Political Will Against War Criminals Lacking:
Human Rights Watch
There are serious questions about the political will and the commitment of the international community to establish a war crimes tribunal for the prosecution of those listed in the Truth and Reconciliation Report, the New York-based Human Rights Watch has said.
In its current review of the country’s human rights environment, the group said: “Throughout the year there was significant civil society support for prosecutions, although serious questions remain about the political will of both the Liberian government and the international donor community to establish the recommended accountability mechanism, which calls for the inclusion of foreign judges. Efforts at justice are further complicated by problems with the quality of the TRC’s report, weaknesses within the Liberian judicial system, the potential for the legislature to block accountability efforts, and the existence of a 2003 act that granted immunity for war crimes committed from 1989 through 2003.
It said: “Liberia has not to date brought prosecutions against those allegedly responsible for serious crimes of international law committed during its armed conflicts. In June Liberia’s TRC concluded its four-year mandate and began finalizing its report for submission to the legislature and president, as well as civil society and international partners. A published draft highlighted the role played by corruption and poor management of natural resources in giving rise to Liberia’s armed conflicts, and concluded that all warring factions were responsible for gross human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report’s recommendations, which included the establishment of an extraordinary criminal tribunal to prosecute over 100 of the most notorious perpetrators and the barring from public office of some 50 former supporters of the warring factions, were greeted with considerable controversy and some threats by former faction leaders. The legislature’s formal debate of the report was postponed until early 2010.”
Regarding corruption, it said a weak Judiciary remains a sword Against graft in government
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been praised for taking ‘concrete steps; against corruption while the judiciary’s weaknesses are cited as setbacks in combating the plague.
It said the release of several former officials accused of stealing millions of dollars was ‘blow’ to the fight against corruption.
Human Rights Watch: “Fighting endemic corruption was high on the president’s agenda throughout 2009, but weaknesses within the judicial system undermined these efforts. The June acquittal of high-ranking public officials from the 2003-05 transitional government for the embezzlement of several million dollars was a blow to these efforts and in part led to the sweeping leadership changes in the Ministry of Justice. Over the course of the year the president sacked and referred for investigation scores of public officials, including high-level ministry personnel, county superintendants, and senior central bank officials. Corrupt practices have long undermined the provision of basic education and healthcare to the most vulnerable.
“In July 2009 the president signed into law the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; Liberia is the first country in the world to include forestry and rubber into an EITI mandate.”