia, I think they are making some progress at the level of the Legislature.
The establishment of the war crimes court is not an individual thing, it is a holistic approach, it has to do with the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary and even the common people from the slum communities.
When those laws are passed, the country will have funding from its international partners. Those guys who say the war crimes court should not be established are the ones that committed crimes against humanities around here. So, they need to be prosecuted so that our people’s minds can be free mentally.
The establishment of war crimes should not be about politics. That somebody gets one county or one district. They should not even be afraid; they have not yet been found guilty. I am saying to you that establishing a war crimes court cannot stop the CDC-led government from being re-elected.
If CDC should win election comes 2023 or any other election, I think once they are doing what they supposed to do for the Liberian people like the building of roads, free tuition and some of the pressing issues they will be re-elected.
So, if CDC does the right thing and establishes the war crimes court, the people will vote for them because 99 percent of Liberians got affected by the war.”
“I will tell this government that the issue of the war crimes court should not be politicized. I believe that the President came and said that he will not be the President of fine speeches and that he will do the work of the Liberian people. So, the war crimes court is the call of the Liberian people and he got to give the Liberian people what they want.
Liberians cried for war crimes court over the years to heal the wounds that were afflicted by the war, so I think it is necessary and it is the right time. There is no peace without justice. This government needs to see all the reasons that the court be established and to give the Liberian people justice.
The establishment of the war crimes court doesn’t need the taxpayers’ money because the international community will surely support the process. The issue of allowing Liberians to have justice is paramount.
I will tell Speaker of the House of Representatives that it is not about the interest of his party CDC but it is a democratic government. And in a democratic government, everyone has their fair share of their opinion. So, if he takes side with his party by refusing to place the issue of the war crimes court as part of the agenda, I think it will be unfair to the Liberian people.
We will not sit back and watch him do as he wishes. We will put his feet to the fire and if he continues to refuse the issue of the war crimes court, we will make sure that he will not be re-elected come 2023.”
“Liberia has had its transition from a fragile society to a more democratic one. I am one person who had been in the vanguard for the prosecution of those who actively committed crimes against humanity. I was one of the persons who led war victims to have symbolically burned a flag to highlight the need for the implementation of the TRC report.
In the understanding of the TRC report, it says for every three months the Executive should give a report on manner and form which they had been able to perform their duty. So, I believe that the President asking the Legislature through a letter he sent to them does not in any way tell us that the President is in readiness to establish the war crimes court.
The TRC, in section three, gives the President the prerogative to ask for the establishment of an extraordinary court for the prosecution of those who committed crimes against humanities. The TRC must be called to order, the Legislature must say as to where we need to go from here. That is warlords need to find their day in court.
We must not mix politics with justice because they cannot go together. What it does is, it cripples a society and carries it backward. We need a society where justice should take a lead. And this has to start with the establishment of the war and economics crimes court.”
“It is somehow frustrating to see people who were calling on the Sirleaf-led government for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court when they were in the opposition but have been given the opportunities to serve the Liberian people and they are refusing to establish the court.
Now the Liberian people are calling for the court and it is the responsibility of the Weah-led government to establish the court but we are seeing lots of contradictions coming from the CDC government when it comes to the establishment of the court.
When the President went to the UNGA his statement there was to appease the international community but the President is not sincere in bringing forth the war and economic crimes court. Any serious country that will love to progress especially the country that has fought so many wars, I think that the country will bring people who inflicted wounds on the people to justice.
It is not a huge task for Liberia to prosecute those who caused chaos in this country. It is something that we can accomplish.”
“As a Liberian and member of the CDC party, our government is not ready to fast-track the issue of the war and economic crimes court. We had protested many times when we were in the opposition. We carried caskets around here yesterday, we tormented the Sirleaf’s government to establish the war and economic crimes court.
But today, we are in power and we are running away from what we were crying for during the past 12 years. So, for the President’s comment by asking Liberians why now meaning he is not ready to establish the court.
The weight is not fully on this government in funding the process; we have our international partners who are willing to help us with funding. What we need as a country is to just come out willingly and tell the intentional community that we are ready to establish the court and you will see lots of international partners coming in to help us.
For me, the stumbling to the establishment of the court is that some of those guys who inflicted wounds on Liberians are all around the President. People like Prince Johnson and the rest. So, it is so hard for him to make that decision because he still needs their support for him to be re-elected.”
“The government of President Weah is playing a double standard game when it comes to the issue of establishing the war and economics crimes court. One game on the order hand is to appease the international community that they are making all efforts to establish the court but they are resisting establishing the court domestically.
Another game they are playing is that of the geopolitics that has to do with Nimba County. You know the county determines who becomes President of this country in any run-off election. And you know that Nimba County has one of the most terrible warlords who happens to be Prince Johnson, who is a Senator. So, President Weah is eying his second term bid so he wants to delay the issue of this war crimes court until he can be at a point where he is re-elected before he can look in that direction.
But one thing I can say to the President is that the issue of justice is not a child’s play. Justice is boarder around peace and security.”