Liberia: visit of the American ambassador in charge of war crimes

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(Monrovia) – The United States government should stand with the victims of civil war crimes in Liberia by signaling its support for a war crimes court to deliver justice and foster lasting peace and stability in the country, eight Liberian and international organizations said today. United States Goodwill Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack is scheduled to travel to Liberia on October 6, 2022.

The groups are Advocates for Human Rights, Center for Justice and Accountability, Civitas Maxima, Civil society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, Global Justice and Research Project, Human Rights Watch, the Secretariat for the Establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia, and Transitional Justice Working Group in Liberia.

Liberia has not prosecuted anyone for serious crimes committed during its two armed conflicts and has yet to establish a war crimes tribunal, which the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended in 2009. Judicial authorities in the United States, Belgium, France, and Finland, and the United Kingdom have brought criminal prosecutions related to Liberia’s civil wars in recent years, often spurred by civil society efforts.

“The Liberian people have waited too long to get justice and accountability for the abuses they suffered during the civil wars,” said Adama Dempster of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia and the Secretariat for the Establishment of a Court of Human Rights. war crimes in Liberia. “The US government has an opportunity to support the victims of atrocities committed in Liberia’s civil wars by helping Liberia establish a war crimes tribunal.

During the armed conflicts of 1989-1996 and 1999-2003, Liberians suffered widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, such as massacres, rape and other forms of sexual violence, summary executions, mutilation and torture, and the use of child soldiers. .

The U.S. government has played a pivotal role in promoting accountability in West Africa, including in the landmark trials of former Liberian President Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone and former Chadian President Hissène Habré in Senegal that should be replicated in Liberia, the groups said.

Criminal accountability for atrocities committed during the civil wars has broad support in Liberia, the groups said. Individuals, families of victims and activists have marched through the streets of Monrovia several times in recent years to demand accountability and the establishment of a war crimes tribunal.

The Liberian Bar Association added support for a war crimes tribunal in April 2019. The Council of Traditional Leaders and the National Economic Dialogue – attended by 350 Liberians, including government officials, political parties, youth and civil society – supported the establishment of a war crimes tribunal. war crimes tribunal in September 2019. In addition, more than 50 members of the Liberian House of Representatives endorsed a resolution supporting the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in Liberia.

“Accountability for Liberia’s past crimes has been limited to overseas cases,” said Hassan Bility of the Global Justice and Research Project and the Secretariat for the Establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal in Liberia. “Liberia needs a dedicated war crimes court so that victims have better access to justice for the crimes committed against them and more perpetrators can be held accountable.

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