Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ICC, Not just Francophone Ivory Coast, come to Anglophone Liberia too!

By Bernard Gbayee Goah President, Operation We Care for Liberia While crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by a handful of individuals go unquestioned in Liberia popularly known as “Little America” amongst its West African neighbors, the International Criminal Court judges have given the ICC's prosecutor the go-ahead to open an investigation into post-election violence in neighboring “French Ivory Coast”. However, if the ICC should come to Liberia as a result of some kind of intervention only to concern itself with investigating post-election violence after the 2011 elections, justice would not be considered served to Liberia’s 15 years’ war victims. Few questions that must be answered are: 1.What if Post elections violence does not occur in Liberia during these elections period, will Liberia’s current war victim receive justice at all?? 2. Will the ICC have interest in investigating crimes committed in Liberia from 1979 - 2003? The above are questions that must be addressed and not just the investigation of post elections violence. The fact is there are war crime suspects in Liberia right now walking freely while victims of war pray for justice that may not come at all if nothing is done. Unlike Ivory Coast where evidence of war crimes are still under investigation, in Liberia, evidence shows Ms. Sirleaf played a central role in the planning, financing and directing of a war so brutal, so violent and so devastating that experts have labeled it one of the worst in modern History. Ordering the NPFL forces to attack the then overcrowded City of Monrovia shows the extent to which Ms. Sirleaf was willing to go in order to become president. The NPFL carried out her orders and thousands of innocent people were killed. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her accomplices must account for their role in the 15-year carnage in Liberia that claimed more than 250,000 lives, raped countless mothers, children, and wrecked the county’s entire infrastructure. This is the right thing to do, even if it means carrying out citizens’ arrest. After all, democracy is not an event to be observed only during the period of election or on Election Day; rather it’s a way of life. Even though her testimony at Liberia’s Truth Commission hearing proved otherwise, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has claimed consistently during these elections period that she had no role in the war that maimed and killed innocent people and destroyed the country’s entire infrastructure. She must be presented an opportunity to exonerate herself in a war crime court. If Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is responsible, as the evidence indicates, regardless whether such crimes were committed in Liberia or in elsewhere pre or post 2003, it would be a travesty of justice to have indicted former president Charles Taylor and removed him from office; but yet allow Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to remain head of state even though she also financially supported as well as ordered a rebel group (NPFL) to committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. If the people of Liberia and the rest of the world allow rape, torture and murder to go unpunished, soon there will be nothing left to protect. This is why it is important for the International Community to break the cycle of ignorance and untimely death by holding accountable those bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity whether in Liberia or elsewhere on this planet. And yet … surely, the United States of America and the United Nations could both help by standing with war victims in Liberia but … behold the US Ambassador to Liberia befriends Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf while UN peace keepers currently control the security of the country in which a war crime suspect (Madam Johnson-Sirleaf) runs the affairs of Liberia’s war victims. The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Lastly, with the help of France and the Ivorian people, the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have given the ICC's prosecutor the go-ahead to open an investigation into post-election violence in the French Ivory Coast. Let the ICC also come to the aid of war victims in Liberia. After all, Anglophone (Liberia) needs protection too. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results.

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