“It just shows that we are still far away from having any breakthrough. If Johnson presides over the national security committee of our country that is trying to reform the very security architecture he destroyed - that is a joke,” Mr. Weah said.
In its final report in 2009, the truth commission recommended that 120 people be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The commission also listed 49 people who should be barred from politics for 30 years because of their suspected associations with warring factions.
Among those mentioned was the current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who sent money to Mr. Taylor early on during the war. She claimed she helped finance his army “to challenge the brutality” of the Doe regime.
Dan Sayree, head of the Liberia Democratic Institute, said Liberia’s approach toward reconciliation is “a charade and deceitful.”
“If you want to reconcile people, [they] … must be convinced that they have justice,” he said.
‘Ugly head of the past’
The close of Mr. Taylor’s trial follows tense presidential and legislative elections last year that resulted in claims of electoral fraud. The opposition party, Congress for Democratic Change, boycotted the second round of voting, and demonstrations left one protester dead the day before the polls opened.
“The elections were a very beautiful example that no one can sidestep reconciliation,” said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, who serves as head of the Liberian Reconciliation Initiative, an independent body that will work alongside government organizations in the reconciliation effort.
“For six years we have sidestepped it, and when the time came for the election of leaders, the ugly head of the past rose up.
“We haven’t as a people been able to look that evil that brought the war in the eye and say, ‘This is it. This group is responsible, and this group has not come back to say, ‘Yes we are responsible.’ “
Elise Keppler, a senior counsel for Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program, said prosecutions are essential.
“What we are seeing is a justice vacuum that puts Liberia in stark contrast with its neighbor Sierra Leone,” said Ms. Keppler, who worked on the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone and helped press for Mr. Taylor’s arrest.
“Trials for the gravest crimes and human rights violations committed are essential to making a serious break from the past, giving redress to the victims and to strengthening the rule of law.”
Still, the Sierra Leone trial will have broader implications for the region, she added.View Entire Story
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