Liberia: Bar Asso., Transitional Justice Working Group Endorsed Establishment Of War & Economic Crimes Court

LNBA officials voting for War Crimes Court at the convention

Monrovia – The Liberia National Bar Association and the Transitional Justice Working Group, which is made up of a coalition of 20 civil society organizations, have endorsed the establishment of war and economic crimes court in the country.

Report by Kennedy L. Yangian [email protected]

In its resolution after the just-ended 2019 Convention in Kakata, Margibi County, the LNBA through a majority vote overwhelmingly approved the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

The Bar called on the  CDC-led Government and all necessary state and non-state actors to take the necessary actions in the realization of this decision.

Prior to the Bar’s resolution, a visiting lawyer from Sierra Leone of the UN Human Rights Commission Barrister Melron Nicol Wilson stressed that Liberia needs the war crimes court because people who commit crimes against humanity must be punished so as to put an end to impunity.

Wilson, who also served as one of the panelists at the convention, says failure to hold war crime suspects accountable as an act of punishing people for lesser crimes and letting people of greater crimes off-the-hoke is a recipe for the commission of more heinous crimes.

He challenged his colleagues in Liberia to play an active role in ensuring that Liberian accepts or reject the TRC recommendations.

According to Wilson, Liberians should not create fear that establishment of a war crime court in the country will undermine the security of the country, adding that this will not happen because the combatants are no more active.

“In the case of Sierra Leone, the chapter for the bitter past has been closed and the respect of the rule of law restored,” said Nicol-Wilson.

Meanwhile, former Chief Justice  Francis Johnson Allison elaborated that there was a strong need to put end to impunity by ensuring that those who perpetrated crimes against humanity are prosecuted.

“Accountability is not optional, Liberia should follow the experiences of Kigali and Sierra Leone in ensuring accountability,” said former Chief Justice Allison.

However, on Monday, April 1, the Transitional Justice Working Group a coalition of over 20 peacebuilding, pro-democracy and human rights organizations backed the resolution of the LNBA.

The group endorsed the establishment of the war and economic crimes court in the country.

In a special statement backing the establishment of the two courts in the country, TJWG Chairman James Yarsiah stated that there is no peace and reconciliation without justice

Yarsiah stated that lasting peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved in the absence of justice and that there must be justice for the rich, poor powerful and those without power and that justice must be for the women as well as children.

“It is our belief that the establishment of a war  and economic crimes court in Liberia will send a clear and uncompromising signal to all Liberians whoever and wherever they are that no longer will this country accept and endure the tendency for few groups of citizens taking arms and inflicting wanton destruction on the lives  and properties of innocent citizens and foreign friends and go with impunity,” Yarsiah added.