By Alex Yomah
It seems like residents of Grand Gedeh County have put aside their memories of the gruesome murder of the late President Samuel K. Doe as well as other sons and daughters during the civil war by calling for peace and reconciliation instead of the establishment of a War Crimes Court in the country.
Grand Gedeh County Senator Zoe Emmanuel Pennoh who was one of the fierce critics of Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson for killing former President Doe thereby becoming an advocate for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court has somersaulted calling for restorative justice over retributive justice.
Residents of Grand Gedeh County had been harboring the hurt and on so many occasions attempted revenging on those who masterminded his murder as well as those who killed their son in a demeaning manner.
But during the debate on the TRC report held yesterday amongst the senators, Senators Pennoh and Marshall Dennis in separate remarks disclosed that the people of Grand Gedeh have rejected the establishment of a court and are calling for “paved roads and electricity.”
Senator Pennoh, who is a signatory to the document calling for War Crimes Court to prosecute those who perpetrated heinous crimes in Liberia, has realized that his decision at the time was out of ignorance.
“I signed for the establishment for the War Crimes Court but sometimes it is good to be amongst the elders. Having read deeper and put away sentiments, I have realized that it is good to think wise before taking decision,” the new member of the elders indicated.
“Today, I can say to you, the people of Grand Gedeh County have mandated to us stating that they want pave roads over a court to prosecute our brothers and sisters. The amount to be used by government to establish a War Crime Court should be diverted to roads construction,” Zoe asserted.
“We should not rush if we rush, tomorrow the international partners will be the very people that will say why rushed. My colleagues, I do agree as recommended by the leadership and I agree to Traditional Justice Commission (TJC) and restorative justice,” Pennoh said.
Buttressing Senator Pennoh, Senator Marshall Dennis said the arrest and subsequent murder of President Doe was part of the peace keeping force under the canopy of the Economic Community of West African State Monitoring Group (ECOMOG).
According to him, people who killed armless people did not do it alone, there were people who sponsored them wondering, where are today?
“Arms were purchased and given to people but where are they now? Some of the people who headed some of the warring factions are dead while some are amongst us. I know they too are regretting their actions; I think what we should think of doing now is to rehabilitate the young people that were affected and not to establish court to prosecute other people,” he said.
“So, if international partners want to help us, let them give us money to help those who were harmed or traumatized as result of the civil crisis during the 14 years. The people of Grand Gedeh County preferred restorative justice; our infrastructures are ruined and it is about time for developments,” Senator Dennis said.
Senator Dennis also said the establishment of the court to prosecute Liberians will further degenerate the peace and reconciliation pathways which he asserted is making significant impacts.
The Grand Gedeh County Senator indicated that about 70 percent Nimbaians are living in Grand Gedeh County happily and they do not want anything that will revert the peace in Liberia.
Majority of the senators seemed to agree to the Traditional Justice Commission but indicated there should more be public hearings which according to them will create a chance to for Liberians to be involved in the decision on the establishment of the court.
Margibi County Senator Emmanuel Nuquay emphatically stated that he stands by restorative justice instead of retributive justice.
According to him, during the 2020 special senatorial election where toured all of the communities in his county, he told his kinsmen that he will support a War and Economic Crimes Court if he is to make decision therefore, he supports restorative justice and for that his people did not insist to him that they want a War Crimes Court pointing out, “All my people told me to advocate for when I made my tour and their quest was for roads, electricity and development.”
Meanwhile, the Liberian Senate will today conduct a public hearing on the Senate’s leadership decision on the TRC report and submit same to plenary session for action.
In a motion filed by Grand Bassa County Senator, Jonathan Kaipay, the Senate is to seek public opinions on the President’s letter in which he is craving the advice from the Legislature on the recommendations from the TRC report.
In a press release issued by the Senate Press Bureau, those invited to appear for the public hearing today include, the President of the Liberian Bar Association, Tiawon Congloe, the Solicitor General, Syma Syrenius Cephus, along with one of the drafters of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, Pearl Bull, and the Executive Director of Global Justice and Research Project, Hassan Ability.
Accordingly, the Senate release indicated that the invitees are appearing to provide their views and experts opinions on the recommendations from the Senate’s leadership in relations to the setting up of a Traditional Justice Commission to perform the task which includes but not limited to determining whether the TRC fully compiled with its statutory mandate; such as face-to face meeting between perpetrators of crimes and other offenses and their respective victims among other recommendations contained therein.
Grand Gedeans Reject War Crime Court Say Nimbaians, Grand Gedeans Are Happily Co-existing
By Alex Yomah