International Criminal Court Sees No Basis to Prosecute Jefferson Koijee

Mayor Jefferson Koijee was accused by the former Chairman of the TRC of committing war crimes and human rights abuses

MONROVIA – The International Criminal Court will initiate any prosecution on Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee primarily because the allegations leveled against him fall outside the jurisdiction and mandate of the court.

Cllr. Jerome Verdier, former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had written the Court calling for the prosecution of the Koijee for alleged atrocities committed during the Liberian civil war – an allegation his fellow Commissioners on the TRC vehemently debunked.

In a February 25, 2020 communication from Mark P. Dillon, Head of the Information and Evidence Unit, Office of the Prosecutor, the ICC states that “Based on the information currently available, the conduct described in your communication appears to have occurred prior to 1 July 2002. Accordingly, as the matter falls outside the jurisdiction of the Court, the Prosecutor has confirmed that there is not a basis at this time to proceed with further analysis.”

The ICC stated that its mandate is designed to complement, not to replace national jurisdiction.

Speaking to FrontPageAfrica Mayor Koijee said the ICC’s decision does not come as a relief to him as the allegations were “impregnated with falsehood and maliciously calculated against y personality.”

“There is nowhere you can every go and authenticate and substantiate some of those claims that were meted against me by the former Commissioner of the TRC, Jerome Verdier,” he said.

Koijee said he believes Cllr. Verdier’s action which is now “undermining his integrity” is because he has fallen short of meeting his expectations in the government.

The Monrovia City Mayor recalled that he was one of the young fellows who were actively supporting the works of the TRC. 

“For Cllr. Verdier to just wake and begin to level such accusations against me, I just knew that he was politically motivated, it was a propaganda spree, it was just a matter of time that the truth crushed to the ground will surely rise again,” Koijee said.

He, however, said U.S. Congressman Chris Smith’s communication in which he alleged Koijee is a war criminal and had committed human rights abuses came as a surprise to him wherein the Congressman failed to ascertain the facts.

“There is nowhere you can every go and authenticate and substantiate some of those claims that were meted against me by the former Commissioner of the TRC, Jerome Verdier.”

Jefferson Koijee, Mayor of Monrovia

According to the Monrovia City Mayor, during his recent visit to Washington, he had the opportunity to furnish the office of Representative Smith with the facts relating to his role with the TRC.

He said it is now up to the U.S. Congressman to render an apology and recall his earlier communication.

Koijee said the condemnation of the Verdier by other former Commissioners did not come from him, yet he believes their action was intended to safeguard the integrity of the TRC.

“The actions of the former Commissioner, if care was not taken, it was geared toward undermining the TRC,” he asserted.

He said the TRC must be seen as a national tool on which the hopes and aspirations of all Liberians hinges. 

According to the City Mayor, he believes the culture of impunity in Liberia must be brought to an end.

“I grew up here as a national youth and student activist, in my generation, there was no young person whose voice was loud enough to champion the cause of the TRC that could be compared to what we did her. Some of us went to prison here because our views were strong enough,” he said.

Koijee welcomed the works of the advocates of the implementation of the TRC recommendations but said they have to do so void of politics. According to him, the implementation of the TRC must be done in a way that it does not appear to be a witch hunt against a particular sect or ethnic group. 

This, according to him, is the reason for which the President has consulted the Legislature on the implementation of the TRC recommendations and the establishment of war and economic crimes court.