By Bill W. Cooper
The House of Representatives has received a bill calling for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia.
The Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) in collaboration with several Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Women groupings and the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia yesterday presented the Bill at the Capitol Building to members of that august body.
The court when established will seek to put a closure to the country’s darkest history by fully implementing the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report submitted to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The submission of the bill comes when there is mounting pressure from Liberians in and out of the country including other international partners on the Weah-led administration to end the culture of impunity against war and economic crimes in the country.
Recently, During the U.S. Congressional hearing on the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia, witnesses recommended several measures to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission thereby sending a strong signal to the Liberian government on its stance for the establishment of the court in the Liberia.
The petitioners said, “Over two hundred and fifty persons ranging from civilians who were non-participants of the deadly civil crisis were negatively impacted as a result of the mass killings.”
The petitioners named the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Massacre that led to the death of several ordinary citizens as a clear show that the killers were morally and spiritually bank-robbed in their actions against the Liberian people.
The petitioners maintained that guided by the lessons of history, as members of the CSO groupings, they have a strong conviction that holding perpetrators for war and economic crimes is the best way to stop impunity and lay a strong foundation for respect for rule of law in Liberia.
The War and Economic Crimes court advocators added, “We need not to look far in history, or away from Africa as Sierra Leone and Rwanda are shining examples of what happens when a conflict is followed by accountability and as such, we as Liberians too, deserve a culture of peace.”
“Because in the absence of the culture of peace in Liberia, Liberia will remain a fragile state as perpetrator of violent crimes and Sexual and Gender Base Violence (SGBV) meted against our girls, boys and women will continue to commit more violent crimes because of the lack of accountability for those who committed war and economic crimes during the Liberian crisis,” the campaigners stressed.
The president of the LNBA, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, expressed his disappointment in House Speaker, Dr. Bhofal Chambers for failing to show up in receiving the petition after agreeing to do so at a prior meeting at the Capitol.
Cllr. Gongloe further emphasized that while it is true that the House works through Committees; the matter of accountability for over 250 persons who died during the civil crisis requires every well-meaning Liberians to go beyond what it takes for the common good of the country and its citizens.
He revealed that a report in the possession of the Bar shows that every county across the country experienced a massacre and that if steps are not taken beginning with the Legislature, it will definite indicate that the body is a co-conspirator in the killings of those ordinary citizens.
“Liberia cannot be a country where when you slap one person you can be arrested and jail, when you kill one person you can be arrested and jail but when you kill five hundred to one thousand persons then, the society say it is okay; when we do that it means we are encouraging people to do more,” Gongloe averred.
Meanwhile, the Liberia National Bar Association and its partners with several Civil Society Organizations are at the same time advising members of the House and the entire Legislature upon receiving the bill to ensure its speedy passage for the common good of the ordinary people and the country at large.
Receiving the petition, the House’s Committee Chair on Claims and Petition, Nimba County District 4 Representative, Gunpue L. Kargon, extolled the LNBA and the CSOs for the submission thereby assuring the various institutions that the House will carefully scrutinized the document and act on it accordingly in keeping with the desire of the Liberian people.
“We receive this document in good faith, and whatsoever that is placed in this document and are meant to move the nation forward will be considered,” Rep Kargon assured the campaigners.
House Receives War, Economic Crimes Court Petition
By Bill W. Cooper