Confusion Erupts On Capitol Hill Over Speaker Chambers Refusal To Place War Crimes Court Resolution On Agenda
Confusion erupted on Friday, at the House of Representatives over the alleged refusal of Speaker Bhofal Chambers to place the resolution establishing the War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) in Liberia.
The newest discussion on whether or not there will be an establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia took a different path at the House of Representatives when the Speaker refused to place it on the agenda, as insults ensued among them.
In an angry tone, Montserrado County District #4 Representative, Rustolyne Suacoco Dennis expressed disappointment over the deliberate action of the Speaker for not putting the resolution on the agenda or accepting her amended motion for unreadiness.
In a brief interview, representative Dennis said, “It is very disappointing and I pity the nation and its people who were victimized during the fifteen-year of civil conflict.” Rep. Dennis added that she has lost admiration for Speaker Chambers.
According to her, the Maryland County representative and Speaker of the House of Representatives should not forget that those who affixed their signatures to the resolution are capable of removing him (Chambers) from the speakership because of his (Chambers) continuous disrespect to them.
Representative Dennis said the most frustrating thing is that people like Speaker Chambers who were yesterday advocating for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court are now paying deaf ears or sweeping integrity documents which leads to the creation of the court under the carpet.
“The document in question is what the people of Liberia and world are waiting for which gives the government the green-light, as such it is something that anyone can’t play with or joke about, so if Speaker Chambers will behave in such a manner, it tells us that he is not in the interest of the people of Liberia,” she said.
Speaking on Capitol Hill Friday, Representative Dennis disclosed that the refusal of the Speaker to place the resolution on agenda is against what he (Chambers) advocated for during the past regime.
“Woe unto Bhofal Chambers, it is shameful and disgraceful and I told him that the establishment of court is not about Speaker Chambers, it is about every Liberian and future generation of Liberia,” She angrily noted. “We do not want a reputation of war and violence in our country, the Speaker must be able to listen to his colleagues,” she said.
She said there is no Speaker in the world or any parliamentary body that will joke with any integrity document that contains fifty signatures, but described the Speaker’s action as a complete disrespect to the rest of his colleagues who took their time to sign on an integrity document like the resolution.
According to her, the fifty signatures on the resolution have the propensity to remove Representative Bhofal Chambers from the speakership of the House of Representatives because of his failure to adhere to his colleagues.
“The Speaker is lucky because not many lawmakers who not are very strong, in that many of them want peace and don’t want to be having a confrontation with others,” she said. The District #4 lawmaker noted that if Speaker Chambers does not place the resolution on the agenda on Monday, she is going to take the matter to the Supreme Court, which according to her will put pressure on him.
On other issues, she wondered why will people who killed, raped and committed heinous crimes, but don’t want to go to court to face justice; why are we building Liberia as an impunity nation, adding that there can be no development, economic recovery in the absence of justice.
“But why is it today that Speaker Chambers who long advocated for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court is shying away from just a resolution, it is a disgrace for lawmakers to fight over an integrity document, particularly document they long advocated for and even stood in the face of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and insulted her for not paying attention to them,” she noted.
The lawmaker further noted that this document should not be something that lawmakers should be fighting over because it is what they all advocated for, so it should be unanimously voted upon so that the debate for the creation of the war crimes court can begin.
The resolution was launched at the Duport Road Memorial site where the massacre took place during former President Charles G. Taylor, bloody civil unrest that killed over 250,000 persons and several thousands of Liberians were made homeless. According to the lawmaker, the resolution was submitted at about 4:00 pm on Thursday, October 4, 2019 that was a day before the Friday’s sitting but according to her, the communication which was signed by fifty lawmakers was allegedly removed from the agenda without any justifiable reason by the Speaker.
It was alleged that Speaker Chambers removed the resolution that would have provided the green light for the full implementation of the TRC’s recommendation and the possible establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court.
She said all efforts to meet the Speaker to provide clarity on his action proved futile but disclosed that the Speaker deliberately made himself busy when she went to his office to know what was his motive behind the removal of that resolution from the House’s agenda.
What sparked the confusion was when Representative Albert Hills who made the motion for the agenda to be accepted as the working tool for the day’s discussion denied the motion of representative Dennis to include the resolution on the agenda for passage.
Meanwhile, the resolution which was denied from being placed on the agenda mandated that the President act on the establishment of the WECC because according to the lawmakers, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report is already an Act of enactment by the legislature that is awaiting presidential implementation.
The fifty lawmakers that signed the resolution also resolved that the government ensures availability and ownership of the country’s collective memory on the conflict; the TRC is just but a fraction of the colossal information contained in these records.
The resolution noted further that the implementation of the TRC’s recommendations will be a lasting legacy and tribute to the thousands of victims and witnesses whose selfless contribution to the process led to the generation of these records.