My Fellow Liberians: accountability is needed now more than ever

Like Ken Harper - Together Liberia
Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 09:10

by Hassan Bility

My name is Hassan Bility and I am the former editor-in-chief of The Analyst Newspaper in Liberia, during the presidency of Charles Taylor. Because of my writing, I was arrested seven times and savagely tortured upon Charles Taylor’s orders. Under pressure from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Press Union of Liberia, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the United States of America, the European Union and other organizations, former President Taylor struck a deal with the US, permitting the Americans to fly me out of Liberia to the United States.

In 2009, when it became obvious that the Liberian Government had no intention of prosecuting alleged war criminals, I made the decision to return to Liberia to establish the Global Justice and Research Project, an organization that documents war related crimes in Liberia and seeks justice for victims.

In 2017, for the first time in history, voices of victims of the first Liberian civil war were heard in the criminal trial of Mohammed Jabbateh, aka Jungle Jabbah, a former Liberian warlord residing in Philadelphia USA. The Jabbateh trial showed that justice can be achieved without violence and it raised hope for thousands of Liberians.

The length of his prison sentence will be determined shortly. His conviction sets an important precedent for other upcoming trials of alleged Liberian war criminals around the world. The Liberian Quest for Justice Campaign, launched jointly by a Swiss organization Civitas Maxima together with us was key in bringing the trial to the streets of Monrovia, Liberia, and for Liberians to understand this rather complicated case and its relevance.

Musu’s Diary, the cartoon series that showed how the trial has given hope to victims, went viral and the Facebook campaign page  became a medium with which Liberians engaged and asked their questions about the case.

Lack of accountability for grave crimes is an obstacle to peace and stability

The fight against impunity is gaining momentum. Nevertheless, within Liberia it is still not possible to bring cases against former war criminals as some of them hold powerful high positions in government. Moreover, the court system is currently not equipped for such cases, as capacity and resources are lacking and no witness protection is in place. It is thus crucial that we mobilize civil society to push for accountability mechanisms in order to prevent war criminals from attaining these positions and to reform our national justice system. The lack of accountability for grave crimes is an obstacle to peace and stability, and a potential cause for future conflict that must be addressed adequately. Now more than ever we need to make sure that Liberians are well-informed of the trials coming up outside the country.

The trials of Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, former leading figure of the NPFL (National Patriotic Front of Liberia), and of Agnes Taylor who was Charles Taylor’s wife, will take place in 2018 in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively. It is anticipated that NPFL commander Martina Johnson, and former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy Alieu Kosiah, may also be tried this year in Belgium and Switzerland, respectively.

I genuinely believe that now, more than ever before, Liberians should rise to the opportunities by showing their leaders that justice is a priority and that the victims voices will not be silenced. With the assurance made by the new Liberian President, George Manneh Weah about justice and human rights in his inaugural speech to the Liberian people in particular, and the world in general, Liberians can only hope that this long-abandoned fight for justice for victims of the Liberian civil wars is brought to the fore.

And we will be watching.

Photo: Ken Harper for the Together Liberia Project/Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/kennethharper/

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Anonymous
Clara waye Howard

Thanks so much I in line with you my husband was flogged December 27 2013 n the Liberian gov said they can't bring un to book. My husband worked with unmil at that time plz can we get to talk to you he's Dominic Howard

Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 09:58
Anonymous
tubman k. snawolo

What About the lutheran Church massacare which was one of the first in liberia ?so bakadu is so important to You b/c of Your People.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 07:42
Anonymous
Alexander Kla B...

Thank you so much, we met few years back when I used to worked as cafe attendant at Logan Town Market junction.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 07:35
Anonymous
Lusene Sirleaf

Great to pursue justice in Liberia. and I believe justice will hunt perpetrators atrocities during Liberian civil wars. I just want to understand what you are doing to document the atrocious massacre in Barkedu, Lofa County; I hope the voices of Barkedu's victims must also be heard through your efforts

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 17:29
Anonymous
Lusene Sirleaf

Great to pursue justice in Liberia. and I believe justice will hunt perpetrators atrocities during Liberian civil wars. I just want to understand what you are doing to document the atrocious massacre in Barkedu, Lofa County; I hope the voices of Barkedu's victims must also be heard through your efforts

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 17:28
Anonymous
Abdul Ayoub Swaray

This is a great initiative. The perpetrator of war crimes must be brought to justice. Is really becoming a customery thing in Liberia to reward world's most notorious criminals with public offices. In a country where the illiterates are more then the literate, the decision making last in the hands of the majority. This is one of the greatest problem in the liberian society. I personally support any international establishment of justice system that will serve justice to all Liberian. If we as Liberian can not establish a court to bring notorious criminals to justice, then we support any external establishment as long as justice will be served to our people. One again thank so much for this great initiative.

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 14:14
Anonymous
Abdul Ayoub Swaray

What becomes of those world's notorious criminal occupying public offices here in Liberia.

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 13:58
Anonymous
Francis Egu Lansana

Justice served as a roof that provides sustainability for the promotion of peace; its also served as a light that brightening the road to democracy. Now it's not about your previous role during the civil war but now it about taking the responsibility in making sure that guinee justice is serve. There must be a precedent to avoid tthe reoccurrence of the past. Don't be ashamed or afraid when you are associated with your past especially what you did consciously and boastfully.

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 12:38
Anonymous
Thomas R. Walker

A philosopher once said: 'there is no peace without justice'. Justice in Liberia will mean lasting peace, an assurance for stability, a deterrent to future offenders and peace of mind to victims. Let those war Lord's in Liberia and squanders be procecuted.

Sunday, February 11, 2018 - 19:36
Anonymous
David D Y Choi

Under the Sky, One should be equal as long as Human Being.

Underprivileged social class, Before the birth, even after the death, this underprivileged group should follow the pre-framed given route.

Upon realizing that crossing the given route is limited, its trial object would be named as ‘Betrayer’ or targeted as ‘Gov. Sanction’.

Extending of this status, urged and resulted let David create hand written images between # 1 and # 58. Still, there, no one, no response, no way to get out, its condition is extended.

Its usefulness, it condition should be extended as usual.

David D Y Choi , Feb., 2018 ( e-mail ; duly@gmx.com, or cdyera@yandex.com )

Personal URL : http://www.cdyera.wordpress.com ( at URL, on the bottom site, linked images are available )

Sunday, February 11, 2018 - 04:09
Anonymous