The United States Congress has given its support for the complete implementation of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) recommendation for the creation of a tribunal to try suspected war crimes and other atrocities committed during the nation’s 14-year civil war, which ended in 2003.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed a resolution supporting the creation of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.
Between 1990 and 2003 the West African country was caught in a spiral of civil conflicts marked by an orgy of killings. During the period all sides involved in the conflicts carried out suspected war crimes.
The war came to an end in 2003 following the intervention of a West African intervention force spearheaded by Nigeria, called ECOMOG, and United Kingdom forces.
Liberia’s former President, Charles Taylor, is serving a 50-year jail sentence in a UK prison after he was sentenced by the International Criminal Court at the Hague for war crimes committed by rebel troops affiliated to him in neighbouring Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leonean conflict was partly a fallout of the conflict in Liberia.
In 2009, the TRC presented its findings and recommendations to the country’s parliament. The report contains details about the causes of the conflict and its impact on women, children and the generality of the Liberian society.
It also itemised the massive commission of rights violations, violation of international humanitarian law, and egregious domestic violence.
The TRC, which was agreed upon in the August 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra and created by the TRC Act of 2005, therefore recommended the creation of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal to try those suspected to be behind the alleged war crimes.
Following the first visit to the U.S. by George Weah, the Liberian President since he was elected into office in January, on Wednesday, no fewer than 80 regional, national and international civil societies groups, including the Centre for Justice and Accountability (CJA), a San Francisco-based human rights legal organisation dedicated to deterring torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other severe human rights abuses around the world, issued an open letter calling upon him to implement the TRC recommendations.
Therefore, on Wednesday, the U.S. Congress added its voice to that call in the resolution titled H.RES. 1055 asking the Liberian government “for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.”
The committee “urges the Government and people of Liberia to support the truth and reconciliation process through full implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal.
It also called on the government to “support efforts by the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development to advance Liberian efforts toward national reconciliation through continued support for the rule of law, effective governance, and the robust role of civil society.”