“Back Justice in Liberia” 80 Human Rights Groups Urge Pres.Weah Of Accountability For Past Crimes
Several Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations have urged President George Manneh Weah to back justice in Liberia especially during his first ever representation at the UN General Assembly in New York.
The Group made the call Tuesday during a press conference in Monrovia.
Pres. Weah is among other world leaders currently attending the United Nations General Assembly and he is expected to deliver Liberia’s case to the UN body on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
The CSOs and Human Rights Groups in partnership with Amnesty International, CIVITAS MAXIMA, Global Justice and Research Project, Human Rights Watch among others indicated in a letter sent to the president that by announcing his government’s endorsement of justice and reparations for victims of grave crimes during the country’s civil wars would strengthen peace and build a stronger democracy.
Liberia’s civil wars which spanned 14 years were characterized by widespread atrocities by all sides including summary executions and large-scale massacres,
“At Carter Camp and the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, hundreds of civilians were killed in a single night; abuses of widespread systematic rape, mutilation and torture and forced conscription and the use of child combatants, let the perpetrators be prosecuted”, the group’s statement noted.
According to Cllr Tiawon Gongloe, keeping silent on the punishment of atrocities would create more harm than good for victims of the crimes, adding that the time is now for Liberia to shift the fear from victims to perpetrators. “Let Pres. Weah make our case for justices at the UN which will make Liberians feel happy”.
Cllr. Gongloe stated in order to build a stronger culture of peace, the fight to end impunity against all is paramount noting that in times of peace laws are stronger and now is the time.
“The world is listening to us so we should act now before it is too late because perpetrators and victims are getting old and may die soon so then where do we find the evidence to prosecute these people”.
The groups have joined local organizations’ call for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia to prosecute war criminals and enable victims receives reparations for the atrocities committed again them during the civil wars. Victims of the wars live currently with scars and are unable to fetch for themselves and they have also joined calls for the court’s establishment.
Adama Dempster, the Secretary-General of Liberia’s Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform indicated that efforts by both local and international groups are predicated on international instruments which are signed unto by Liberia to protect and uphold human rights in Liberia.
Mr. Dempster said impunity is invading the corridors of Liberia and there is a need to address past human rights violations which he believes will help current approaches to human rights violations.
Liberia is no different from Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire and other countries that experienced wars and have stood up to prosecute war crimes through the establishment of the War crimes and restore hope to those victims”, Adama Dempster noted.
Earlier this year, the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform presented a 39page shadow report highlighted 26 human rights violations to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights on Liberia implementation of an international instrument on human rights.
The UN Committee adopted concluding observations which among others highlighted recommendations made by the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia in its shadow report during their participation in the sessions 122nd March 9-10 and follow up session of the 123rd July 9-10 2018 held in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform report among other things recommended that the government established a process of accountability for past gross human rights violations and war crimes that conform to international standards; ensure the independence and expertise of the judiciary, victims access to justice, due process and fair trial guarantees rights and war protection and ensures that all alleged perpetrators of gross human rights and war are impartially prosecuted and if found guilty, convicted and punished in accordance with gravity of the acts committed, regardless of their status or any domestic legislation or immunities.
Furthermore, the report also recommended that the government develop and implement comprehensive reparations scheme for all victims of gross human rights violations and war crimes and redouble efforts aimed at fostering reconciliation and sustaining peace, with the participation of victims and their families as well as CSOs.
Additionally, among other things that the government removes any person who have been proven to be involved in gross human rights and war crimes from official positions; implement the TRC recommendations and consider the establishing a well resource body comprising representatives, the National Independence Commission on Human Rights and Civil Society Organizations to monitor the implementation of the TRC.
To date, Liberia has not initiated a single prosecution for the widespread crimes committed against civilians during its wars.
Accordingly, efforts have been made internationally by some human rights organizations including the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) to make arrests and subsequent prosecution of war criminals from Liberia in the United States. According to the Director of GJRP, progress by his organization started since 2012 with 7 arrests so far and justice has been served in some of those cases.
“Now we are currently asking for 110 years imprisonment for Tom Woewoyou since his 11 count verdict was passed and we know it will be granted, also Jungle Jabbah is currently serving his sentence in the US for perpetrating war crimes on the Liberia soil”, Mr. Bility emphasized.
He pointed out that it is time that war criminals are prosecuted locally (in Liberia) before the eyes of victims of the crimes in order to restore justice, “Liberians believe that President Weah does not have a hands in the war as such he is the right person to implement the TRC recommendations and we are asking him now to do it”, GJRP Director Mr. Bility asserted.