Liberia: Senator Brown Wants War Crimes Perpetrators Prosecuted But Not On Account Of The TRC

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MONROVIA – Senator Gbleh-Bo Brown of Maryland County has joined others in calling for ending the culture of impunity, especially for people who are responsible for the killing of hundreds of innocent Liberians. However, he is against doing so on account of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC).

In a recent statement at the Senate debate on the recommendations of the TRC, the Maryland County Senator stated that he personally does not support individuals who caused the massive destruction of infrastructure and economic assets, wantonly killed innocent citizens and foreigners, systematically raped mothers, sisters, and daughters should go with impunity.  They must be made to account for their actions but it cannot be done on account of the TRC recommendations.

“We cannot, however, do that with the TRC report for the reasons outlined above. This is why I will support the recommendation put forth by the Leadership that some committee or commission be established that will rationalize the TRC report taking into account the dissenting reports and reservations by the other four Commissioners, the Amnesty Act of 2003, and the Supreme Court Ruling of January 21, 2011.”

The Maryland County Senator believes that the establishment of the war crimes court alone will not give the country and its citizens the peace they are looking for. “To have genuine and durable peace, we must adopt a holistic approach.”

Senator Brown also wants the Government of Liberia to with or without the TRC report,   identify programs in support of genuine peace and reconciliation throughout Liberia Within the period covered by the TRC, two Presidents of Liberia were brutally killed!

“As a nation, we need to find a way how to lay to rest the circumstances of their killings. Dr. William R. Tolbert, the 19th President of Liberia, was brutally killed in the Executive Mansion.  Although 17 noncommissioned officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia took responsibility for his death, there are a number of unexplained circumstances.

Then in 1990, President Samuel Kanyon Doe was captured at the ECOMOG Base at the Free Port of Monrovia and taken at the Caldwell base of the INPFL of General Prince Y. Johnson. He was tortured and brutally killed.

“President Doe had decided to pay a courtesy visit to the then Force Commander of ECOMOG, General Arnold Quinoo.  The story is told that upon his arrival at the Base, he and his troops/securities that escorted him were all disarmed.  A few minutes later, General Prince Y. Johnson, with heavily armed rebel soldiers, arrived at the Base and indiscriminately began to massacre the armless AFL soldiers and SSS securities.  President Doe was eventually captured and whisked off to INPFL base where he was tortured and killed.”

According to him, whilst Liberia owes so much gratitude for the many sacrifices made and support provided in restoring peace and stability to Liberia,   it would be amiss were Liberians not to request ECOWAS to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate circumstances surrounding the capture of President Doe and the killings of his securities and AFL soldiers at the ECOMOG base.”

Too many Complexity

Senator Brown says his position on the TRC report is a result of the too many “complexity” in the report which includes amongst others the implication of the Supreme Ruling of January 21, 2011.  He believes there are two categories of people named in the TRC report for punishment:  those recommended for prosecution and those to be banned from holding public office whether elective or appointed for a specified number of years.

“Those listed for public office sanction challenged the constitutionality of their sanctions by the TRC and sought relief from the courts.  The Supreme Court on January 21, 2011, ruled that the provisions of the TRC report which sought to ban the petitioners from holding public office for 30 years was unconstitutional and therefore granted their petition.

“We need to carefully study the Supreme Court ruling to determine what would be its implication on those recommended for prosecution. The last complexity surrounding the TRC report that I want to talk about is the fallout and disagreements amongst the Commissioners of the TRC that followed after the submission of their report.”

In his further statement he said, the TRC was intended to address issues of impunity and provide an opportunity for healing and genuine reconciliation after many years of a brutal civil war.  For this reason, international donors and Liberian taxpayers pumped in resources to fund the activities of the Commission.

“The first challenges to the final report of the TRC did not come from those listed in the report either for prosecution or to be barred from holding political offices. The very first challenges came from distinguished members of the TRC including its Vice Chair.

“Two members disagreed with the final TRC report and filed dissenting reports on various counts.  The other two members submitted written reservations to the Final TRC Reports with very serious allegations.  For example, there were reservations regarding the unity and integrity of the Board of Commissioners; reservations regarding how the listing for public sanctions was derived; reservations regarding the final listing for prosecution suggesting that certain names were included that were not collectively decided on; reservations regarding amendments to the first draft report that other commissioners did not agree to, amongst others.”

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