‘ECOWAS Court Has Nothing to Do with War Crimes Court Establishment in Liberia’

ECOWAS Court representatives addressing the Liberian press

MONROVIA – For sometimes now, scores of Liberians both at home and abroad have been advocating for the establishment of a war crimes court in the country to prosecute those responsible for the violation of human rights in the country’s 15-year civil crisis, which claimed the lives of an estimated 250,000 persons.

Report by Kennedy L. Yangian klyangian @Frontpageafricaonline.com

However, while the advocacy for the establishment of the war crimes court is on, a visiting head of the regional court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, has disclosed that the community court has nothing to do with the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia.

Justice Asante has been in the country for a five-day visit sensitizing Liberians on the work of the Ecowas Court.

Justice Asante made the assertions Friday, March 22, in the Chamber of the Supreme Court during a press conference to mark the end of his visit to Liberia.

His visit to the country’s high court, which was followed by a press conference, was to acquaint Liberia’s Chief Justice, Mr. Francis Korkpor, Judges of subordinate courts and lawyers about the regional court delegation’s visit to the country.

“ECOWAS Court is not interested with any issues relating to the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia. That decision lies with the head of states of member states and not the community’s court of justice. We are only here to sensitize Liberians on the work of the court,” Justice Asante stated when he responded to a concern raise by a reporter, who had asked about the court’s role in the establishment war crimes court in Liberia.

Stressing on the importance of the sensitization mission, Justice Asante added that the sensitization program of the court was first held in neighboring Sierra Leone and there was the need to extend it to Liberia.

“Moreover, with the limited patronage of the court relative to its potential, there was a recognition that the court needed to deepen its dialogue with the citizens for the effectiveness in the discharge of its mandate,” said Asante

The ECOWAS Court head stated further that the integration of the outreach component to the court’s arsenal of visibility platforms is therefore intended to deepen engagement with stakeholders in order to reinforce citizens’ ownership.

Justice Asante continued that the Community Court has five judges who handle mainly cases involving human rights violations, including those arise between states.  He stressed that the Court is not for woman and husband cases but rather individuals versus the state over human rights violation. Justice Asante stated that cases destined for the ECOWAS Court are filed through one’s lawyer and whenever cases are filed to the court an assignment is made by the court for hearing and for now up to 14 cases have been filed from Liberia to the court since its establishment in 2001.