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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Editorial: Praise for Joe Boakai: Only Justice Can Heal

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The recent historic vote by House of Representatives to establish a mixture of domestic and international tribunal to prosecute war and economic crimes committed during the country’s brutal civil wars is a significant step towards justice and accountability.

This court will finally address the war crimes committed during this dark period of Liberia’s history and bring long-awaited justice to the estimated 250,000 people who lost their lives.

House Speaker Fonati Koffa and President Joseph Boakai’s commitment to this process is commendable and exemplifies decisive leadership in promoting justice and the rule of law.

House members and the President support for the establishment of this tribunal demonstrates a clear intention to right the wrongs of the past and ensure that those responsible for heinous crimes face the consequences of their actions.

For far too long, warlords and perpetrators of war crimes have lived in impunity, causing immense suffering and leaving a scar on the nation’s collective memory. With the establishment of this court, the victims’ voices will finally be heard, and the individuals responsible for their pain will be held accountable.

There are concerns that this tribunal may disrupt the nation’s peace, but such fears are rooted in the atmosphere of fear and terror inspired by these warlords during years of gun rule. The pursuit of justice should not be sacrificed for the sake of stability.

It is only when justice is served that genuine forgiveness and healing can take place. This tribunal has the potential to not only deliver justice but also contribute to the restoration of peace and the prevention of future conflicts.

To address concerns regarding insecurity and stability, Liberia’s international partners should provide adequate backup plans that limit any potential risks. Assistance in terms of security measures and resources will be crucial in ensuring the smooth functioning of the tribunal and safeguarding those involved in the proceedings.

The 30-member Senate, which currently hosts many suspected war and economic crimes culprits as well as anti-justice apologists is however proving to be the roadblock to the creation of the court.

In an event where the body clearly presents itself as bad influence in this crucial matter, the President should evoke an Executive Order to open the court as the House has advised. Senators time-wasting approach under the guise of “reviewing security and legal implications is effectively baseless and without merit.

Everyone in the Senate has come in contact with erstwhile Truth Commission document that proffered the establishment of the court. There is nothing new needing review. This makes their collective reading of the matter dishonest.

On related accountability issue, President Boakai’s Executive Order 126, which orders the creation of the office of asset recovery, is a commendable initiative. This office will investigate and retrieve stolen state assets, regardless of any statute of limitations.

Such a measure sends a strong message that corruption will not be tolerated and stolen assets will be recovered, contributing to the country’s economic development and restoring faith in its governance.

The establishment of a mixture of domestic and international tribunal, along with the creation of the office of asset recovery, demonstrates Liberia’s commitment to justice, accountability, and the rule of law. It is a testament to the country’s progress in its post-war recovery and its determination to ensure a brighter future for all its citizens.

The international community must stand in solidarity with Liberia and provide the necessary support to ensure the success of these initiatives. Only through justice can Liberia truly heal and move forward as a nation.

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