Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sierra Leone: Actress to Testify Before UN-Backed War Crimes Trial of Former Liberian Leader

Source:  allafrica.com

The actress and humanitarian activist Mia Farrow is set to give evidence on Monday about blood diamonds that are the current focus of testimony at the ongoing trial of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor at a United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal.

Judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) will hear from Ms. Farrow and the agent Carole White following evidence given yesterday by the high-profile British model Naomi Campbell.

Ms. Campbell told the SCSL, which is sitting in The Hague in the Netherlands for the trial of Mr. Taylor, that she was given a pouch of "very small, dirty-looking stones" by two unidentified men while staying at the home of the former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1997.

Mr. Taylor, who is on trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, has long been accused of using blood diamonds to fuel conflict in Sierra Leone while he served as leader of neighbouring Liberia.

A blood diamond is a diamond that is mined in a war zone and then sold to finance the activities of an army, insurgency or warlord, and they have been a feature of many African conflicts in the past two decades.

But Mr. Taylor denies the blood diamond allegations and has pleaded not guilty before the SCSL to 11 charges, including pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups in Sierra Leone - the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front.

Ms. Campbell said yesterday that the men did not introduce themselves when they gave her the pouch while she was trying to sleep at the presidential home following a dinner party held by Mr. Mandela.

Discussing the matter the next morning at breakfast with Ms. Farrow and Ms. White, Ms. Campbell said she was told the stones were likely to be diamonds and from Mr. Taylor, another guest at the dinner party.

The model said she later gave the stones to a representative of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund because she wanted them to go to charity. She said she was unaware of Mr. Taylor before the dinner party or the term 'blood diamond.'

The SCSL was set up jointly by the Sierra Leonean Government and the UN in 2002 and is headquartered in Freetown, the capital. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed on Sierra Leonean territory since the end of November 1996.

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum 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. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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