In War, Economic Crimes Court Debate, Senate Counsels On TRC Report: MONROVIA, June 23 (LINA) – As the debate on the setting up of a war and economic crimes court ensues, the Liberian Senate has made its position clear on the implementation of recommendations contained in the nation’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report. Key among TRC’s proposals is the establishment, by the President, of a Transitional Justice Commission (TJC). The Senate’s position and advice come against the backdrop and subsequent request by the President of Liberia, who on September 19, 2019, wrote the Senate and requested its advice on how to proceed with the implementation of the report of the TRC.
The establishment of a TJC, as contained in the Senate’s position and advice to President George Weah, is to perform several key functions, including, determining why the TRC Recommendations have not been fully and timely implemented as well as to determine whether the TRC fully complied its mandate, such as face-to-face meeting between perpetrators of crimes and other offences and their respective victims. The TJC, according to the Senate, will examine the effect of the August 2003 Act of the Legislature, which granted general amnesty to all participants in the civil crisis; to analyze credibility/legitimacy issues surrounding the Final Report of the TRC in respect of the fact that four of the Commissioners had serious issues with the report and consequently, two of the Commissioners did not sign the Final Report but instead presented a dissenting report.
It proposed that the TJC will examine the effect of the ratification/accession of Liberia to the Rome Statute in 2004 on the establishment of a War Crimes Court and to as well, consider the separation of the establishment of an Economic Crimes Court, which already exists within Liberia’s Judiciary and for which prosecution can take place using domestic laws. According to the Senate, the Commission will consider the effect of the constitutional and other legal implications of prosecuting war crimes at a War Crimes Court, when domestic laws and criminal courts for the same offenses exists and to also consider the constitutional implication of appeals from decision from a War Crimes Court, as the constitution provides that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all legal proceedings and every person has absolute right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
Among other things, the Senate cited that the TJC will review the work and recommendations of the TRC, where necessary, and make additional recommendations if necessary, such as how far back in Liberia’s history should the transitional justice process go. It will, as well, plan and implement programs and activities to solicit the opinion of the majority of Liberians on the issue of retributive justice versus restorative justice. Also, in the Senate’s recommendation, the body urged that while, the TJC is working on the issues ascribed to it, the ‘Government should establish a Reparation Trust Fund,’ aimed at restoring victims and communities worst affected by the conflict.
“It will help provide psychosocial relief for victims suffering from psychosocial and physical scars of the war, and other community-based reparation programs, as indicated in the TRC Report,” said the Liberian Senate. In line with one of the recommendations of the TRC, proposed the Senate, the President of Liberia should offer an official apology on behalf of the State to the thousands of victims and the Liberian people in general for its role in in the long conflict and for the injuries and losses suffered by individuals and communities as consequences of the civil crisis