By Jerome J. Verdier, Sr.
“As a nation and people, we must confront deeply-rooted evil in our society. Otherwise, evil men and women will feel comfortable and victorious; impunity will take roots and becomes entrenched in the moral fabric of our perverse society which will lose its godly nature and blinded to the truth, evil will become indistinguishable from good.”
Cllr Jerome J. Verdier, Sr
Chairman, the erstwhile Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC)
The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC), ended in 2009 with the Commission making recommendations to the Government of the Republic of Liberia contained in a comprehensive report in compliance with relevant provisions of the TRC Act.
The Report, among other things recommended several measures to redress the dysfunctions of the war, its root causes and justice and other mechanisms to address the issues of accountability and impunity and victim’s vulnerability and the deep rooted divide in the Liberian society, socio- economic and political inequalities and the issues of equal participation, democracy, corruption and nepotism, which historically has been a conflict flash point constituting the bedrock of the root cause of violent conflicts and war in Liberia.
Also, in compliance with the TRC Act, the TRC went further to recommend continuing investigations into economic and war crimes that the Commission could not complete owing to limited resources and time. And because the Government of Liberia was unwilling to extend the tenure of the Commission and finance its work beyond the initial six-months extension granted the commission to write and complete its reporting process.
Regrettable, also is the lack of progress on implementation of any of the recommendations of the Commission nearly ten years after its work was completed and Report submitted.
Under the TRC Act, the Independent Human rights Commission (IHRCL) was to inherit the work of the TRC and the civil society in Liberia, ECOWAS, and the international community were deemed moral guarantors of the TRC Process, including implementation of the recommendations of the Commission.
The IHRCL became dysfunctional and the Government of Liberia has failed to take measures to implement the TRC Recommendations and fulfil its obligations under international law to prosecute for war crimes committed in the territories of Liberia.
The failure of the Liberian Government to take actions to administer justice in Liberia leaves the international community with the purview to fill in the gap and administer justice to the people of Liberia in keeping with international law. In this view, the international community remains seized of the TRC Process and its Chairman, Cllr Jerome J. Verdier, Sr has also remain seized of the process, collaborating with international justice and human rights actors to ensure the full implementation of all the Recommendations of the TRC.
The Role of Civil Society
The civil society in Liberia as moral guarantors of the TRC Process also remain seized of the process and have a duty to advocate for justice and the full implementation of the TRC Recommendations and to ensure that the human rights of the Liberian people are protected and that justice and accountability are upheld in Liberia.
The media has an obligation to propagate the truth of what is obtaining in Liberia and to educate the reading public in Liberia on the need for justice and accountability to deal a blow to impunity which is becoming a cultural phenomenon in Liberia. An informed society is apt to protect its own interest and preserve the integrity of the nation as a law-abiding nation of laws and order.
TRC Recommendations and Limitations
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process and its recommendations did not identify these perpetrators at the time because of limited time and resources.
Notwithstanding, the TRC Report recommended further investigations, which are now currently ongoing, into the activities of perpetrators who lied to the TRC, avoided the TRC or were completely unidentified by the TRC. And under these recommendations, any persons, perpetrators, groups or individuals found to be in the same position or standing before the TRC process as those already named or identified by the TRC, are subject to the same findings, determinations and recommendations of the TRC:
This goes to say that all perpetrators, whether named in the TRC Report or not, are subject to the Recommendations of the TRC for public and criminal sanctions, and/or prosecutions before an Extraordinary War Crimes Tribunal as the recommendations may apply based upon ongoing investigations when they shall have been concluded.
I: New Perpetrators Uncovered
NEW WAR CRIMES AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATIONS OF ALLEGED WAR CRIMES PERPETRATORS CURRENTLY SUBJECTS OF WAR CRIMES AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATIONS INCLUDE:
1. The Association for Constitutional Democracy In Liberia (ACDL), who, current investigations have revealed were active war actors and perpetrators in the theater of war. Following the training of the NPFL in Libya, the NPFL, through the ACDL, were armed by Ghadaffi, to come to Liberia with additional organization and financial assistance from the ACDL of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr. Amos Sawyer, Ezekiel Pajibo, Clarence Simpson, Joseph Mamade Woartee (late), Harry Yuan, Dr. Clinton, one Cllr Gbadea, Archie Richelieu Williams, Toga Mcintosh Gaywei, Dr Byron Tarr, Thomas Woeweiyu, who, among others is already listed for prosecution in the TRC Report and otherwise.
2. Hon Brownie J. Samukai, Jr current Minister of Defense, was chief organizer of the militia unit, Black Beret. Most of the crimes committed by this unit are currently under serious investigations. Hon Samukai was at the time Head of Black Beret and Deputy Minister of Defense for Operations, Ministry of National Defense, IGNU (Amos Sawyer’s Interim Government of National Unity) and later Military Advisor of Lofa Defense Force which rewarded him the Deputy Minister of State for Administration of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, representing the LDF/NPFL-CRC/ULIMO J/LPC Coalition ticket during the Chairmanship of Hon Wilton Sankawolo & Madam Ruth Perry. Alleged War Crimes committed by both the LDF, Black Beret and the LDF/NPFL-CRC/ULIMO J/LPC Coalition are now the subject of ongoing war crimes investigations.
3. Mr. Fumba Sirleaf, current head of the National Security Agency (NSA) and also son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a member also of the ACDL not named in the TRC Report. Mr. Sirleaf was planning and Training Officer for the Militia group, Black Beret which recorded some violations under his watch and is currently, made subject of ongoing investigations. He later joined ULIMO K and became Military Advisor to the warring faction and Aide-de-Camp to Dr. El Mohammed Sheriff, Vice Head of State representing Alhaji Kromah’s ULIMO K, in the interim Government of the Council of State. He was visible in the motorcade of Dr. Sheriff, armed to the teeth with full military uniform in the LNTG 1 Transitional Government. He is a subject of continuing investigations into alleged war crimes and egregious human rights violations allegedly committed by his group.
4. Hon Company Wisseh admitted during the celebration of ten years of peace in Liberia under the Comprehensive Accra Peace Agreement (CPA) in the audience of the Diplomatic Corps and foreign dignitaries and guests gathered for the occasion in Monrovia, openly admitted in a self-confession (not admitted at the TRC) that he was the representative of the late President Moammar Ghadaffi in the 80s in Ghana and that he introduced former President Charles Taylor to Ghadaffi for military training of Liberia rebels who were subsequently armed by Ghadaffi for war in Liberia which killed over 250,000 innocent people.
5. Major Henry K. Johnson, A fugitive from justice, who is not part of the ongoing electoral conspiracy and formerly of the AFL boasted in the LEC Bushrod Compound in 1990 of killing three (3) prominent Liberians: R. Vanjah Richards, James Coleman, and Butler Freeman. He is now on the run and hiding in private basements from place to place in Pennsylvania, United States. He will soon be apprehended and brought to justice.
6. Two prominent members of the Liberian National Legislature are currently under international criminal investigations for their roles in the murders of foreign nationals and Liberians more specifically, in the killing of a United States citizen and five (5) Catholic Nuns also citizens of the United States of America. These investigations are rapidly nearing conclusions.
7. International human rights investigations have also commenced into several deaths in police custody as a matter of human rights concern and protection of persons deprived of their liberty including the legal duty of the state to prevent, remedy, and punish violations of these rights and standards of universal human rights instruments guaranteeing these fundamental human rights. These events are alleged to have occurred during the Directorship of Former Police Inspector General, Col Chris Massaquoi.
8. Tarplah A. B. Doe and Richard Devine, founding executives of MODELL, currently under investigations for both war crimes and economic crimes violations.
9. Tugbeh Doe, Deputy Minister of Finance, LNTG, under investigation for alleged economic crimes violations.
10. Jonathan Mayson, Minister of Lands and mines, Pyne Wolo, Deputy Minister for Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, Lusine F. Kamara, former minister of finance, are all under investigation for alleged economic crimes violations.
II: CONTINUING INVESTIGATIONS OF ALLEGED HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS AND WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS CURRENTLY UNDER INVESTIGATIONS. MORE NAMES WILL BE REVEALED AS INVESTIGATION PROGRESSES.
III: MURDERS AND WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN COMPLETED FOR WHICH PERPETRATORS ARE SUBJECT TO PROSECUTIONS
IV: ALLEGED ECONOMIC CRIMES SUSPECTS, SUBJECTS OF INVESTIGATIONS
MORE NAMES OF ALLEGED CULPRITS WILL BE REVEALED IN FORTHCOMING UPDATES IN THE NEXT THREE (3) MONTHS, OCTOBER 2017, AND SUBSEQUENTLY, AS INVESTICATION PROGRESSES INTO ALL CATEGORIES OF ALLEGE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, WAR CRIMES AND ECONOMIC CRIMES MENTIONED IN THIS REPORT OF CRIMES ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED IN LIBERIA UNDER DIFFERENT EPISODES OF THE LIBERIAN CIVIL WAR AND GOVERNMENTS BY ACCCUSED PERSONS AND PERSONS OF INTERESTS NAMED HEREIN.
1. Recommendations to the future Government of Liberia
(i) That the future government of Liberia considers domestic prosecutions of domestic crimes including murders, and diverse theft cases and graft;
(ii) That the future government of Liberia establishes a committee that will review the Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with the mandate to prepare a timeline, modalities, strategies and how the full implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC can be accomplished in keeping with law as an advisory tool for government actions; (iii)That the future Government of Liberia considers the establishment of a robust economic and financial crimes commission to pursue the long list of cases of economic crimes in Liberia and commence redress mechanisms ahead of the establishment of The War Crimes Court for Liberia;
(iv) That the future government of Liberia considers inculcating the values and culture of the rule of law into the socio-cultural and economic and commercial fabric of the Liberian society as a matter of high priority;
(v) That the future Government of Liberia also prioritizes national reconciliation efforts and initiatives to advance national healing and the transition agenda of restoring comprehensive peace, national unity and security to Liberia as a sine qua non for lasting peace, growth and development in Liberia;
2. Recommendations to the International Community
(i) That the international community considers continuing or expanding the sanctions regime on Liberian to include travel ban and financial sanctions on specific persons of interest and international arrests and deportations to ensure that there is no haven anywhere in the world for fugitives and alleged perpetrators of economic and war crimes in Liberia;
(ii) That the international community considers assisting Liberia with financial, technical and other forensic assistances in the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth from Liberia;
(iii) That the international community considers reviving and supporting efforts towards establishing a special ordinary war crimes tribunal for Liberia to deal with war time atrocities and crimes committed in Liberia, that closure to that chapter of Liberia’s history can be done with dignity and respect for international norms and standards of justice;
(iv) That the international community facilitate the accentuating of greater accountability in Liberia by commissioning an audit of all donors and development partners grants, aid and loans to Liberia during the period January 16, 2006 to January 16, 2018;
HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE ADVOCATES July 2, 2017
JEROME J VERDIER, SR (CLLR)
JEROME J VERDIER, SR (CLLR)