Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says it’s time for the country to face up to its past. She’s set up a truth and reconciliation commission (TRC) to investigate human rights abuses that occurred during the civil war and other conflicts.
The commission is chaired by human rights lawyer Jerome Verdier. English to Africa reporter Kim Lewis asked him how important it is for Liberia to have a truth and reconciliation commission at this time. He said Liberia has experienced a very brutal crisis over a prolonged period of more than 20 years and, he said, “Almost 80% of our population was affected by the crisis. People died, people lost properties, people have been displaced, people are in refugee camps. We have a highly polarized society. And because of that the TRC process is perceived as a way forward in trying to unite Liberia so that reconciliation can be a reality.”
Mr. Verdier says the TRC will investigate all incidences and cases of human rights violations, including those alleged to have been committed by former president Charles Taylor: “The abuse of power as well as situations of economic crimes and how they have impacted the crisis in this country – imagine that no Liberian is immune to the TRC process. The TRC is going to conduct an investigation. It will follow all leads. It will assemble all pieces of evidence and what evidence points to any Liberian, inside and outside of Liberia. The TRC will endeavor to get them to participate in the process.”