Home Politics America ‘Salutes’ Senate …Says It Is Time For Accountability To Begin

America ‘Salutes’ Senate …Says It Is Time For Accountability To Begin

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By: Patrick Cooper

MONROVIA: Barely few hours after members of the Liberian Senate under the leadership of President Pro-Tempore Mrs. Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, unanimously signed a resolution for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia, the United States Embassy near Monrovia has expressed its commendation to the Senate for such action.
The U.S government, in its statement issued on its official Facebook page late Tuesday, April 10, 2024, described the Liberian Senate’s action as a landmark decision which marks the beginning of justice and accountability in Liberia.

“We commend the Liberian Senate for its landmark decision to pass the resolution establishing the War and Economic Crimes Court, this complements the resolution passed by the House of Representatives,” the statement read.

According to Liberia`s strongest ally, these actions by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, reinforce President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s commitment to justice for the people of Liberia.

“More than two decades after the end of the devastating civil war, it is time for the culture of accountability to begin,” U.S Embassy noted in its statement.

For her part, the President Pro-Tempore Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, in a press conference addressed Tuesday, April 9, 2024, noted that, the action of the Liberian Senate to overwhelmingly sign a resolution for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court marks the beginning of a `long period of impunity in Liberia.

Pro-Tempore: “This decision, we believe will bring to an end the long period of impunity for those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity, other violations of international humanitarian laws and other domestic crimes which occurred during the Liberian civil war.”

According to Pro-Tempore Karnga-Lawrence, there is not a single Liberian who was not affected by the war.

“We have read very sad stories and understand how difficult it has been for many to heal, many have stayed and died in exile, because they have not been able to see signs of regret and remorse for those devastating actions 21 years ago,” she noted.

She opined that it is only by means of justice and accountability that they, as leaders, can help promote reconciliation and healing in the country.

The Pro-Tempore of the Senate asserted that establishing the War Crimes Court demonstrates the lawmakers’ commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that there is no impunity for serious crimes committed in the country.

“It would help strengthen our justice system and promote respect for human rights and international laws,” she maintained.

She indicated that the existence of war crimes court would also serve as a deterrence against future human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian laws, international human rights laws knowing that one can be held accountable for his or her actions.

She continued that War Crimes Court is also a crucial component of transitional justice efforts, and helps to address the legacies of conflicts in post-conflict societies.

The Senate’s action Tuesday, April 9, 2024, was prompted by a resolution signed by majority members of the House of Representatives under the leadership of House Speaker, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, on the establishment of the war and economic crimes court few weeks ago.

In the resolution signed by the 28 Senators, it was observed that the various phases of the Liberian civil wars from 1989 to 2003 resulted in the death of innocent civilians and destruction of properties across Liberia, including the displacement of nearly half of the population, horrific abuses, including summary executions, massacres, mutilations, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and forced conscription and use of child combatants.
They called for justice to prevail and there should be no impunity for those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, other violations of international humanitarian laws and other domestic crimes which occurred during the Liberian civil crisis.
“That pursuant to Chapter 1, Article 1 of the 1986 Constitution which vests in the people of Liberia the right to alter and reform their government when their safety and happiness so required, and the Executive consistent with Article-57 has signed all United Nations Conventions on human rights, treaties, protocols and agreements, including, but not limited to, the Rome Statute of 1998, all of which the Legislature has ratified under Article 34(D), the Legislature supports the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), recommendations including the timely establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia to be known as UN backed “Special War Crimes Court for Liberia (SWACCOL)” to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between the period 1979 and 2003.”
They maintained that, consistent with Article 34(e) (b) (j)(I) of the Constitution, the Executive should develop a legal framework and submit same to the Legislature for enactment into law for the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Court (ACC), under domestic jurisprudence, for fast-track trial of those who will be investigated and subsequently indicted for acts of corruption and other economic crimes committed from 1979 to 2003; “and such crimes committed from 2004 to present constituting, constitutional rule.
“This fast-track corruption court shall remain the primary court for the dispensation of justice for corruption and other economic crimes going forward, in line with Liberia’s Penal Code and prevailing international laws and standards.”
The Senators also want the President to write the UN, EU, and US Government, expressing the Liberian government’s intention to establish the Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal on Liberian soil and thereby request financial and other assistance; develop a financial resource mobilization plan and submit it to the United Nations, the EU, the US Government, and other international partners to seek financial and economic support for the establishment and operations of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal on Liberian soil or alternatively to a country to be designated.
“That the President shall report to the Legislature as to the progress made on the establishment of the two courts as well as challenges, if any, or outcome(s) of his engagements with the United Nations, the EU, the US Government, and other international partners regarding the resource mobilization plan and results, including domestic resource mobilization through the budgetary process, pursuant this Resolution; That consistent with Chapter 2, Article 5(c) of the 1986 Constitution, the President shall issue an Executive Order to establish the Office of War Crimes (OWC) within the Ministry of Justice, and appoint forthwith, a Special Envoy or Officer-In-Charge (OIC), duly certified by the International Criminal Court (ICC), in The Hague, Netherlands, or the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR) or any other International Courts and Tribunals with the relevant experience, qualification and competence in international criminal law and practice, to organize and coordinate all actions and activities regarding the Court and assist the President to mobilize resources and do all that is legally feasible, including the establishment of a secretariat, where applicable, to facilitate its operations and the successful implementation of its mandate, among others, done in consultation with the UN, the EU, the US, and/or other independent parties.”
The Senators stressed that to jump-start this renewed campaign of national reconciliation and healing as the final phase of Liberia’s recovery process, the President shall implement the following recommendations of the TRC; (a) Offer apology on behalf of the State to the many victims and the people of Liberia in general for its role in the conflict and for the injuries and losses sustained by individuals and communities; work with the United Nations, the EU, the US Government, and other international partners to set up a Reparation Trust Fund (RTF) for victims and communities worst affected by the conflict, to benefit through direct financial assistance or through development programs and projects; and continue the National Palava Hut Program and other programs for national healing, peace building and reconciliation.
They also called for the construction of a national monument to commemorate victims of the atrocities, to serve as a reminder of the war and to create a national consciousness against armed conflicts.
However, the twenty eighty (28) Senators who signed the resolution include: President Pro- Tempore, Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence; (Grand Bassa County), Senator Saah Hallie Joseph (Montserrado County); Senator Abraham Darius Dillon (Montserrado County); Senator Gbehzohngar M. Findley (Grand Bassa County); Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown (Maryland County); Senator Simeon B. Taylor (Grand Cape-Mount County); Senator Dabah M. Varpilah (Grand Cape Mount County); Senator Prince K. Moye (Bong County); Senator Johnny K. Kpehe (Bong County).

Others include: Senators Prince Y. Johnson (Nimba County); Zoe E. Pennue (Grand Gedeh County); Thomas Y. Nimely (Grand Gedeh County); Cllr. Joseph K. Jallah (Lofa County); Momo T. Cyrus (Lofa County); Edwin M. Snowe Jr. (Bomi County); Atty. J. Alex Tyler (Bomi County); Atty. J. Emmanuel Nuquay (Margibi County), Nathaniel F. McGill (Margibi County); Wellington G. Smith (Rivercess County); Bill Twehway (Rivercess County); Albert T. Chie (Grand Kru County).

Additionally, Senators Numene T.H. Bartekwa (Grand Kru County); Johnathan B. Sogbie (River Gee County); Francis S. Dopoe, II (River Gee County); Botoe Kanneh (Gbarpolu County) and Amara M. Konneh (Gbarpolu County). All of the above mention Senators signed the resolution while the only Senator who did not sign and abstained from the process was Maryland County, Senator James P. Biney.

The resolution is now before the House of Representative for concurrence and thereafter, other procedural processes will follow for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court.

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