By Josephus Moses Gray
April 27, 2004
Liberia’s international soccer star and UNICEF’s Goodwill
Ambassador George “Oppong” Weah is calling for the formation
and establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia to arrest and prosecute
all “warlords” for recruiting and arming children in Liberia.
According to Ambassador Weah, the tribunal when established, should be given the authority to identify, locate, arrest and prosecute all those whocommitted heinous crimes during the devastating and bloody war in the country.
Addressing a news conference held at the UNICEF-Liberia headquarters in Monrovia on 23rd April 2004, the nation’s foremost soccer legend made specific reference to warlords who forcibly recruited, trained and armed the Liberian children to participate in the 14-year arms conflict.
“Those who armed the children and committed heinous crimes against them should be brought to book”, the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador noted, adding that those to be prosecuted include warlords and military commanders of the various belligerent groups who, for their own selfish gains, brought children into the conflict.
The Liberia soccer legend recently arrived in the country upon the invitation of UNICEF to participate in the on-going disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) program.
Since his arrival in the country, Ambassador Weah has made several trips outside the capital in areas where DDRR is currently taking place. Among areas visited are Gbarnga, Bong County and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
Speaking at the two locations, Ambassador Weah challenged the former child soldiers to take advantage of the DDRR program and forget about the means of getting quick money. He appealed to the child-soldiers to submit to the DDRR exercise by disarming to UNMIL.
The United Nations Secretary General Special Representative in Liberia, Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein and UNICEF Representative to Liberia, Angela Kearney accompanied Ambassador Weah on the trips.
Ambassador Klein told the former child soldiers that he was proud of them for disarming to UNMIL and added that the children will get all that the UN promised them, while the UNICEF boss urged the child soldiers to cooperate with her organization as well as several organizations involved in the DDRR program.