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Tim barely escaped, only to return and live in Liberia following the conflict. June 25th, A member of the AA Anti-Aircraft brigade exchanges a brief tender word with his girlfriend during a heavy fighting in the capital Monrovia. War graffiti left during the various parts of the Liberian civil war.

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The UN closed its Liberia mission last year--the last of three successful operations in the Mano River basin—leaving being a country still fragile but with a fighting chance for peace and development. The photos in this exhibition, some never before shown, are a tribute to these journalists, and to the Liberian civilians who protested so powerfully and demanded an end to the violence. In , Tim and Chris, friends and colleagues committed to documenting the truth, were killed by artillery in Misurata, Libya.

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Nonetheless, a number of adjustments would need to be made to the court and its mandate to ensure it aligns with international standards and practice. For those accused of lesser abuses, it recommended domestic criminal prosecution in existing courts or non-criminal accountability measures, including public sanctions and participation in the National Palava Hut Commission, aimed at promoting reconciliation.

Amnesty is permissible for lower-level abuses that do not amount to violations of international law. Although the commission identified certain people who should or should not be prosecuted, the court would need to operate independently and impartially. Its investigators would need to conduct their own investigations and the prosecutor would need to make decisions on which cases to pursue based on the evidence.

Around the world, war crimes courts have been established with mandates limited to certain conflicts, time periods, and levels of those accused of these crimes. They typically only have jurisdiction over the most serious crimes or the most serious offenders. It is not feasible to try every person implicated in a crime.

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How would the Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia be established? Hybrid war crimes courts, such as the proposed ECCL, are sometimes created by domestic law and sometimes by a treaty between an international entity — such as the United Nations — and a state. Trials of international crimes tend to be complex and politically sensitive, and establishing a new court is a significant endeavor, which can involve substantial costs.

However, the court is created, the Liberian government should not be expected to undertake this process without international support.

International partners have been willing to assist countries in setting up a war crimes court where political will exists for its creation. Governments and international organizations have also developed expertise over the past three decades in addressing challenges that often arise within war crimes courts. Such expertise includes protection and support for witnesses and victims, security for judges and staff, assuring fair process, and educating the local population about the court. International engagement and support on domestic efforts to bring accountability for grave crimes can also be helpful in strengthening the capacity of local judicial actors and national justice institutions.

Who would serve on the Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia? While supportive of the general approach, Human Rights Watch has recommended revising several elements of the proposal to ensure prosecutions of past crimes in accordance with international standards. This would not be the first time international and domestic experience has been combined for a war crimes court. International participation can help ensure that the court is impartial, independent, effective, and fair, and has the necessary expertise to try complex international crimes.

The Liberian president would appoint three of the judges, with the UN secretary-general, the president of the European Union, and the chairman of the Commission of the African Union appointing the other five. Three judges would serve in the trial chamber. The judges would only convict if they determined based on the evidence that the prosecution had proven that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Five judges would serve in the appeals chamber. In each chamber, international judges would be in the majority, which can help to insulate the chamber from actual or perceived domestic political interference or bias.

Liberia has no working witness protection program, but if a war crimes court were to be set up, it would be needed. Witness protection protocols have been set up alongside each international criminal and hybrid court so far.

An Exhibition of Photographs From the Liberian Civil War Cements Two Important Legacies

Several of these courts, including the Special Court for Sierra Leone, have published best practice recommendations for protecting and supporting witnesses, and Liberia could adopt similar protocols. How should information about the war crimes court be disseminated? Civil society, including community-based organizations, could play a critical role in disseminating facts and information about the court through community radio and other means to reduce misinformation and ethnic-based rumors.

However, it would also be important for the war crimes court to conduct its own outreach on its work as it is best placed to ensure the information is accurate. The Special Court for Sierra Leone stands out among hybrid courts for its active and dynamic outreach program. Liberia should draw from this experience in developing programming to ensure that accountability efforts are accessible and meaningful to all Liberians.

Since taking office in January , President Weah has not taken any action toward ensuring justice for past war crimes or creating a war crimes court. Some are calling for a war crimes court; others are calling for reconciliation. What we need to do is to find out what we need as a people. Liberia will need to report back on the issue of impunity and accountability for civil wars-era crimes by No referendum is needed.

In addition to international commitments undertaken by Liberia to ensure justice for international crimes, the TRC recommended establishing this court. Where the implementation of any recommendation has not been complied with, the Legislature shall require the Head of State to show cause for such non-compliance. A national justice conference held that month included numerous calls for suspects to be held to account. Liberian, African, and international nongovernmental organizations have come together to campaign for justice for past crimes in Liberia and presented a submission to the UN Human Rights Committee in July on the need for trials of past crimes in Liberia.

The UN Human Rights Committee in July called for the Liberian government to report back within two years on its progress to ensure that those accused of human rights violations and war crimes are prosecuted. Will justice threaten stability in Liberia? Experience around the world has often shown that a lack of justice can fuel future abuses, as evidenced in South Sudan , Afghanistan , Central African Republic , Libya , and Democratic Republic of Congo.

By contrast, fair, credible trials build respect for the rule of law, contributing to a durable peace. In addition, prosecutions against people implicated in crimes in Liberia and arrests of leaders of warring parties linked to serious violations in the United States and Europe have not resulted in a recurrence of violence. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was negotiated and agreed upon in the August Comprehensive Peace Agreement and subsequently enacted into law by the National Transitional Legislative Assembly in It reported directly to a committee of legislators within the national legislature throughout its tenure.

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What did the TRC do? The TRC collected more than 20, statements from Liberians about human rights abuses between and Beginning in October , statement-takers were deployed in all 15 counties, as well as in the diaspora in 8 US cities, the United Kingdom, and the Buduburam refugee settlement in Ghana.

These hearings focused on specific events, groups, or kinds of violations.

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Based on the statements and hearings, the commission compiled a final report. The final edited version of the report and appendices was publicly released in December Skip to main content. Help us continue to fight human rights abuses. Please give now to support our work. Has anyone faced justice for these crimes?

Would there be a witness protection program? Accountability Options 6. Proposed Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia 8. Prospects for Justice for Past Crimes in Liberia The TRC Act authorized the TRC to do the following: hold those allegedly responsible for crimes accountable; investigate gross human rights and international humanitarian law violations and abuses that occurred between January and October ; determine those responsible for committing the violations and abuses, and their motives and impact on victims; determine if the abuses were isolated incidents, part of a systematic pattern, or the result of deliberate planning on the part of the state, authority, political organizations, movement, or group of individuals; and investigate the root causes of the conflict, violations, and abuses to prevent reoccurrences, thus reconciling Liberian society.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world. Tags Truth and Reconciliation Commission Liberia international justice.