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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Response to: ‘‘Advocates Condemn Pres. Boakai’s Pick to Head War Crimes Court Office – Say Relationship with Rebel Faction Leader Will Undermine Public Trust’’

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Introduction

On June 21, 2024, the FrontPageAfrica Liberia daily ran a story with the headline ”Advocates Condemn Pres. Boakai’s Pick to Head War Crimes Court Office – Say Relationship with Rebel Faction Leader Will Undermine Public Trust.

Justice activists in Liberia, John Stewart, and Massa Washington are incensed by President Joseph Boakai’s selection of Jonathan Massaquoi to lead the Office for War and Economic Crimes Courts.

They say that Massaquoi’s previous work as a lawyer for former warlord Agnes Reeves-Taylor will undermine public trust in the judiciary and harm national security.

However, these claims lack adequate facts because the majority of them were dismissed in courts of competent jurisdiction, resulting in Cllr. Massaquoi’s acquittal. Agnes Reeves-Taylor, who was implicated in several crimes during Liberia’s civil war, had her case dismissed in the UK due to legal technicalities and was denied permanent settlement based on major crimes against humanity.

Her return to Liberia and Massaquoi’s association with her has raised serious worries among justice activists. The truth is, there is nothing to worry about given these individuals’ acquittal in the court of competence jurisdiction.

The counselor in question, who is Cllr. Jonathan Massaquio?

President Joseph Boakai has appointed Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi as the Executive Director of Liberia’s Office of War and Economic Crimes Court.

Massaquoi oversees ILG’s Litigation Team, which includes practicing attorneys from Liberia’s Supreme Court and lower courts. His legal experience includes Criminal Law, Labor Law, Contract Law, Commercial Law, and Property and Estate Law. Massaquoi holds a BSc in Economics and an LLB degree from the University of Liberia. T

his appointment is a critical step in Liberia’s efforts to address war and economic crimes stemming from its past wars. Massaquoi’s duties include supervising the research and development of techniques for establishing a Special War Crimes Court and a National Anti-Corruption Court in Liberia. His prior roles include serving as Legal Counsel for the General Auditing Commission of Liberia and his current work aligns with the Executive Order to fully implement these judicial initiatives.

President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s appointment of WECC Director: June 21, 2024

The Executive Mansion confirmed Massaquoi’s appointment but did not specify his qualifications in international human rights law, which is a critical criterion for the position. However, his previous involvement in defamation litigation against notable justice activists has raised concerns that his leadership may jeopardize the independence and integrity of the war crimes courts.

But is that the truth about the character? Reading these activists’ publications demonstrates that they have no purpose because a person cannot be held accountable for war and economic crimes he did not commit. Cllr. Massaquoi cannot be denied the opportunity to serve his country because he was a former RUF commander in Sierra Leone.

Cllr. Massaquoi has been exonerated of all claimed war crimes against him by courts of competent authority in the United Kingdom, Finland, the United States, and Liberia.

In my opinion, these cases, which were deemed unfounded by many legal experts, were attempts to intimidate and weaken justice organizations. Activists such as John Stewart and Massa Washington have publicly challenged Massaquoi’s lack of relevant experience and alleged bias. What are the perceived biases?

The perceived bias could stem from functioning as a lawyer for an alleged war criminal. If this is the case, one must question the role of an attorney and a counselor-at-law. You must represent alleged criminals and evaluate the documents required to present a case in your client’s defence.

In reply, Kula Fofana, Presidential Press Secretary of the Republic of Liberia, contended that Massaquoi’s function is administrative rather than prosecutorial, to answer crucial questions and harmonize legal concerns before reporting to the president.

Given the presidential Press Secretary’s role and her response to the activists, I must congratulate her for making such a remark, as it supports the tasks of an administrator or public administrator. To continue this discussion, it is important to grasp Cllr. Massaquoi’s background before accepting other activists’ thoughts.

Kula Fofana, the presidential press secretary, asked activists to allow Massaquoi to demonstrate his competency, which I somewhat agree with considering his lack of involvement in war and economic crimes in Liberia.

However, the appointment has raised concerns among international human rights groups and US officials, particularly since Liberia is seeking considerable donor assistance to support the courts.

Concerns about the process’s integrity were heightened by recent allegations made by Alan White, a former investigator, against justice activists, even though many investigations have debunked these claims.

Fake justice advocates

When did it become illegal for a lawyer to defend a client for the sake of justice? When did having the right to a lawyer as an accused person become a crime? John Steward and Massa Washington lack the legitimacy to condemn Councillor Jonathan Massaquio.

Their criticism is biased and harms the entire accountability process. According to these phony advocates, once a person is accused of war crimes, they should be denied the right to counsel.
So, if a lawyer defends someone accused of war crimes, that lawyer is equally guilty? Is this the justice that these two lawbreakers desire for Liberia?
Going back to history:

On December 7, 2019, The New York Times with the headline ‘’U.K Halts Torture case against Ex-wife of Liberia’s Charles Taylor, Agnes Taylor, a case that was later on closed because of REASONABLE doubt that the complainant could not provide evidence to support their claims of Agnes Taylor involvement with TORTURE and War Crimes in Liberia. The British judge dismissed the Torture charge against the alleged war criminal and the lawyer representing Agnes Taylor, former wife of Ex-Liberian president Taylor is none other but Cllr. Massaquoi.

A story was published by Frontpageafriaonline on May 2, 2022, with headlines ‘‘A court in Finland Acquitted Cllr. Massaquoi of War Crimes citing ‘Reasonable Doubt’. Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi was again acquitted of WAR crimes committed in Liberia between 1999 to 2003.

Witness coaching in WECC trials:

To intensify the charges that human rights organizations are coaching witnesses, various social justice organizations have issued warnings against it.

The Global Justice for Peace Human Rights Advocacy Network (GJPHRAN) and the Solidarity Trust And A New Day (STAND) raised awareness about witness coaching during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission trials (TRC) and warned against it during the War and Economic Crime Court proceedings.

On April 16, 2024, the CONCORD TIMES and the LIBERIA NEWS NETWORK both carried a story in which GJPHRAN founder Amb. Dr. Marie Scott-Wilson called for an end to witness coaching until the WECC is established.

 Who are these activists and what morals do they have?

Many Liberian activists are driven by their stomachs and will sell whatever information is available to them. Many of these activists lack the moral authority to question the integrity of key persons in our legal system.

These are the same two haters who have been tied to witness tampering to offer false testimony against accused individuals. Sundaygar Dearboy, for example, was falsely accused of war crimes in Grand Bassa County by a hungry witness.

Yes, Dearboy was affiliated with the NPFL, but the charges that he committed war crimes were proven incorrect after John Stewart went all out in the press to condemn Dearboy as a war criminal. Massa Washington and John Steward lack the moral and legal standing to criticize Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi.

Massa Washington is reported to be linked with coaching witnesses to lie about accused persons for war crimes:

They are linked to the false claim that Agnes Reeves Taylor shot and killed former Margibi County Supt Amos Bohn in Kakata in 1990. They recruited, coached, and paid witness Morris Jarbarteh, who told the British Authority that Agnes Reeves Taylor shot and killed Margibi County Supt. Amos Bohn in Kakata in 1990, among other heinous war crimes, such as the murders of nurses and doctors at Duside Hospital Division 10 in Firestone.

Later, the story altered to say that Agnes Taylor ordered several men to kill Supt Amos Bohn. However, thanks to Jonathan Massaquio’s strong legal representation, defense, and investigation, it was determined that Supt Amos Bohn is still alive and well, living in London. This is how their entire false case collapsed, and Agnes Taylor was liberated from British jail.

After being shamed by this bright Liberian lawyer and their Dubois behavior exposed, they have joined in an evil campaign against Jonathan Massaquio. Another lie: Jonathan Massaquio defeated them in the Finnish court. They encouraged a witness to lie about Gibril Massaquio. Gibril Massaquio covertly fled Sierra Leone in 2003 at the direction of former Police Director Joe Tate to murder innocent people in Liberia.

The truth is that Joe Tate was not alive in 2003. Joe Tate died in August 1999. Furthermore, records show that throughout that time, Gibril Massaquoi was detained by the United Nations in a safe house in Sierra Leone, and he was unable to leave Sierra Leone and travel to Liberia. Here’s how Gibril Massaquio was released from prison in Europe.

These phony supporters also lied about Lenn Eugene Nagbe, the former Maritime Commissioner.

They falsely claimed that Eugene was implicated in the death of former Sierra Leone Rebel leader Sam Bokarie in Liberia. That case did not see the light of day in court since the deception was uncovered during Charles Taylor’s trial in the Hague and subsequent investigations.

In my opinion, and based on all forensic investigations, Cllr Jonathan Massaquio is a true defender of justice with integrity, as opposed to John Steward and Massa Washington, who continue to feed their hatred for Charles Taylor and transfer it to a respectable international lawyer like Cllr. Jonathan Massaquio.

Reviewing the testimony of P. Darius Tweh, one-time ally to Hon. Musa Hassan Bility about our justice system: Asking the town people questions so you make farm during the wrong season

Independent Newspaper, February 15, 2022, publication

In a major publication aimed at addressing the corrupt nature of some Liberian legal justice activists and individuals, P. Darius Tweh accuses Hon. Musa Hassan Bility and his Global Justice Research Project (GJRP), as well as international partners Civitas Maxima and the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), of orchestrating fraudulent schemes under the guise of human rights advocacy.

Tweh argues that these organizations seek and pay witnesses to falsify evidence against accused Liberian war criminals in exchange for monetary compensation and promises of asylum.

He claims that he was part of these actions, including being trained to make false statements against personalities like Agnes Reeves Taylor, and that Bility has a history of recruiting people to lie to foreign investigators. Tweh also asserts that some witnesses were granted asylum based on these fabricated testimonies

Tweh further claims that these organizations worked with so-called expert witnesses in the United States and Europe to fraudulently accuse people. He mentions fraudulent testimonies against Agnes Reeves Taylor and General Moses Wright, which he alleges were orchestrated by Bility and his colleagues. Tweh maintains that these activities jeopardize judicial processes and urge for independent investigations by US and European authorities.

He recommends that future war crimes investigations in Liberia should not rely on GJRP, Civitas Maxima, or CJA because their integrity has been compromised, instead urging for independent vetting of witnesses by Western government agents utilizing polygraph examinations.

Rap-Up

Let me finish by saying that there is a need for hygiene in our justice system, and after a comprehensive study of reports and results, I am satisfied beyond all reasonable questions that Cllr. Massaquoi should be allowed to serve his country based on his moral integrity in our legal system.

The dispute surrounding Massaquoi’s selection emphasizes the crucial need for Liberian ownership and leadership in the war and economic crimes court process. Activists and foreign experts agree that important judicial and prosecutorial positions should be filled by qualified Liberians to ensure local support and long-term impact. The question should be about the legitimacy and transparency of these activists.

Are they morally qualified to question another individual who has demonstrated a clean record through trials in many competent courts of jurisdiction at the international level? To properly address Liberia’s past crimes and rebuild public trust in the justice system, the procedure must adhere to high standards of integrity and independence.

Given Cllr. Massaquoi’s profile, we must allow him to demonstrate his administrative power to provide impartial justice to the numerous Liberians who have been victims of human rights violations, abuse, and misappropriation of government monies.

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