Friday, September 24, 2010

The Role of the Bar Association of Liberia in the Resolution of the Liberian Conflict

Joseph Tomoonh-Garlodeyh Gbaba, Sr. Ed. D.
 Written by
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.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

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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