As former Liberian President and ex-warlord Charles Taylor faces sentencing today by the International Criminal Court in the Hague convicted on 11 counts of aiding and
abetting war crimes and violation of international humanitarian by the International Criminal Court in the Hague on April 26, Liberians are pushing hard for the establishment of the International Criminal Court for the country to bring justice the country, victims, and hold perpetrators accountable for committing war crimes and violation of international humanitarian laws during the country’s 14 year civil war.
The conviction of the former Liberian leader last month was greeted with mixed feelings and a deep sense of let down by Liberians and has since sparked a national discourse and push, calling for the establishment of the International Criminal Court for Liberia to bring justice to victims of Taylor’s 14 year brutal war w in which 350,000 Liberian lives were lost.
The push for the International Criminal Court for Liberia to prosecute former warlords and key played key stakeholders of the country’s civil war reached its pinnacle recently when the Independent Human Rights Commission of Liberia (IHRCL), the national body established by law to implement the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) announced plans to forward a former notorious warlord turned politician, Senator Prince Johnson to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to face war crimes and violation of international humanitarian law.
In reaction to the Independent Human Right Commission of Liberia pronouncement, the former warlord at a press conference late last week held at the Liberian National Legislature where he currently serves as Senior Senator of the country’s second most populous counties, Nimba, said he has “serious problem” with the commission, dissipating ,”we want the legality to prevail, the INHRC has no legal ground, authority to contact The Hague or recommend anybody there for prosecution. You have to do that through the government.
Prince Y Johnson, leader of INPFL
The Senator who headed a break-away faction from Charles Taylor main rebel group, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) further said “the government is not the executive mansion; there are three branches; it has to be legislated by law. The ICC does not take request from any human rights group; they take report from the government.”
The once fear warlord who captured the country’s capital and slain President Samuel Doe lamented further by disclosing that the conventional weapons he and his rebel group used to fight could only be acquired by people with so much money, emphasizing, “we were not capable of purchasing a single barrel so how did we get those classical weapons that we used during the war?”.
They were giving to us by Madam Sirleaf (President Ellen Johnson -Sirleeaf), Amos Sawyer(former interim president), Richard Tolbert(nephew of former President William R Tolbert, deposed in a coup in 1980) Harry Greaves(President Sirleaf’s confidant) and many others who served in a group call the association of Liberians for constitutional democracy established in 1985,” the Senator lamented.
The former warlord said if he if forwarded to the ICC in the Hague, President Sirleaf should also be recommended for prosecution to the ICC for “aiding and abetting” them (warlords) during the war, saying “her financial contribution to the war could be US$10 million, because US$10,000 could not buy any gun and be your contribution towards somebody that you push in the war front to fight”
“Who determines who goes to palaver hut and who doesn’t go to palaver hut? Because those who aided and abetted are the key figures, if they have not sponsored and brought arms, we would not come forth to fight. So why are you only focusing on fighter, fighter, fighter?”, the Senator noted.
One of the seven Commissioners of the INCHR , Thomas Bureh disclosed to the media in a press conference recently that the Commission has resolved to hand over all those indicted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.
Commissioner Bureh in for the Liberia media that those accused of committing “heinous crimes” as captured in the TRC final recommendations are to be handed over to the ICC, clarifying that the pending “Palaver Hut” talks amongst Liberians are meant only for those who were accused of committing “minor offenses.”
On June 30, 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission submitted findings and recommendations to the National Legislature after three years of investigation that covered the period 1979 up to 2003.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established as the result of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in August in Accra, Ghana to end Liberia’s 14-year civil conflict and recommended116 Liberians and persons of other origins for prosecution for alleged gross human rights violations including all warlords.
The TRC recommended the following Liberians as “most notorious perpetrators” are George Dweh, Prince Johnson, Saah R. Gborlie, Richard Flomo, Sando Johnson and Appollo Jaye-Swen. Others are Roland Duo, Siafa Norman, Paye Suah, Joseph Montgomery, Dan Morias, Benjamin Yeaten, among others for prosecution.