WRITTEN BY JEROME J. VERDIER, SR (CLLR),
Source: Frontpage africa
Taylor’s conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), convening in the Hague at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has reaffirmed and maintained a fundamental principle of international criminal law against head of state immunity. The significance of this development has far reaching implications for justice and the rule of law in Liberia. We commend the Special Court and the team of prosecutors for living up to their mandate to combat impunity and ensure that justice is done—a victory indeed for the rule of law!
Taylor’s conviction as the first ever head of state to be convicted of war crimes by an international court in the post cold-war era closes the gap on other perpetrators who bask in the ignominy of impunity by shielding themselves from justice under the cloak of officialdom. It means also that no head of state or president is immune from future prosecution for crimes they committed prior to, during or after their tenure as head of state or president. The Prosecutor vs. Charles Taylor is certain to set a landmark precedent in international criminal law and justice by dealing a deadly blow to political immunity from prosecution and impunity generally. The decision of the SCSL raises the prospects that perpetrators of war crimes, irrespective of their social or political standing, will never find safe haven outside the dark confines of their conscience and will never know peace or rest until the long arms of justice catch up with them. Fundamentally, the international community is well settled in saying to the world that:
1. There is no time limit to prosecution for international crimes or crimes against humanity or war crimes;
2. There is no amnesty for war crimes or crimes against humanity;
3. There is no immunity from prosecution for war crimes or crimes against humanity for heads of state, presidents or very important persons for crimes committed by these persons before, during or after they have left office; and
4. People in high stature, authority, presidents, heads of states, politicians and other personalities, who support the commission of war crimes and issue orders from board rooms and the comfort of their executive offices without ever stepping on the battlefront, firing the lethal bullets or commanding the perpetrating forces are, in fact, culpable as superiors or principals or allies and can be convicted directly for committing or aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity;
Justice in Liberia is Imperative
While former President Taylor has come face to face with justice and is awaiting his sentencing, many others may be frustrated that justice has not taken root in Liberia, because several of his war partners, collaborators, allies and patrons in Liberia and others similarly situated are roaming with impunity without any credible threat of justice.
With the successful prosecution, conviction and sentencing of President Taylor, we expect that the voices of justice in Liberia will increase and become louder in calling and advocating for justice in Liberia for war crimes or crimes against humanity committed in territories of Liberia. Justice in Liberia is imperative, without which Liberia is sliding a slippery slope. Without justice in Liberia, peace and development remains fragile and unsustainable. And reconciliation, impossible!
No Peace, No Reconciliation without Justice
As children of GOD it is our duty to work for justice if we want peace. Liberia, as a nation of laws founded on Christian principles, must embark upon a credible process of justice seeking accountability mechanisms that will eventually take root and build a new culture of respect for the rule of law and justice in the land brought to its knees and near annihilation by lawlessness and impunity. The Final Report of the TRC of Liberia is instructive. If Liberia continues to ignore it, the country will be doing so at its own peril.
Unlike Sierra Leone, the hands of Liberia’s political leaders and elites, including the head of state, are resisting justice at all cost mostly because their hands are stained with the innocent blood of Taylor’s war victims and their contributions to the mayhem are outstanding.
We remained assured, however, that our LORD and SAVIOR Jesus Christ will defend the cause of weak victims and war orphans, and maintain the rights of millions of poor, needy and oppressed members of our society who suffered and were victimized by the war without redress and are still waiting for justice. Only fools (Proverbs 14:9) make fun of their guilt but the godly acknowledge their guilt and seek reconciliation.
Justice is Slow but Sure…
Justice may seem elusive, but it is a certain reality; the wheels of justice may seem to be turning too slowly, but we know they are not stopping; they are rolling…
Jerome J. Verdier, Sr (Cllr)