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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Liberia: War Crimes Chief Repels Attack

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The Office of the War & Economic Crimes Court of Liberia has issued a strong response to allegations made by a coalition of civil society organizations regarding the qualifications of its Executive Director, Cllr. Jonathan T. Massaquoi.

The key argument made by the coalition was that Massaquoi is unfit to lead the office due to his previous legal representation of individuals accused of war crimes, including Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor and Mr. Gebril Massaquoi.

However, the Office of the War & Economic Crimes Court has firmly refuted these claims, stating that they are “misleading” and intended to “sidetrack” the country’s efforts to break away from a culture of impunity and institute justice and accountability.

The office emphasized that the right to counsel and the rights of counsel are “inviolable” under the Liberian constitution, and that no government can sanction or interfere with a lawyer’s performance of their duties, regardless of the charges against their client.

They cited examples from the International Criminal Court and the Supreme Court of the United States to illustrate this fundamental principle of criminal justice systems.

“Lawyers are not party to a case,” the office stated, arguing that Massaquoi’s previous legal representation does not disqualify him from his current role as the Executive Director.

The office praised Massaquoi’s professional and ethical track record, and expressed its commitment to leading a team of professionals to ensure the mandate of the office is achieved.

The statement also welcomed the recent acknowledgment of Massaquoi’s appointment by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, the Chair of the House Global Human Rights Subcommittee, and assured the Liberian people that they will get the justice they deserve for the brutal human rights violations and economic crimes they have endured.

The Office of the War & Economic Crimes Court has expressed its willingness to engage with civil society organizations that are genuinely involved in the advocacy of accountability and the rule of law in Liberia.

 

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