>Liberia: Trading Impunity for Reconciliation


>Source: New Democrat Editorial

Unfolding events in recent times signal orchestrated ploys to defend and protect individuals responsible for some of the pronounced abuses anywhere.

One is the President’s u-turn on her declared policy when she won the presidency, which was that individuals with unacceptable human rights records would never serve in her government.

The next is the declaration by the chair of the state-named human rights commission, Mr. Leroy Urey, that the travel imposed on Mr. Charles Taylor and family, and some of the key actors in his regime, is unconstitutional.

It is unfortunate that the president, a victim of human rights abuse, has reneged on this declared policy that won her admiration here and abroad.

We believe that the appointment of individuals who laid the foundation for the current misery under the guise of reconciliation is a clear message that impunity pays and can be continuously rewarded. It is a sad indication that the tens of thousands who were killed and maimed deserved what they got.

It is necessary to reconcile. But reconciliation cannot mean patting impunity on the back to create the environment for perpetual abuses and the absence of repentance. With the calls for a code of conduct for public officials, the political rehabilitation of key politicians of the past with horrifying record is again a testament that this government has turned its back on the values of human rights and accountability it came to office with.

Regarding the declared unconstitutionality of the UN Security Council’s travel ban imposed to ensure national and regional security, we suggest that Mr. Urey, Deputy Justice Minister when abuses were acceptable and defended, has one option, and that it is to take the UN Security Council to court.

But we must remind Mr. Urey that there is no constitution worth the name that protects summary executions, pillage and other abuses that led the UN Security Council to impose the ban on behalf of the defenseless.

The ban remains necessary based on many reports that the security landscape that makes the presence of over 8000 UN soldiers necessary remains fragile and dangerous.

It is unfortunate and regrettable, but understandable, that the state-run and financed human rights commission sees its mandate as defending human rights violators, not the victims. This signals the rise of impunity and it is a dangerous signal.

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