|Joseph Tomoonh-Garlodeyh Gbaba, Sr. Ed. D.|
Joseph Tomoonh-Garlodeyh Gbaba, Sr. Ed. D.
Exiled Liberian Playwright & Poet-Laureate
One of the most prestigious vocations in Liberia over the past century and a half has been the legal profession. Back in the day when we were children, we all wanted to become a lawyer when we grew up. That was because Liberia produced some of the best legal minds in the world. They were so sharp that they competed with their international colleagues with ease and won landmark cases on behalf of the struggling Black peoples around the world. For instance, it can be recalled that Liberia along with Ethiopia played a significant role in the liberation of Africa and other Black nations outside the continent of Africa. For an example, in November 1960 the Governments of Ethiopia and Liberia brought a proceeding in the International Court of Justice at The Hague against the Union of South Africa to stop its illegal maladministration of its territory of South West Africa.
The South African preliminary defense was based on procedural objections, which were finally dismissed in December 1962 (Landis, Liberian Code of Law, 1956).
In addition, Liberia has one of the best law schools in the world—the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia from whence some of our brilliant legal minds were also trained. Hence, the list of distinguished Liberian lawyers is so exhaustive that I cannot name them one by one. Nevertheless, here are some prominent names that immediately come to mind: Secretary of State Momolu Dukuly, Angie Brooks-Randolp, Eugenia Wordsworth-Stevenson, Allen Yancy, J. Rudolph Grimes, Louis Arthur Grimes, Tuan Wleh, Toye Barnard, Winston Tubman, Johnny Lewis, A. Dash Wilson, James A. A. Pierre, Richard Abrom Henries, Gloria Musu-Scott, Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie, Gladys Johnson, Eugenia Ash-Thompson, Frances Johnson-Morris, Koffie Woods, Tiawon Gongloe, Jerome Verdier, and so forth. Thus, the argument here is that if Liberian lawyers could liberate the African continent by using their legal skills and expertise back in the day, then it goes without saying that they can also do the same for the beleaguered war-torn people of Liberia today.
Consequently, the Bar Association of Liberia has an important role to play in order to bring closure to the Liberian conflict and reconciliatory process. Definitely, the Bar can advocate the restoration of the rule of law and due process in post-conflict Liberia by pressurizing the Liberian Legislature to enact the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report into law. Against this backdrop, I urge all true patriotic Liberian lawyers and members of the Bar Association of Liberia to rally round my call to provide pro bono legal assistance to the depraved and war traumatized citizens of Liberia by preparing a legal brief that shall pressurize the Liberian Legislature to enact the TRC Report into law and to establish a war crime court in Liberia.
Indeed, this process is necessary at this time because Liberians have waited more than twenty long years for the UN, AU, and ECOWAS to act in good faith in the best interest of all Liberians. Unfortunately, they have yet to successfully and impartially implement their peace mission in Liberia and to bring to justice those who planned, provided financial and material supports to purchase weapons of mass destruction that killed more than a quarter million Liberians and alien nationals that lived in our borders. As a consequence, the bones of our dead loved ones are rolling over in their unmarked graves and they are complaining that their deaths will be in vain if we who are still alive today do nothing in accordance with the Constitution of Liberia and international humanitarian and human rights laws to bring them closure by indicting and prosecuting those who killed them in cold blood. Therefore, the Bar Association of Liberia and the Liberian people must rise up now and demand that the UN, AU, and ECOWAS abide by the Constitution of Liberia to bring to justice perpetrators of war crimes in Liberia and to reestablish the rule of law, law and order, and due process, in post-conflict Liberian society.