Media Coverage of theTruth and Reconciliation Commission
Compiled by Carieta Thomas, Conflict Resolution Program Intern, The Carter Center
Table of Contents
Summary of News Stories 4-12
News Articles 13-77
News Article Directory:
‘No plan to run away’, Prince Johnson declares 13
Prince Johnson Makes Amazing Revelations Again – 14
Wants TRC Report Tabled
Dissenting TRC commissioner threatens court action 15
Sherman Debunks Ellen 30-Year TRC Political Ban, 16
Says Report Illegitimate
TRC commissioners get security hotlines 19
TRC Chairman Clarifies – 20
Says There Is No Amnesty Act
Star Radio obtains controversial immunity act 23
Bill to establish war crimes court 24
introduced at Legislature
Liberian Diaspora Group Expresses 25
Support for TRC Report
“Comprehensive” Opposition LP on TRC report 27
Threats of war “unacceptable” Carter Center maintains 28
Heads of warring factions apologize for Liberian crisis 29
Demvol Raises Issues With TRC Findings 30
GSDP Acclaims TRC Report, But... 31
ICGL commends TRC 33
Former TRC commissioner disagrees with final report… 34
sights reason for decision
TRC Witch Hunt? Sheikh Kafumba Says 35
‘List’ Should Have Been Kept For 20 Years
TRC Throws Out Plea For More Copies of Report; 41
Reconsideration Motion Withdrawn
Amid Liberian Calls to Bar Johnson Sirleaf, 44
UN Says Nothing Except TRC Not At Risk
Liberians React to Truth Commission Report 47
700 Chiefs To Attend Tradition Meeting 49
US based group reports threats 50
on lives of TRC Commissioners
Two Weeks Extension for TRC Report: 51
House Sends ‘The List’ To Committee Room
"You Can't Look Back" 54
Civil society groups seek clarity on “Amnesty Act” 59
As TRC’s Final Report Sparks Controversy, 60
US Ambassador Visits Former Warlord Prince Johnson
”President Sirleaf not embarrassed” Badio on TRC report 62
Bar Sirleaf From Office for 30 Years, Truth Team Rules 63
In Liberia, Sirleaf's Past Sullies her Clean Image 64
TRC Lists Individuals For Crimes 67
Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission 68
Retracts Controversial Report
Liberia commission recommends warlord prosecution 69
Ellen, Others Barred from Public Office 71
(TRC Final Report Recommends)
TRC Folds 72
TRC mandate ends… fails to release final report 75
Liberia's Truth Commission to Release 76
Final Report Tuesday
Summary of News Stories
‘No plan to run away’, Prince Johnson Declares (Star Radio 23 July 2009)
Contrary to speculation, Prince Johnson says that his trip to Nigeria is not an attempt to
run away from prosecution. The Nimba County Senator was listed in the TRC report as
one of the most notorious perpetrators. He says his upcoming trip to Nigeria is to seek
medical treatment for hypertension. He dismisses rumors that he is attempting to escape
the TRC as “rubbish”.
Prince Johnson Makes Amazing Revelations Again- Wants TRC Report Tabled
(The Informer 21 July 2009)
Senator Prince Johnson has spoken on the war and TRC again. This time, he made claims
that the U.S. and other super powers provided $10 million to fuel the war. He said that of
the $10 million, five million were used to buy weapons and ammunition. Speaking at a
meeting of the Liberian Council of Churches Johnson claimed the TRC was not earnest in
their endeavors since they excluded many responsible parties. Although Johnson says he
does not seek to start another war, he says he will fight the charges against him.
Dissenting TRC Commissioner Threatens Court Action (Star Radio 17 July 2009)
Cllr. Pearl Brown-Bull is threatening to proceed with court action if she doesn’t receive
her requested copy of the TRC’s final report. She speculates that she hasn’t received it
because she didn’t sign; however James Kpargor (TRC Information Officer) claims she
has already received a copy.
Sherman Debunks Ellen 30-Year TRC Political Ban, Says Report Illegitimate (Front
Page News 17 July 2009)
Varney Sherman, former Presidential Candidate of the Liberian Action Party and critic of
President Sirleaf, has commented on the legitimacy of the TRC’s recommendation to
sanction President Sirleaf. Sherman claims that there is no law supporting the
recommendation and that the TRC lacks the authority to indict people who broke the
criminal laws of Liberia. Although Sherman was a rival and critic of Sirleaf he now says
he has confidence in Sirleaf’s ability and intentions.
TRC Commissioners Get Security Hotlines (Star Radio 16 July 2009)
Following reports that there were threats on the lives of some TRC commissioners, the
Liberian National Police and the UN have provided emergency telephone lines.
Commissioners can call these numbers in the event that their lives are being threatened.
TRC Chairman Clarifies- Says there is no Amnesty Act (The Analyst 16 July 2009)
Chairman of the TRC, Jerome Verdier, says there is no General Amnesty Act. The act
has recently been discussed in the wake of recommendations for prosecution within the
final TRC report. Verdier claims that although many sources have copies of the alleged
act, no one has an original; which is what he sees as real proof. He also spoke of other
investigations into the existence of the act, but claims that none have found the act.
Star Radio Obtains Controversial Immunity Act (Star Radio 15 July 2009)
The controversial immunity act that Prince Johnson has referred to as protection from
prosecution has been obtained by Star Radio. The act entitled, Act to Grant Immunity,
grants immunity for crimes committed during the war from civil and criminal
proceedings to anyone under the jurisdiction of Liberia. The act was hastily passed in
August 2003 allegedly to foster reconciliation between different ethnic groups, cultures,
and religions. According to Sando Johnson, majority leader of the House, says the law is
Bill to Establish War Crimes Court Introduced in the Legislature (Star Radio 15
A bill to establish a war crimes court was introduced to the legislature by Cllr. Dempster
Brown, head of the Center for the Protection of Human Rights. The bill suggests a five
judge court independent of the judicial branch of government and composed entirely of
Liberians. If passed into law the court would be partly funded by the Liberian
Government and international partners.
Liberian Diaspora Group Expresses Support for TRC Report (VOA 15 July 2009)
A Liberia Diaspora group, now placing themselves under the Liberian Human Rights
Campaign, voiced support of the TRC recommendations at a teleconference in the US.
The group will start attempting to drum up support for the report among other civil
society groups outside and within Liberia. They feel that the recommendation to ban
Sirleaf and other high-profile politicians from holding public office should be followed.
However, they also think the recommendation to allow elected officials to finish their
terms should be honored. The group also threw support behind the recommendation to
prosecute perpetrators. The group warned against inflammatory comments that could
incite violence and also claimed that civil society groups should be vigilant as those
threatened by the report are the ones who would have to implement it.
“Comprehensive” Opposition LP on TRC Report (Star Radio 15 July 2009)
The Liberty Party (LP) has issued a statement claiming that the TRC report is a good
compilation of accounts from the war. Israel Akinsanya, Chairman of LP, also called on
President Sirleaf to make comments on the report in order to allay the public and to
provide security for the commissioners. President Sirleaf says she is still looking over the
Threats of War “Unacceptable” Carter Center Maintains (Star Radio 14 July 2009)
Carter Center Program Manager, John Hummel, has issued a statement saying that people
allegedly making threats of violence are in the minority. Hummel claims that Liberians
are tired of war and any threats of the sort are “unacceptable”. Mr. Hummel made
comments after a news conference to explain the findings of the TRC report to Liberians.
Heads of Warring Factions Apologize for Liberians Crisis (Star Radio 14 July 2009)
An apology has been issued by spokesperson Thomas Nimely from former warlords to
Liberians. The warlords apologized for the roles they played in the civil war and
admonished Liberians to work towards peace. Although they previously issued a
statement describing the TRC report as “anti-peace”, they are now celebrating the work
of the TRC. Thomas Nimely was speaking on behalf of warlords from 1989-2003 and
signatories of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
DEMVOL Raises Issues with TRC Findings (The Informer 13 July 2009)
The New Democratic Values of Liberia (DEMVOL) has raised issue the TRC’s findings
due to the conflict within the commission. According to DEMVOL Liberians cannot trust
the commission to resolve issues of fighting when they cannot reconcile their differences.
DEMVOL also found issue with the rushed manner the report was submitted.
GSDP Acclaims TRC Report, but… (The Informer 13 July 2009)
Chairman of the Global Students Development Program, Amos Monweh, has released a
statement applauding the work of the TRC. Speaking on behalf of his organization,
Monweh said that the government should follow the recommendations of the commission
in order to bring justice. However, he felt that there were some individuals left off ‘the
list’. He expressed disappointment at what he termed “complete biasness” on the part of
the commission in leaving some people off the list.
ICGL Commends TRC (Star Radio 13 July 2009)
In a recent release the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) commended the
work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They also claimed that although the
final report is causing huge debate, ICGL sees healthy debate as a healthy part of
reconciliation and peace. They also support the establishment of the Independent
National Human Rights Commission.
Former TRC Commissioner Disagrees with Final Report…Cites (sic) Reasons for
Decision (Star Radio 9 July 2009)
Pearl Brown Bull has released a statement admonishing Liberian citizens as well as the
international world to allow the Legislature time to drudge through the final report. Also,
she says a document explaining her reasons for not signing the final report is
forthcoming. In the meantime, she briefly discussed her major reasons for not signing.
Bull claims that the recommendations are not in accordance with a 2003 legislative act
and the 1986 Constitution. Meanwhile, the Independent Civil and Human Rights Center
has called for an appeal as they find the number of people up for prosecution too high.
TRC Witch-hunt? Sheik Kafumba Says ‘List’ Should have Been Kept for 20 Years
(Front Page News 9 July 2009)
Pearl Brown-Bull and Sheik Konneh have released explanations of why they refused to
sign the final report of the TRC. Pearl Brown-Bull, who has been at the heart of internal
fighting since the opening of the commission, claims that she cannot agree with the
recommendation to create a trial court. Brown-Bull doesn’t agree that prosecution will
lead to reconciliation. Sheik Konneh feels that the recommendations will start up a witch
hunt. Also, he cites the fact that perpetrators were not allowed the opportunity to defend
themselves before being placed on the list as a major reason he couldn’t sign on.
TRC Throws Out Plea For More Copies of Report; Reconsideration Motion
Withdrawn (Front Page News 9 July 2009)
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has reported that they cannot honor the
legislature’s request for more copies of the final report. The commissioners cite the fact
that they have not received funds for operational and administrative purposes. The
request for more copies comes after a decision in the House to send to the report to a
special committee for review. In other news, Representative Snowe’s motion to return the
report because it’s unedited was denied.
Amid Liberian Calls to Bar Johnson Sirleaf, UN Says Nothing Except TRC Not at
Risk (Inner City Press 8 July 2009)
Although there has been major media outpour on the issue of Liberia’s Truth and
Reconciliation Commission’s final report, the United Nations has yet to issue an official
response. Upon approach, Michele Montas (Spokesperson for Security General Ban Ki
Moon) offered nothing other than “It is up to the Liberians, not for the UN to decide.”
Other members offered the same empty answers to the question. The most the UN
admitted to was not answering the call of a US human rights group to protect the
commissioners from threats. Instead, UN representatives claims the commissioners are
not under threat.
Liberians React to Truth Commission Report (VOA News 8 July 2009)
President Sirleaf’s public image has not been excessively tarnished by the inclusion of
name in the final report. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission included Sirleaf on a
list with 50 others for supporting Charles Taylor’s rebel group during the civil war.
According to Gen. Milton Blahyi, his public apology is what put him on the list of those
exempt from prosecution or public sanction. Although President Sirleaf admitted to her
support of Taylor in the beginning and showed remorse for her actions, she didn’t issue
an apology to the nation. However, most Liberians applaud her for her work on the
nation’s reconstruction thus far and fear what would happen if she is banned from public
700 Chiefs to Attend Tradition Meeting (The Inquirer 8 July 2009)
The National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) will convene to open the new
headquarters in Monrovia on July 17th. Leaders from the fifteen counties are asked to
attend and raise the flags of their county as a symbol of the role the NTCL continues to
play in the development of the country. Chairman Zanzan Kawar has also called on the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission to provide a copy of its final report and copies of
the mandate for perusal within three days. He also asked that the former warlords wait
until the NTCL has intervened before making any further comments on the report.
US Based Group Reports Threats on Lives of TRC Commissioners (Star Radio 8 July
US based NGO Liberia Human Rights Campaign reports that several commissioners are
under threat after the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report. As
a result, some of the commissioners have gone into hiding. Liberia Human Rights
Campaign is now calling on the government and UNMIL to provide protection for the
commissioners. The TRC has confirmed these reports adding that the threats are coming
in the form of letter, text messages, and public statements.
Two Weeks Extension for TRC Report: House Sends ‘The List’ to Committee Room
(Front Page News 7 July 2009)
In the House today it was decided to send the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
report to the Committee on Peace and Reconciliation. Committee members are given two
weeks to report back to the body. The motion to send the report to a committee was
introduced by Ketehkurah Murray and seconded by Varney Kamara who also moved to
add members to the committee. The decision on the additional members will be made by
the Speaker of the House. Rep. Edwin Snowe’s motion to not discuss the report since it is
an unedited version was denied.
“You Can’t Look Back” (Foreign Policy 7 July 2009)
Foreign Policy reporter Glenna Gordon sat down for an interview with Senator Prince
Johnson. A former leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, Johnson
has been placed on the list of persons for prosecution in the final report of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC). According to Johnson, there are issues with the
TRC’s concept of reconciliation. He claims that since perpetrators and victims were
never brought face-to-face there was no chance of reconciliation. Johnson referred to the
report as a “joke” and plans to resist any efforts to arrest him with force.
Civil Society Groups Seek Clarity on “Amnesty Act” (Star Radio 7 July 2009)
The Speaker of the National Legislature is being asked to clarify an act passed in 2003
that grants amnesty for crimes committed during the war. The act was passed during
heated fights between the government and LURD. The Foundation for Human Rights and
Democracy, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, and the Liberia Democratic
Institute are the organizations calling the act into question.
As TRC’s Final Report Sparks Controversy, US Ambassador Visits Former
Warlord Prince Johnson (Global News Network 6 July 2009)
Fearing backlash from Prince Johnson, the US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
paid a visit to him. Before the final report was release Johnson made comments on the
course of action he would take if his name was on the list for prosecution. However, now
he claims that fears that he will launch the country back into war are unwarranted.
Thomas-Greenfield reported that while Johnson disagrees with the findings of the TRC,
he will not attempt to destabilize Liberia.
‘Injustice’ Cry: Former Fighters Rant at Liberia’s Truth Commission Final Report
(Front Page News 6 July 2009)
Fighters from the former warring factions and principle signatories of the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement (CPA) have spoken out against the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission’s (TRC) recommendations. Their spokesperson, Thomas Nimely of
MODEL, claims that they find the recommendations “anti-peace” and in disagreement
with the mandate that created the TRC. They also found the TRC commissioners to be
biased and the call to ban President Sirleaf from public office an attempt to overthrow a
*Unable to locate original file
“President Sirleaf not Embarrassed” Badio on TRC Report (Star Radio 6 July 2009)
Presidential Press-Secretary Cyrus Badio has reported that President Sirleaf is currently
reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and will comment later.
On questions of her response to being included on the list of people barred from public
office, Badio claims that the Executive Mansion will not “dignify” calls for her
resignation with an answer. He also reported that Sirleaf is not embarrassed to be
included on the list. The TRC final report remains a recommendation not officially
accepted by the legislature.
Bar Sirleaf from Office for 30 Years, Truth Team Rules (Daily Nation 4 July 2009)
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been included on the list of people recommended for
public sanction by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in their final report.
If supported, the public sanction would mean Sirleaf is banned from holding public office
for 30 years. Sirleaf was included on the list for her admittance to supporting Taylor
during the civil war. President Sirleaf is among 50 listed for public sanctions in the
TRC’s final report. The sanction is not definite however; the TRC’s report is merely a
recommendation and the legislature will make the decision on whether to implement the
In Liberia, Sirleaf’s Past Sullies her Clean Image (Time 3 July 2009)
The highly respected President Sirleaf has suffered a blow to her image with the release
of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. Sirleaf has been
recommended to be banned from public office for 30 years. The reasoning behind the
recommendation could be her testimony during the public hearings. Although Sirleaf
admitted to providing food, supplies, and financial assistance, it can be said that she
didn’t show enough remorse for her past actions. To that end Sirleaf says that if she did
support the warlord Charles Taylor, it was unknowingly and that her attempts were only
to end the Doe regime. Others who the commission saw as disclosing more and showing
more remorse (including Gen. Blayi who admitted to killing 20,000 people) were
recommended for exemption. Inclusion on this list may end Sirleaf’s participation in
politics or at the least tarnish her reputation.
TRC Lists Individuals for Crimes (The Inquirer 2 July 2009)
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has released its final report including
the names of those recommended for prosecution, ban from public office, and exemption.
The list of those recommended for prosecution includes:
Charles G. Taylor former President of Liberia
Senator Prince Y. Johnson INPFL
Professor Alhaji G.V. Kromah ULIMO J &ULIMO-K
George Boley LPC
Thomas Yaya Nimely MODEL
Sekou Damante Konneh LURD
Roosevelt Johnson ULIMO-J
The TRC also recommended the formation of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal. People
already holding public office and recommended to be banned would be allowed to finish
their current term. Chairman Jerom Verdier noted that the released report is unedited and
the complete edited version will be available in September.
Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission Retracts Controversial Report (VOA
News 2 July 2009)
Hours after posting on the website, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has
retracted its final report. The report was controversial due to the inclusion of President
Sirleaf on the list of people banned from holding public office. The report included a list
of 52 people to be banned from holding public office along with 30 people who should be
exempt from prosecution. The report, posted on Wednesday, was retracted on Thursday
morning sans explanation.
Liberia Commission Recommends Warlord Prosecution (The Associated Press 2 July
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report has recommended that Charles
Taylor and seven other warlords be prosecuted for their roles in the civil conflict in
Liberia. The warlords would be prosecuted for crimes including “human rights violations,
violations of international humanitarian law, international human rights laws, war crimes,
egregious domestic economic crimes.” Current Senator Prince Y. Johnson has been
included in the list of those recommended, but claims he will not be punished as a law
granting him amnesty was signed during Taylor’s reign. Ten perpetrators, including
Milton Blayi (a.k.a Gen. Butt Naked), were excluded from the list because of their
cooperation and admissions of guilt and remorse. Three members of the commission
refused to sign the final report.
Ellen, Others Barred from Public Office (TRC Final Report Recommends) (The
Daily Observer 2 July 2009)
The TRC has recommended that 50 people be banned from public office due to their
financing of the civil war. President Sirleaf is included on the list; other prominent
figures included are Isaac Nyenabo and Kabineh Ja’neh.
TRC Folds (New Democrat 1 July 2009)
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia closed on Tuesday June 30th.
Although everyone anxiously awaited the final report of the commission on Tuesday,
they remained behind closed doors. There has not been an official release of the list of
names for prosecution. Instead the report was handed in to the Legislature and the
commission remained quiet of their specific recommendations. The TRC has closed after
three years of work.
TRC Mandate Ends…Fails to Release Final Report (Star Radio 30 June 2009)
Although the mandate for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ends today (June
30th), they have failed to release the final report. Chairman Jerome Verdier was not
forthcoming with information on why the commission failed to release the report.
Speculation cites disagreement over some recommendations as the reason.
Liberia’s Truth Commission to Release Final Report Tuesday (VOA News 30 June
On Tuesday the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission will conclude its work
and submit their final report to the legislature. For three years the commission has been
probing into the causes and occurrences of the Liberian civil war spanning from 1979 to
2003. They have heard testimony from victims and perpetrators of the war; including
testimony from President Sirleaf. Their work will culminate in a list of recommendations
to the government. There has been lots of speculation on the report and it is even said that
President Sirleaf faces being banned from re-election for her admitted involvement with
Taylor’s rebellion. Some call for prosecution of perpetrators through a War Crimes Court
while others fear prosecution would lessen the chances of national reconciliation.
Chairman of the commission refuses to offer much insight into the commission’s
‘No plan to run away’, Prince Johnson declares
Written by Julius Kanubah
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson says he has no plan to escape the Country as is
Senator Johnson told Star Radio it is totally rubbish for some people to link his pending
medical travel to Nigeria is an attempt to flee Liberia.
According to Senator Johnson he has huge investment in Liberia and would not run
The report of Senator Johnson’s alleged plan to escape the country came after he wrote
the Senate requesting a medical trip to Nigeria very soon.
Senator Johnson requested the Senate to excuse him to seek medication attention because
he was suffering from hypertension which makes his blood pressure to rise.
The Nimba County Senator said attempts by some people to link the rise of his blood
pressure to the release of the TRC report was illogical.
Senator Johnson who is highly critical of the TRC report is listed as one of the most
notorious perpetrators of the civil war.
He said the rise in his blood pressure has been a longtime illness.
The Informer (Monrovia)
Liberia: Prince Johnson Makes Amazing Revelations Again - Wants TRC Report Tabled
21 July 2009
The former leader of the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL)
now Senior Senator for Nimba County, Prince Y. Johnson, has again unleashed another
shocking revelations as regards the fifteen years civil war that took place in Liberia
saying that certain super powers including America had provided US$10m. to him
(Johnson) and others to execute the 1990 war.
Senator Johnson told members of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) in their meeting
with former faction leaders over the weekend that the US$10 million was allegedly
negotiated and arranged for by a group of Liberians based in the United States of
America under the banner of the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia
(ACDL) of which he said both Dr. Amos Cladius Sawyer, Cllr. James Verdier, and others
were part in the USA.
According to Senator Johnson, out of the US$10m negotiated for, US$5m was spent to
buy arms and ammunitions to launch the civil war in Liberia with Mr. Charles Taylor as
He told the LCC meeting held at the S. Trowen Nagbe United Methodist Church that, he
is disappointed as to why the TRC had decided to exclude the names of Dr. Sawyer and
his likes such as Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh which according to him it was Dr. Fahnbulleh
and others who allegedly trained people in Libya to come and overthrow the late
President Samuel Doe through the Thomas Quiwonkpa 1985 invasion.
He pointed out that the TRC does not mean well for the restoration of real peace and
reconciliation in Liberia by recommending few people and living out people like Dr.
Amos Sawyer, Fahnbulleh, Cllr. Verdier himself among others.
Senator Johnson said he is no longer interested in any war again, but rather total peace
and forgiveness, he will resist any punitive actions against him as recommended by the
Dissenting TRC commissioner threatens court action
Written by Vivian Gartyn
Friday, 17 July 2009
TRC Commissioner Pearl Brown Bull has threatened court action if she is not given a
copy of the Commission’s final report.
Cllr. Bull, one of the commissioners who did not sign the final report claimed she is yet
to receive a copy.
Cllr. Bull alleged she has been denied a copy because she refused to sign the report.
But TRC’s Information Officer James Kpargor said Cllr. Bull was given a copy of the
report before it was presented to the Legislature and the President.
Sherman Debunks Ellen 30-Year TRC Political Ban, Says Report Illegitimate
07/17/09 - Nat Nyuan-Bayjay, firstname.lastname@example.org (231-6-402-737
“There are some who interfered with the TRC’s recommendation to
ban persons who supported warring factions form holding public office
is intended to incapacitate, or at least impair, President Sirleaf’s
candidacy for 2011…..who believe that their chances are better if she
were not to be a candidate”.
Varney Sherman, Former Presidential Candidate, member LAP-UP-LUP
he former presidential candidate of the absorbed Liberia Action Party (LAP) and one
time strong critic of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has described the public life ban as
contained in the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
on the President as illegal, thereby attributing to political contenders who he said
influenced the report.
Counsellor Varney Sherman who was not in the country during the release of the report
termed the Final report as fatally flawed and lacks any legal or political efficacy.
Counsellor Sherman, in a statement released in Monrovia Friday, defended his former
political rival stating that the TRC has no legal right to ban her from holding public
office for 30 years; neither does it have any authority to indict persons who violated the
criminal laws of Liberia.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, along with several other Liberians has been
recommended by the TRC to be banned from holding any appointive or elective office
in Liberia for 30 years, a situation that has given birth to different opinions in which
some Liberians seriously support and have been calling for the president’s resignation
while others have been saying the TRC is not clothed with such an authority to
Though acknowledging that President Sirleaf gave financial support to the defunct
National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) as it launched its military campaign to
uproot the late President Samuel Doe, Councilor Sherman said “The TRC’s blanket
indictment of supporters of warring factions, as found in Section 11.4 of its Final
Report, and which………violates the language and spirit of Article XIII of the
Comprehensive Peace Accord”.
The admittance of funding the NPFL with US$10,000 by President Sirleaf during her
appearance before the TRC a few months back has since sparked serious criticism
about her direct involvement with the deadly civil war that left over 250,000 precious
Liberian lives destroyed and the infrastructure still struggling to recover from its
collapse experienced during the war.
Moreover, former President Charles Taylor’s ongoing testimony in The Hague in which
he narrated President Sirleaf’s active support to the NPFL coupled with the inclusion of
her name in the TRC’s Final Report under the category of those recommended to be
banned from serving public office for the next 30 years further seems to suggest that the
once-iron lady of Liberia was an active contributor and financier to the war which has a
serious impact on her integrity and image.
However, Sherman who too used to render public lashes on the issue of President
Sirleaf being a “white collar rebel” Thursday somersaulted when he said: “Personally,
my confidence in the integrity, capacity, ability, commitment and performance of
President Sirleaf as President of the Republic of Liberia has not been shaken by the
TRC’s Final Report”.
What Good Is The TRC’s 30-Year Ban?
Cllr. Sherman then defended President Sirleaf’s support to the NPFL could only be
treasonable if giving support to a warring faction during the civil war which succeeded
in the removal of elected government from power. But in the absence of any law which
sanctions support for a warring faction and prescribe forfeiture of and/ or prohibition
from holding public office as a sanction.
“What good is the TRC’s recommendation for a 30-year ban from elective and
appointive offices on supporters of warring faction since by constitutional provision a
person cannot be subjected to a law or punishment that did not exist at the time he
engaged in an activity or conduct?”, he asked.
‘Political Contenders Influenced Report’
Cllr. Sherman finger-pointed to politicians he accused of influencing the final report of
the TRC. Though he did not specify the names of politicians accused of influencing the
report, he believed that it was done to impair President Sirleaf’s candidacy for re-
election in 2011 and at such the report will not be considered.
“There are some who interfered with the TRC’s recommendation to ban persons who
supported warring factions form holding public office is intended to incapacitate, or at
least impair, President Sirleaf’s candidacy for 2011…..who believe that their chances
are better if she were not to be a candidate”, he noted.
TRC commissioners get security hotlines
Written by Vivian Gartyn
Thursday, 16 July 2009
The Liberia National Police and UN Police have made available telephone numbers for
TRC Commissioners to call in case of threats on their lives.
The release of the fifteen telephone numbers followed report of threats on the lives of
some commissioners and calls for government to provide protection.
The reports of threats came after the release of the TRC final report which recommends
prosecution for several warlords.
Liberia: TRC Chairman Clarifies - Says There Is No Amnesty Act
16 July 2009
The Chairman of the Country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has disclosed
for the first time to the nation that there exists no "Amnesty Act" granting general amnesty to
those who directly or indirectly participated in any conflict in Liberia from 1979 to 2003.
Cllr. Jerome Verdier made the disclosure yesterday when he appeared on a local talk show,
and openly threw out a challenge to any Liberian to provide the original copy of the Amnesty
Act, an Act according to him doesn't exist any where in the country.
The TRC Chairman clarification comes from the back ground with in the Public domain
mainly from some prominent politicians including CDC Milton Teahjay and others that in
August of 2003, the 51st Legislature passed an act granting general amnesty to Liberians
who directly or indirectly participated in any conflict in the country.
Teahjah and others have argued and continue to argue that the TRC Commissioners failed
to make a make thorough exploration of the existence of an amnesty act granting to some
Liberians before indicting them in the TRC final report.
According to Cllr. Jerome Verdier before the commission could conclude its final to the
public, several investigations and inquiry were lunched as to the authenticity of the existence
of the act, and found out in honest term there was no such act in existence.
TRC Chairman said during the drafting of the TRC Act in 2005, the process where Civil
Society Organizations were actively involved, an investigations and inquiries were also
lunched by cross sections of those Civil Society groupings and Human Rights institutions of
the existence of the General Amnesty Act passed by the 51st Legislature during the regime
of president Charles Taylor
The TRC Chairman also noted that the commission was surprised to have learned from
some quarters that there exists the General Amnesty Act, something he said beats his
imagination and unbelievable. Cllr. Verdier further said the Commission before releasing its
final Report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was contacted to provide clarity on the existence
of such act, but according to him authority could not provide any concrete information of the
existence of the act.
"What we can see in some quarters is the photocopy of the purported "General Amnesty Act"
but those arguing on the subsistence of the act have failed to produce the origin copy of the
act" the TRC Chairman intoned. This is not the first time that the existence of the General
Amnesty Act has been challenged and come under spot light from some quarters within the
Human Rights Institutions including the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, the Liberia
Democratic Institute and the Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy last week wrote
the National Legislature seeking clarification on the existence of the General Amnesty Act
The Rights Groups are questioning the passage of the Act by the 51st Legislature in august
of 2003, the period in which they said Liberia was then considered as a failed state,
characterized by war
According to the Rights Institutions, during that period the Charles Taylor has collapsed,
width the three branches of government could not function due to LURD attack on Monrovia,
and they wondered where was the Representatives and Senators sitting to pass such an act.
TRC "Unedited Report" Sparks Debate - Civil Society Group Writes Senate
A Civil Society organization under the banner "the Coalition for Peace and Tranquility" in
Monrovia has written the leadership of the Liberian Senate to refuse to deliberate on the
"Unedited Final Report" of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission submitted to the
legislature for legislative consideration.
In a communication to the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, the Coalition called
on the Liberian Senate to reject the "Unedited Final Report" of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission in keeping with Article X which focuses on "Reporting and Recommendation"
with specific reference to Section 43 of the May 12, 2005 legislative enactment by the
National Transitional Legislative Assembly creating the TRC.
The Civil Society Group stressed that Article X of the TRC says unambiguously that " The
TRC Shall submit a final report containing recommendations at the end of its tenure to the
National Legislature and have key findings of the report published simultaneous with its
presentation in at least three local dailies in pursuit of transparency and public interest
The communication to Pro Temp Cletus Wotorson said their call comes not only against the
substantial segments of the recommendations of the "Unedited Final Report" of the TRC, but
in sharp confrontation and inconsistency with the Article 97 of the 1986 Liberia Constitution
and the August 8, 2003 Act granting immunity from prosecution of all those actors in the
Liberian civil war from 1989-2003 , which has the proclivity to throw the entire country into
chaos and instability undermining its fragile peace.
They informed the Liberian Senate in the communication that the TRC should have rather
presented a final report and not a modified draft termed "Unedited Final Report "as required
in the Act creating the Commission, and that failure on the part of the commission to submit
unedited report to the National legislature was a complete violation of the TRC Act.
"While we do not want to comment on the selectivity and biases associated with the TRC's
work as well as its "Unedited Final Report" which unfortunately creates confidence crisis and
credibility problem because it is sill yet a draft, we fell that deliberation on the draft report
would run diametrical to the TRC Act itself", the communication read in part.
The Civil Society organization further indicated that the fact that editorial work on any
document is the inclusion arguing that the unedited final report of the TRC, which in actuality
is a draft was taken into serious consideration.
They said the injection of necessarily omitted parts in the draft and the ejections of the
unnecessarily included parts from the draft of the document in finalizing the document
concretize the logic behind the humble appeal.
"It would be an obvious wastage of your preciously valuable time discussion a draft when
statutorily you ought to deliberate on the final report" the Group also noted.
"As we might not have this chance in the future, we think that there are clear signs on the
walls that when this "Unedited Final report" is finalized as is and recommendations endorsed
by the 52nd Legislature, it would basically serve as a tool of chaos and instability and taking
our country back to the ugly past" the letter said.
The Civil Society Organization told the Liberian Senate needs to act now in arresting the
situation which could go out of hand if senate don't appropriate act to avert the danger that
Speaking further on the TRC recommendation, the Group also informed the Liberian Senate,
the fact that TRC in Section 20.8 under the caption "Additional Recommendations:
Regarding Commissioners of the TRC, they said the Commissioners be accorded personal
security and family for a period of 30 years and Commissioners continue to carry, bear and
retain their diplomatic passport and status for life time.
"Take TRC Report To The People" - Nimba Lawmaker
As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations continue to heat up debates
and condemnations in some quarters across the country, a Representative of Nimba County
wants the National Legislature to take the report to the people.
Representative Francis Karnnway told the Analyst at his Capitol Building Office that the best
way to handle and address the TRC Recommendations to get the total involvement of the
Liberian people on the matter
The Nimba County Lawmaker said the issue of the TRC does not only rest on the decision of
the National Legislature alone, and that every Liberian regardless of their back ground
should have a say on the matter because any negative approach would spark another round
of conflict in the country
Speaking further, Rep. Karnway indicated that it is important that Lawmakers go to their
various districts, hold consultation, and get the views of their constituents to find the way
forward something he said would enhance the country young democracy and strengthen
peace and security
The District #1 Lawmaker also appealed to those condemning the TRC Recommendations to
desist from such acts and term as malicious those who are allegedly threatening some
commissioners of the TRC
Few weeks ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released what it called "Unedited
Report" to the National Legislature recommending punishable measurements against some
Liberians including Presidents Sirleaf and key government officials' ban from holding public
offices for the period of thirty years
Star Radio obtains controversial immunity act
Written by Julius Kanubah
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Star Radio has obtained the controversial act passed by the 51st Legislature during the
demise of the regime of former President Charles Taylor.
It is titled an Act to grant immunity from both civil and criminal proceedings against all
persons with in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Liberia from acts and crimes
committed during the civil war from December 1989 to August 2003.
The controversial Act was approved on August 7 2003 and published by the authority of
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 8 2003.
The Act which has a blue cover contains four pages and details the reason for the
granting of amnesty from civil and criminal proceedings for the war period.
According to the Act the reason for the amnesty was to ensure total reconciliation
amongst Liberians of all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.
The former Majority leader of the House of Representatives Sando Johnson provided the
copy of the Act and said it remains enforceable.
Mr. Johnson confirmed that the Act was hastily passed by the 51st Legislature but said it
was done to protect all Liberians.
The former Bomi County lawmaker said the Act was sent to the Legislature by the
Executive, then headed by President Charles Taylor.
Bill to establish war crimes court introduced at Legislature
Written by Matthias Daffah
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
A bill seeking the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia has been introduced at
The bill was introduced Wednesday by the Center for the Protection of Human Rights
headed by Cllr. Dempster Brown.
According to Cllr. Brown the Special Court for Liberia will have five judges and will be
independent of the judicial branch of Government.
The instrument further indicates that all judges on the proposed Special court shall be
Liberians incuding the Chief Prosecutor.
When passed into law fifteen percent of the budget of the Special court shall be provided
by Government while the rest will come from international partners.
The bill will seek to prosecute people indicted for war crimes and crimes against
It will target financiers of the war and those who may have arrange for training.
Liberian Diaspora Group Expresses Support for TRC
By James Butty
15 July 2009
A Liberian Diaspora group is calling for the full implementation of the final report
and recommendations of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
In a teleconference held in the United States, the group, Liberia Human Rights
Campaign said it plans to work with other civil society organizations in and
outside Liberia to drum up support for the TRC report.
The Truth Commission was established in 2003 to
identify the root causes of the Liberian conflict
from 1979 to 2003 and determine those
responsible for 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 during the country’s 14-
year civil war.
It also recommends that President Ellen Johnson
Liberian boy passes in front of a
Sirleaf and 51 others be banned from holding
sign illustrating the reasons future political offices for allegedly financing and
behind the creation of a Truth giving political support to warring factions.
and Reconciliation Commission
Patrick Tuon, moderator of the teleconference,
reminded the participants about the seriousness and implications of the final TRC
“We should indeed be reminded that those who are responsible to implement
this report are the same people the report is targeting. So there will be a high
degree of reluctance on their part…this can happen if we, members of the civil
society remain silence,” Tuon said.
Most participants like Ben Davis of Colombia, Maryland agreed with the TRC
recommendation to ban President Sirleaf and others from holding future political
But Davis said the president and all elected officials recommended to be banned
should be allowed to serve out their current terms.
“I believe that those people who have been elected, they should serve their
terms because it would quite undemocratic for people to remove them. But those
who were appointed should vacate their posts immediately,” he said.
Edith Kpor of Philadelphia sounded what seems to be the fear of some about
implementing the truth commission’s report.
“In order for us to even have this discussion we should have a better plan of
intervention because those people are criminals already. If we start anything
they will try to bring another problem in the country, and our poor people that
have no way, that are stuck in Liberia will be again in the hands of those
people,” Kpor said.
In the end, the group agreed to form themselves under the umbrella of the
Liberia Human Rights Campaign. They said they would hold mass rallies and
launch a letter writing campaign to generate public support for the TRC report.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s office said the president had no comment yet as
she was still studying the 370-page report.
But some warring factions, including Lewis Brown, former foreign minister in
government said the report was biased and
“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,” Brown
In another development, the International Contact
Group on Liberia has called on Liberians to be Former Liberian President
responsible in their comments on the report. Charles Taylor sits in courtroom
prior to hearing of witnesses in
In a statement, the group appealed to Liberians to trial in The Hague, 08 Jan 2008
desist from making inflammatory statements that might incite violence.
Meanwhile, the Liberian Senate is expected to begin reviewing the final TRC
report this Thursday.
“Comprehensive” Opposition LP on TRC report
Written by Vivian Gartyn
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
The opposition Liberty Party says the TRC final report represents the most
comprehensive attempt at compiling accounts and events of Liberia’s 14 years war.
The Party noted, accounts of the civil conflict were given through statements across the
Country and the Diaspora.
Liberty Party’s National Chairman Israel Akinsanya told reporters, the party is working
with its members in the Legislature to determine the best way forward.
At the same time, Mr. Akinsanya wants President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to exercise the
leadership required to reconcile Liberia amidst debate over the TRC report.
He believes the significance of the report makes it imperative for the President to be the
first to give an official and public reaction.
The Party also called on the President to provide security for every member of the TRC,
ensuring their protection.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has since said, she would read the three hundred forty
five page TRC report in its entirety before commenting.
Threats of war “unacceptable” Carter Center maintains
Written by Bruce Boweh
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
The Carter Center has described as unacceptable any threat to send Liberia back to war.
The program Manager of the Carter Center said Liberians are tired of fighting and would
no longer support acts of war.
John Hummel told Star Radio Tuesday people allegedly making such threats are in the
Mr. Hummel’s statement was in reaction to utterances that Liberia could slip back to war
if the TRC recommendations were implemented to the letter.
The Carter Center Program Manager said the best place to fight the TRC report is at the
He clarified that only a court can find anyone accused by the TRC report guilty.
Mr. Hummel spoke to Star Radio after a news conference arranged to explain in simple
terms the TRC report for the understanding of the Liberian people.
Heads of warring factions apologize for Liberian crisis
Written by Matthias Daffah
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Heads of former warring factions in the country have offered open apology to the
Liberian people for their role in the civil conflict.
In a statement issued and signed by the Spokesman of the group Thomas Nimely Yaya
the former warlords said they regret the lost of lives and properties as a result of the
The former warlords vowed they would never repeat the vices that led to the conflict and
asked all Liberians to remain in the path of peace.
The former warlords clarified their roles in the conflict were to bring about peace and
stability which eluded the country for many years.
They commended the TRC for its report, saying the process was a call to duty.
The warlords had earlier rejected the TRC final report claiming an act of the 51st
Legislature granted them immunity from prosecution.
The Signatories who issued the apology include all warlords dating back from 1989 to
The Informer (Monrovia)
Liberia: Demvol Raises Issues With TRC Findings
13 July 2009
The New Democratic Values of Liberia (DEMVOL), a pro-democracy group operating in the
country since 1995, has raised issues with the findings of the TRC, especially in line with the
haste in presenting the report, in the wake of strange and heightened disagreements
amongst members of the commission.
"We are not interested in who was found culpable or not. We are rather concerned that there
could be such a high and frustrating level of disagreement, which suggests serious conflicts
within the ranks of the commission," Charles K. Williams, Policy Adviser of the group argues.
The group notes that the results of the TRC should be a model for the long term resolution of
the conflict that consumed Liberia for the better part of the last half century, and if there are
fundamental conflicts emerging from this effort, the Liberian people will be deemed to have
lost out in multiple ways including the fact that their revenue have been poorly spent, their
future is doomed, and a failure of leadership.
DEMVOL in a press release dated July 12, 2009 notes that while it acknowledges the right of
individual commissioners to disagree from issue to issue, it also believes that leadership in
this matter could have been shown by reaching consensus on a number of issues, and
making determinations as to how these can be further resolved.
"How do we trust you to reconcile a country of more than three million, when you cannot
resolve misunderstanding within the ranks of less than ten persons," Williams queried. He
added that the circumstances occasioning the reports now bring further questions into the
analysis and logical conclusions informing the report, which the Liberian people should be
compelled to live by.
With a situation like this, the simple endorsement which the Legislature should have given
the report now opens into new theaters of debate, which could add new lines of
confrontation, given that some of the subjects of the TRC investigations are sitting member
of the legislature, with enormous lobbying powers.
DEMVOL is meanwhile calling on the Legislature to show the greatest level of scrutiny to the
TRC, and if necessary send the TRC to dutifully conclude its review, closing up loose
threads in a more respectable manner, which should necessarily assist in building peace and
reconciliation in Liberia, the release noted.
The Informer (Monrovia)
Liberia: GSDP Acclaims TRC Report, But...
13 July 2009
Barely hours following the release of the final report and recommendations by the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC), several alleged perpetrators, financiers and warlords
ganged up in their hundreds in protest of the report and recommendations, terming it as a
But a head of a pro-democracy group, Mr. Amos Monweh, Chairman of Global Students
Development Program (GSDP) has strongly commended the TRC's final report and
recommendations submitted to the government early last week for perusal.
He said the approval of the recommendations would help to bring to justice all those who
committed heinous crimes against humanity during the 15 years civil war in the country.
Mr. Monweh made the statement recently when he spoke to the press on behalf of his
organization on the TRC's recommendations.
He said actions taken from this report will serve as a deterrent to others who may want to
engage in such unwarranted practices.
Chairman Monweh mentioned that it is only regrettable to note that the TRC failed to include
some key players in the listing names of those who should be punished for their alleged
The Global Students Development Program Chairman said that those who killed, raped and
others who bastardized the economy should not go with impunity.
He appealed to the members of the National Legislature to immediately act on the
recommendations of the TRC for the interest of the state.
Mr. Monweh said that it is unfortunate that TRC deliberately refused to point out those who
sponsored the war and its planners because of reasons best known to themselves.
The students' activist recounted that during the TRC hearings in Monrovia and other parts of
the country, some commissioners were accused for their participation in the war, but their
names were left out during the listing, which he described as complete biasness.
According to him, some people who do not appear before the TRC are listed for prosecution,
which he said have the propensity to create confusion in the society.
Mr. Monweh who is also the National Coordinator for Students Affairs of the Accountability
Now Club (ANC) said that the organization was established by the Special Court for Sierra
He said that the Accountability Now Club has established chapters in six universities
including the University of Liberia, Cuttington University, Stella Marist, United Methodist
University, AMEU and AMEZU.
The ANC was established by the Special Court for Sierra Leone to enable students' carryout
awareness for the promotion of peace, justice and accountability.
ICGL commends TRC
Written by Emmanuel Broh
Monday, 13 July 2009
The International Contact Group on Liberia has commended the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission for its just-ended work.
In a release, members of ICGL said they recognize that the TRC report is stimulating
intense and interested debate healthy for reconciliation and peace.
The ICGL members urged Liberians to be responsible in their comments on the report
and desist from making statements that might incite violence.
The group condemned the threats against TRC Commissioners saying they simply
performed the responsibilities they were charged with by the TRC Act.
The ICGL members said it was now up to the Liberian people to decide how to
implement the recommendations of the TRC in accordance with Liberian law.
They encouraged the establishment of the Independent National Human Rights
Commission to follow up on the recommendations of the TRC.
The ICGL release said the group supports all efforts by Liberians to continue peaceful
transition to fulfill the quests of democracy and reconciliation.
Former TRC commissioner disagrees with final report…sights reason for decision
Written by Vivian Gartyn
Thursday, 09 July 2009
Former TRC Commissioner Pearl Brown Bull has called on Liberians and the
international community to give the Legislature time to investigate the Commission’s
final report. Commissioner Bull who did not sign the report says she is compiling
documents outlining her refusal to sign the controversial TRC report. Cllr. Bull’s
compiled document may help in the conduct of the Legislature’s investigation.She
believes the determination and recommendation sections of the TRC report were
selective when it comes to names.
Cllr. Bull also holds the view that the recommendations for prosecution run contrary to a
2003 act of the Legislature as well as the 1986 constitution.
According to Cllr. Bull the 2003 act grants amnesty to people who fought war and
committed crimes from 1989 to 2003.
The TRC Commissioner spoke of the 1986 constitution which grants amnesty to PRC
On the contravention of international human rights law, Cllr. Bull said even America,
France and Persia granted amnesty to warlords some time in history.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Bull says she has not received any threat on her life and is moving on
conducting Peace building and political consultancy.
At the sametime, the Independent Civil and Human Rights Center has appealed for claim
amidst growing tensions over the TRC final report.
According to the Executive Director of the group accused individuals need not panic
because TRC is not a court.
Mr. Page classified the report as opinions and mere recommendations that could be
rejected or accepted.
The human rights advocate believes the names put forth by the TRC are too many to be
Mr. Page noted the TRC should have recommended prosecution for key players who
participate in the Liberian civil crisis rather than a bunch of individuals.
He identified Key players as the financiers and architects of the war that destabilized the
TRC Witch Hunt? Sheikh Kafumba Says ‘List’ Should Have Been
Kept For 20 Years
07/09/09 - Nat Nyuan Bayjay, email@example.com ( 231-6-402-737/231-77-402-737
PURPORTED REPORT: Sheikh
Kafumba Konneh who refers to the
TRC’s Final Report as a “purported
report”, further explained that it
imposes a blanket charge in order
to plant a seed of witch-hunting for
collective guilt and accused
Chairman Jerome Verdier and other
commissioners he referred to as
“blind loyalists” of the Chairman of
side-brushing the entire essence of
the TRC Act and its mother source, Monrovia -
the Comprehensive Peace Accord
(CPA) signed in the Ghanaian
capital of Accra.
ne of the two dissenting commissioners of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission
(TRC) Commissioner Sheikh Kafumba Konneh says the list of recommendations for the
prosecution of alleged perpetrators should have been kept for at least 20 years in accordance
with the Act that established the TRC rather than releasing a report that is not reflective of
national reconciliation but chaos-prone.
According to Commissioner Konneh, Article X of the Commission was specifically designed for
the sole purpose of the commissioners and all staffs of the Commission keeping sensitive
issues he described as confidential, thereby leading to his refusal to be a signatory to the
Commission’s Final Report.
Article X, Section 47 of the Act of the TRC states: “The archives of the TRC shall remain in the
public domain except those records or documents classified by the TRC as ‘confidential’ which
shall remain classified for 20 years following the retirement of the TRC . This restriction extends
to commissioners staff and persons privy to such confidential and closed information by virtue
of employment, assignment or their involvement with the TRC or otherwise.
Commissioner Pearl Brown-Bull who from the onset of the Commission’s establishment has
been at the core of the TRC’s vivid internal wrangling and continual conflict was the first to have
registered her complete dissent on the Final Report which she said she is not a signatory to
because according to her, “I cannot concur with my fellow Commissioners that prosecution in
a court of competent jurisdiction and other forms of public sanction will foster genuine
reconciliation, combat impunity to promote justice, peace and security”.
The TRC, in fulfillment of its mandate submitted to the National Legislature on June 30, 2009
(officially received by the House of Representatives July 2, 2009 according to Speaker Alex
Tyler) its final report in which it recommended prosecution for eight alleged perpetrators for
gross human rights violations and war crimes, labeled 98 alleged perpetrators as most
notorious, 21 alleged perpetrators and 19 other corporations, institutions and state actors are
said to be responsible for committing economic crimes, and 54 alleged perpetrators
recommended for further investigation while at the same time recommending that 36 alleged
perpetrators should not be prosecuted for what the Commission termed as cooperating with the
process and admitting to the crimes by speaking “truthfully” before the Commission.
Sheikh Kafumba Konneh who refers to the TRC’s Final Report as a “purported report”, further
explained that it imposes a blanket charge in order to plant a seed of witch-hunting for collective
guilt and accused Chairman Jerome Verdier and other commissioners he referred to as “blind
loyalists” of the Chairman of side-brushing the entire essence of the TRC Act and its mother
source, the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed in the Ghanaian capital of Accra.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica, Commissioner Konneh said the TRC’s Final Report was
characterized by pre-conceived notions held by Chairman Verdier and other commissioners
throughout the process.
“To convict somebody cannot come from pre-conceived notions or pre-conceived judgments. If
a judge has a pre-conceived notion or a pre-conceived judgment, that judge must recuse
himself from the process”, he said.
No Chance For Cross-Examination
Commissioner Sheikh Konneh, among several outlined ‘violations’ of the TRC Act said the
issue of cross-examination as provided for in the TRC Act was completely ignored, thereby
denying all accused perpetrators the opportunities of explaining their sides of their respective
“No single accused person was given the opportunity for cross-examination; mere allegations.
This is under Rules and Procedures of the TRC Act, Section 6.8 and I quote: ‘Every person
artificial or natural, who is named of wrongdoing, at a public hearing, shall be afforded adequate
opportunity to respond in a comprehensible and respectable manner within a reasonable time
to be fixed by the Commission.’ Section 6.9 under the same Rules and Procedures states:
‘Where an accused person responds to allegations, sufficient opportunity shall be afforded him
or her to be present in person and to ask questions of the accuser or witness where and when
the Commission deems appropriate’”, as he tried proving the point of why he thinks the report
was not reflective the TRC Act.
Several alleged perpetrators listed by the Commission’s Final Report continue to claim that they
were never invited by the TRC to explain their side of whatever allegations levied against them
by victims while some say a forum to engage their victims face-to-face was never implemented
by the Commission as provided by the Act that established the Commission.
Deputy Minister of Finance for Administration Tarnue Mawolo, Senior Senator of Rivercess
County Johanthan Banney among others have since raised serious qualms against the Truth
Commission for its refusal to afford them opportunity of giving their own testimonies during the
public hearings but rather chose to have them enlisted.
Will Not Form Part of Haphazard Report: Commissioner Coleman
It is also reported in Commissioner Konneh’s dissent that Commissioner Gerard Coleman, one
of the eight commissioners who was always in the ‘Verdier Camp’ as the TRC persistently
experienced continual division among its commissioners, appealed to his colleagues in a June
17th letter in which he suggested that the TRC request for an application of additional ninety
days extension from the Legislature and the President to enable them come out with a full
Commissioner Coleman’s letter of request for additional 90 days for the better preparation of a
comprehensive report, according to Commissioner Konneh’s dissent said: “Personally, I prefer
not being part of such a haphazard report writing process and thus will submit a draft document
of core FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS to the report writing committee as my
professional responsibility but will refrain from signing the Final Report. I leave the decision of
the Commission to the majority of my fellow Commissioners”.
Attempts to get Commissioner Coleman by FPA for his acknowledgement of the above
statement as contained in Commissioner Konneh’s dissent proved frutile.
In a 36-page document of dissent, Commissioner Sheikh Konneh, among other vital issues
outlined what may be termed as the Commission’s refusal to provide the actual outcome of the
County Consultative Meeting in which over 50 per cent of the statements preferred
reconciliation and forgiveness as opposed to prosecution which he said was the Commission’s
deliberate ignoring of the articles of the its own Act that got blessings from the 1986 revised
Commissioner Sheikh Konneh also named the
Commission’s decision to grant amnesty to
alleged perpetrators he termed as notorious as
well as other dubious other internal happenings
within the Commission as some of the reasons
for his dissenting view to the final report.
He said: “The purported report audaciously
imposes blanket charges in order to plant a seed
of witch hunting for collective guilt. For example, it
surreptitiously determines that ‘All warring
factions are responsible for the commission of
gross human rights violations in Liberia, including
war crimes, crimes against humanity, IHRL, IHL,
ICL, domestic criminal laws’. It goes further to
Like Sheikh Kafumba Konneh, Commissioner Pearl Brown Bull
also did not sign the final document of the Truth and state that ‘All factions to the conflict
Reconciliation Commission. systematically targeted women, mainly as a result
of their gender, and committed sexual and gender
based violations against them, including rape of all forms, sexual slavery, forced marriage,
forced recruitment, etc”.
Sheikh Konneh also placed in his dissent why he termed the TRC’s Final Report as purported
the complete ignoring of the recommendations from Liberians spread across the nation which
shows a complete dominance of an overwhelming call for reconciliation as recommended by
over 50 per cent of their recommendations as another major reason for not signing the report.
“Table 13: Percentage of Statement-Givers’ Recommendation about Reconciliation in Liberia,
by County, out-lines as indicated below:
COUNTY FORGIVE AND FORGET: RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE
Bomi 58.5% 1.8%
Bong 53.8“ 2.1“
Gbarpolu 58.5“ 1.0“
Grand Bassa 62.0“ 2.0“
Grand Cape Mount 36.0“ 3.8“
Grand Gedeh 44.6“ 3.0“
Grand Kru 55.2“ 2.9“
Lofa 53.2 “ 3.2“
Margibi 52.0“ 1.8“
Maryland 59.6“ 2.0“
Montserrado 60.5 “ 2.7“
Nimba 47.4 “ 3.4“
River Gee 46.2 “ 5.6“
Rivercess 39.9 “ 1.3“
Sinoe 61.1 “ 2.0“ etc. etc.
The Call For Prosecution: Whose Recommendation-Liberians or TRC?
Based on the above, Commissioner Konneh said: “These percentages, if gained in a
presidential election, can automatically usher in such person as president of our Nation.
Interestingly, these statistics come from an institution that got no fish to fry in Liberia’s mosaic
that is saturated with mutual prejudice, hatred and recrimination. It is also worth stating that
about ninety five or more percent of the statement givers constitute the main and actual victims
of our civil conflict. They have every right to share their views, concerns and aspirations in
determining the process befitting the way forward”.
Now the question lingering on the minds of thousands of Liberians is whether the
recommendation for prosecution came from the recommendations advanced by Liberians
during the TRC’s County Consultative Meetings held nationwide and the Commission’s just
ended National Reconciliation Conference or from the Commission itself in its bid to execute
Article X (Reporting and Recommendations) which states: “The TRC shall submit a final report
containing recommendations at the end of its tenure to the National Legislature”.
But Commissioner Konneh thinks that the Final Report of the TRC differed with the
recommendations from its just ended National Reconciliation Conference in which participants
including traditional leaders called for general amnesty.
“Also, the differing of the traditional leaders from the call of war crime court by some
participants of the just ended so-called National Reconciliation Conference best attest to the
truthfulness and veracity of the foregoing assertions or quotations”, he asserted.
‘Notorious People Given Amnesty’
In his points of contention, Commissioner Konneh thinks that the TRC’s sole objective of
reconciling both the victims and perpetrators which he considers to be the most fascinating
aspect of the TRC’s goal is never achieved by its recommendations for which he decided to not
be a signatory to.
“It then goes on to indicate that the end objective of this process is to facilitate genuine healing
and reconciliation . . . which gives hope that both the victims and perpetrators shall be given the
opportunity ‘to share their experiences, in order to get a clear picture of the past”, as he made
reference to the TRC Act Article lV, Section 4, Paragraph B.
But the Commissioner’s frustration was expressed in what he rather asserted as amnesty that
is being given to alleged perpetrators he describes as notorious people.
“Despite the clarity of the Commission’s jurisdictional limitation in matters of violations of
international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity in conformity with international laws
and standards, and conditional clause of application, its so-called determination process grants
exoneration and amnesty to some of the notorious generals and battle front commanders. Even
though no application was made and their actions were in contravention of the international
humanitarian law and crimes against humanity, they have become beneficiaries of amnesty
simply because they were perceived as friends and collaborators. They were subsequently
recruited and contracted to fabricate stories, which were never confronted as required by the
Liberian Constitution and could as well be simply lies against personalities, citizens and even
foreigners”, he said.
According to the Final Report of the TRC, 36 persons “spoke truthfully” and cooperated with the
TRC’s process in which they admitted to the crimes they committed during the country’s brutal
civil strife that lasted for over 13 years and left pretty close to 300,000 Liberians’ lives destroyed
and hundreds of thousands more displaced both externally and internally.
”Notable among those who are to benefit from such nefarious actions, include but not limited to
Philip Wlue, Mohammed I. Sheriff, Joshua Milton Blayir (former General Butt Naked)” because
they carried out “the pretended cause of cooperating with the TRC process”, he said as he
listed alleged perpetrators who he is of the strongest conviction do not deserve being granted
amnesty for their played roles in the civil strife; though the TRC said they expressed remorse
for their prior actions during the war.
However, it can be recalled Ofori Diah and Tarty Teh, both of whom are former rebels, on
separate occasions, alleged that TRC Commissioner Kafumba Konneh was a member of the
disbanded armed warring faction, United Liberation Movement for Democracy in
Liberia(ULIMO)—an allegation that at the time led the TRC to inviting them (and other persons
who had similar knowledge of Commissioner Konneh’s participation in the civil war) to provide
proof of their claims against Commissioner Konneh which it said would be conducted under the
guidance of the Commission's Special Magistrate.
Ofori Diah at the TRC’s public hearings on 'the contemporary history of the conflict' on
December 8, 2008 at the Centennial Pavilion testified that Sheikh Kafumba Konneh allegedly
recruited him to the ULIMO warring faction after Tarty Teh had written in the same 2008 a
letter to the TRC making similar claims that Commissioner Konneh was a member of the
defunct ULIMO warring faction of Alhaji G V Kromah but Commissioner Shiekh Konneh, on
many occasions, did not only refute the accusations but publicly challenged his accusers to
make available to the Liberian people and the international community the necessary evidence
to substantiate their claims.
It can also be recalled that Sheikh Kafumba Konneh was not the only TRC commissioner who
was accused during the public hearings. Lewis Brown, a former official of Charles Taylor's
erstwhile National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) accused TRC Commissioner John Stewart
of links to Black Berrets, a military group established during the era of the Interim Government
of National Unity (IGNU) and questioned his neutrality on the work of the Commission.
Also, Prince Y. Johnson, former leader of the disbanded Independent National Patriotic Front of
Liberia (INPFL), now Nimba County Senior Senator, accused TRC Chairman Jerome Verdier of
involvement in the University of Liberia student demonstration in the 1990s at which time, he
(Verdier), according to Johnson, was among those calling on President Samuel Kanyon Doe to
step down from the Liberian presidency.
‘No Full Disclosure’
But the Truth Commission insists that the 36 persons deserved the amnesty and the 98 other
individuals and 19 institutions took the process for granted by not making any full disclosure of
the truth during their appearances before the Truth Commission.
James Kpargoi, the media officer of the TRC earlier told FPA: “It became a prevalent pattern
during the TRC’s truth telling process that major actors and players in the Liberian civil conflict
decided not to make any full disclosure before the TRC.”
In further support of his statement, Kpargoi had said: “The issue of reconciliation is a victim-
perpetrator driven exercise in which alleged perpetrators should make full disclosure before a
victim which can easily lead to reconciliation. But in our own case, most of these perpetrators
did nothing of such in which they reframed from saying the fact to the Commission. And so the
Commissioners had to recommend for their prosecution. Moreover, this was in accordance with
the Commission’s own enquiry processes because an act of the legislation grants the
Commission the power to recommend prosecutions for them”, argued Kpargoi.
TRC Throws Out Plea For More Copies of Report;
Reconsideration Motion Withdrawn
07/09/09 - By: Nat Nyuan-Bayjay,firstname.lastname@example.org (231-6-402737/231-77-402737)
MOTION DIES IN HOUSE: Moses Tandanpolie, Sr of Montserrado
he Truth and Reconciliation
County (Congress for Democratic Change, Electoral District 9 was
Commission (TRC) of Liberia has
among several lawmakers who filed a motion for reconsideration
expressed its inability to supply
Thursday, calling for the TRC Final Unedited Report to be sent
back to the commission. The motion was earlier put on the floor
additional copies of its released final
for debate by Representative Edwin Juah of Bong County (New
Deal Movement). unedited report to all 64 members of
the House of Representatives. The
TRC says because of the huge material cost involved and the government’s refusal to provide
the Commission subvention for the last quarter of the just ended Fiscal Year 2008/2009 it was
unable to obliged as additional copies to be served each of its members was passed after being
put into vote.
Attorney James Kaba, Chief Clark of the 52nd Honorable House of Representatives had earlier
written the Truth Commission, requesting for additional copies of the TRC’s Final Unedited
Report that would be circulated to all the 64 members as mandated by the august body
following an extensive deliberation on the report sent to the Lower House by the
representatives on Wednesday, July 7, 2009.
But in a replied letter dated July 8, 2009 and received by the Office of the Executive Secretary
of the House of Representatives July 9, 2009, the Executive Secretary of the TRC wrote:
“While we view this request as crucial to your work, we, however, regret to inform you of our
inability at this time to meet said request because of the attendant huge material cost.”
Executive Secretary Nathaniel Kwabo then explained the underlying factor that renders the
Commission unable to honor the lawmakers’ request. “As you may be aware, the TRC has not
received in the last three months (April, May and June 2009) subventions from Government to
cover both operational and administrative costs. This, rather, unfortunately makes it difficult for
us to provide said copies at this time”.
The TRC in an earlier letter that accompanied the submission of its Final Report to the National
Legislature mentioned that the report and subsequent recommendations were compiled in the
midst of heavy financial constraints as it made reference to not receiving its portion of the last
quarter of the last budget that ran from April to June of 2009.
Kwabo, however promised to meet the House’s demand but conditionally as stated in the below
portion of the letter: “Please note, however, that we will immediately honor your request when
our financial situation improves”.
Immediately following the reading of the TRC’s letter during Thursday’s regular session by the
Chief Clerk, members of the House of Representatives after a vote of 26 in favor, four against
and three abstained agreed for the letter to be received and noted in which the Finance
Committee of the Lower House was mandated to make supplementary copies for all members
of the body. This follows a motion made by Grand Bassa County Representative Baron Brown
(Liberty Party-Electoral District 3).
Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County (independent candidate) whose name has been
enlisted as ‘notorious war criminal’ and recommended for prosecution spoke out against the
TRC’s projected US$600,000 during the Senate’s Extra Session Wednesday.
But the Upper House’s Chairman on Way, Means and Finance Senator Sumo Kope of Lofa
County however explained that said money was transferred from last fiscal year as unspent
revenue and therefore needed to go back to the TRC to cater to other responsibilities such as
paying its staff and establishment of its Secretariat for the next three months.
‘T' In TRC Is Temptation’
Meanwhile, a motion of reconsideration calling for the TRC Final Unedited Report to be sent
back to the TRC that was earlier put forth on the floor for debate by Representative Edwin Juah
of Bong County (New Deal Movement, Electoral District 6) was earlier withdrew.
The motion which was extensively
deliberated upon with debates coming
from various lawmakers saw
Representative Edwin Snowe of
Montserrado County (Independent,
Electoral District 5) immediately making
a second for the issue to be voted upon
which was accompanied with some
amendments from Representatives
Dickson Yarsiah of Gbarpolu County
(Unity Party, Electoral District 3), Elijah
Seah of River Gee County,Alliance for
Progressive Democracy), Wesseh
Blamo of Grand Kru County (Liberia
Action Party, Electoral District 2) and
Moses Tandanpolie, Sr of Montserrado
County (Congress for Democratic
Change, Electoral District 9) but all to Lofa County’s Representative Eugiene Fallah Kparkar (Liberty Party,
no avail as the motion was withdrawn Electoral 1) differed with the motion Thursday.
by the mover.
Notably in their various arguments, Representative Tandanpolie said the ‘T’ in TRC stands for
temptation and at such he urged his fellow lawmakers to not take its action for granted.
“Let it be sent back because this is a temptation”, said the seldom but controversial speaker.
However, Lofa County’s Representative Eugiene Fallah Kparkar (Liberty Party, Electoral 1)
differed with them, saying: “The Chairman of the TRC made it very clear that the contents of the
Final Report will be unchanged and I therefore think that the decision of the body should
Since the Truth Commission released its final unedited report and recommendations to the
National Legislature on June 30, 2009 which has six lawmakers of both houses enlisted and
recommended for prosecution, there has been mixed reactions to it with all eyes fixed on the
National Legislature as to the manner in which it would take the recommendations.
Amid Liberian Calls to Bar Johnson Sirleaf, UN Says Nothing Except TRC Not
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, July 8 -- The UN system has praised both the Liberia
truth and reconciliation commission and Liberian president Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf. Now the commission has recommended that Johnson Sirleaf be barred
from public office for thirty years, in part because she supported indicted war
criminal Charles Taylor, including financially.
Inner City Press on July 7 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's
Spokesperson Michele Montas if Mr. Ban or the UN Mission in Liberia have
any response to the recommendation, given both the UN's central role in
Liberia and Sierra Leone and previous statements about Ms. Johnson Sirleaf. It
is up to the Liberians," Ms. Montas said, "not for the UN to decide." Video
here, from Minute 16:56.
From the UN's transcript:
Inner City Press: The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission has
recommended that President [Ellen] Johnson-Sirleaf be barred from public office
for 30 years for having supported Charles Taylor, including economically. Does
the… given the central role in Liberia and Sierra Leone, what does the UN think
of this recommendation?
Spokesperson Montas: This is a report of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission of Liberia, and the UN mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has received the
draft of the Commission’s report. It will be up to the Liberians to determine how
they want to take forward the reconciliation process. It is not for the UN to
decide; it is for the Liberians to decide.
Inner City Press: What about the issue… because I have seen a lot of UN
statements very laudatory of President Johnson-Sirleaf. She has acknowledged
apparently giving $10,000 to Charles Taylor rebels at the time. Does that change
the UN’s opinion at all?
Spokesperson Montas: I will not comment on this.
But the UN, particularly the UN Development Program, has supported
Johnson Sirleaf including in her campaigns. Given reports that she gave
$10,000 to Taylor's forces, which recruited child soldiers and cut off limps,
shouldn't the UN have something to say now?
UN's Ban and Ms. Johnson Sirleaf, TRC finding of support of Charles Taylor not shown
Inner City Press asked UN envoy to West African Said Djinnet, was briefing
the Security Council on Tuesday morning, what he thought of the
recommendation. Mr. Djinit declined to comment, noting that there is a UN
Mission in Liberia, UNMIL. Inner City Press then asked Djinnit directly about
what Inner City Press has quoted an African Ambassador as saying, that the
UN offered Djinnit as a possible replacement for Rodolphe Adada in Darfur.
Djinnit laughed and pointed at his ear.
On July 8, Inner City Press asked Ms Montas if the UN will be responding to
the call by the Liberian Human Rights Campaign that UNMIL provided
protection to the members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Ms. Montas wasn't sure; later in the day, UN Police Advisor Andrew Hughes
answered Inner City Press by saying he wasn't the right person to ask. Said
Djinnit thanked Inner City Press for not asking in public about the possible
Darfur post. (Separately, a concerned diplomat told Inner City Press that "the
West" likes Djinnet.) And then the following arrived:
Subj: Liberia and TRC Commissioners
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 7/8/2009 3:27:25 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Regarding your question at today's Noon Briefing regarding Liberia and the TRC
Commissioners: UNMIL already supports the Liberia National Police, (LNP) in
the police's primary responsibility for ensuring day-to-day civil security in
Liberia.Currently, there is no credible evidence of threats to any member(s) of the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). If any such threat was made,
UNMIL, in support of the LNP, would be available to assist in the protection of
TRC Commissioners. To date, no requests for additional security support have
been made by the TRC Commissioners.
But still not comment by the UN about the recommendation of the TRC
Commissioners. Some rule of law...
Liberians React to Truth Commission Report
By Kate Thomas
08 July 2009
Last week, Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or TRC, released a
report recommending sanctions against President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because
of her support for warlord Charles Taylor during the 1980s. The move has
shocked the West African nation, where the president still enjoys huge
Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that President
Johnson Sirleaf be barred from holding public office for 30 years because of her
wartime support for Charles Taylor. The TRC report has shocked many people in
In February, the president testified before the
commission about her involvement with Charles
Taylor's National Patriotic Front rebel group. She was
one of many politicians who supported rebels fighting
against President Samuel Doe, but she said she was
never a member of the rebel group.
President Johnson Sirleaf's name was included on a
list of about 50 people accused of being the
"financiers and political leaders of the different
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
responds to reporter's
Lawrence Bropleh is the official spokesman of the question during press
Liberian government. He says the president is conference at VOA (File)
digesting the news.
"We do not see this as a slap in the face; we see it as a report that has come
out," said Bropleh. "In due time, the merits of this report will be debated by the
Liberian people. It is not an Ellen Johnson Sirleaf issue. This is a Republic of
Acarious Gray, the Assistant Secretary General of the opposition political party,
the Congress for Democratic Change, says the recommendation should be
"I think the international community has to bring pressure to bear on every
apparatus of government to ensure that the recommendation from the TRC is
upheld," said Gray.
On the streets of Monrovia, Liberians say they are worried by the news.
President Johnson Sirleaf is widely credited for restoring order to the recovering
West African country.
Businessman Lamin Wority says the inclusion of the president's name in the
report is not in Liberia's national interests.
"The only problem I have with the report is the inclusion of the president's name
in it. This will cause a serious problem for this country," said Warity. "This is the
only woman that has brought hope back to us, that has ensured that we are
respected around the world."
Jonathan Saah, a graduate who works in a bank in downtown Monrovia, says he
voted for President Johnson Sirleaf knowing about her support for Charles
Taylor. He says every Liberian played some part in the war.
"At the time of the NPFL, it was like Charles Taylor inspired confidence because
people welcomed it," he said. "People supported the rebels. Everybody was a
contributing factor to the Liberian civil war."
The TRC report also names those it says who should not be prosecuted. It
recommends 30 people be exempt from prosecution because they spoke
truthfully in court and expressed remorse.
Among them is Joshua Milton Blahyi. During the war, he went by the name
"General Butt Naked" for charging into battle wearing only boots. He testified
before the Commission and expressed remorse for his part in the deaths of up to
"I was taught by my faith to speak the truth. And when I got to know what I was
doing was wrong, I regretted my actions even before the TRC," he said. "I knew
what I did was wrong before the TRC. I said it, that I regret it. I don't know if it
is the reason because I spoke the truth, [whether] that's why the TRC left out
my name. But I also know, besides speaking the truth, I have lived in regret of
my past. I have lived with remorse. I do not know what are the other criteria for
leaving out my name."
Although President Johnson Sirleaf expressed regret for supporting Charles
Taylor in the 1980s, she did not formally apologize to the country.
Milton Blahyi says he thinks his public apology saved him.
"I know that the truth telling is the first path to reconciliation, to healing.
Recognition of your sin, announcing and denouncing your wrongdoing leads you
to forgiveness. So if these principles, spiritually, have proven that is a channel of
reconciliation, I strongly believe - and I have dug out the wounds and dug up the
past - it is healthy if the TRC and their experts will advise this nation as to the
Public support for President Johnson Sirleaf remains strong. The U.S.-based
Liberia Human Rights Campaign says some members of the truth commission
have been reluctant to appear in public since the report was released.
700 Chiefs To Attend Tradition Meeting
Liberia Chief of Zoes Zanzan Kawar
The National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) will on July 17,
2009 open its newly renovated headquarters on 24th Street in Monrovia
where the Council expects over 700 Chiefs from across Liberia and other West African
countries to attend. The Chairman of the NTCL, Chief Zanzan Kawar said that all chiefs
should be in attendance as the opening of the NTCL headquarter will make a change in
He called on chiefs from the fifteen counties to be prepared to
raise the flag of the various counties during the program as a symbol
of the role the NTCL is playing and has played and will continue to
play in the development of the country. “Chiefs from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, and
Nigeria, among others are expected to be in the country by July 14, 2009,” Chief Kawar
disclosed. In his disclosure he said, that the newly renovated NTCL headquarter is being
leased for the Council through funding by Carter Center.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the NTCL, Chief Zanzan Kawar has given
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) three days to give a copy of its report to
them along with copies of its mandate for perusal. Chief Kawar also called on warlords
that recently held a press conference at the Monrovia City Hall to wait for the NTCL to
intervene in the matter before they go about making comments on the TRC reports.
US based group reports threats on lives of TRC Commissioners
Written by Vivian Gartyn
Wednesday, 08 July 2009
A US-based Human rights group has reported serious threats on the lives of
Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Liberia Human Rights Campaign says it has received information that several
Commissioners are being threatened since the release of the TRC final report.
The group in a dispatch said the threats have caused many of the Commissioners to go
into hiding and refuse calls for fear of being traced.
The Liberia Human Rights Campaign wants government and the United Nations Mission
in Liberia to provide full protection for the Commissioners.
The group describes the Commissioners as “brave people” and warned any attack on
them would cause disruption in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the TRC has confirmed the reports of threats on some Commissioners and
TRC Media and Communications Director Richmond Anderson said the threats are in the
form of letters, text messages, and public statements.
Mr. Anderson named Commissioner Massa Washington as one of those who received a
letter of threat.
Two Weeks Extension for TRC Report: House Sends ‘The List’ To
07/07/09 - Nat Nyuan-Bayjay,email@example.com (231-6-402737/231-77-402737)
JUSTICE DELAYED? Representative Kettehkumeh
Murray(CDC-Montserrado County) and Edwwin
Melvin Snowe(Independent-5th District,
Montserrado County make arguments for and
against the Truth Commission's findings Tuesday. he high level of anxiety among Liberians regarding
Observersbelieve that the sending of the TRC how the House of Representatives would debate the
Final Report to the House’s Committee on Peace Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)’s Final
and Reconciliation for a period of two weeks may
be intentional as it might reduce the high
Report was drastically reduced Tuesday, by the
emotions that have engulfed Liberians since the lawmakers’ decision to send ‘The List’, as the TRC’s
release of the report. Final Report is now being referred to by Liberians,
the its Committee on Peace and Reconciliation for
perusal and report subsequently made to the August
body within two weeks.
The decision of the Lower House to send ‘The List’ to the 15 member-committee on Peace and
Reconciliation was reached following a motion by Montserrado County Representative
Ketehkureh Murray to have the unedited Final Report of the TRC forwarded to the Committee
and that additional members be added onto the House’s Committee as provided by the
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“I move, if I can obtain a second, that the report submitted to us by the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission be turned over to our Committee on Peace and Reconciliation and that they
report to us in two weeks”, Representative Murray said in his motion that led to 21
representatives voting in favor, 15 voting against while 3 abstained.
Letters of Dissent accompany ruling
The move which was seconded by Representative Varney Kamara
but with the amendment that additional members be added onto
the Committee on Peace and Reconciliation by the Speaker
witnessed several amendments from members of the House of
Representatives as their own pre-requisites for participating in the
The Final (unedited) Report of the TRC was officially received by
the House of Representatives on July 2, 2009 in fulfillment of the
Commission’s mandate to have a final report containing
Rep. Saah Gbollie makes a point duirng
recommendations submitted to the 52nd National Legislature as session Tuesday.
the Commission ended its task.
It was accompanied by a letter of dissent from two of its commissioners in persons of
Commissioners Pearl Brown-Bull and Sheikh Kafumba Konneh who both did not sign the Final
Unedited Report (Volume 2) of the TRC.
The release of the report has left high level of emotions among Liberians and has since
become a national issue of discussion with all eyes being set on the manner in which it will be
treated by the National Legislature whose six members are enlisted and recommended for
Notably among the several amendments made during Tuesday’s Regular Session were those
made by Representative Edwin Snowe o f Montserrado whose name is enlisted among the
names recommended for prosecution for economic sabotage, Montserrado County
Representative Kuku Dorbor, Lofa County Representative Eugene Fallah Kpaka, among
Snowe’s Argument On ‘Draft’ Turned Down
Representative Edwin Snowe argued during Tuesday’s session that there was no need to
discuss the TRC’s Final Report on grounds that what was sent to the legislative body was only
a ‘draft’ and not a final report which he maintained runs contrary to Article X, Section 43 of the
Act that established the TRC.
The TRC, in its letter to the House of Representatives indicated that the submitted report was
an unedited report with the edited version expected to have been released to the National
Legislature since July 6, 2009 (which is a day late as it was being discussed on July 7, 2009).
The point of ‘draft’ or ‘unedited’ version as put forth by Representative Snowe was then
debated extensively with Speaker Alex Tyler’s full backing given to Representative Snowe.
Representative Snowe whose name is enlisted under the category “Economic Crimes” of the
TRC Final Report said he took his stance from the background of Article X, Section 43 of the
Act that states: “The TRC shall submit a final report containing recommendations at the end of
its tenure to the National Legislature…..”
“The letter (from the TRC) says unedited report. It didn’t say final report and the act of the TRC
says final report”, Representative Snowe stressed.
However, this was turned down by the mover of the motion Representative Murray who
reminded his Montserrado County colleague that the preliminary report of the National Census
from the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) was acted on by
the same House of Representatives.
“So, the same should be done with this TRC unedited report”, Representative Murray defended.
Representatives Saah Gbollie of Margibi County and Kar Faylee of Grand Gedeh County are
the two other members of the House of Representatives whose names are on ‘The List’ along
with Representative Snowe while Senators Prince Johnson and Adolphus Dolo both of Nimba
County and Jonathan Banney of Rivercess County are three other legislatures whose names
are on ‘The List’.
It is believed by some observers that the sending of the TRC Final Report to the House’s
Committee on Peace and Reconciliation for a period of two weeks is intentional as it might
reduce the high emotions that have engulfed Liberians since the release of the report.
Diverse views, debate lingers
There have been diverse views on the TRC’s Final Report by Liberians from all walks of life
with some giving their support on the recommendations made by the Commission while others
insist that the recommendations could have been good had it not excluded those they think the
Commission should have not excluded from ‘The List’.
Already, former fighters from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD)
headed by Sekou Damate Conneh, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL)-Thomas
Yaya Nimely, and the former government of Liberia of Mr. Charles Taylor during the last round
of the Liberian civil war Monday, July 6, 2009 jointly expressed disappointment over the final
report of the Commission in a press conference at the Monrovia City Hall in Sinkor, terming the
report as full of injustice. Many of them are being recommended for prosecution and others
banned from public life for 30 years.
The former fighters in their joint statement stated that the TRC did not live up to the intent for
which the Commission was established by an act of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia was established by an act of the
National Legislature following its proposal by major stakeholders of the Liberian civil crisis as
well as representatives of major political parties and the civil society of Liberia in 2003 in the
Ghanaian capital of Accra as the best option that would heal the country’s 14 years of civil
destastation which was chosen over a war crime court.
"You Can't Look Back"
Liberian warlord-turned-senator Prince Johnson speaks out about the war
crimes charges against him and his plans for the future.
BY GLENNA GORDON | JULY 7, 2009
At the end of last week, Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released a
report examining the causes and consequences of Liberia's 14 years of brutal and gruesome
civil war. The war may have ended six years ago, but Liberia's 3.4 million people are still
reeling from a conflict that displaced a million people, left a quarter of a million dead, more
than three fourths of women raped, and everyone traumatized.
The commission's report has made waves in the Western media for its condemnation of
internationally popular President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over her past support for rebel
groups. But the charges against another high-ranking government official are far more
serious and might have more-lasting consequences.
Prince Y. Johnson is now a Liberian senator. During the war, he headed a notorious rebel
group called the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia. The final TRC report names
him the No. 1 most notorious individual perpetrator and recommends that he be prosecuted
for gross human rights violations and war crimes, specifically mass murder, extortion,
destruction of property, forced recruitment, assault, abduction, torture, and rape. Johnson
labeled the report a "joke" and vowed to resist with force any attempts to arrest him, raising
fears of renewed violence. Last week, just before the report was released, freelance journalist
Glenna Gordon went to his home on the outskirts of Monrovia for an exclusive interview.
Johnson discussed the (then forthcoming) TRC report, which he saw as biased
and aimed at the wrong targets:
TRC is supposed to be neutral. It's supposed to be an institution that people of Liberia can
depend on to help reconcile. But instead, it has disappointed the people of this country. It is
supposed to bring together perpetrators and victims to reconcile both sides. But the TRC
chose to keep the victims away from the so-called perpetrators. They never brought the two
people together, so where is the reconciliation?
Reconciliation is not an overnight thing. It is a gradual process. There are many programs
that can bring people together. If two people have a problem, how do you solve it? By keeping
them apart? No, by bringing them together. The perpetrator can remember what he did and
he may or may not say sorry. That's the first phase to begin reconciliation, and [it] was not
done. And if you cannot reconcile yourself you cannot reconcile a nation.
Who supplied the guns to them? Who supplied the finance to buy the weapons? Who
provided the training? It's a whole lot of questions that need answers.
The first group of people that bear the greatest responsibility is not the fighting man but the
people who supplied and bought the weapons. I don't know who planned and bought all the
weapons, but the men didn't just come here shooting guns from the sky.
When justice itself is unjust, there is injustice. So if you want justice, ... you have to go for the
big Nigerian men who got the weapons, who supplied so many things. They are still in power.
I spoke at the TRC and said, "Forgive me for my sins, but when two elephants fight, the grass
suffers." I was repentant. I've accepted Jesus.
Every country in the world knows the history of Nimba [Johnson's county]. They know what
[former President Samuel] Doe did to my people. I had to defend my people.
Johnson originally allied himself with former President Charles Taylor, who is
now on trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity committed in Sierra
Leone. The two leaders soon became enemies as rebel groups splintered and
fractured. Johnson thinks that Taylor came to power with the aid of the United
The people who helped Charles Taylor escape from jail in the U.S.A. said that upon the
removal of Doe, this is what you should do: Return to speedy democracy and let us come in
to vie for public office. But Taylor decided, I cannot work for you to enjoy!
To be frank, there was absolutely no need for Taylor to send people to Sierra Leone.
Removing the government of Doe was the only problem. After the removal of Doe there was a
need for reconstruction. Not only the roads, the schools, but the minds. To reconstruct the
mind. Taylor was to focus on that. He didn't need to go to Sierra Leone to make new war.
I do not have any communications with him now. How can I communicate with him while
he's in jail? He wants to be Jewish to be free! He thinks that the American officials, most of
them are Jewish. [Taylor's wife recently told the BBC that her husband had converted to
Judaism while in prison.]
Although Johnson is thought to be semi-literate and never to have finished high
school, he speaks about the importance of wisdom over knowledge and why he
might still run for president:
In Liberia, 99 percent of our leaders who have a university degree do not represent their
home county. The framers of our Constitution did not make education a criteri[on] for
political office. Don't look at anyone [as] ignorant because you have [a] master's degree.
If people say go there [run for president], I'll go. Leadership does not come from how much
you know. Leadership does not go by how much education you have. A leader that is born,
you can see the characteristics.
I'm honest, straightforward, disciplined. When I say "yes," it's yes. These are characteristics
that make people ... trust you. Tolerance, etc., etc. It's a gift. An individual gifted with wisdom
is more than the man who is knowledgeable. When you gain knowledge you also gain
wisdom. But there is no institution where you can gain wisdom. You got too many
institutions that teach knowledge. Wisdom is a gift from God.
Johnson wrote a book called The Rise and Fall of President Samuel K. Doe,
which he says sold a million copies. In 1990, Doe -- then Liberia's president --
was tortured and executed. A videotape of the ordeal was distributed to news
stations around the world. It showed Johnson sitting at a table and sipping a
beer while Doe's ear was being cut off. Johnson says he has no regrets over what
happened to Doe:
The problem with Doe was that he listened to advice that led to his attack on Nimba, and
that's why we had to fight back. He was in our custody, so we are responsible for whatever
happened. He was with us, that's all I say.
If you want to move forward, you can't look back. Jesus never looked back. He never looked
back. We need to look forward. When you look back, you look left, you look right, you get
distracted. You need to focus on what you want done for this country.
I sleep sound; I sleep good. I snore.
Photo by Glenna Gordon
Civil society groups seek clarity on “Amnesty Act”
Written by Sorbor George
Tuesday, 07 July 2009
Three Civil Society Organizations in Liberia have written the Speaker of the National
The Organizations are the Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy, the Catholic
Justice and Peace Commission and the Liberia Democratic Institute.
In the letter, the organizations requested Speaker Tyler to provide them data of an act
passed by the 51st National Legislature in 2003.
According to the letter, FOHRD, JPC and LDI named the Act as ‘An Act to grant
immunity from both Civil and Criminal proceedings against persons in Liberia from acts
and crimes committed during the war
They claimed the Act was passed when the Monrovia was engulfed with fighting
between LURD and government forces.
LIBERIA: As TRC’s Final Report Sparks
Controversy, US Ambassador Visits Former
Warlord Prince Johnson
05:07:59 pm, by Global News Network , 188 words, 90 views
LIBERIA: As TRC’s Final Report Sparks Controversy, US Ambassador
Visits Former Warlord Prince Johnson
UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO LIBERIA, LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD
The United States Embassy near this capitol, Monrovia says it is reviewing the final report of the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that has sparked controversy in several quarters.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Embassy is looking at the report page by
page to enable it comment appropriately.
Ambassador Greenfield spoke to Legislative reporters Monday following an unannounced visit to
Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson who himself has been indicted by the TRC for crimes
The US Ambassador’s visit was to discuss with Senator Johnson, his reported threats to take
Liberia back to war in the face of the TRC final report.
The TRC recommends prosecution for Senator Johnson who headed the defunct INPFL rebel
Ambassador Greenfield said during the meeting the former warlord (Senator Johnson) clarified
that at no time he threatened to destabilize Liberia again.
She however said the former INPFL commander was concerned about the recommendations of
Recently Prince Johnson threatened to start another round of war in Monrovia if his name is
mentioned in the final report of the TRC.
”President Sirleaf not embarrassed” Badio on TRC report
Written by Vivian Gartyn
Monday, 06 July 2009
The Executive Mansion says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is going through the TRC
report and would comment appropriately.
Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Wleh-Badio said the president had been in Libya
attending the AU summit and is yet to fully read the report.
President Sirleaf is among people listed by the TRC to be banned from public office for
Mr. Badio at the sametime says the President is not embarrassed by the inclusion of her
name in the report.
On calls for the President to resign, Mr. Badio said the Executive Mansion will not
dignify the call and cautioned people that the ban remains a recommendation
Liberia: Bar Sirleaf From Office for 30 Years, Truth Team Rules
4 July 2009
Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 70, should be barred from holding public office
for 30 years for abetting atrocities committed by one of Liberia's armed rebels, according to
Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
She is said to have provided "moral and financial support" to the Charles Taylor-led National
Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), said one of the leading dailies, the News, in its leading story
today. Other papers were awash with stories from the TRC's final report submitted to the
Legislature on June 30, 2009.
During her testimony at the TRC's public hearings, President Sirleaf admitted to allegations
that she supported Taylor and his rebel movement during the civil crisis.
The Liberian President is among 50 Liberian barred from holding public office. The list
includes prominent personalities in government, the Legislature, and those in the public who
have served previous regimes.
Besides this, the TRC has also served a clampdown for others, recommending them for
prosecution for war crimes, crimes against humanity and economic crimes.
Interestingly, this list includes Taylor currently being prosecuted in The Hague for similar
atrocities committed in Sierra Leone.
In category for prosecution for war crimes also is Prince Y. Johnson, a seating Senator, who
is described as one of the "most notorious violators" and accused of "killings, extortion,
massacre, destruction of property, forced recruitment, assault, torture, forced labour and
The implications for the report are far reaching. First of all, if implemented, it practically locks
President Sirleaf from running for a second term in the 2011 elections and might put to rest
one of the issues that remains the suspect of speculation - whether or not she intends to run.
She herself has remained dodgy on this. It will be interesting to see how this debate now
In submitting the final report whose work took two years, TRC chairman Jerome Verdier
expressed the optimism that the report's recommendations will be fully implemented.
"The majority of Liberian people, including members of the TRC who are victims or survivors
of the massive wave of atrocities induced by the conflict, expect that all the
recommendations contained in the report will be implemented," said Verdier.
TRCs' final report covers the civil conflict in Liberia from 1979 to 2003 and findings on the
causes of the conflict and makes recommendations on how the country can move forward.
Some of these recommendations include reparations for groups affected by the conflict.
In Liberia, Sirleaf's Past Sullies her Clean Image
By GLENNA GORDON / MONROVIA Friday, Jul. 03, 2009
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf listens to World Bank President Robert Zoellick (not shown)
during a news conference at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, April 16, 2009.
Larry Downing / Reuters / Corbis
Six years on from the end of Liberia's long and bloody civil war, the country is finally on
the mend. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund regularly applaud
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa's first elected woman leader — on the huge
strides she's making to stamp out corruption and rebuild her shattered country.
That image has now taken a hit. In its final report, released yesterday, Liberia's Truth
and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a body modeled on South Africa's historic truth
commission, says Johnson Sirleaf should be banned from government for 30 years for
her early support of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Taylor, who played a
central role in Liberia's conflict, is on trial in the Hague for crimes against humanity that
stem from his part in the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. (See pictures of death and
life in Sierra Leone.)
The Commission's 370-page report collected more than 20,000 statements and took
three years and several million dollars to complete. It investigates the causes and
consequences of Liberia's conflict, a war that displaced a third of the people in the small
West African country, left a quarter of a million dead, and countless more raped,
disabled, and traumatized. Johnson Sirleaf is among 50 people the Commission
recommends should not be allowed to hold public office. The Commission also says that
dozens of individuals should face further investigation and prosecution, though does not
include Johnson Sirleaf on those lists. Still, to name the president as the TRC does, is
tough censure for someone so widely respected. "To exclude someone from the right of
running for political office is a very serious position to take that has to be extremely
grounded in facts," says Corrine Dufka, a senior research with Human Rights Watch's
Africa division who focuses on West Africa.
Perhaps. But in a conflict that went on for nearly two decades, it's hard to find any
Liberian officials whose hands are completely clean. When she testified at the TRC,
Johnson Sirleaf admitted that during the early years of the war she had brought food,
supplies and financial assistance to Taylor. At the time, she said, she wanted to see an
end to the repressive and tyrannical regime of President Samuel Doe. If she cast her lot
with a war criminal, she said, she did so unwittingly. (Read a Q&A with Johnson Sirleaf.)
But the TRC says Johnson Sirleaf didn't go far enough. One of the ideas behind a truth
commission is that people responsible for past errors show remorse. By not apologizing
or showing more remorse, the TRC says, Johnson Sirleaf denied both her own
responsibility and undermined the TRC process. Those who disclosed their misdeeds in
greater detail and showed remorse were not recommended for further censure or
prosecution. Milton Blayi, whose nomme de guerre was General Butt Naked because he
entered the battlefield completely naked but for his boots, admitted culpability for as
many as 20,000 deaths, for example. But, he now speaks often and publicly about
The President's defenders say the fact Johnson Sirleaf took part in a process that
highlighted her early role in Liberia's meltdown is proof of her commitment to good
governance. "She allowed the whole process to roll out and that shows that she is
concerned about the truth," says Suliman Baldo, the Africa Director for the International
Center for Transitional Justice. Many Liberians probably agree with that.
Outside of Liberia, where few people until now have been aware of Johnson Sirleaf's
early association with Taylor, the revelation could tarnish Johnson Sirleaf's image
somewhat. Still, the President's unlikely to come under too much pressure from donors.
Says one political observer who has worked in Liberia and asked to remain anonymous:
"It will take a lot to dent her reputation."
TRC Lists Individuals For Crimes
Former President Charles G. Taylor
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia has released the second version of its unedited
report, recommending for prosecution, Public Sanction and Economic Crime.Those recommended to
face prosecution include Liberian former leader, Charles G. Taylor, now facing trials in The Hague for
crimes he allegedly committed in Sierra Leone. Others indicted by the TRC are Nimba County
Senator, Prince Y. Johnson, leader of the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia
(INPFL), Professor Alhaji G.V. Kromah, leader of the defunct ULIMO J &ULIMO-K; George Boley,
leader of the defunct LPC and Thomas Yaya Nimely, leader of the defunct MODEL. The TRC also
recommended that Sekou Damante konneh, leader of the defunct LURD, who is presently languishing
behind bars in the Republic of Guinea be prosecuted while Roosevelt Johnson, leader of the defunct
ULIMO-J and Francois Massaquoi of the defunct LDF who died two years ago be prosecuted for those
human rights violations they committed during the Liberian civil crisis.
TRC Commissioner Jerome Verdier told newsmen on Thursday in Monrovia that after three years of
carrying out their task successfully, they also recommended that an extraordinary criminal Tribunal for
Liberia be established to try all perpetrators who have been recommended by the TRC for the
commission of human rights violations including violation of international humanitarian law, war crimes
and economic crimes including but not limited to killing, gang rape, multiple rape, force recruitment,
sexual slavery, forced labor, exposure to deprivation, and missing amongst several others. According
to Commissioner, 36 persons, though they also committed atrocities will not face prosecution for
crimesthey committed because they cooperated with the TRC process, admitted to the crimes they
committed and spoke truthfully before the commission and expressed remorse for their prior actions
during the war.
Commissioner Verdier, flanked by four other commissioners stated that their report recommended that
all persons indicted by the TRC to face trial and be barred from holding public offices for thirty years as
a form of public sanction, while all those holding elective offices shall continue to the end their tenure
and not eligible to contest any public office in the future.Commissioner Verdier stated that the report is
an unedited report and the final version with appendixes would be released in September this year.He
stated that the 21 chapter-report contains testimonies, the TRC findings on the crisis in Liberia, and
recommendations on means to move the country forward.He stated further that some of the
recommendations include reparations for groups affected by the conflict and names of persons the
TRC recommend for prosecution by the war crimes.
Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission Retracts Controversial Report
By Kate Thomas
02 July 2009
Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has retracted a report that suggests
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf be barred from holding further public office.
Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has retracted its final report, just hours
after publishing it on its Web site.
The 370-page report recommended that 52 people be subject to public sanctions for their
involvement in war crimes. Among them is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The report suggested she could be barred from holding public office after her presidential
President Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female president, testified about her
involvement with Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front rebel group. She was one of
many politicians who supported rebels fighting against Samuel Doe's brutal regime.
The report also detailed the names of those who should not be prosecuted, despite their
involvement in the conflict. It said 30 people should be exempt from prosecution because
they spoke truthfully in court and expressed remorse.
Included in that list is Joshua Milton Blayir, otherwise known as General Butt Naked. He
admitted to killing about 20,000 people at the height of the conflict. He is now a pastor at
a church with a large congregation of ex-combatants.
For the past three years the commission assessed the causes of the long-running Liberian
conflict. It listened to testimonies from victims and perpetrators in Liberia and the
The initial report was published on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Web site
late Wednesday. But early Thursday the commission retracted it without explanation.
Liberia commission recommends warlord prosecution
By JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH (AP) – Jul 2, 2009
MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Liberia's truth and reconciliation commission
recommended Thursday that ex-President Charles Taylor and seven other former
warlords be prosecuted for crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the West
African country's civil war.
The commission now will submit its recommendations to the country's legislature for
consideration. It is not clear when it would start dealing with recommendations contained
in the report.
Liberia's back-to-back wars, which lasted from 1989 to 2003, sparked vicious factional
fighting that killed an estimated 250,000 and displaced millions. Taylor, who launched
the 1989 invasion, is on trial at The Hague, accused of war crimes and crimes against
humanity in neighboring Sierra Leone.
The Liberian commission recommended that he and seven other former warlords be
prosecuted for offenses including "human rights violations, violations of international
humanitarian law, international human rights laws, war crimes, egregious domestic
economic crimes," the report said.
Among those recommended for prosecution was Prince Johnson, a former rebel leader
who won a landslide victory in the 2005 postwar election and is now a sitting senator.
He is best known for the gruesome torture of former Liberian President Samuel K. Doe,
who died in 1990. Last year Johnson told the truth commission that although it was his
forces that captured Doe, others are responsible for his death.
On Thursday, Johnson said that he was covered by a law protecting him and others who
had taken part in the war in Liberia from prosecution, and would resist any attempt to
prosecute him for war crimes.
"The law was made and passed in 2003 when I was in Nigeria, granting amnesty to all
who participated in the war from 1989 to 2003," he said of an act of legislation passed
when Taylor was president. "I am sorry they (TRC) did not make their research before
writing the report."
The notorious rebel commander Milton Blayi, known as Gen. Butt Naked for charging
into battle wearing only boots, has confessed responsibility for 20,000 deaths during the
war but was not recommended for prosecution along with nine others because of their
"They cooperated with the TRC process, admitting to the crimes committed and spoke
truthfully before the Commission and expressed remorse for their prior actions during the
war," the report said.
The Truth Commission was split over the recommendations with three commissioners,
including deputy chairman Dede Dolopea, refusing to sign the final report submitted to
One of them, Pearl Brown-Bull said the process of choosing people to be listed for
prosecution was biased and not in the interest of reconciliation.
"Why would you be selective to recommend certain people for prosecution and leave
others out? We had people who were implementers, we had people who were
sympathizers (of the war) and those who supplied the arms," Brown-Bull told The
Associated Press on Thursday.
The truth commission report also listed for prosecution Alhaji Kromah and George
Boley. They headed two of the main warring fractions: the United Liberation Movement
for Democracy and the Liberia Peace Council, respectively.
Liberia's postwar government setup the truth commission, modeled on the one in post-
apartheid South Africa, inviting both victims and perpetrators to retell their version of
events. But critics have said that the commission is toothless since it cannot send war
criminals to jail. Many argue that what is needed is a war crimes court so that those most
responsible for atrocities can face real justice.
Ellen, Others Barred from Public Office (TRC Final Report Recommends)
Published: 02 July, 2009
MONROVIA -- Some 50 persons, described in the TRC report
as financiers of Liberia’s bloody civil war, have been barred
from holding public offices.
Prominent in the final report issued by the TRC yesterday, are
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, presently serving as president of Liberia,
former President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate Isaac
Nyenabo, Kabineh Ja’neh currently serving as Associate Justice
at the Nations Highest court of Liberia( the Supreme court).
New Democrat (Monrovia)
Liberia: TRC Folds
Othello B. Garblah
1 July 2009
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) closed shop on Tuesday as its mandate
expires, with no hints of names on the Commission's list for prosecution, contrary to public
The event closes another chapter in the country's transition from a destructive past to peace,
with warnings from key international actors that sustaianble peace and stability are unlikely
The TRC's tenure, at times marred with acrimony and divisions amongst Commissioners
representing other interests, saw several victims of the war point accusing fingers at
perpetrators, some holding influential positions in government and society. With few
exceptions, many of the prime war actors denied the horrifying crimes linked to them, with
some vowing resistance if and when they are listed for prosecution. Some of the rebel
Generals and officials were elected to the Legislature in 2005, 'a development that narrowed
the chances for the endorsement of the TRC's recommendations soon to be released. Some
of the widely speculated steps towards justice are a war crimes court and the banning of
certain individuals from public office. It is unlikely that the current Legislature, packed with
former rebel officials, will act on such proposals.
TRC, for the past three years has been looking into the root causes of the civil conflict here
from 1979 to 2003, amidst reported disunity amongst commissioners on one hand and
controversies amongst members of the general public on the other, with some former
warlords vowing to resist prosecution.
A visit at the offices of the Commission Tuesday saw Commissioners and other Executives
shut behind closed doors perhaps fine tuning their final report scheduled to be released
Tuesday night. Despite widespread media speculatios, the TRC has remained tightlip on
who is on the list for prosecution or public office ban. Some of the officials or war actors
called to offer public testimony of their alleged defied the Commission and refused to appear
before. None was subpoenaed, despite the Commission having such powers.
"We are rounding up," TRC Public Affairs Director, Richmond Anderson told this paper
Tuesday. "The Executive Secretary has asked all Department Heads to give infantry of
documents in their various department," he said.
Mr. Anderson said the report, by right should have been released before Tuesday, June 30,
but that the National Conference which communique will play a major role in the
commissioners' final report caused part of the delay.
The report when completed will be presented to the National Legislature, according to the
Act establishing the TRC.
Article X Section (44) of the TRC Act states: The report shall be detailed on all aspects of the
TRC's work, investigation, hearings, finding and recommendation for prosecution.
The TRC also has the mandate to recommend amnesty, reparation, and restitution.
The TRC is expected to transition to the Independent National Human Rights Commission
(INHRC), which is expected to implement the findings and recommendations of the TRC.
"An appeal has been made by the TRC's Executive Secretary for a skeleton staff to stay on
for the transition," Anderson said.
TRC's Chairman, could not be reached for comment apparently due to the pressure leading
to the presentation of the report.
But in an interview with the Vice of America ahead of its folding Tuesday, Cllr. Jerome
Verdier said "The Liberian people should expect a comprehensive report from the
commission based upon its findings and determination in consonance with the mandate of
the commission as enshrined in its enabling legislation." He was quoted to have said that the
final report will include a wide range of recommendations on issues the TRC determined to
be the root causes of the Liberian conflict.
"The act requires that we address issues of impunity, that we make recommendations for
reparations, we make recommendations for reconciliation, and that we make
recommendations for prosecution," he said.
Some Liberians want justice from the brutality of the conflict and have been demanding the
establishment of a War Crimes Court to prosecute perpetrators.
Others have argued that prosecution, especially of those alleged perpetrators who are in the
current government could be at the expense of national reconciliation.
Verdier said Liberians should accept the commission's recommendations if they want to be
faithful and respect the rule of law.
"No Liberia is above the law, and we have to begin a process of institutionalizing the
supremacy of the rule of law in our country. Too many times we feel that because we are in
authority we are above the law," he said.
In February this year, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf testified before the commission. She
said she had endorsed former president Charles Taylor's rebellion against President Samuel
Doe but had never been part of the rebel group.
The president admitted, however, to being a part of a group of exiled Liberians who lent their
support to Mr. Taylor without being aware of his true intentions. There were unconfirmed
reports late last week that the TRC might include in its final report that President Sirleaf be
barred from standing for re-election because of her alleged role in the war.
Verdier said it would be unethical for him to pre-empt the findings of the commission.
"I don't know the source of the information. I wouldn't be surprised that people speculate
about the outcome of our work, and I don't doubt that people have gone out of their way
using all kinds of machination to get access to TRC information. But it would be seriously
unethical for me to pre-empt the findings of the commission," he said.
TRC mandate ends… fails to release final report
Written by Robert J. Clarke, Jr.
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Tuesday failed to release its final report as its
mandate expired today, June 30.
Our reporter said journalists sat at the commission’s head office in Sinkor all day without
any word on the report.
Commissioners of the TRC including its Chairman Jerome Verdier remain tight-lipped
on why the report was not released.
Sources hinted Star Radio, the delay was due to differences among commissioners of the
TRC on some recommendations within the report.
When contacted, TRC Media and Communications Director Richmond Anderson told
Star Radio the report was still being compiled.
The TRC report is to make recommendations in line with its act relative to issues of
impunity, reparation, prosecution and reconciliation.
At a recent Reconciliation conference, delegates recommended prosecution for
perpetrators to serve as deterrent.
Liberia's Truth Commission to Release Final Report
By James Butty
30 June 2009
The Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will conclude its work
Tuesday and release its final report.
For the past three years the commission has been looking into the root causes of
the Liberian conflict from 1979 to 2003.
The TRC heard testimonies from many alleged victims and perpetrators in and
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf also testified about her alleged involvement with
Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebel movement.
Some Liberians have been demanding prosecution for those the TRC would find
to have committed gross violation of human rights during the conflict.
TRC Chairman Jerome Verdier told VOA no Liberian is above the law.
"The Liberian people should expect a comprehensive report from the commission
based upon its findings and determination in consonance with the mandate of
the commission as enshrined in its enabling legislation," he said.
Verdier said the final report will include a wide range of recommendations on
issues the TRC determined to be the root causes of the Liberian conflict
He said taken in their totality, the recommendations would present a reform
agenda for Liberia.
"The act requires that we address issues of impunity, that we make
recommendations for reparations, we make recommendations for reconciliation,
and that we make recommendations for prosecution," he said.
Some Liberians want justice from the brutality of the conflict and have been
demanding the establishment of a War Crimes Court to prosecute perpetrators.
Others have argued that prosecution, especially of those alleged perpetrators
who are in the current government could be at the expense of national
Verdier said Liberians should accept the commission's recommendations if they
want to be faithful and respect the rule of law.
"No Liberia is above the law, and we have to begin a process of institutionalizing
the supremacy of the rule of law in our country. Too many times we feel that
because we are in authority we are above the law," he said.
In February this year, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf testified before the
commission. She said she had endorsed former president Charles Taylor's
rebellion against President Samuel Doe but had never been part of the rebel
The president admitted, however, to being a part of a group of exiled Liberians
who lent their support to Mr. Taylor without being aware of his true intentions.
There were unconfirmed reports late last week that the TRC might include in its
final report that President Sirleaf be barred from standing for re-election because
of her alleged role in the war.
Verdier said it would be unethical for him to pre-empt the findings of the
"I don't know the source of the information. I wouldn't be surprised that people
speculate about the outcome of our work, and I don't doubt that people have
gone out of their way using all kinds of machination to get access to TRC
information. But it would be seriously unethical for me to pre-empt the findings
of the commission," he said.
Some have accused members of the TRC of lacking unity and at times using the
commission to score political points.
Verdier said the TRC is no different from any human institution.
"As a commission we exhibited all manner of characteristics common to human
nature, common to professional people, common to people of different
backgrounds who have come together compelled by law to work together," he
He said irrespective of any internal challenges the TRC might have faced,
members were able to complete the work they were assigned by law to do.