Liberian President Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf says she wants to meet with members of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (TRC) to discuss what the president's spokesman called issues within
The announcement came as the TRC released Volume I of its
The Commission was set up
to investigate the root causes of the Liberian civil war and the subsequent
human rights violations and corruption and economic crimes that might have been
committed between 1979 and 2003.
In the first volume of its preliminary report,
the TRC recommended the setting up of a criminal court to try individuals
and armed groups that the TRC would determine were responsible for the
'egregious' domestic crimes and 'gross' human rights violations.
Washington, a member of the TRC, told VOA the
commission is concerned the President's intention to meet with its members was
announced in the media, contrary to previous meetings.
have met with the president in the past on several occasions. As a matter of
fact she being president of the country, we do meet with her every now and then
to update her on the process. What we are concerned about is that our meetings
with the president have never been a matter of public announcement before we
even receive the invitation or the information that the president is available
and would like to meet with us. So why is a presidential press secretary now
announcing our meeting with the president, especially at a time that we are
facing some challenges," she said.
the first volume of its preliminary report, the TRC recommends the setting up of a criminal court to try individuals and
armed groups that the TRC would determine were responsible for the 'egregious'
domestic crimes and 'gross' human rights violations.
the purpose of the court would be to ensure justice and address impunity.
decided that prosecution in a court of competent jurisdiction and other forms
of public sanctions are desirable to promote justice, peace and security,
foster genuine national reconciliation and combat impunity, specifically, we
are recommending a prosecution mechanism. For example, we might determine that
a criminal court with competent jurisdiction to adjudicate criminal
responsibility for individuals, armed groups and other entities that the TRC
determines were responsible for egregious domestic crimes, gross violations of
human rights were appropriate," Washington said.
criticism by some that recommending criminal prosecution for perpetrators may
go against the call for national reconciliation.
"There's no way
you will have reconciliation without addressing the issue of justice, without
addressing what victims feel. And everywhere we went engaging the people of
Liberia in the 15 counties and also in the Diaspora, people want a form of
accountability. People want to be ensured that what happened here will not
happen again. And the TRC Act says we should look into the issue of impunity.
Impunity has played a very important role in the level and kinds of violations
that were perpetrated against innocent people," she said.
preliminary report Volume I also called for the establishment of a National
Palava Hut Forum as a useful tool for peace-building and national
the TRC wanted to incorporate in its work the traditional method of resolving
"We kind of
realized that we have our own traditional method and means of resolving
conflicts, and we wanted to make sure that we are sensitive to our own culture.
We know very well also that it is not possible recommend prosecution in that
standardized form of jurisprudence for everybody. So we want to incorporate our
own traditional means of resolving conflicts into our work so that way we cover
all of our people," Washington said.
She also said
the TRC will recommend that reparations be made to individuals, groups,
entities or communities.