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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Liberian Authorities Setting Rules for War Crimes Court

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By Festus Poquie

Justice appears to be on the horizon for the more than 250, 000 people that were killed during the country’s brutal civil wars as talks on the establishment of the war and economic crimes tribunal hit boiling point.

President Joseph Boakai and the international community have reached a common point on the setting up of the court. The conversations now is not if neither when but how. The parties are seem to be drafting the rules of the court and its potential venue.

US war crimes officials are currently in Monrovia holding talks with people that matter to the creation of the court. On Monday Ambassador-at-Large Beth Van Schaach and her team from the Office of Global Criminal Justice (J/GCJ) had discussion with Speaker Fonati Koffa and the House’s leadership at the Capitol.

“I made clear to the Ambassador-at-Large, that we support Justice for war victims but we won’t be rash or insensitive to concerns of people who feel targeted,” the House Speaker said in a post on his official Facebook account.

“This will be done right, and if it is what our people want, their elected representatives will say so through their votes. As Speaker I will make sure the debate is thorough and that it considers everything; reconciliation, maintenance of peace and fairness to alleged perpetrators.”

President Joseph Boakai appears to have contracted the services of renowned war crimes prosecutor Allan White to oversee the formation of the court.

In a meeting with the global justice activist, Boakai said:  Allen you are a good friend of Liberia and I do not just see it as a duty, I see it as a concern for a country that you have interest in and your pursuit that we believe in. We believe that you concerns are genuine and so we both need to work together.  That’s why we called you.

White replied: “Mr. President, I can’t tell you how many people worldwide when they read your speech when you talk about having an official of war crimes and economic crimes court to facilitate the creation of this international tribunal here in Liberia to bring justice to the people. I heard it from the US, my phone blew off, you can imagine people said I couldn’t believe it and I  was so esthetic and alighted and since I been here I  heard you say things. So, I want to thank you and give you assurances that we will do everything we can to bring justice to the victims of those 250,000 people that were killed during the two civil wars.”

Below is part of President Joseph Boakai’s inaugural speech on war crimes accountability.

“We have decided to set up an office to explore the feasibility for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) to provide an opportunity for those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity to account for their actions in court. An estimated quarter of a million of our people perished in the war. We cannot forever remain unmoved by this searing national tragedy without closure.

“We shall seek advice and assistance from the Office of the United Nations Secretary General to ensure that the court, if found feasible, will be in compliance with highest standards of similar courts everywhere. The Legislature will have its say appropriately in this matter in order to avoid any appearance of vendetta or witch-hunt. “

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