Friday, June 3, 2011

Liberia: Prince Johnson Wants War Crimes Trial

Prince Johnson
Ellen Jonnson-Sirleaf

Counselor Jerome Verdier, former TRC boss
Source: all Africa

 Former warlord, now senator and presidential candidate, Prince Johnson, has endorsed the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) listing him as a notorious perpetrator and one of those that should be prosecuted for alleged war crimes during the country's 14-year war.

Delivering his acceptance speech in Saclepea, Nimba County when he selected wartime ally and one of former President Charles Taylor's lawyers, J. Lavali Supuwood as his running mate, Mr. Johnson said, "the entire TRC report should be implemented.

"I would have liked for the entire TRC report to be implemented. But, unfortunately, President (Ellen) Sirleaf decided that her desire to run for the Presidency was more important than implementing the recommendations of the TRC. At her State of the Union Address in January 2010, President decided to trash the TRC report and announced to the world that she was running for President, even though the TRC has banned her for 30 years. By her action, she completely undermined the recommendations for sanctions."The controversial TRC report lists Senator Johnson, once the feared commander of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a splinter faction of Mr. Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia, (NPFL) as "the most notorious."

Thus, by unconditionally endorsing the TRC, Mr. Johnson, one of those who resisted the report in its earlier stage, has now opted for its implementation, which encompasses his and others' trial for alleged war crimes.

He said: "The second area of reconciliation is legal justice. This means holding people accountable for abusing the rights of the people. We set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to ensure that we had genuine peace. At first we all had reservation about the TRC report. But after reading the entire final report, I must say a big thank you to Chairman Jerome Verdier, Massa Washington, John Stewart and other commissioners who were brave enough to put my name, President Sirleaf and other prominent Liberians in the report.

"I criticized the TRC report because I felt it was not fair to me, as I participated in the war to ensure that the people of Nimba were not being slaughtered. I felt then that I was fighting for political freedom. Under my leadership during the war, I protected civilians against brutal warriors. I also said that the "gun that liberates should not rule." I followed that basic principle and allowed in Liberia the IGNU Government under Dr. Amos Sawyer.

"I was therefore selfless to allow another Liberian to take power when I had the opportunity to do so. This is why we have thanked Sekou Damante Konneh, Kabineh Ja'neh, Dr. Vamba Kanneh, George Dweh, Yaya Nimley and others who also did not take power by force, but allowed Charles Taylor to leave Liberia for an interim Government not headed by them. Like me, LURD and MODEL could have used military power to take power but we did not because we love democracy.

"The democracy and the freedom of association and press that we enjoy is because of me and others who refused to take power by force but instead allowed politicians to take power when we had risked our reputation to remove dictatorships. But today we are maligned for the peace and stability that we brought to Liberia. This is a measure of democracy, which is our ability to withstand criticisms of all kinds."

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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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