We need a War Crimes Court in Liberia now

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

I saw the list, and I also read the comments of those concerned Liberians.

They are powerful comments that exposed the Sirleaf administration of hypocrisy and cowardice.

Truth is, the Sirleaf administration, and even President Sirleaf is indeed teetering on cowardice, hypocrisy and incompetence.

The list is comprised of individuals who inspired, financed and waged a war that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Liberians, maimed countless others, raped and killed countless women and (pregnant women), sent hundreds of Liberians into their graves and into refugee camps, and destroyed a country in the name of liberation.

Instead of reading the names thoroughly because it is still too painful and vexing to read and digest the names of the individuals who brought our country downhill to the painful level of devastation it is today, I only glanced through it quickly for my own curiosity.

Are those people liberators? Are they serious? I don’t think so.

As far as I am concerned, they are delusional and way too far from what they think they are, especially after they caused so much chaos, destruction and deaths before our eyes and in our lifetime.

I will be blunt because extreme measures like the deadly Liberian civil war and what those killers did to our people and country, calls for bluntness and extreme actions.

For their crimes against the Liberian people and nation, all of them should be put on trial and jailed (if convicted) and put to death by a firing squad with replica of the guns they used on those innocent Liberians, before cheering and weeping Liberians and the world.

Sad to say, the individuals on the list including Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are all “Honorable” in her administration – larger than life figures whose mere presence in and around Liberia made some into heroes and heroines, even though they are far from been all that.

No wonder there haven’t been a forceful call in the Sirleaf administration for a (Liberia) war crimes court and trial to bring the former warlords and their financiers to justice, even though Charles Taylor, the former rebel leader and former president is in a European prison for his deadly role in the Liberian war.

It doesn’t make any sense when the nation of Sierra Leone, which encountered its own heinous civil war partly inspired by Charles Taylor, can have a war crimes court with international support to investigate and prosecute their killers, but Liberia, which went through its own civil war cannot have a court to prosecute its own killers.

That has led and emboldened many of the warlords and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to run for the Liberian presidency and legislative seats, making it difficult (now that they are in the Executive, Judiciary and Executive branches of government) to even discuss, let alone bring them to trial for their crimes against humanity.

Since the end of the senseless and ego-driven civil war in 2003, I have been on record (other Liberians have been on record as well) calling for a Liberia war crimes court and criminal trials of the killers.

Because in a democratic society or they ones that claims to be one don’t allow criminals or alleged criminals to go free as if they did nothing wrong, even though the evidence is overwhelmingly powerful to ignore.

Calls for national forgiveness and a clarion call that “let bye-gone be bye-gone” have fallen on deaf ears because of the disingenuousness of the individuals whose post-war behaviors and hollow words are as irritating as the civil war they callously waged.

Sirleaf, bowing to pressure, appointed members of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) – a South African-style commission to investigate and perhaps find genuine closure to this national tragedy.

Sadly, President Sirleaf trashed the commission’s ruling that did not favor her, and instead, ran for a second term.

However, as they former warlords and their financier Madame Sirleaf asked the nation for forgiveness, they cleverly positioned themselves for legislative seats and the nation’s presidency, which muted calls for a war crimes court in Liberia, and also made the individuals awfully powerful.

This gave credence to a popular belief that Liberia is a nation not of law and order and justice for all, but one that will quickly prosecute a lesser-known ‘Joe Blow’ on the street corner for “crimes,” but will also overlook similar offense committed by say, a Sirleaf, a legislator or a powerful government official.

That is why official corruption and other crimes has been rampant and out of control in Liberia before and after the ascendancy of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the presidency.

Cherry-picking which Liberian or which official of government to prosecute for crimes and other punishable crimes committed against the state or against another person is a crime in itself because it is unfair, prejudicial and it goes against the cherished tenets of democracy and the rule of law.

The Liberian people are hurting. They are also still mourning decades since their relatives and loved ones were slaughtered by individuals who believed they waged their war to liberate them.

A war crimes court is needed in Liberia now to investigate and prosecute those individuals.

Anything short of this demand will cause more pain, distrust of government and future chaos.

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