International watchdog, Human Rights Watch says eight Liberian and international NGOs are urging the United States to support the creation of a war crimes tribunal in Liberia so that victims can finally get justice.
The calls by the eight NGOs are coming ahead of the visit to the country on Thursday by U.
S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack.
“The Liberian people have waited too long for justice and accountability for abuses suffered during the civil wars,” Adama Dempster of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, and the Secretariat for the Establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia, two of the groups that signed the petition to the U.
Dempster noted that “the U.
S. government has the opportunity to stand with victims of atrocities committed in Liberia’s civil wars by assisting Liberia in establishing a war crimes court.
The West African country was devastated by two civil wars from 1989-1997 and from 1999-2003, which claimed almost 250,000 lives, according to the United Nations.
The conflict saw mass killings, the widespread use of child soldiers, rape, and mutilations.
No court has yet been set up in Liberia to prosecute the atrocities that happened during its civil wars.
This is even when Charles Taylor, a warlord who became president of Liberia, was arrested in 2006 and tried in the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague for his part in the neighboring country’s civil war, and other cases have been tried by foreign jurisdictions.
The NGOs pleading for U.
S. involvement include Advocates for Human Rights, Global Justice and Research Project, and Transitional Justice Working Group in Liberia.
They want the U.
S. government to replicate the pivotal role it has played in fostering accountability in West Africa, such as the prosecution of Charles Taylor, by supporting the creation of a similar tribunal in Liberia, HRW states.