Two top officials of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) have publicly defended the government’s failure to establish a war and economic crimes court in Liberia to prosecute warlords that have allegedly committed atrocities and corrupt officials that have looted the country.
Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah Jr. and Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Syrenius Cephus over the weekend during the official book launch of Cllr. Arthur Tamba Johnson squarely laid blame on what they called “fear and serious constitution breaches and implication matter”.
Both officials told the gathering that “fear and constitution breaches” were the same reasons that prevented the past government of Liberia headed by Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from establishing the court is the same reasons holding them back.
It may be recalled CDC while in opposition was the epic of the advocacy for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court in Liberia during the administration of former President Sirleaf.
CDC also campaigned on the establishment of the war and economic crimes court and promised during the 2017 elections that a Weah-led government will establish the court when elected to make sure that corrupt public officials and warlords are prosecuted for their actions.
On July 8, 2022, one of Liberia’s landed Criminal lawyers Dr. Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson officially launched his book in the Ball Room of the Monrovia City Hall in Monrovia, at which time both officials made remarks on the matter.
Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah Jr. officially launched the book Titled: “Examining The Consequences Of The Government of Liberia’s Failure to Establish Economic and War crimes Court to Prosecute War Criminals.”
Minister Tweah asserted that war crimes advocacies in Liberia have become a political football game to unseat the government of President George Manneh Weah and to use the powerful United States statesman Chris Smith to accomplish this aim, stressing that this should not happen.
“Now Morlue is the Chairman of the governing party, those who turned blind eyes to his advocacy are now saying it is time to establish the court or pick up the course. What they feared then that stopped them from establishing the court is why CDC Chairman and this government also fear now to establish the court. This fear is a moveable variable in the establishment of social war crimes. So now fear is the objective of establishing the court. We need to restore the direction of the fear” Minister Tweah further stated.
The establishment of the war and economic crimes court in Liberia, according to Finance Minister Tweah will be a risk as he lambasted that those calling for it are playing political football with it because when the social and economic impact of the war and economic crimes court is explained to Liberians they will seize to advocate for it.
Minister Tweah who purchased over one thousand of the book, promised to make sure that it is accessible to all university students. He further said that he will make sure that the book reaches the US Congress to ensure they have a clear understanding of Liberia’s war and economic crimes court establishment.
“People should be concerned about why we have not established the war and economic crimes court. What are the fears, and what are the risks. You can say we have not established the court because of no reason. Why was the court not established under former President Madam Sirleaf when US$16,000 dollars were allocated. Why did we not see the level of advocacies for the establishment of these courts at that time, he asked.
The Finance Minister said the only advocacy of the establishment of the war and economic crimes court then was lead by the current Chairman of the CDC Mulbah Morlue but again he questioned why Chairman Morlue advocacy was not supported by Cllr. Jerome Verdier who is now the major advocate of the establishment of the court under the CDC regime.
Syrenius Cephus, Solicitor General of Liberia, said that Liberia’s government is not responsible for establishing the war and economic crimes court because it is a serious constitutional matter.
Cllr. Cephus mentioned that President Weah does not have the power to establish the court as others want him to do because if he does it will be a constitutional violation of Article 76 of the 1986 constitution of Liberia and it will be a ground for impeachment of the President.
The Solicitor General also argued that Article 2, 4 of the Constitution of Liberia also prevents the President because for the court to be established needs a different constitutional arrangement so that there can be a court to prosecute people but again the law says that there should be no court higher than the Supreme Court of Liberia and so all those are the impairment to the establishment of the court.
“There is a sovereign and independent government on the ground that was duly elected by the people therefore, if we need it we have to go back to the majority of the people and ask them. Moreover, they will have to choose over the struggle for bread and butter and war crimes court.”
Reported by: Stephen G. Fellajuah