Home News Liberia Establishes War Crimes Court for Civil War Atrocities

Liberia Establishes War Crimes Court for Civil War Atrocities

Liberia's President, Joseph Boakai.

Liberian President Joseph Boakai signed an executive order on Thursday, initiating the formation of a war crimes court to address the atrocities committed during the nation’s brutal civil wars from 1989 to 2003.

The wars resulted in an estimated 250,000 deaths and severe human rights violations, including mass killings, torture, and sexual violence.

The decision to set up the court follows prolonged demands by victims and human rights activists for accountability and justice, which have been unaddressed since the 2009 Truth and Reconciliation Commission first identified perpetrators.

The conviction that brings us here today is that, for peace and harmony to have a chance to prevail, justice and healing must perfect the groundwork, President Boakai said in his statement.

This legislative push, endorsed by both houses of the Liberian parliament, even included votes from some members who might face charges themselves.

The court’s establishment was a central issue in the last presidential election, significantly influencing Boakai’s victory over then-President George Weah.

Furthermore, the United Nations envoy for global criminal justice, Beth Van Schaack, said that the U.S. would fund the court, provided it meets specific standards.

Schaack said that

for many citizens of Liberia, they see this as essential to a larger project establishing the rule of law in Liberia so that there’s faith in institutions.

Among the notable backers of the resolution is a former warlord and one of the identified perpetrators by the Truth Commission, Senator Prince Johnson. Johnson claims his support stems from his constituents’ demands for justice.

The court is expected to try high-profile figures, including those already convicted abroad. One is former president Charles Taylor, serving a 50-year sentence in the UK for similar crimes.

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