January 22, 2018
His Excellency George Weah
President of the Republic of Liberia
Care of Mr Duannah Siryon
Press and Public Affairs Officer
Dear President Weah:
Your election and the peaceful transition of power in Liberia is a historic moment for your nation. During the campaign, you referenced your “clean slate” of never being involved in Liberia’s civil wars. We urge you to seize this moment and the goodwill you have generated to finally bring justice and accountability to the countless victims of Liberia’s fourteen-year armed conflict.
The undersigned human rights organizations encourage your administration to fulfill Liberia’s obligations to investigate and prosecute wartime atrocities. The establishment of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was an important start. The prosecution of former United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy ( ULIMO) commander Mohammed Jabbateh, convicted in a U.S. court for immigration crimes related to his alleged wartime atrocities, has raised hope for justice for war victims. This year may also see the trials of former Defense Minister of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), Tom Woewiyu, in the United States; NPFL Commander Martina Johnson in Belgium; ULIMO Commander Alieu Kosiah in Switzerland; and Agnes Reeves Taylor in the United Kingdom.
You now have the opportunity to ensure justice for those who suffered some of the most serious crimes of the first and second civil wars. These crimes, which include summary executions, torture, rape, sexual slavery, and the use and recruitment of child soldiers, not to mention mass atrocities, such as the massacres at Carter Camp and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, where hundreds of innocent civilians were killed, cannot go unpunished. Despite Liberia’s legal obligations under international law to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of grave abuses, and the TRC’s recommendation to do so, Liberia has yet to hold a single person to account for these crimes.
We urge you to make accountability a priority for your administration and ensure the protection of Liberian human rights defenders, particularly those working on accountability initiatives. By addressing the problems of impunity in Liberia, and holding the perpetrators of civil-war-era crimes accountable, you are in a position to give the people of Liberia – the people who put you in office – the justice they deserve.