Special Awards In Pictures

---Rights Groups/Activists Implore International Community

Despite receiving array of international accolades for her “works” in human rights and social justice over the course of time, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf remains a controversial figure in some aspect of Liberians’ convictions, mainly those in the field of human rights and social justice.

While international partners see the “iron lady” as having immaculate credentials, she is an abomination for some Liberians, some of whom still want to see her in the territory of justice, to account for whatever role played in Liberia’s unforgettable past. This is the main focus of the Coalition for Justice in Liberia and others who have implored the international community to help save Liberia out of Ellen’s gimmicks. The New Republic, reports.

Liberians-owned and run human rights and civil society organizations have implored partners of Liberia – the international community- to do everything within their reach and powers to save Liberia out of its current situation of abuse of justice and protection of alleged war criminals.

In spite of a successful twelve-year democratic governance and political stability, the country remains hunted for its failure to bring to justice those accused of heinous crimes against the nation and people during the country’s decade-long civil war that left it completely socially plundered and economically broken.

Most former heads of warring factions accused of bearing greater responsibilities of war crimes and crimes against humanity make up the current political elite that have prided impunity over justice and accountability.

But with few weeks left for the tenure of the current administration headed by President Ellen Johnson, who is accused of facilitating the civil war, rights groups are mounting sustained pressure on the international community to take actions against the accused.

Recently, the Coalition for Justice in Liberia and its partners protested the visit of President Sirleaf to the United States where she spoke at a recognized and acclaimed forum organized by the Clinton Foundation.

The president, who is expected back into the country December 7 or 8, is in the US in a supposing last trip as President of Liberia. The trip came amid heightened serious political upheaval in the country over the controversial handling of the elections that supposed to produce her successor.

The Liberian Leader was invited to speak at Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series, but the Coalition for Justice in Liberia (CJL) and partners, including, Operation We Care For Liberia, Africa Center for Law and Human Rights, Liberia Human Rights Campaign detested the trip.

Though the trip reportedly centered on a speaking arrangement, the groups claimed she was a cover-up 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 work of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is one of the controversial issues around which Liberians are divided. While some Liberians want complete actualization of the TRC report, part of which calling for the prosecution of warlords and economic criminals, others strongly opposed, arguing it would take country back on the path of another upheaval.

According to the groups, “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 reminded 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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