Global efforts to bring Liberia’s war criminals to justice is gradually becoming a success story as several rebel commanders are being arrested and prosecuted in Europe and the United States of America.
While Liberian authorities are reluctant to push for war crimes accountability, campaigners are certain the first war crimes arrest could be effected before the close of this year on home soil.
“The last time I spoke publicly, I said there were going to be four arrests made before the end of the year and one has already been made in France, so there are three more to go,” Hassan Bility, a war victim now working for the Global Justice and Research Project said recently in Monrovia.
“Among the three, there is likely to be one arrest made here (Liberia), either at an international border, whether land border or airport.”
There is no public information about the actual identity of the ex-rebel commander to be arrested but there are sufficient clue.
While countless massacres and near genocide were committed during the war there are two horrific episodes driving the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia: the ghastly killing of five American Catholic Nuns in Monrovia in 1992 and Prince Y. Johnson’s September 1990 barbaric escapade, which ended the life of then President Samuel K. Doe.
Those events remain on the lips of people who matter in the world community of justice. The United States government has extensively investigated the murders involving its citizens and findings, which tally with local reports place responsibility in the hands of ex-rebel commander Christopher Vambo alias ‘General Mosquito’.
‘General Mosquito’ Vambo has acknowledged responsibility for the death of the
He told US media outlet propublica “Christopher Vambo wasn’t the one who killed the Catholic nuns, but the Catholic nuns were executed under his command. But he wasn’t the one who personally executed them. Yes I agree to that. If there are charges for that, there is penalty for that. God in Heaven knows.”
Johnson, now Senator and Vambo are listed amongst more than 30 Liberians who the country’s erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia said bears the greatest responsibility of atrocities committed during the civil conflict.
Senator Johnson has not denied his role in the war and his only defense is that Liberians did not agree for the establishment of a war crimes court and alleged President George Weah has assured them [warlords] that they will not be arrested to face war crimes charges.
The US Congress has approved a September 7, 2018 resolution (H.Res. 1055), which calls for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia.
The resolution recounted the horrors of the war including the death of over 200,000 people in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the displacement of over 1,000,000 persons, and the “horrific cases of amputations, mass rape, and human rights abuses conducted under the leadership of Charles Taylor and other warlords.