Hopes for War Crimes Court Crash
-Ex Prosecutor Demands Legislative Approval
The Former Prosecutor of the of the now disbanded United Nations Backed Special Court of Sierra Leone Mr. Stephen Knapp has jeopardized hopes for an early establishment of a UN backed war-crimes court in Liberia.
Speaking at a Talk-show hosted by OK radio on Lynch street last Friday evening, along with Massah Washington formerly of the Inquirer newspaper, Mr. Knappsaid the setting up of a war crimes court to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for the war in Liberia requires a legislative enactment.Many advocates of the application of justice, especially victims of Liberia’s protracted civil war view the remark as unfortunate, given the hostile disposition of some members of Liberia’s National Legislature towards the setting up of a war crimes court in Liberia.
Mr. Knapp observed that the situation in Sierra Leone that led to the establishment of the UN backed Special court of Sierra Leone is different from what is unfolding in Liberia.
According to a reliable source, the similarity between what happened in Liberia to what unfolded in Sierra Leone is that Sierra Leone’s rebel war ended after the intervention of the Lome, Togo Peace Accord and afterwards the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up to probe into the conduct of the war.
In Liberia the protracted civil war ended following the intervention of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the Ghanaian capital city Accra, which paved the way for the holding of democratic elections that brought ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to power in 2006.
The dilemma however is that in Sierra Leone immediately after the war, the government of the late President Alhaji Tejan Kabbah promptly acted to implement the Lome Peace accord provision that requires the trial of those who bear the greatest responsibility for the war in the country.
It was the intention of the Sierra Leone government to prosecute Liberian leader Charles Taylor, but mounting of evidences showed that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone rebels led by the late ex-corporal Foday Sankoh were a branch of the NPFL led by the Liberian leader.
Tejan Kabbah himself was toppled in a military coup and had to flee to Guinea by a coalition of rebels and the Sierra Leone Army, but it is unprecedented that the coup was reversed by an intervention of a Nigerian-led ECOWAS forces.
After Kabbah was restored back to power, the leadership of the coup including the top brass of the Sierra Leone army faced tribunal and were executed, although the leader of the short-lived coup Corporal Johnny Paul Koroma escaped to Liberia as guest of ex-President Taylor.
Once back to power, the government wasted no time with a legislative enactment calling for the setting up of a United nations backed Special court to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for the war, an indictment was prepared and all the country’s warlords were arrested and detained. (By John L. Momoh).