IT IS A fact today that The Hague Conventions adopted in 1899 and 1907 focus on the prohibition to warring parties to use certain means and methods of warfare. Several other related treaties have been adopted since then.
BOTH HAGUE Law and Geneva Law identify several of the violations of its norms, though not all, as war crimes.
THE LIBERIAN civil war which started in 1989 and subsided as a result of election which brought in former president Charles Taylor into power has many stories. It later erupted in 2003 which led to several death and destruction.
THE WAR CAME to an end following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord in Accra, Ghana by all the parties to the conflict. One of the institutions put forward and agreed by all parties was the establishment of TRC.
THE LIBERIAN TRC was mandated to conduct investigations and publish a report documenting «gross human rights violations, violations of international humanitarian law as well as abuses that occurred, including massacres, sexual violations, murder, extra-judicial killings and economic crimes, such as the exploitation of natural or public resources to perpetuate armed conflicts» in Liberia between January 1979 and October 14, 2003.
THE FINAL REPORT listed 57 people or entities recommended for further investigation; 19 corporations, institutions, and state actors responsible for committing economic crime; 21 individuals for committing economic crime; 98 of the most notorious people that committed gross human rights violations; the eight leaders of the warring factions; and, lastly, a list of 50 persons recommended for sanctions.
ALSO, THE TRC recommended no blanket amnesty, but rather asked amnesty for those under the age of 18 when fighting and those that did not break any humanitarian laws.
TO THE government, the TRC recommended many reformations to cultural systems in place including alteration of the national motto, a reduction of the number of political parties, enhanced regulation on political appointments, and an alteration of the official Liberian calendar to include holidays from multiple ethnic groups.
THE TRC recommended that all individuals and entities noted as most notorious or requiring further investigation have a formal trial in the Liberian justice system. But with all these recommendations, no one is focusing on them except the establishment of war crimes.
IN AS MUCH as we do not support any form of violence in this country, we also need to be cognizant of the fragility of our peace process. We think that rushing for the establishment of War Crimes court needs to be given a second thought.
SOME OF the key things we as a nation need to fight for now is good health facilities, better education system, good road, electricity and clean drinking water. You do not have any of these facilities, yet few people are championing the cause of the establishment of war crimes.
BUT WE are nowhere close to these facilities and we are calling for the establishment of war crimes court. Let us be careful how we proceed as a nation in this direction so as to avoid more problems than solution.
REMEMBER when problems occur, it is usually our ECOWAS nations that come to our aid first rather than the big powers; many of them pushing for car crimes court using surrogate groups and institutions. Anyway, that is how some of these people and institutions survive; by blowing the trumpet of their financiers.
WE ARE NOT against the establishment of the war Crimes court and we don’t want perpetrators of Crimes against humanity to go with impunity, but we think the time is not right. Currently we are struggling with the issues of reconciliation as a result of the war as admitted by former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
LEAVING reconciliation half-baked and establishing war Crimes court will further impede one of the cardinal focus of this government which is the issue of reconciliation.
LIBERIANS are bitter with each other from political, social and economic standpoint, leaving this unresolved and establish war crimes court will endanger the peace that we all enjoy today.
WE THINK the resources for establishing war and economic Crimes court should be allocated to improve our infrastructure, improve our school system, healthcare system and the economy. When those sectors are improved and Reconciliation at its peak in the country, Liberians can now embrace the establishment of the special court for people who allegedly committed heinous crimes and crimes against humanity.
UNTIL THESE things are done and dusted, we should not dream of establishing war and economic Crimes court.
WE THINK the special court is good, but we should first prioritize the development of the country, the well-being of the Liberian people and rather than establishing the court now.
That is why we are opposing the establishing war crimes court now.