Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Charles Taylor's Conviction: Triumph For Justice and The Rule of Law

WRITTEN BY JEROME J. VERDIER, SR (CLLR),
Source: Frontpage africa
Victims of Charles Taylor's war, millions (dead or alive) in Sierra Leone and Liberia, are thanking GOD ALMIGHTY for hearing and receiving their cries for justice. When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous and those who do good but it brings terror to evildoers (Prov 21:15). Today, all peace and justice advocates around the world join the victims in celebrating the conviction of Liberia's Former President on eleven counts of “aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity” in Sierra Leone—a genuine triumph for justice and the rule of law against impunity in both countries, especially Liberia.
Taylor's Conviction is Significant

Taylor's conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), convening in the Hague at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has reaffirmed and maintained a fundamental principle of international criminal law against head of state immunity. The significance of this development has far reaching implications for justice and the rule of law in Liberia. We commend the Special Court and the team of prosecutors for living up to their mandate to combat impunity and ensure that justice is done—a  victory indeed for the rule of law!

Taylor's conviction as the first ever head of state to be convicted of war crimes by an international court in the post cold-war era  closes the gap on other perpetrators who bask in the ignominy of impunity by shielding themselves from justice under the cloak of officialdom.  It means also that no head of state or president is immune from future prosecution for crimes they committed prior to, during or after their tenure as head of state or president. The Prosecutor vs. Charles Taylor is certain to set a landmark precedent in international criminal law and justice by dealing a deadly blow to political immunity from prosecution and impunity generally. The decision of the SCSL raises the prospects that perpetrators of war crimes, irrespective of their social or political standing, will never find safe haven outside the dark confines of their conscience and will never know peace or rest until the long arms of justice catch up with them. Fundamentally, the international community is well settled in saying to the world that:

1. There is no time limit to prosecution for international crimes or crimes against humanity or war crimes;
2. There is no amnesty for war crimes or crimes against humanity;
3. There is no immunity from prosecution for war crimes or crimes against humanity for heads of state, presidents or very important persons for crimes committed by these persons before,  during or after they have left office; and
4. People in high stature, authority, presidents, heads of states, politicians and other personalities, who support the commission of war crimes and issue orders from board rooms and the comfort of their executive offices without ever stepping on the battlefront, firing the lethal bullets or commanding the perpetrating forces are, in fact, culpable as superiors or principals or allies and can be convicted directly for committing or aiding and abetting the commission of  war crimes or crimes against humanity;

Justice in Liberia is Imperative

While former President Taylor has come face to face with justice and is awaiting his sentencing, many others may be frustrated that justice has not taken root in Liberia, because several of his war partners, collaborators, allies and patrons in Liberia and others similarly situated are roaming with impunity without any credible threat of justice.

With the successful prosecution, conviction and sentencing of President Taylor, we expect that the voices of justice in Liberia will increase and become louder in calling and advocating for justice in Liberia for war crimes or crimes against humanity committed in territories of Liberia. Justice in Liberia is imperative, without which Liberia is sliding a slippery slope. Without justice in Liberia, peace and development remains fragile and unsustainable. And reconciliation, impossible!

No Peace, No Reconciliation without Justice

As children of GOD it is our duty to work for justice if we want peace. Liberia, as a nation of laws founded on Christian principles, must embark upon a credible process of justice seeking accountability mechanisms that will eventually take root and build a new culture of respect for the rule of law and justice in the land brought to its knees and near annihilation by lawlessness and impunity. The Final Report of the TRC of Liberia is instructive. If Liberia continues to ignore it, the country will be doing so at its own peril.

Unlike Sierra Leone, the hands of Liberia's political leaders and elites, including the head of state, are resisting justice at all cost mostly because their hands are stained with the innocent blood of Taylor's war victims and their contributions to the mayhem are outstanding.

We remained assured, however, that our LORD and SAVIOR Jesus Christ will defend the cause of weak victims and war orphans, and maintain the rights of millions of poor, needy and oppressed members of our society who suffered and were victimized by the war without redress and are still waiting for justice. Only fools (Proverbs 14:9) make fun of their guilt but the godly acknowledge their guilt and seek reconciliation.

Justice is Slow but Sure...
Justice may seem elusive, but it is a certain reality; the wheels of justice may seem to be turning too slowly, but we know they are not stopping; they are rolling...

Jerome J. Verdier, Sr (Cllr)

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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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