Washington DC USA – January 13, 2020: The International Justice Group (IJG) has formally referred Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee to the Special Prosector of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, the Netherlands to be investigated for “Crimes Against Humanity”.
In a 46-page dossier of referral and evidence compiled by the IJG and copied to African Star on Monday, the IJG informed ICC Special Prosecutor Madam Fatou Bensouda that, “…Mr. President, Weah has empowered his City Mayor as the perpetrator-in-chief. Mayor Jefferson Koijee, the Mayor of Monrovia, appointed by Mr. Weah behaves like a violent psychopath who acts under the authority of President Weah and is shielded and protected by him.
In its referral, the Washington based IJG noted that accountability for war crimes atrocities in the West African country is a “must.”
“…We implore you, Madam Prosecutor, to act in Liberia. Our seriousness is well grounded on the realization that if nothing is done about past crimes, ongoing crimes against humanity and violence, and lawlessness will escalate, and Liberia may return to its once regrettable
“Failed State” status. Because of their own involvement in committing Crimes Against Humanity, the Government of Liberia neither has the will nor the capacity to investigate and prosecute those involved. As the International Criminal Court is truly the court of last resort and must intervene to save the lives of innocent citizens of Liberia as well as put an end to the senseless violence, including wide scale rape and sexual violence against our girls and women who continue to be traumatized on a daily basis. Further, the State will regress into violence and human rights violations and impunity will become entrenched: “… the rule of law under President Weah may be undermined by individuals who records do not inspire confidence in attaining the goals of fighting corruption, ending impunity and promoting national reconciliation, as well as transparency, in public management…with the very weak separation of powers, weak rule of law and wrong people appointed, the country risk going down a slippery path, which may lead a plunge into the abyss. Given such a disposition, and judging from experience, journalists and the media, first in the line of fire, may be in for rough ride, given the torrent of vitriolic attacks against mediapractitioners,” the official communication said.
The IJG says in the last two years it has been focused on Liberia due to the significant number of reported human rights violations. In laying the basis for the referral of the Monrovia City Mayor to the ICC, the IJG noted that, “ Since Liberia is a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and as a State Party the court has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those government officials committing Crimes Against Humanity under various articles listed in the Rome Statute…”.
Those articles include Crimes Against Humanity, Murder, Imprisonment or other severe or physical liberty violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, rape and other inhumane acts.
Mr. Koijee a a former Youth Leader of the ruling Congress For Democratic Change (CDC) in Liberia, has been accused of overseeing violent actions by “vigilante groups” loyal to the party and current Government.
The IJG cited media reports of Koijee’s incitment and participation in acts of violence against citizens and opposition members. Mr. Koijee has denied any role in victimizing opponents of Government or the CDC.
The IJG also cited the inaction by President George M. Weah on the widespread and systematic violence against Liberians. “Not only is Mr. Weah believed to be spinning the wheels of criminal violence from behind the scene against his own people, but his regime, His Office, has become conspicuously silent on the widespread and recurrent incidences of violence against women, young girls and children and people the regime has invariably referred to as “enemies of the state,” the IJG said in its referral letter to the ICC.
According to procedures of the ICC, after crimes occur, preliminary investigations are conducted, followed by a formal investigation, if it is warranted. Evidence is collected and a pre-trial stage is adopted and then a full blown trial. If the individual is convicted there is an appeals stage and once that is exhausted, sentencing enforcement begins. All accused are innocent until proven guilty before the ICC.
The Information and Evidence Unit of the ICC is now in posession of the referral and accompanying evidence and will make a determination on whether to pursue a full investigation of Mr. Koijee. It remains unclear if any formal proceedings will actually begin. Liberia sustained devastating back- to-back wars in the 1990s leaving over 250,000 dead and nearly 1 million others dislocated internally and externally. Thousands others were maimed, raped and traumatized by bands of marauding militias loyal to various warlords who have yet to account for ther crimes in the country. The main rebel chief turned former President Charles Taylor was tried and convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone and is serving a 50 year jail sentence in the UK following loss of his appeal.
A fragile peace currently holds in the country which has transitioned to democratic governance since 2005 but tension and repeated acts of violence by various actors continue to threaten the stability of the country. The IJG is headed by Counselor Jerome Verdier, former head of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
The International Justice Group (IJG) is a US based Non-governmental Organization based in Washington, DC area chartered to perform five primary functions:
A). To research, investigate, documents for war crimes, individual and group of individuals that receive support from institutions through the commission of such crimes that violate human basic standard of life;
B). Create a mutual public awareness and respect for the principles of universal rule of law that is es established for perpetrators of war crimes and violators against humanity;
C). Seek opportunities through which our human dignity, the spiritual, moral and social norms of our society can be advanced;
D). Seek ways and means through which our understanding for the need to live in peached with no limit to our geographic location that determined our collective growth and development;
E). Encourage global involvement for the purpose of promoting peace, stability, equality, justice under the rule of law, with opportunities for our individual, advancement to our one world;
F). To create a forum through which society can be resolved to live in harmony, to practice fraternal love, tolerance and understanding as a people and being fully mindful of our obligation to adhere to the rule of law for the promotion of human dignity; By Emmanuel Abalo/African Star
Main Photo: Jefferson Koigee, YouTube