War crimes court call overshadows sub-regional forum
By William Selmah/WADR Correspondent
A sub-regional meeting of human rights activists is underway in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, with participants expected to review activities and progress in human rights advocacies in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Liberia.
But the opening of the sub-regional human rights conference was on Tuesday overshadowed by calls to establish a war crimes court to punish those who bear the greatest responsibilities for atrocities committed during Liberia now ended civil war.
The intermittent war lasted from 1989 to 2003 and claimed more than quarter of a million lives.
Baron Brown, a member of Liberia’s House of Representatives told the opening of the meeting that a criminal court was needed in Liberia to punish perpetrators and give justice to victims and their relatives,
He said ‘this is a sure way’ of preventing a recurrence of the carnage visited on Liberia during those years of disorder.
Also speaking on the court issue was the head of the International Service for Human Rights Clement Voule, who said that the ball was in the court of Liberians to decide whether or not they want a war crimes court set up.
He made specific call on human rights groups to work along with government if they want to see such a plan come true, while at the same time cautioning them to firstly ascertain majority will on the issue.
Analysts are of the belief that it is highly unlikely that any arrangement to set up such a hybrid criminal court in Liberia can be concluded under the current government, considering that several of its key officials are thought to have played active roles in the civil war.
Current Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, for example, stands accused of financing the main ex-rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia of former President Charles Taylor, now convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, while Senator Prince Johnson led a splintered faction of Mr. Taylor’s rebel movement in the 1990s.
Johnson came third in round one of last year’s presidential election, but he threw his weight behind Sirleaf in the runoff.Tweet