By T. Saye Goinleh
As mounting calls for the establishments of economic and war crimes court in Liberia continue to reverberate in the public sphere, veteran Liberian journalist and Publisher of The New Republic Newspaper says the court is not needed now taking into consideration the fragility of the state.
Speaking as one of the panelists during a public debate organized by the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiative (LMDI) on the establishment of war crimes court in the country at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) auditorium on Tubman Boulevard in Congo Town on Saturday, September 15, 2018, Mr. Alphonso Toweh narrated that he was not totally against the idea about war crimes court for Liberia, but said the timing was not right for the nation taking into consideration the security fragility of the country.
According to Mr. Toweh, most of those deemed to be the masterminds and alleged perpetrators are now sitting in high places in governmental circle and some are even political leaders of vibrant parties with huge followers that no one knows their intent if someone they consider their ‘godfather’ is apprehended ahead of possible prosecution.
He concluded by calling on Liberians to hold their peace until the time is ripe where maybe those accused will in the future show remorse for their actions.
Mr. Alphonso Toweh was on the panel along with Mr. Forkpa Gizzi of the University of Liberia, Frank Sainwola, an award-winning Liberian journalist and Ojuku Ogbozuah, a student activist who gave diverse opinions.
The first debate on the subject was convened by the LMDI on the University of Liberia Fendall Campus outside Monrovia on Saturday, September 8, 2018 where speakers also spindled their minds with counter thoughts.
The second speaker was Mr. Forkpa Gizzi who entirely embraced the establishment of a war crimes court in the country so as to serve as deterrent for other would be sponsors and field commanders of mayhem in the future against the Liberian populace.
“How can I forgive someone who played gamble to kill a pregnant woman only because his fellow rebel combatant said that certain particular conceived lady was carrying a boy child in her womb and another one pronounced that it was not true and the only solution was to slaughter her to discover what sex of unborn she was carrying,’’ Mr. Gizzi lamented.
For his part, veteran Liberian journalist Frank Sainwola explained that in his mind, he fully supports the setting up of war and economic crimes court in Liberia because some of those who actively participated in the war years in the country are not expressing remorse for what they did in the process.
Mr. Sainwola in his deliberation indicated that people appeared at the TRC hearings only to announce that they acted as liberators of their kind to free them from bondage during the carnage because there was no way out.
“some of them that we know can recall that before the “TRC Panel’’ declared that they didn’t kill even a fly during the war when they launched rockets and mortars on Monrovia especially on the diplomatic enclave of Mamba of Point,” he said.
Student activist Ojuku Ogbozuah in his opinion narrated that the establishment of a war-crime court in Liberia was not prudent at the moment because in his words, at the conference that drew up the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), opted for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission instead of a war crimes court contrary to what is currently being proffered by some Liberians.
He alarmed that some of those perceived perpetrators are in government and venturing to arrest them might bring chaos in the country.
“Why when UNMIL was here when former President was in power those calling for the prosecution of alleged warlords during the Liberia civil upheaval could not push for same?’’, Mr. Ogbozuah questioned.
More than eight hundred persons formed part of the Saturday’s, September 15, 2018 audience at the YWCA and at the end of the process a casual vote conducted by the LMDI showed that twenty-one persons who voluntarily exercised their votes reflected that twelve were in favor of the establishment of a punitive court in Liberia and nine voted against.