Says Liberian Bar
Tiawan Gongloe, the president of the Liberia National Bar Association, has said that there should be no excuse for accountability.
Mr. Gongloe was speaking on the international conference on From Truth to Justice The Implementation of TRRC recommendations on prosecution, held on Wednesday, 17 November, 2021.
He added that accountability is a must and there is no other option if we want to have a peaceful society, stating that one of the reasons is that there will always be some sort of justification for violence by the perpetrators.
He said that in Liberia there was a brutal military dictatorship that had victimized a lot of people who were went into exile. However, Mr. Charles Taylor who was heading the General Citizens’ Agency (GSA), had been accused of stealing so much money in the procurement process, organized and came to Liberia as a liberator, to free the Liberian people from the repressive military regime.
He said until he intend to do anything better, in fact experience show that he (Taylor) did worst, indicating that Mr. Yahya Jammeh and others became part of the peacekeeping force that was organized for the first time by ECOWAS, to intervene in Liberia to enforce or create a cease fire.
“I saw Yaya Jammeh myself in Monrovia and was member of the interim government serving as executive assistant to Dr. Sawyer. I saw Yaya Jammeh many times he was a captain in the military police. He came back to Gambia and were informed in Liberia that he led a group of soldiers to request their crude salaries and benefits, and then end result was a military coup,” Mr. Gongloe explained.
He said Captain Valentine Strasser from Sierra Leone also retuned to Sierra Leone and urged the government to take care of them in terms of good salaries and benefits.
“I am saying because all of these started in Liberia, and if perpetrators are not held to account, others will repeat what they had done and do even worse than what happened before. The children of victims who gain magnified stories of what actually happened, then they would revenge beyond what was done to the parents”, he said.
He said this is because the children of the victims would take the entire Gambians as conspirators against their parents, and they would act without distinction.
He said that most perpetrators never admit wrongdoing, but rather always justify with reference to the TRRC in Liberia, where those who appeared and testified, said they have never killed a fly even though they killed human beings.
“As a victim myself, because I was representing journalists, human right advocates, pro-democracy activists and opposition politicians, Mr. Taylor put me in jail one night and next morning I was on the stretcher going to the hospital with my kidneys damaged, and three days in a row I could not use the rest room”, he recounted.
He said the man who arrested him till today says he never arrested him and that is the thing about the perpetrators, saying that they are dishonest, adding that even three to four people all testified on the incident, they (perpetrators) still had guts to say it never happened, even though the Solicitor General who was to decide their fate, was present.
“So there has to be accountability for what happens. Liberia was the first that faced this mindless brutality against other human beings but Sierra Leone has had its truth commission and has put a closure to the conflict in Sierra Leone, by holding those who bear the greatest responsibilities accountable,” he said.
He therefore said the syndrome of let be bygones be bygones should be set aside and put victims into consideration at all times, adding that forgiveness should be exclusively preserved for the victims, but not for anyone to tell them to do so, stressing further that the victims are the ones living with scars, psychological, physical problems, and some even lost their loved ones.
“What is lacking and continues to serve as a hindrance is the lack of political will. Because in Liberia the TRRC process ended in 2009, recommendations were given, and Ex-President Ellen Johson Sirleaf, who came to power on the campaign for protecting human rights, because she was a victim herself, did not muster the political will to implement the recommendations”, he cited.