Sunday, December 19, 2010

US Embassy Cables: ‘Best We Can do’ for Liberia - Try Taylor in America

Source: FrontPage Africa

12/20/2010 - WIKILEAKS CABLE DOCUMENT

Tuesday, 10 March 2009, 12:51

CONFIDENTIAL SECTION 01 OF 02 MONROVIA 000188

SIPDIS


EO 12958 DECL: 03/10/2019


TAGS PREL, PGOV, UNSC, PHUM, KCRM, LI


SUBJECT: PRO-TAYLOR ELEMENTS STILL A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

Classified By: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

Summary

A US Ambassador warns that a cash shortfall could jeopardize the case against the former Sierra Leonean President, stirring up old resentments in Sierra Leone and Liberia.


1.(C) Summary: The recent remarks by Special Court for Sierra Leone prosecutor Scott Rapp suggesting Charles Taylor may go free because of budgetary reasons caused alarm within the GOL and has emboldened Taylor supporters. Communication inside the Taylor camp remains intact and those in leadership roles continue to be active and unrepentant. Should Taylor be acquitted in The Hague or given a light sentence, his return to Liberia could tip the balance in a fragile peace. The international community must consider steps should Taylor not be sent to prison for a long time. We should look at the possibility of trying Taylor in the United States. End Summary.

RAPP’S COMMENTS RAISE CONCERN WITH THE GOL

2.(C) Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp’s ill considered announcement in the press February 24, that Charles Taylor may walk free because of a supposed budget shortfall for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where Taylor is presently on trial, made headlines in the local press and raised anxiety here about Taylor’s imminent return. The GOL was alarmed enough that President Sirleaf called Ambassador on February 28 to raise her concerns. She pointed out that Liberia’s stability remains fragile, and such remarks reverberated throughout the country as people are still traumatized by Taylor and the war.

3.(C) The press accounts of The Hague have also emboldened the pro-Taylor factions here, including his extended family members, financiers and National Patriotic Party(NPP) loyalists, raising their hopes that Taylor might be acquitted soon. Despite their rhetoric about “moving on”, they have thus far refused to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC) to account for their activities, and those on the UN sanctions lists continue to request delisting on the basis they have done nothing wrong rather than demonstrating what they have done to provide restitution for their activities.

4.(C). The government itself is caught in the middle. There is quite little the GOL can do legally to arrest, prosecute or freeze assets of those who were close to Taylor, even if the political will were, there, which means an open question. The TRC has recommended a domestic war crimes court be set up, but under statute, an independent National Human Rights Commission(INHCR) would implement the recommendation, and the legislature(some of whom had close ties to Taylor) has thus far failed to establish the INCHR. The Legislature has also refused to pass any law that would allow the GOL to freeze assets of those on the UN sanctions list, and the Supreme Court has ruled that any confiscation of property can be done only after a trial.

5. (C). The Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA)of August 2003 that ended he 14-year civil war, did not require the NPP to disband and in fact permitted the NPP to participate in the transitional government and in the 2005 elections. The NPP now holds seven seats in the Legislature(which may be one reason the legislation is being blocked). As well, none of Taylor’s properties have been seized by the government and they remain in good shape and remarkably free of squatters, as no one dares to take the risk of retribution.

COMMUNICATIONS AMONG TAYLOR SUPPORTERS REMAIN STRONG

6.(C) The pro-Taylor forces still have the ability to organize themselves. An NPP rally in December 2008 gathered a sizeable crowd, and Taylor supporters in June 2008 succeeded in preventing FBI investigators from entering Taylor’s residence “White Flower” to obtain evidence for Chucky Taylor trial in Florida. The most recent example was their effort on March 7 to disrupt the international women’s colloquium. Taylor remains popular within many rural communities, especially in Bong, Lofa, and Nimba counties, and is seen as someone who was able to unite Liberia’s different ethnic groups. We also suspect that there is some sympathy within the Americo-Liberian population who saw him as their deliverance from their losses following the 1979 coup. While we do not suggest they would want Taylor to return, we are sure that they do not want too many rocks to be turned over.

7.(C). Although we do have any direct evidence to support the belief that pro-Taylor factions are behind much of the armed on the premise that crime will keep the government weak and the country unstable, the GOL is certainly convinced of this, and has taken steps to counteract the threat. The most recent act was to put Taylor-era head of police Paul Mulbah into the LNP as an “advisor” that some accuse (and the government denies) was in order to placate the Taylor people in advance of the March 7-8 International Women’s Colloquium. That the Taylor crowd can still motivate such a reaction in the government is a testament to their influence.

8.(C)Lines of communications within Taylor’s faction, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia(NPFL) remain in tact. To be sure, the disarmament of the factions following the CPA has been extremely successful, and we have thus far been unable to confirm the existence of any large weapons caches, despite the persistent rumors, But the reintegration of the ex-combatants is far from complete. Former NPFL commanders Roland Du(the only senior Taylor supporter to have testified before the TRC), Christopher “General Mosquito” Vambo and Melvin Dogbandi(none of whom are on the sanctions list remain in contact with the ex-combatants, and would have the capability to organize and uprising or even criminal activity.

9.(Certainly, the same is true for the other factions, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy(LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia(MODEL). While apparently unarmed and not active in Liberia, we continue to receive reports that LURD is recruiting ex-combatants for militias in Guinea and MODEL is doing the same for Cote d’Ivoire.

THREAT OF TAYLOR’S RETURN ADVANCES THEIR CAUSE

The threat of a return of Taylor strengthens their hands and for now they see no need to give in at all. However, if Taylor is put away for a long time, the government may feel a bit bolder in recovering assets and bringing Taylor backers who committed war crimes to justice.

The international community has just a few tools to pressure the Taylor people into accepting the new reality. The UN sanctions appear to have the intended effect of keeping them somewhat marginalized and fearful of further attempts to strip them of their ill-gotten gains. However, we have regularly heard of travel outside Liberia of those on travel ban list without travel approval.

NEXT STEP FOR INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
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13. (C). However, the best we can do for Liberia is to see to it that Taylor is put away for a long time and we cannot delay for the results of the present trial to consider next steps. All legal options should be studied to ensure that Taylor cannot return to destabilize Liberia. Building a case in the United States against Taylor for financial crimes such as wire fraud would probably be the best route. There may be other options such as applying the new law criminalizing the use of child soldiers or terrorism statues.

The peace in Liberia remains fragile, and its only guarantee is the robust and adaptable UNMIL presence. The GOL does not have the ability to quell violence, monitor its borders or operate independently to fight crime. A free Taylor Could tip the balance in the wrong direction. THOMAS GREENFIELD

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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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