-Cllr. Gongloe Describes Alleged Perpetrators of War Crimes
By Reuben Sei Waylaun
Human Rights Lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe says Liberians shouldn’t be afraid of alleged perpetrators of war crimes who are making inflammatory statements. He described them as ‘crippled tigers’.
Speaking at a press conference in Monrovia, this week said, people who allegedly committed war crimes must be held accountable for their actions.
“The only thing that we have to do is to exclude those who committed war crimes among us so that this place can be peaceful,” he added. They are all crippled tigers, they cannot do anything. Let them hear me and we must not be afraid of them. There is no way they will live among us holding top positions, enjoying themselves and when we see them; we remember and our minds go to the checkpoints.”
“We have to hold them accountable, they should either be hiding or be in jail. In that way, we will be strong and this is the right time because the world is also listening to us and we are in a critical period,” he said.
Debunking assertions from some Liberians that it is not time for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court in Liberia, Cllr. Gongloe said the time is now because some of the alleged perpetrators of war crimes are getting old and might die while some of the victims are also getting older and their death will destroy evidences that will be needed to prosecute those accused.
“We don’t want the perpetrators to die natural death; we want them to be held accountable. Some of the victims are also getting older and may die soon, evidence may be gone. You cannot successfully prosecute without evidence. The stronger we are, braver we are, the more afraid they become and even putting fear in them is a form of justice because it means we are in a better position,” he said.
Cllr. Gongloe further said alleged perpetrators are in higher positions in the country using the state resources to suppress the same people they harmed.
He described those alleged perpetrators as “cowards”, saying ‘those who committed war crimes are cowards and they cannot follow normal rules and they act when laws are weak. In time of peace, laws are strong and we must make them understand that we are living in time of peace. There is a direct relationship between fight against impunity and strengthening peace.”
“People cannot kill your mother and father and siblings and they say let’s forget. People who say we should forget and move on are logically wrong, they don’t make common sense and there are no history and people don’t need to say let’s forget.
“Let’s hold those people accountable and some people say let’s forgive. How can you forgive someone who has not admitted guilt or whom you have not found to be guilty. So, to forgive without accountability is meaningless, we have government, we have had three elections, we have the support of the international community, we are stronger, we have strong civil society groups that are stronger than before,” he added.
According to him, to build a strong culture of peace, Liberians must fight impunity.
“You cannot have impunity and say you will have peace because impunity is a threat to peace. you have to fight impunity if you want peace. I strongly believe that our peace process in Liberia is in an irreversible state,” he added.
The Liberian civil conflict claimed more than 250,000 lives and destroyed the country’s infrastructures. Liberians suffered tremendously over the course of the country’s two armed conflicts spanning more than 14 years.
Abuses included summary executions, large-scale massacres, rape and other forms of sexual violence, mutilation and torture, and widespread forced conscription and use of child combatants.
It’s Nine years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its report, which among others, called for a special war and economic crimes court to be set up. This has not been affected.
Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) submitted its recommendations to the Liberian Government during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in which the establishment of war and economic crimes court came up, there have been series of calls to ensure the implementation of the report.
The full implementation of the TRC’s recommendations was one of challenging issues during the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but all is now turned to her successor, President George Manneh Weah in the country.