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War Crimes Court Gets Underway

– Campaign Intensifies, As Constituted Committee Drafts Bill For Legislative Consideration

By R. Joyclyn Wea

Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) has set up a committee of five astute Liberian lawyers to draft a bill for Legislative consideration that will subsequently lead to the establishment of a ‘War and Economic Crimes Court’ for Liberia.

This is geared toward promise made by the LNBA leadership prior to taking office and part of the campaign for justice of victims of the Liberian civil war that took the lives of thousands of Liberians and nationals, destroyed properties and displaced a substantial percentage of the population both in other parts of Liberia and the world at large.

The current leadership of the LNBA since taking over has been lifting issues that arouse public interest and invoke critical and heated discussions in various quarters and the International scene

It can be recalled that during the LNBA General Assembly in March 2019 overwhelmingly voted and signed a resolution committing to said campaign aimed at pushing for the establishment of a ‘War and Economic Crimes Court’.

To ensure this work, the LNBA National Executive Committee (NEC) headed by its President, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe over the weekend appointed a five-member ad-hoc committee headed by Cllr. Jallah A. Barbu to draft a Legislative Bill on the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia for consideration.

In a letter addressed to the Committee Chairman Cllr. Jallah Barbu, it states “With the advice and consent of the National Executive Council of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) I am pleased to appoint you as Chairman of an Ad-Hoc Committee recently established by the NEC to draft an act to establish an extraordinary tribunal for war and economic crimes. Your knowledge of constitutional law, international law and criminal law in addition to your dedication to promoting public interest law in Liberia, makes you the most suited among members of the Bar for performing this extremely important duty.”

The committee has been mandated to report to the National Executive Committee of the Liberia National Bar Association within the course of one month.

Cllr. Barbu is the Former Chairperson of the Law Reform Commission (LRC) and serves as Lawyer of Liberia Revered Constitutional, with experience in legislative drafting and leadership in the review and drafting of several laws, bills, and other legal instruments that is currently being used in the country.

Recent discussions amongst interested persons suggested that the one month given the committee to report was short but idealists have opined that given the track record of the Chairman of the committee, they are optimistic of meeting the bench mark to fulfill the confidence imposed in them.

However, May 25, 2019 is fast approaching, at which time the committee is expected to submit its report; this could also be the spring board upon which the much talked about court may finally come into being.

Gongloe’s in his induction statement earlier this year claimed that corruption and misuse of power has adversely affected Liberia and the culture of silence by people who should have spoken contributed to the problem Liberia now faces as such his leadership will be very instrumental in checking every sector and missteps of the Liberian Government like the other Bars do in Nations around the world.

Accordingly, the LNBA is not the only group campaign for the establishment for war and economic crimes court in Liberia. Calls for the establishment of these courts for perpetrators of hideous crimes and atrocity against the country and people to be brought to Justice and face prosecution for their action if guilty started early 2018 the same being the first year of President George Weah’s reign as Liberian Head of State.

This call has led to series of protests locally and internationally thus pressuring the Weah’s led Government to pass the instrument leading to the implementation of the Truth Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations or report since in fact it was among those things his party advocating for while in position.  TNR

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