Some former warring factions in Liberia’s recent civil conflict say the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is biased and politically motivated.
The Commission was established in 2003 under the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord to identify the root causes of the Liberian civil war and determine those who responsible in committing domestic and international 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.
But at a joint news conference Monday, the former warring factions said the TRC did not live up to the intent for which it was created.
Former Foreign Minister in Charles Taylor's government Lewis Brown told VOA the TRC failed to give alleged perpetrators the chance to confront their accusers.
“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,” he said.
The warring factions that called Monday's news conference included Charles Taylor’s former government, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).
Brown said they called the news conference to renew their commitment to maintain peace, security, forgiveness and reconciliation in Liberia.
He rejected any suggestion that the former warring factions were trying to scapegoat the TRC for the crimes they allegedly committed during Liberia’s conflict.
“On the first count, the TRC…conducted an independent survey throughout the 15 political subdivisions to determine whether or not the alleged victims were interested in genuinely reconciling the country. Over 60 percent informed the TRC that they would prefer to confront victims under an atmosphere of forgiveness and reconciliation rather than retributive justice,” Brown said.
Brown said he agreed with those Liberians who argued that there can be no true justice without accountability on the part of alleged perpetrators. But he said accountability cannot be determined prejudicially
The Truth Commission also recommended that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and 51 others be blocked from holding future public offices in Liberia for 30 years for helping to form and finance warring factions.
Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh said President Sirleaf was still reading the TRC final report, but that she has taken note of the recommendation about her.
“She’s not only has seen that report, she has been listening to many Liberians who are very astonished because of that part of the report…many are concerned that this is a democratically elected sitting president. And a report that suggests barring her from public offices for the next 30 years, what does it mean for this democratically elected popular president,” he said.
Bropleh said Liberians elected President Sirleaf in 2005 even though they knew she had admitted being one of the financiers of Charles Taylor’s rebel movement.
“The Liberian public and the world knew that institutionally, through the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia at the time headquartered in Washington, D.C. President Sirleaf, being an executive member of that association gave $10,000 to Charles Taylor,” he said.
Meanwhile, some TRC members continue to allege that they are being threatened by unidentified individuals or groups.
Bropleh said President Sirleaf has brought back rule of law to Liberia and that any member of the TRC who feels they are being threatened should report such to the constituted authority.