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Liberia Instates the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Thursday, Liberia officially inaugurates its Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which will inspect allegations of human rights abuses linked to the country’s fourteen year civil war. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described it as Liberia’s hope of overcoming its traumatic past.

Lawyer Jerome Verdier is head of the nine-member Commission. From the Liberian capital, Monrovia, he spoke with Voice of America English to Africa reporter James Butty about his expectations.

“Personally, I’m excited about the process in that what we have been planning for the last three months and what our political (sic) decided in Accra, Ghana, some time ago along with international community is about to commence in Liberia. And without doubt my colleagues on the commission are equally excited. We look forward to a stimulating process that will involve Liberians, arouse their interest in what is to follow after the inauguration of the TRC.”

In launching the commission last February, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described it as Liberia’s hope of overcoming its traumatic past. Verdier agrees with this statement.

“The TRC is going to be intensive in investigating the root causes of the Liberian conflict and identifying victims and perpetrators as well, while at the same time exploring institutional reform measures, recommending prosecution, and establishing the firm basis for documenting atrocities committed during the crisis period while at the same time rewriting the history of Liberia.”

Verdier says his commission has been authorized to investigate crimes allegedly committed between January 1979 and October 2003. However, he says the commission will also investigate any offenses committed prior to the specified dates. Verdier says the TRC is authorized to conduct a historical review of Liberia’s past.

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