Activists Call on Gov’t to Establish War Crimes Court

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Activists gathered on Monday, November 12 under the banner of the Campaigners and Victims for Justice to stage a peaceful protest calling for the establishment of a war crimes court in the country.

The protesters gathered in front of the U.S. embassy, the European Union embassy, the United Nations headquarters, and paraded along principal streets in Monrovia.

Many carried various posters depicting images of gruesome murders committed during the country’s civil crisis and chanted phrases such as, “Y’all leave us, dah justice we want.”

Protesters call on the government to establish a war crimes court. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Adama Dempster, a human rights activist who was one of the group’s leaders, told journalists on the day of the march that their intent was to seek justice for crimes perpetrated during the civil crisis.

According to Dempster, many of those who had committed war and economic crimes were still holding top positions in the government.

“There is a need for the estimated 250,000 victims that lost their lives during the conflict to seek justice,” he said.

Dempster said most of the victims of the conflict are living in a state of hopelessness. He called on international partners to push the government to establish a war and economic crimes court.

However, Sen. Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba, who recently addressed a press conference, has said that those who are demanding a war crimes court risk triggering a crisis.

Johnson led the Independent National Patriotic Party of Liberia, a rebel group that broke away from Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

Johnson was notoriously captured on a widely distributed film ordering the torture of former president Samuel K. Doe.

Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba. Photo: Zeze Ballah

According to OK FM’s Nimba correspondent Franklin Doloque, the senator threatened that the homes of supporters of a war crimes court would be the first places to be destroyed.

Doloque said Johnson has even threatened Nimbaians who support establishing the war crimes court, naming Rep. Larry P. Younquoi of Nimba’s eighth district, Rep. Samuel G. Kogar of Nimba’s fifth district and prominent human rights activist Taiwon Gongloe.

The OK FM Nimba correspondent maintained that Johnson has stated at several public gatherings that any attempt to arrest him will be met with swift resistance from his supporters.

Meanwhile, Doloque said Johnson has ordered the Liberia National Police and his supporters in Nimba to arrest Emmanuel Wongen, who had allegedly accused the senator of training rebels in the bushes of Nimba.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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