Lawmaker Wants War Crimes Tribunal Established For Liberia

Moses M. Zangar, Jr.

Accra, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

July 1, 2003

A member of the Liberian parliament attending the ongoing peace negotiations in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, is calling for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal for Liberia.

Representative David E. Kortie told reporters in Accra Thursday that he supports the creation of a war crimes tribunal to prosecute and bring to justice those accused of committing crimes against humanity during the civil crises in the country.

Hon. Kortie, National Chairman of the All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP), said the war crimes tribunal when established, should cover crimes committed against humanity from the 1980s up to the present.

He said the political quagmire in the country actually took root in the 1980's, and as such, people who allegedly committed heinous crimes against humanity during this decade should face trial.

The Lofa County representative believes the creation of the court would serve as a deterrent and help avert plans for future atrocities in the country. This, he says, will break the circle of violence that has engulfed Liberia in the last two decades.

His call comes amidst fresh fighting between government forces and rebels. The largest rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), had been engaging the government in fierce fighting in the capital, Monrovia, in a bid to oust President Charles Taylor.

Consequently, hundreds of people, mainly civilians have died with several others wounded. The battle for Monrovia has also forced thousands of residents to flee their homes for safety.

Moreover, people already displaced by the war have had to flee their camps and are currently seeking refuge in school buildings, churches and other abandoned structures.

Already, the United Nations-backed War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone has indicted President Charles Taylor for crimes against humanity. The Court said the Liberian leader bears the greatest responsibility for his alleged complicity with the rebels Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war.

The war in that country was characterized by unspeakable atrocities committed by the RUF.

At the same time, 14 of Liberia's 18 political parties have said those committing atrocities against the Liberian people run the risk of being prosecuted by a future special international war crimes tribunal for Liberia.

The statement by the parties, the Free Democratic Party, Liberia Action Party, Liberia National Union, Liberian People's Party, National Reformation Party, People's Democratic Party of Liberia, United People's Party, Labor Party of Liberia, Liberia Equal Rights Party, Liberia Unification party, National Democratic Party of Liberia, the New DEAL Movement, Reformation Alliance Party and the Unity Party, was contained in a press statement issued Saturday.

The creation of a war crime tribunal for Liberia is already an item on the draft agenda to be adopted by Liberian political parties attending the peace summit in Accra.