The former chairman of Liberia’s disbanded Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has welcomed a decision by a U.S. immigration judge to deport Liberian George Boley, who is accused of presiding over killings and the use of child soldiers during Liberia’s civil war.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said the judge found the 62-year-old Boley "removable.”
His deportation order came after a trial in which U.S. immigration officials said Boley's Liberia Peace Council burned to death and massacred captives in the 1990s.
But, former TRC chairman Jerome Verdier said Boley could be a free man after he returns to Liberia because the country is a colony that harbors perpetrators of atrocities.
“I don’t have the full understanding of the legal reasons why he’s being removed, but it is my understanding that he was being held for immigration violations and that his records during the crisis in Liberia also put him in a very unfavorable condition. But, he’s going home to Liberia where there are others who have been accused of human rights violations in Liberia, and he's ’going to be a virtual free man in Liberia, just like the others,” he said.
Boley testified in 2009 before the TRC about his alleged role in the civil war as leader of the Liberia Peace Council (LPC).
Verdier said, despite overwhelming evidence, Boley told the commission that the LPC he founded was not a warring faction.
“Basically, we had a litany of allegations against him and the Liberian Peace Council, which he organized and headed. But, he strenuously argued before the commission that he was not part of the peace council, that that was a different peace council that committed the atrocities,” Verdier said.
He said virtually all alleged perpetrators who testified before the TRC denied they committed any atrocities.
Verdier expressed disappointment that Boley could be a free man after his deportation because he said the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has refused to implement the recommendations of the TRC.
In its final report released in November 2009, the TRC recommended the prosecution of scores of former warlords and battlefield commanders who were believed to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during Liberia’s civil war.
The report also recommended the exclusion from political activity for 30 years Sirleaf and other Liberians, who were believed to have supported the war effort through financial donations.
Verdier said Liberia, under Sirleaf, is a land of impunity because she lacks the political will to implement the TRC recommendations.
“Liberia seems to be a colony that harbors perpetrators. Second to that, there is no political will to take action on the TRC report, apparently because the people in authority, the current regime, do not have the political will to take action on the TRC process. So, what we have is a land of impunity. So, if Boley goes home, he joins his peers,” Verdier said.
Verdier said Liberia is never going to heal from war wounds unless there is a mechanism that can bring about justice for victims as well as perpetrators.