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Liberian Diaspora Group Expresses Support for TRC Report

A Liberian Diaspora group is calling for the full implementation of the final report and recommendations of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

In a teleconference held in the United States, the group, Liberia Human Rights Campaign said it plans to work with other civil society organizations in and outside Liberia to drum up support for the TRC report.

The Truth Commission was established in 2003 to identify the root causes of the Liberian conflict from 1979 to 2003 and determine those responsible for crimes against the Liberian people.

Among its recommendations, the TRC called for the prosecution of all warring faction leaders and 98 other associates for gross human rights violations and war crimes during the country’s 14-year civil war.

It also recommends that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and 51 others be banned from holding future political offices for allegedly financing and giving political support to warring factions.

Patrick Tuon, moderator of the teleconference, reminded the participants about the seriousness and implications of the final TRC report.

“We should indeed be reminded that those who are responsible to implement this report are the same people the report is targeting. So there will be a high degree of reluctance on their part…this can happen if we, members of the civil society remain silence,” Tuon said.

Most participants like Ben Davis of Colombia, Maryland agreed with the TRC recommendation to ban President Sirleaf and others from holding future political offices.

But Davis said the president and all elected officials recommended to be banned should be allowed to serve out their current terms.

“I believe that those people who have been elected, they should serve their terms because it would quite undemocratic for people to remove them. But those who were appointed should vacate their posts immediately,” he said.

Edith Kpor of Philadelphia sounded what seems to be the fear of some about implementing the truth commission’s report.

“In order for us to even have this discussion we should have a better plan of intervention because those people are criminals already. If we start anything they will try to bring another problem in the country, and our poor people that have no way, that are stuck in Liberia will be again in the hands of those people,” Kpor said.

In the end, the group agreed to form themselves under the umbrella of the Liberia Human Rights Campaign. They said they would hold mass rallies and launch a letter writing campaign to generate public support for the TRC report.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s office said the president had no comment yet as she was still studying the 370-page report.

But some warring factions, including Lewis Brown, former foreign minister in Charles Taylor’s government said the report was biased and politically motivated.

“What we have is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission largely motivated for selfish political objectives. They are now recommending punitive measures against individuals they did not provide an opportunity to face their accusers or to confront evidence of alleged wrongdoing,” Brown said.

In another development, the International Contact Group on Liberia has called on Liberians to be responsible in their comments on the report.

In a statement, the group appealed to Liberians to desist from making inflammatory statements that might incite violence.

Meanwhile, the Liberian Senate is expected to begin reviewing the final TRC report this Thursday.