Liberia: TRC Report Important but not Last Step
A Press Release Issued By The International Center for Transitional Justice On July 3, 2009
“The commission encountered many problems, but its report provides a necessary foundation for Liberians to debate their past and address present and future needs,” said Alex Boraine, acting President of ICTJ. “It is now up to the government, the political leaders and civil society to use the recommendations constructively to meet the needs of victims for peace, justice, security and reconciliation.”
An Independent National Commission on Human Rights, responsible for ensuring follow-up to the TRC's work, must also be properly organized and given the necessary authority, ICTJ said.
Release of the report comes after more than three years of work by the Commission, created as part of the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought Liberia ’s conflict to an end. TRC commissioners were inaugurated in February 2006, and work formally began in June 2006. In the words of the legislation establishing the TRC, the Commission was to “promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation.”
The TRC's report includes substantial sections on its work, the history of Liberia and its conflict, as well as catalogues of the types of violations, and a significant study of the impact of the conflict on different populations. It also makes wide-ranging recommendations on a variety of issues. These include reparations, memorialization, institutional reforms and accountability. The report’s most controversial recommendations are those that name individuals for prosecution and/or lustration. This includes past and present members of the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Executive.
“Recognising that some of its findings may be contested, as the TRC closes down and hands over material to the INCHR, it will need to ensure that all recommendations are clearly linked to supporting evidence,” said Boraine. “It should use its outreach to the broader population to reinforce a better understanding of how these findings and recommendations were reached.”
In December 2008, the TRC released Volume I of its report that concluded individual as well community reparations were desirable, along with prosecutions, to “promote justice and genuine reconciliation.” The final volume includes more detailed findings on the causes, responsibilities, and impacts of the conflict, along with recommendations for additional accountability and reconciliation measures. Additional annexes to the report, including chapters on the roles and experiences of children and women, are scheduled for later release.
About ICTJ: The International Center for Transitional Justice assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse. The Center works in societies emerging from repressive rule or armed conflict, as well as in established democracies where historical injustices or systemic abuse remain unresolved. The ICTJ has been working in Liberia since 2004 to support actors engaging in transitional justice efforts, and in early 2006 opened a small office in Monrovia. For more information, visit www.ictj.org.
Program Associate, ICTJ Liberia Office
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Communications Director, New York