TRC Holds Statement Takers Workshops in America


By Sam Togba Slewion


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 23, 2006


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia will next week, begin holding series of workshops with various Liberian communities across the United States in preparation for hearings in the Diaspora.
Massa A. Washington

According to Commissioner Massa A. Washington, Head of the TRC's Diaspora Committee, who is currently in the United States coordinating the trainings, the workshops will create a forum for the TRC to update Liberians in the Diaspora on the activities of the Commission and recruit volunteers to serve as Statement -takers for the TRC as prelude activity to the commencement of hearings in the Diaspora. More importantly the TRC wants to dialogue with Liberians and hear the views about the reconciliation and healing process in the country after 14 years of civil conflict.

Commissioner Washington, who is galvanizing the Liberian Diaspora communities in the United States through community leaders for participation in the workshops, explained further that the trainings will take place in the States of Minnesota, Staten Island and Washington DC. Unlike the Minnesota workshop, which will be held exclusively for Liberians residing in that State, she added that the other workshops on Staten Island, New York, and in Washington DC will combine several Liberian communities due to resource constraints on the part of the TRC.

She stated that the workshop in Minnesota will be held for two days on Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30, beginning at 9am to 4pm. Community leaders and members from the Liberia communities in North New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts will attend the workshop scheduled to be held on Staten Island,New York on October 14, 2006, while the Washington DC workshop slated for October 7, 2006 will have in attendance leaders and members of the Liberian communities in Washinton DC, Maryland, Philadelphia, South New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia.

The three workshops will be conducted by the TRC in collaboration with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in New York, Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, and the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT). The Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the CVT both based in St. Paul, Minnesota , are collaborating partners of the TRC responsible to help coordinate the Diaspora hearings on behalf of the TRC.

It can be recalled that recently the Commission conducted a five- day national healing effort training of several categories of persons recruited for various aspects of field work of the commission. The training was conducted for statement-takers, investigators, and county coordinators at the St. Teresa's Convent Pastoral Center located on Randall Street in Monrovia. Over 1, 000 individuals recently sat the statement-takers aptitude test nationwide and two hundred were recruited for the process.

The topic covered during the training in Liberia are expected to be used for the workshops in the United States, with minor modifications to fit the US setting according to Commissioner Massa Washington, for consistency throughout the process.

The training in Monrovia included topics on Human Rights Law, Humanitarian Law, the TRC Mandate and Powers, Background to the Conflict in Liberia, Role of Statement-Takers in the TRC Process, and Basic Principles of Statement-Taking.

Other topics included Models of Unsuccessful and Successful Statement-Taking, Introduction to Trauma, Interviewing Skills and Techniques, Liberian Techniques for Interviewing Children and Code of Conduct for TRC Employees.

Topics to be highlighted will include the role of Women and Girls in the reconciliation hearing process, Victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Ex-Combatants, Persons with Disabilities, Self-Care for Statement-Takers, and Model of a Statement-Taker Involving a Member of a Special Group.

Commissioner Washington is of high hopes that Liberians and community leaders will attend the various workshops, which are germane to sustainable peace in Liberia, adding, " we want our people to come out and join these discussions so we can hear their voice and views on the reconciliation and healing process in our country."

In a related development, Commissioner Massa Washington is expected to deliver a presentation on on the status of the TRC this Saturday, September 23, during the Annual Convention of the Union of Liberian Association in the Americas (ULAA) in Philadelphia. She will update the Union and the single largest gathering of Liberians attending the Convention from over forty states about the work of the TRC and reinforce the invitation for the workshops in the Diaspora and the need for Liberians abroad to be active participants in the TRC process.

© 2006 by The Perspective

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