U.S. Representative Dan Donovan (R-NY) has highlighted Nimba county Senator Prince Y. Johnson as one of the fundamental reasons Liberia should consider establishing a War Crime Tribunal.
In a letter to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Donovan asked what their respective departments can do to further encourage Liberia to establish a war crimes tribunal.
Donovan’s letter comes after Liberian Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley’s recent comments which reportedly suggested a referendum be used to determine the establishment of a war crimes tribunal.
In September, Donovan introduced his resolution on Liberia. Last month, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed Donovan’s resolution. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who co-sponsored the resolution, also applauded Congressman Donovan’s leadership.
He stated, “Liberia and Liberian-Americans have no greater friend, I would say, than our good friend Dan Donovan.”
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Secretary Mattis and Secretary Pompeo,
New York’s 11th Congressional District is home to the largest Liberian population in the world outside of Liberia. With a vibrant presence in the Clifton section of Staten Island, I have seen their contributions for many years. They are a hardworking and family-oriented community who have made themselves an integral part of the district.
As you know, from 1991 to 2002, civil war devastated Liberia and Sierra Leone. The violence took the lives of over 200,000 people, displaced over 1,000,000 persons, and saw horrific cases of murder, amputation, mass rape, and other human rights abuses. The heinous crimes that occurred during this time are unspeakable, yet many of the perpetrators hold positions in Liberia’s government. With the presence of Senator Prince Y. Johnson and others, we are seeing Liberia’s slow creep backwards towards the murderous mayhem of its civil war era.
Liberians are rightfully clamoring for justice. The last thing we want to see is the cycle of violence start yet again. I fear that is exactly what will happen should the perpetrators of vicious crimes be allowed to escape responsibility. To this end, I have introduced H. Res. 1055 in the House of Representatives, which calls upon Liberia to establish a war crimes tribunal. This effort has already been followed by responses from Liberian government officials. Liberian Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley earlier this month reportedly suggested a referendum to establish a war crimes tribunal.
Unfortunately, this vague statement from Minister Findley falls short of genuine and robust commitment to establishing a war crimes tribunal.
To that end, what more can the Department of Defense and Department of State do to encourage Monrovia to establish a war crimes tribunal? And how else can myself and my colleagues in Congress assist in this effort? I look forward to your expeditious responses.