Lawmakers Disrupt Special Sitting, Demand Passage of War and Economic Crime Court Resolution at Senate

By: Jeremiah S. Cooper

Capitol Hill, Monrovia: In a bold display of advocacy for justice and accountability, members of the 55th House of Representatives on Tuesday April 2, 2024 disrupted a special sitting of the legislature, demanding the passage of a bill aimed at establishing a War and Economic Crime Court.

This dramatic action underscored the urgency and importance of addressing past atrocities and promoting transparency in Liberia.

Liberia, like many countries emerging from conflict, continues to grapple with the legacy of its turbulent history, marked by years of civil war and economic instability.

The call for the establishment of a specialized court to prosecute individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and economic exploitation has been a longstanding demand of civil society groups and victims’ advocates.

The disruption of the legislative session by the lawmakers highlights the growing momentum behind this crucial issue. It reflects the frustration and impatience of many Liberians who have waited far too long for accountability and closure. The proposed War and Economic Crime Court is seen as a vital mechanism for truth-telling, reconciliation, and the prevention of future atrocities.

According to the protesting Lawmakers, the Senate is wasting time to concur with the House of Representatives for the passage of the resolution calling for the establishment of the war and economic crimes court in Liberia.

On February 5, 2024, over forty lawmakers of the House of Representatives voted for the passage of a resolution for the establishment of the war and economic crime court in Liberia.

The angry lawmakers who were seen wearing T-Shirts bearing the inscription ‘’War and Economic Crime Court Is A Must’’ during the special session alleged that the delay of the senate to pass the resolution is being influence by the executive branch of government.

‘’I support of it, I ran my campaign on this and I remain focus on the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court. You think the Senate is dealing with it, I don’t think so they have their own way to mitigate and come with a conclusion. People must give account for what they have done’’, Rep. Prescilla Cooper of District #5, Montserrado County added.

At the heart of this demand is the recognition that justice is essential for healing and rebuilding societies torn apart by conflict.

Without accountability for past crimes, wounds fester, and the cycle of violence can perpetuate.

Moreover, the establishment of such a court sends a powerful message that impunity will not be tolerated, thereby deterring future violations of human rights and international law.

‘’The TRC is clear some recommendations we asking for is full. Those who committed crime in our country should not walk free. We should now set a precedent so that our children and our generation cannot do the same thing that happened in the nineties. People were killed I’m a direct victim, I saw people kill people. I saw people playing with human being bones, we saw all these bad things and we are supporting war and economic crimes court in our country’’ Prince Toles – Montserrado County District #8 Representative narrated.

However, the road to establishing a War and Economic Crime Court in Liberia has been fraught with challenges. Political obstacles, reluctance from key stakeholders, and concerns about potential destabilization have all contributed to delays in progress.

Yet, the persistence of civil society activists and the courage of lawmakers willing to disrupt business as usual signal a turning point in the fight for justice.

It is essential to recognize that the establishment of a specialized court is not only about holding individuals accountable but also about addressing systemic issues that perpetuate injustice and inequality.

By confronting the past, Liberia can pave the way for a more inclusive and democratic future, where the rule of law prevails, and human rights are respected.

The disruption of the legislative session serves as a wake-up call to other lawmakers and government officials. It is a reminder of their responsibility to uphold the principles of justice and transparency enshrined in Liberia’s constitution and international legal obligations.

The passage of the War and Economic Crime Court Bill is not merely a political gesture; it is a moral imperative and a crucial step towards reconciliation and nation-building.

As Liberia stands at a crossroads, the eyes of the world are upon it.

The decisions made in the coming days and weeks will shape the country’s trajectory for years to come.

By heeding the calls of its citizens and taking decisive action to establish a War and Economic Crimes Court, Liberia can demonstrate its commitment to the values of accountability, justice, and respect for human dignity.

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