Liberia: Catholic Church Bishop Calls for Prosecution of Warlords


Report by Willie N. Tokpa, [email protected] 

Harper – The Catholic Church of Liberia has reemphasized the need to prosecute perpetrators of Liberia’s 14 years of civil war.

Though talking Catholic Bishop Andrew J. Karnley said the prosecution of those who facilitated the civil war through the establishment of a war crime court would pave way for true reconciliation in the country.

Until that is done, Bishop Karnley said, reconciling the country’s bitter past would be impossible.

Bishop Karnley during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearing called for the prosecution and all warlords and the establishment of a war crime court in Liberia – something that sparked serious wrangling within the Catholic Church circle at the time.

“Nothing has changed since I made that statement during the TRC process which raised a lot of discussions. I strongly believe that those who bear the greatest responsibility for gross abuses of human rights in Liberia during the war should face trial,” Bishop Karnley stated.

Speaking over the weekend in Harper, Maryland County, the Bishop of the Diocese of Cape Palmas said it is empirical that those who committed heinous atrocities face justice.

The Catholic Priest further called for the prosecution of individuals who are alleged to have financed the war or perpetrators of the atrocities committed during the war.

He also said individuals who exploited the country’s resources in the course of the war must not be left off the hook.

He, however, said the establishment of war crimes court must be done outside the country to avoid bribery and interference.

Bishop Karney: “Liberia honestly does not have the capacity to host a war crime court. Those Liberians who bear the greatest responsibility should be taken to the Hague.”

“I can tell you that our judicial system is still susceptible to bribery and corruption. I can tell you that why throughout the 12 years of President Sirleaf, the fight against corruption was slow. Was it because of lack of hard evidence? There were hard evidence, but some individuals compromised themselves,” Bishop Karnley noted.

These same systemic corruption that hampered corruption cases in Liberia according to him, may also affect the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia.

According to him, witness protection would not be adequately guaranteed should the war crimes court be established in Liberia.

“It is left with Liberians to say, let by gone be by gone, but they should have their day in court to explain their action. Some people where at the TRC but were not sorry and were arrogant and we know what they did. During the 12 years of President Sirleaf’s administration, some of them were at the center of power and were protected and are still protected today,” Karnley added.

Bishop Karnley believes the prosecution of perpetrators of Liberians civil unrest would serve as a deterrent for others and provide the platform for total reconciliation.