By Ivor S. Moore
Time is the ultimate rewarder of the deeds of man, whether good or bad or whatever there may be besides these two. Solomon, the wisest human in bible history, hit the cord of this maxim harmoniously when he writes in one passage in the Ecclesiastics that "for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven."
No wonder why the evil of the night is caught in the web of a sunny day no matter how long the night may seem to last. And at the awakening of the light of day from its night’s sleep, evil, like a vampire, is caught red-handed and meets its fate at the beaming morning ray.
Religionists speak of the day of final recompense to be some time after death and resurrection. With no dispute to their claim, it does not negate in the least the fact that in the course of the present life or at death, society renders judgment on one’s deeds. Even posterity renders judgment on those before them and sends their respective trophies to their graves, sealed by its historical verdict. Thus, Adolph Hitler is labeled as a symbol of anarchy while Martin Luther King Jr. is reckoned as an icon of social justice.
Sometimes, society gets the opportunity to put to trial those who have wrought evil deeds while they are still alive. They are not left to go with impunity in life or to wait for the judgment of posterity or the Almighty. And this opportunity is the day of temporal recompense, leaving the final verdicts for posterity and God. It brings to trial the deeds of man, passes judgment on him and presents his deserving rewards as his deeds of life will deem must fitting.
But the time of justice or temporal recompense, like the final recompense of the Almighty, does not merely come like a thief. Like lightning and thunder announcing the soon downpour of a stormy rain with the capacity to remove firmly fastened rooftops and uproots giant trees, it sends signs to announce its arrival.
With these comets sprouting up, the thought of the inevitable judgment of time gets scaring to many. This is especially true for those who know that their hands are stained and non-washable. Most times, these ones make frustrating attempts to find solutions to reverse or stay their fate while they are already on the cliff of no rescue, perhaps blinded by folly to the fact that the inevitable cannot cease to be what it is.
There exists a high degree of this fretfulness amongst political actors and leaders. The fear of what life would be like after their hold on power or after their hiding caves are exposed, is heightened with what rewards society will bestow upon them as their deeds leading up to or during their days of power or hiding have been crooked.
Interestingly, the scepter of justice now hangs over Liberia. The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is beginning to shake off its dust of abandonment. The signs of attestation to its arrival are strong and sufficient. Despites all attempts over the years to stay its arrival, even the blind can sense its casting shadow. Its inevitable arrival are being announced through the agency of certain variables happening within and out of the Liberian political landscape.
As the comets are surfacing in the political sky, warmongers- those who carry on their heads the blood of the 250,000 martyred compatriots of the macabre civil conflict and the destruction of the entire national infrastructure, and their bedfellows of economic vampires-those who have sucked to drain the national breast milk, thus bearing the greatest responsibilities for wanton destruction, abject poverty and utter backwardness - are having no rest day or night. The ghosts of their deeds are deeply hunting and afflicting them. But this is just the beginning of their sorrow, a glimpse or foretaste of their fate of doom.
Just a while ago, many thought that the prosecution of TRC indictees would go down the dustbin of history because Madam Sirleaf, an indictee who was recommended to be barred from national political engagement for thirty years, had used the power of the presidency, her magic wane, to cast prosecution to what was considered a perpetual death. But soon the undertaker had come to take away his corps for embalmment, the shouts of justice from several quarters started to break the spell.
Alongside the numerous internal cries from Liberians for the establishment, among other things, of war and economic crimes courts to prosecute perpetrators of grave crimes, actions from Uncle Sam, European nations and supportive statements from key international actors have increased the jittery.
VISA Denials, Arrests, Deportations and their Implications
It is not news anymore that the United States of America has been denying visas to prominent citizens of Liberia. The later arrest of defunct NPFL strongman Jucontee Tom Woewiyou and Mohammed Jabbateh on grounds of their lying about their roles in the Liberian civil war while attending to immigration requirements, and the latest deportation of the PRC’s Jerry Gbartu are raising serious concerns as to what game Washington is playing and where is she driving. The fascinating thing about this situation is that those involved have all played critical roles in the ghastly civil war and plunder of the Liberian nation.
In the same vein, Martina Johnson, a former general of the Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia was arrested by Belgium authorities in 2014 for his lead role in his rebel group’s deadly role in the Liberian war. Associate International Justice Director at Human Right Watch, Elise Keppler, commented that Johnson’s arrest “was a major step to ensure that justice is done for the abuses against Liberian civilians “is critical.
Following suit, Swish authorities arrested Alieu Kosiah of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) on grounds that he ordered rapes, massacres, and several other atrocities in Liberia.
These and other incidents bear similarity of the nature that points vividly than not there is a coordinated plan between the Americans and their European counterparts in prosecuting Liberian war and economic criminals, signaling that no crime will go unpunished. The coordination can be seen in that fact that right after the arrest of Mr. Woewiyou, there became series of affect in America and Europe. Those who are still contesting this probably do not know understand this widely known maxim in Liberian traditional parlance: “anywhere there is smoke, there is fire.”
Rapp’s Pledge of Assistance
When Stephen Rapp, former Prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone intimated that “I think there needs to be-to be frank- more done on accountability to prevent Liberia from slipping back into another period of conflict”, the elements knew that hell had broken lose.
The former American Ambassador for Global War Crimes who is reputed for leading the prosecution of Charles Taylor has offered to pull the strings for the establishment of war crimes court, noting: “and if people don’t face consequences for committing serious crimes, then I think you can have those crimes reoccur…And if there is some other way to prevent that reoccurrence then I’m willing to look at it.”
End of “Impunity’s Paradise”
Former Chairman of the TRC, Cllr. Jerome Verdier, once termed Liberia under Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as an “impunity’s paradise.” True, this regime has paid deaf ears to prosecuting war and economic indictees and has created a safe haven for many who hold high positions of government. And the president has kept things so because, according to Cllr. Verdier, she benefits from the “impunity environment since she herself is a war crime suspect, and the core of her inner circle including children, close relatives, cronies and friends are either suspects of war crimes or economic crimes to the detriment of the county.”
There are indications that the 2017 elections will be a decisive point as to whether there will be prosecution or not, depending on who wins. There are already many key political players who are playing on the question of establishing tribunal to effect the TRC’s recommendation with rhetorical eloquence and schemes. While it is possible that a confidant of the president and her war and economic crimes suspects of cronies, friends and families could rise to the Liberian presidency thereby continuing the “impunity environment”, justice has its own ways of prevailing over injustice when the fullness of time comes.
But the lack of political will of the government of Liberia at present or to come in causing the prosecution of war and economic crimes indictees is no hindrance to the random arrest of these elements by America and her European counterparts. Several western countries have already set up bodies to deal with issues of such crimes. The arrests of Liberians in Sweden, Belgium, and America are testaments. They will obviously increase in case political will from the government to be elected is not available.
As the earth, soaked with the blood of martyr compatriots, continue to cry out for justice and as they become receptive to the ears of compatriots alive whose conscious sense of justice are increasing daily, that they too fine-tune it in their battle cries and determined actions for change of things, justice will never sleep.
The world will come to Liberia’s aid as we are seeing already in these random arrests, deportations, visas denial and the likes. And the time will come when the “impunity’s paradise” will be destroyed and perpetrators of heinous war and economic crimes will ultimately face justice.