Liberians and perhaps the rest of the
world are still trying to come to grip with the political impact of the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) final report recommendations.
The Commission was established in 2003 to identify the root causes of the Liberian civil war and determine those who were responsible in committing domestic and international crimes against the Liberian people.
Among its recommendations, the TRC suggested that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and 51 others be blocked from holding public offices in Liberia for 30 years for helping to form and finance warring factions.
President Sirleaf is out of the country attending the African Union summit in Libya. But Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh says the government has no comment on the Commission’s recommendations because President Sirleaf has yet to officially review the report.
TRC Information Officer James Kpargoi told VOA Liberia is a signatory to United Nations protocols on war crimes and warring factions.
“In the minds of the Truth Commission this time around we thought that those who financed the conflict, although they did not participate in the command and control of the factions, also bear the responsibility for the atrocities that were committed,” he said.
In February this year, President Sirleaf testified before the commission. She said she had endorsed former president Charles Taylor's rebellion against President Samuel Doe but had never been part of the rebel group
The president admitted, however, to being a part of a group of exiled Liberians who lent their support to Mr. Taylor without being aware of his true intentions.
Kpargoi said it would be up to civil society groupings, political parties and ordinary Liberians to make sure that the commission’s recommendations are adhered to.
“It think it’s all incumbent upon all Liberians to ensure that this TRC process, which was to be the road map to restore to the country to peace, justice, and reconciliation to ensure that those recommendations are fully implemented,” Kpargoi said.
He confirmed that some members of the TRC have been receiving threats.
“That has been made public for some time now. As you know the leader of the erstwhile Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (Prince Y. Johnson) made some threats during the course of the commission’s final determinations,” he said.
Kpargoi said a former member of Charles Taylor’s former rebel movement Sahr Gbollie who is now a member of the national legislature of Liberia from Margibi County also made threats against members of the TRC.
The Truth Commission also recommended that about 98 individuals considered to be notorious perpetrators of gross human rights violations and war crimes be prosecuted in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Prince Y. Johnson, leader of the former Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebel movement was named in the TRC report as a ‘notorious perpetrator’.
He has been recommended for prosecution for alleged killing, extortion, massacre, destruction of property, force recruitment, assault, abduction, torture and force labor and rape.
Johnson told VOA that he and others are exempt from prosecution by a law enacted by the Liberian legislature.
“In 2003, there was a law that was passed by the national legislature of the Republic of Liberia granting general amnesty to all persons within the jurisdiction of the Republic of Liberia. So I don’t know why the TRC decided to make recommendations of persons to have them prosecuted,” he said.
Johnson denied making any threats against members of the TRC. But he reiterated that the commission did not have the power to recommend for prosecution people who he said had been amnesty by act of the national legislature.