Senate Endorses Transitional Justice Commission’s Establishment

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The plenary of the Liberian Senate has finally endorsed a recommendation from its Committee of a Whole, which comes as a result of a report from the Senate’s leadership to advise the President on the establishment of a Transitional Justice Commission (TJC) to look into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report for way forward in the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia.

   The plenary of the Liberian Senate reached the decision on Thursday, July 15, 2021 during its regular open session on Capitol Hill, following a recommendation from a Committee of a Whole of the Senate, which suggested the establishment of the TJC to look into the call for a war and economic crime court establishment.

   It can be recalled that the President communicated with the National Legislature seeking advice from that honorable body on the establishment of a war and economic crime court in Liberia. Since President George M. Weah sent the communication, there has been no response from the Legislature regarding how the President should proceed with the call from Liberians for the establishment of a war and economic crime court. As done by the Liberian Senate, the House of Representatives is also expected to reach a decision advising the President on the way forward in regard to the call for the implementation of the TRC’s report.

   Since the President sent the communication to the Senate seeking for advise, the leadership of the Liberian Senate has been in possession of the letter. Following an immense tension from the public and international community, the leadership recently submitted its report to the plenary, and the plenary constituted itself into a Committee of a Whole in order to discuss the report, in regard to advising the President.

   The Committee of a Whole set up by the plenary conducted public hearings with experts from different backgrounds giving their expert view on the way forward. During the hearing, some experts called for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court, while others supported the establishment of TJC.

   According to the Committee of a Whole’s report, which was voted upon overwhelmingly, the TRC’s report should not be used to indict people because it was not supposed to name perpetrators in its report. “By naming some individuals in the report and leaving others makes it difficult to be used for full implementation,” the Committee of a Whole stated. The endorsed report also called for the President to apologize to the Liberian people.

   In disagreement with the decision, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, Montserrado County, said the decision of the Senate to advise the President to establish the TJC is intended to delay the call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court, and also aimed at shielding warlords. Senator Dillon condemned the “Yea” and “Nay” voting process on such critical and national issue.

   For his part, Nimba County Senator, Jeremiah K. Koung, said the decision of the Liberian Senate was in the right direction, noting that the call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court should not be a rushed thing, nor should it be politicized.

   The Nimba County Senator however said the establishment of the TJC is the best way forward because, in his mind, the TRC report and the call for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court have been politicized. Senator Koung said he is not against justice, but the call for justice should not be political or watch-hunting.

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