Special Awards In Pictures

Besides her good international records, several other reasons propelled Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s victory in 2005 over other potential contenders, one of which is her acclaimed record as defender or advocate of human rights and social justice, standing against dictatorial, anti-human right and free speech regimes such as the Doe’s and Taylor’s.

Of course, as President, it was expected she would leave no stone unturned in pursuing every means to inculcate the dictates of justice, to ensure justice prevails, to ensure everyone pays the price of his/her action. Many had thought the TRC process provided such opportunity for the President to prove herself worthy of the “crown.” However, twelve years at the helm of power, the outcome is a contradiction, as such an unenthusiastic approach to the pursuit of justice is hunting her. Of course, this is what her last US trip is showing, The New Republic takes a reflection into what’s unfolding in the US against the President vis-à-vis calls from rights groupings.

The Coalition for Justice in Liberia and its partners is protesting the visit of President Ellen Johnson Sirlkeaf to the United States where she is expected to speak at a recognized and acclaimed forum.
The trip appears to be her last to the US as President of Liberia comes amid the height of a serious political upheaval in the country over the controversial handling of the elections that supposed to produce her successor.
The Liberian Leader who only has one month few days in office is in the US to lecture at Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series.
She departed the country at the weekend when the Supreme Court was hearing arguments in the legal debacle occasioned by Liberty Party’s challenge of the outcome of the polls on October 10.
However, the Coalition for Justice in Liberia (CJL), Operation We Care For Liberia, Africa Center for Law and Human Rights, Liberia Human Rights Campaign are appalled that the President has made the trip, obviously her last, amid Liberia’s current electoral stalemate.
The groups claim Pres. Sirleaf is to solicit another undeserving award from the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas.
Represented by, Ms. Lovetta Tugbeh, Bernard Goah, Cllr. Frederick Jayway and Patrick Tuon, they implored the international community’s intervention to save Liberia especially as justice and democracy are willfully undermined in Liberia.
“It is important to note that throughout President Sirleaf’s 12-year leadership, the issue of justice for war crimes victims in Liberia, was ignored and never given prominence as critical to bringing about genuine peace, reconciliation and assuring post-conflict stability in the nation,” the groups said in a statement quoted by GNN Liberia

“The 14-years brutal civil war caused the deaths of an estimated 250,000 Liberians and other foreigners, many of whom were vulnerable women and children. In addition, the war resulted in the destruction of the economy and caused half a million Liberians to be displaced in foreign countries has made genuine peace and stability a far-fetched reality.”
CJL and others remind the Clinton School of Public Service that those who committed heinous crimes against the Liberian people were cuddled and given protection by the Sirleaf led regime without any consequences for their crimes committed.
It says “Many of those who were directly involved in committing such war crimes and crimes against humanity are the same individuals who now control state power, and are more than determined to cling unto it more than ever before.”
“While CJL is fully cognizant and appreciative of the fact that the country has enjoyed relative peace over the last 12 years, we are deeply concerned that much has not been done by President Sirleaf who leaves office in a little over a month, to strengthen the foundation of peace and stability Liberia desperately needs.”
As domestic and international human rights groups continue to mount pressure to find and prosecute warlords around the world, they call upon the Clinton Foundation, in particular, President Bill Clinton, to make the issue of justice for war victims in Liberia a priority because it offers the best solution to durable and sustainable peace in Liberia.
The statement says, “President Clinton could bring his fame and stature of influence to the table to hasten the implementation of Justice for war victims in Liberia.”
“In the absence of justice, the people of Liberia, especially war crimes, victims will not fully experience healing and ending the entrenched culture of impunity that exists in Liberia.”
The groups claim the Liberian leader has trampled over the inalienable rights of war victims in Liberia, adding “It baffles us that such person would be received and honored at Clinton School of Public Service to receive another undeserving award and recognition.”
“Such action contradicts, defeats and derails the purpose of the late Frank and Kula Kumpuris who believed, “…that through understanding, teaching, and discussion, the world could be a better place.”
Human rights bodies and activists are unhappy that the president and her government did less to address the recommendations of the TRC, mainly the aspect about prosecuting those who bear greater responsibility of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The TRC recommended that President Sirleaf be barred from politics for thirty years for “providing financial aid to a group that reportedly established the rebel group that began the war in 1989.”

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