Liberian Obtains Ph.D. in International Criminal Law


MONROVIA – A Liberian has obtained a doctorate degree in International Criminal Law.

Dr. Sylvester Sammie graduated from the University of Groningen’s Graduate School of Law in Groningen, The Netherlands on November 4, 2021.

His studies examined 100 individual cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes and 10 modes of liability to prove such crimes.

“Combining study with a full-time job and ensuring a work/life balance were the biggest challenges in my life. As a Ph.D. student, I was expected to study all the time and be in the office every week and work late every day, not just in headquarters but sometimes in remote locations,”.

Dr. Sammie said although his studies were difficult, he is glad that he eventually completed them.

Dr. Sammie poses for a photo along with his fellow graduates

“Ultimately, I managed to come up with a plan to suit my daily agenda at work and connect with my thesis supervisors. I also found time for hobbies, friends, and family in order to function at peak level,” he said.

Sammie’s acquisition of such a degree comes at a time Liberia searches for experts in the field, amid a rise in ritualistic killings and mysterious deaths of its citizens.

The latest are the killings John Tubman, son of former Liberian President, William V.S. Tubman and Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert, III son of former President William R. Tolbert and an immigration officer, Maude Elliot—deaths police say they are treating as murders.

The trio were found dead in their homes, with bruises on their bodies.

Their deaths come at a time the country is struggling to find trained, professional, objective, and impartial criminal investigators.

Dr. Sammie didn’t comment on the issue, but says he is prepared to serve his country at any time when called upon.

“With a Ph.D. in International Criminal Law, I am ready to return to Liberia to help rebuild the criminal justice system and teach law students how to pursue their careers in law at both national and international levels,” he said.

Sammie has worked within the United Nations system for several years, as well as with the International Criminal Court, ICC and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for over 10 years.

Prior to attaining his PhD, Sammie earned an LLM in International Criminal Law from the University of Turin and a master’s degree in Human Rights Law from Scuola Sant’ Anna (University of Pisa).

His knowledge in criminal and human rights laws can be pivotal for Liberia as it rebuilds its criminal justice system.

Sammie can be reached through the following email address: [email protected].