Monday, September 27, 2010

BLOOD ON HIS HANDS’: Boley Trial Spells Doom for Supporters of Liberia's War


George Boley Sr.
Former warlords in Liberia could take a page from the ongoing trial of the former head of the Liberia Peace Council George Boley in the United States of America with a sounding message that Liberia’s adopted stepfather could no longer lay down the welcome mat for those blamed for the destruction of human lives and economic demise.

Also see: The Democratic and ChronicleGeorge Boley Sr. case has war crimes aspect
Source: Front Page Africa

Monrovia -

Former warlords in Liberia could take a page from the ongoing trial of the former head of the Liberia Peace Council George Boley in the United States of America with a sounding message that Liberia’s adopted stepfather could no longer lay down the welcome mat for those blamed for the destruction of human lives and economic demise.

SAW IT COMING: “While it is important for the people of Liberia to put their ugly past behind them, those responsible for the atrocities must face the full weight of the law.”

Prudence Bushnell, Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for African Affairs, in a telephone interview with FrontPageAfrica Monday.

Prudence Bushnell, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs saw the writings on the wall more than a decade ago in June 1994 when she told Boley and a group of coalition of Liberian political groups that Boley would be a "prime candidate" for exclusion from the U.S. and that he and others thwarting an attempt at peace in the west African country would "no longer be welcomed in the United States."

Fast forward to 2010, Boley’s life has been a living hell over the past few years coupled with several arrests on immigration charges and a war crimes trial which got underway Monday at a federal detention facility in Batavia, New York, the United States of America. U.S. officials have for years, challenged Boley’s claims of innocence during the bloody Liberian civil war, and the outcome of the trial could see Boley’s status revoked and a possible deportation to Liberia or even jail.

Ms. Bushnell
Full weight of the law

On Monday, Ms. Bushnell told FrontPageAfrica via phone that while it is important for the people of Liberia to put their ugly past behind them, those responsible for the atrocities must face the full weight of the law.

Bushnell’s predication was first made public Monday by Boley’s hometown newspaper, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, citing now-declassified record of the meetings between Boley’s group and Bushnell.

The Democratic and Chronicle reported that Boley was one of a handful of Liberian "warlords" whom Bushnell, with mixed results, encouraged to engage in peace. Boley, even then, also maintained a life and family in Clarkson. And, now, 16 years after the meeting in Liberia, U.S. immigration officials are seeking to deport him.

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials contend that Boley is responsible for atrocities in Liberia, including the slaughter of civilian women and children, and that he led children into battle in the jungle. In a more bureaucratic-based and common immigration allegation, officials also charge that Boley has been returning to the U.S. on illegitimate documents and can't live here legally.

Boley headed a faction known as the Liberia Peace Council, or LPC, during the civil war, a struggle that stretched from 1989 to 2003 and claimed more than 200,000 lives. He has maintained that his sole intent was peace, and that he did not oversee or engage in violence against civilians.

Blood on his Hands’

Bushnell says there were few Liberian faction leaders who were innocent during the civil war.

Prince Johnson
Prince Johnson

"As far as I knew there was not a warlord in Liberia at the time of these struggles ... who did not have blood on his hands," said Bushnell, who also served as the American ambassador to Kenya and Guatemala and now lectures and consults on international relations.

Despite the charges, Boley’s lawyer, Matthew Kolken, based in Buffalo, says he has yet to see reliable evidence of human rights violations by Boley when he headed the LPC. The government has indicated it may call up to 42 witnesses, many of them piped in via videoconference from Liberia. "It doesn't appear that any of these witnesses have any firsthand accountings that would directly connect my client to any atrocities that occurred in Liberia," Kolken said. But Boley supporters say, evidence will show that his documentation to stay in the United States was authentic.

As the trial of Boley gets underway, political observers say, the case could serve as a litmus test for many of the other warlords who fought alongside or opposite Boley during the civil war. More importantly, it could shatter travel plans to the U.S. for many of those who played major in the Liberian civil war.

Special unit for war crimes

Alhaji Kromah
Alhaji Kromah

Legal experts in the U.S. say, the case against Boley could likely open a Pandora box and an offspring of investigations by a war crimes unit within the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The unit emerged and developed after ICE was created (in 2002) and since its emergence a number of war crimes violators from around the world have been targeted. In January 2009, Charles Taylor Jr., a.k.a. 'Chuckie' Taylor became the first Liberian casualty. Taylor’s son was sentenced to 97 years in prison following his earlier conviction in a Federal District Court in Miami on six counts of committing acts of torture and conspiracy to commit torture in Liberia. These convictions represent the first successful application of the federal criminal torture statute (18 USC 2340a) since it was enacted into law in 1994. Charles Taylor Jr., commanded the notorious Anti-Terrorism Unit that suppressed opposition to his father's regime through brutal acts of torture and murder.

ICE’s website cites the Chuckie Taylor investigation as groundbreaking in the scope of both the international and inter-governmental agency coordination needed to ensure a successful indictment and prosecution. This included working in close partnership with the DOJ Domestic Security Section in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami; the FBI, the Department of State-Diplomatic Security Service, and the Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The result was locating and bringing to the United States witnesses and victims who described Emmanuel's direct involvement in at least three killings and acts of torture using electric shocks, lit cigarettes, molten plastic, hot irons, stabbings with bayonets and even biting ants shoveled onto people's bodies.

Today, Boley's alleged role in the Liberian civil war is being discussed in various Liberian circles and the issue has divided many Liberians in and out of the country over whether he is responsible for violence the LPC committed during the country's conflict.

As Boley awaits his fate, critics point to many other alleged supporters of the war and whether they could possibly face similar fates. Some observers say prosecutions risk upsetting a power balance that has stuck largely by co-opting former warlords, some of whom have Senate seats. One of those recommended for prosecution, Prince Johnson, is a senator and plans to run for president himself.

George Boley and Samuel K. Doe
Boley was the first Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in the Peoples Redemption Council government. For Boley, the outcome of the trial could offer severe consequences. The former warlord is married to an American and his children are also American, born in the U.S. Boley even has properties in the U.S.


 The most important involves the incumbent President Ellen Sirleaf. A report in 2009 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), set up to investigate war crimes, recommended that the Sirleaf be banned from office for 30 years for backing the rebellion of former warlord and President Charles Taylor. The President has admitted she funded Taylor but says she was misled and she has declined to comment on the TRC's suggestions, which the committee cannot enforce but which parliament can enact.

Jerome Verdier
The government is weighing prosecuting some people named in the report for war crimes, but it will be hard for Sirleaf to back that call then ignore the one that she be barred. Jerome Verdier, head of the TRC says there is no credible argument for non-implementation of the report. “Those arguing against the report, it's out of fear or interest," says Verdier.
Ironically, Boley Boley participated in the country's first post-war presidential election, held on July 19 1997. Running under the banner of the National Democratic Party of Liberia, Boley won only 1.26% of the vote. Besides Boley several former warlords have toyed with the idea of the Presidency. Alhaji Kromah, leader of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy, the resistance armed group that forced Charles Taylor to a negotiating table that eventually brought tangible political solution to the Liberian conflict, also contested the July 19, 1997 presidential election. Running under the banner of the All Liberia Coalition Party(ALCOP), Kromah placed third, winning 4.02% of the vote. Kromah ran again as the party's presidential candidate in the 11 October 2005 elections in which he was again defeated, receiving 2.8% of the vote. In 2009, Kromah unsuccessfully sought the vacant Montserrado County Senatorial by-elections seat won by Geraldine Doe of the Congress for Democratic Change.
Sekou Damate Konneh

Sekou Damate Konneh, the leader of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy(LURD) contested the October 2005 Presidential elections. Running under the banner of the Progressive Democratic Party, Konneh received less than 1% of the vote.
Sekou Damate Konneh, the leader of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy(LURD) contested the October 2005 Presidential elections. Running under the banner of the Progressive Democratic Party, Konneh received less than 1% of the vote.

Besides the presidential quest of the former warlords, at least two others from vote-rich Nimba now occupy seats in the National legislature. Prince Johnson, who ran as an independent holds the senior senator’s seat while Adolphus Dolo is the junior senator from the county. Johnson, ironically has declared his intentions to seek the presidency in 2011. His party, the National Union for Democratic Progress has already been given the green light by the National Elections Commission.

For Boley, the outcome of the trial could offer severe consequences. The former warlord is married to an American and his children are also American, born in the U.S. Boley even has properties in the U.S.

In recent months, the Rochester and Democrat reports that some of Boley's neighbors and friends in Clarkson have written the immigration court, encouraging the judge to allow Boley to stay free as the trial progresses. In the correspondence, Boley is described as a devout and hard-working man, always quick to help a neighbor in need. The U.S. government is against the release of Boley, and he has been detained since his immigration arrest in January. He is likely to be detained for months more; a second phase of the trial isn't scheduled until January.

The U.S. authorities had originally indicated it would complete its testimony this week, and Boley's defense would begin its case in January. But Boley’s lawyer says he received notice this week that the government expects it will need more time to finish the presentation of its case, meaning that the hopes of a resolution in January could be optimistic.

Boley’s lawyers are however skeptical that the U.S. authorities are trying to exhaust Boley by stretching out the proceedings. "They're extending his jail time," Kolken is quoted by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle as saying.

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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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