Liberia: War Crimes Court Establishment Suffers Setback

By Leroy M. Sonpon, III

Speaker Chambers rejected allegation of removing the Resolution from the agenda.The Speaker pointed that it was agreed

The House of Representatives, on Friday, October 4, failed to include and discuss a resolution to establish a war crimes court in Liberia after a full submission of the “Resolution on the establishment of War Crimes Court in the country” to the Chief Clerk of the House’s office on Thursday, October 3, 2019.

If the eight-page Resolution on the establishment of a war crimes court did not appear on the Monday, October 7 agenda, the last session day of the House of Representatives for adjournment, it means the Resolution has suffered a setback; it is no longer a done deal and is, therefore, inevitably deferred for the 3rd Sitting, which will begin on the second working Monday, January 13, 2020.

The Senate formally recessed for the 2nd Sitting over the weekend.

As has been repeatedly reported by the Daily Observer, the Resolution has a signature of 50 out of the 73 members of the House of Representatives, which is little over two-thirds of the Lower House.

In Friday’s session, the Chairperson on the House Claims and Petition, Montserrado County District #4 Representative Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis, visibly enraged broke into tears when the movant, Bong County District #1 Representative Albert Hill, rejected her amendments for inclusion and discussion on “Resolution on the establishment of War Crimes Court in Liberia,” and “Article 96” on the House Agenda as part of the business of the day.

In an uncontrollable and fuming tone in session, she described Rep. Hill’s action as “misplaced, displaced and disgraced,” arguing that the Bong County lawmaker, who is one of the signatories to the Resolution, did not know the essence of what she claimed as “integrity document.”

In protest, she walked out of the House chamber, muttering “nonsense,” especially to a denial of the Resolution to be placed on Friday’s agenda for automatic forwarding to the Senate for concurrence.

Montserrado County Districts #10 and #13 Representatives Yekeh Kolubah and Edward Flomo respectively, and Margibi County District #3 Representative Ellen Attoh-Wreh, in session, openly joined Rep. Dennis to condemn Rep. Hill for rejecting the Resolution.

Disappointed at Speaker Chambers

Rep. Rustonlyn Dennis walked out of session on Friday and in a press conference, expressed her disappointed at Speaker Chambers and Rep. Hill

In a press conference, immediately after the session, Rep. Dennis said she was disappointed at Speaker Bhofal Chambers for “shamefully masterminding the removal of the Resolution on the agenda,” an allegation the Speaker rejected and said it was excluded in keeping with Legislative practice.

The House Claims and Petition chairperson said  it was disheartening for the Speaker, who was once a champion for the establishment of a war crimes court, to refuse to put the Resolution on the agenda, and described his action as “misbehavior.”

She said the Resolution was formally launched at the Du-port Road Cemetery Memorial on Thursday, October 3, 2019.

“We have 50 signatures, which is more than two-thirds of our membership, calling for the establishment of a war crimes court and even have the propensity to remove him,” she said.

Speaker Chambers’ Response

Also, in a brief chat with journalists, the Speaker categorically denied removing the Resolution from the agenda as Rep. Dennis allegedly accused him of and said the failure to include and discuss the Resolution was the prerogative of the movant – Rep. Hill – who denied Rep. Dennis’ amendments.

He added that besides that rejection, the Plenary had earlier voted to carry the Resolution to establish a war crimes court to their respective constituents for subsequent discussions during the 3rd Sitting following the president’s two-page letter for advice and guidance on the creation of a war crimes court.

The Speaker said that it was agreed that there will be consultations to help lawmakers to make an informed decision.

Besides the House Committee on Claims and Petition efforts on establishing a war crimes court, President George Weah also wrote members of the House of Representatives to advise and guide him on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations and the establishment of a war crime court.

“I am committed to a holistic implementation of the National Consensus, and do hereby call on the Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC report, including the establishment of the Economic and War Crimes Courts,” the president wrote.

The House of Representatives expresses its support for full implementation of the TRC recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court, and commits to working with President Weah for the court’s establishment.

Based on section 48 of the TRC Act that provides that “The Head of State shall report to the National Legislature within three months of  the receipt of the report  of the TRC, and on a quarterly  basis thereafter,  as to the implementation of the Commission’s recommendation ‘and’ and all recommendations shall be  implemented and ‘where the implementation  of any recommendation has not complied with, the Legislature shall require the Head of State to show cause of such-non-compliance.Therefore, this matter before us is overdue and that the President should act effectively, immediately on said  Legislative enactment without seeking advice from the Legislature because the TRC is already an Act of Enactment by the Legislature that is awaiting presidential approval.”

Signatories:

  1. Rep. Lawrence Morris, District #1, Montserrado County
  2. Rep. Jimmy Smith, District #2, Montserrado County
  3. Rep. Rustonlyn Dennis, District #4, Montserrado County
  4. Rep. Samuel Enders, District #6, Montserrado County
  5. Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, District #10, Montserrado County
  6. Rep. Richard Koon, District #11, Montserrado County
  7. Rep. George Samah, District #12, Montserrado County
  8. Rep. Edward Flomo, District #13, Montserrado County
  9. Rep. Abraham Corneh, District #14, Montserrado County
  10. Rep. Abu Kamara, District #15, Montserrado County
  11. Rep. Hanson Kiazolu, District #17, Montserrado County
  12. Rep. Hans Barchue, District #1, Grand Bassa County
  13. Rep. Mary Karwor, District #2, Grand Bassa County
  14. Rep. Matthew Joe, District #3, Grand Bassa County
  15. Rep. Vicent Willie, District #4, Grand Bassa County
  16. Rep. Thomas Goshua, District #5, Grand Bassa County
  17. Rep. Cryton Duncan, District #1, Sinoe County
  18. Rep. J. Nagbe Sloh, District #2, Sinoe County
  19. Rep. P. Mike Jurry, District #1, Maryland County
  20. Rep. Isaac Rolands, District #3, Maryland County
  21. Rep. Bob Sheriff, District #1, Grand Cape Mount County
  22. Rep. Mambu Sonii, District #2, Grand Cape Mount Co.
  23. Rep. Emerson Kamara, District #3, Grand Cape Mount Co.
  24. Rep. Albert Hills, District #1, Bong County
  25. Rep. Prince Moye, District #2, Bong County
  26. Rep. J. Marvin Cole, District #3, Bong County
  27. Rep. Robert Womba, District #4, Bong County
  28. Rep. Edward Karfiah, District #5, Bong County
  29. Rep. Joseph Kolleh, District #7, Bong County
  30. Rep. Francis Nyumalin, District #1, Lofa County
  31. Rep. Julie Wiah, District #2, Lofa County
  32. Rep. Clarence Massaquoi, District #3, Lofa County
  33. Rep. Beyan Howard, District #5, Lofa County
  34. Rep. Prince Tokpa, District #1, Nimba County
  35. Rep. Joseph Somwarbi, District #3, Nimba County
  36. Rep. Rogers Domah, District #7, Nimba County
  37. Rep. Larry Younquoi, District #8, Nimba County
  38. Rep. Zoe Pennue, District #1, Grand Gedeh County
  39. Rep. Alex Grant, District #3, Grand Gedeh County
  40. Rep. Tibelrosa Tarponweh, District #1, Margibi Co.
  41. Rep. Ivar Jones, District #2, Margibi County
  42. Rep. Ellen A. Attoh-Wreh, District #3, Margibi Co.
  43. Rep. Ben Fofana, District #4, Margibi County
  44. Rep. Clarence Gahr, District #5, Margibi County
  45. Rep. Byron Zahnwea, District #2, River Cess County
  46. Rep. Alexander Poure, District #1, River Gee County
  47. Rep. Francis Young, District #2, River Gee County
  48. Rep. Francis Dopoh, District 3, River Gee County
  49. Rep. Alfred Koiwood, District #1, Gbarpolu County
  50. Rep. Joseph Matthew, District #3, Gbarpolu County Source

Source Daily Observer.

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