As the debate for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court intensifies, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is expected to hear the proposal to establish a War Crimes & Economic Crimes Court for Liberia.
The hearing which is expected this Monday June 21,2021 according to the legal group, will examine the legacy of Liberia’s civil wars on its people and economy, the structure and likely policy implications of a proposed War Crimes & Economic Crimes Court for Liberia, and grassroots efforts to secure rule of law in the country and meet victims’ needs.
According to them, thehe hearing will be virtual. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Members of Congress and witnesses will participate remotely via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and the media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available for viewing on the House Digital Channel service.
According to a statement from Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission official website, in recent years the momentum for a War Crimes & Economic Crimes Court for Liberia to help redress the wounds of the country’s civil war has increased, but its creation is far from certain despite the recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009 and continuous pressure from grassroots groups throughout Liberia.
The statement further said that President George Manneh Weah has equivocated with regard to the court’s creation, backsliding from earlier support during his campaign for president.
The statement went on to say, for the past few decades, Liberia’s people have suffered untold human rights violations while perpetrators acted with near-complete impunity during the country’s multiple civil wars. Between 1989 and 2003, 250,000 Liberians died from the fighting, and thousands more were conscripted as child soldiers, raped, suffered loss of limb, and other traumatic experiences. Since that time, not a single war crimes trial has occurred in Liberia as part of the country’s judicial process.
The hearing is expected to be hosted by Christopher H. Smith
Member of Congress
Co-Chair, TLHRC and
James P. McGovern
Member of Congress
At the same time the statement named the following as witnesses
- Ysyndi Martin-Kepyei, Executive Director of the Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJUL),
- Jerome V. Verdier, Esq, Executive Director, International Justice Group and former Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia
- Michael Mueller, Chairman of the Global Initiative for Justice
- Dr. Alan W. White, former Chief of Investigations, Special Court for Sierra Leone
The Deputy Minister for Technical Service, Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MOPT), Prosper Browne, has asserted that Liberia must put itself in a position to take care of the vulnerability of its cyber space.
Speaking during the second day of the workshop organized by ECOWAS, with support from the EU through its project implementing arm, Organized Crime West African Response on Cyber Security (OCWAR-C), Deputy Minister Browne cautioned participants to address issues causing insecurity in Liberia’s cyber space.
Hon Brown make mentioned that questions need to be answered on how Liberia can protect its cyber space. He caution participants to quiz the experts who have come with the ECOWAS delegation for the provision of clarity on cyber security.
According to him,These are serious-minded boggling questions that do not need to be ignored.
He futher urged the participants saying because Liberia’s cyber space is vulnerable, there is a great need to work collectively to make it better.
Browne questioned participants if they ever wonder, prior to coming to the workshop, what cyber security is all about. “But think about this…For example, you wake up one morning and the only source of water supply to the citizens’ infrastructure was damaged by unknown men, or there is a potential threat posed to the infrastructure. What will you do?
The Deputy minister also stated that the protection of Liberia’s cyber space requires the involvement of everyone in creating citizens awareness, forging partnership with the private sector, creating a national cyber security framework which guides our approach as a people to manage and reduce risk.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Browne has expressed appreciation to the ECOWAS delegation OCWAR-C team for inspiring technology actors who participated in the workshop.
Speaking also at the program was the Project Manager at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, D. Nalon Kaine, who praised the OCWAR–C team in the country for assisting to create the role leading to the establishment of a National Computer Security Incident Respond Team (CSIRT). Kaine also drilled participants on Liberia’s cyber security drive.
The Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) has issued a statement rejecting $US15,000.00 from Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillon for the construction of a proposed public Library.
According to them, the regulations governing the operations of LACE and the statute creating the
entity do not allow it to carry out individual projects for legislators outside the
structures of an MOU sign between LACE and the Legislator and in line with budget
appropriations or the budget process. LACE would carry out such project as part of the budget law and once such
appropriation is made to LACE through the budget process.
They at the same time noted, Receipt of individual
project monies from legislators would be contrary to governance norms to which
LACE subscribes and would be a marked departure from LACE’s best practice.
The statement quote LACE as saying “We regret to inform the Senator that LACE is unable to take receipt of his
USD15,000.00 (Fifteen Thousand United States Dollars) check”.
In recent days there has been Public outcries from citizens across the country after members of the 54th Legislature disbursed an initial US15k for what they called Legislative engagement.
This calls led to the Montserrado County Senator having a press conference stating he will give the monies to LACE to implement a proposed public Library for the county.
The Senate joint committees on Autonomous Commissions and Agencies, Ways, Means, Finance and Budget has called on the National Election Commission to make an adjustment in the US$91.9m proposed budget for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Election.
According to both committees there should be a consultations with the aim of taking a relook at the proposed US$91.9 million recently presented to the Senate by the National Elections Commission(NEC) for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
The joint committees in a hearing Wednesday June 16,2021 told the Board of Commissioners that amidst the current economic reality of the Country, it is purdent for the Commission to go back to the drawing board and do readjustment of the proposed budget.
The committee futher indicated that US$91.9 million seems huge especially when there are lot of competing priorities.
Meanwhile, the committee have urged NEC to do complete breakdown of the proposed budget into stages for Legislative consideration.
In justification, NEC Chairperson said that the budget is realistic due to the introduction of biometric voter registration in the 15 counties which will include costs for logistics, equipment, materials, staff, technical experts, training, civic \Voter education and gender mainstreaming amongst others.
Madam Davidetta Brown-Lasanah at the same time said the Commission intends to establish 14 additional magisterial offices across the Country, adding that this will entail additional cost of infrastructure, equipment and personnel as captured in the budget.
Madam Brown also told committee members that for the final half of 2021, the Commission will need US$4million to conduct the pilot project for the Biometric Voter Registration.
She also noted that the Commission will need a total of US$41,979,273.86 out of its submission to undertake activities which are a prerequisite for organising the 2023 general elections.
She is quoted as saying” These activities include BVR, public outreach, Field and Headquarters Operations, as well as all of the project activities indicated in the budget summary “.
The NEC, according to Chairperson Lasanah, has been conducting elections using the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) technology for the registration of voters.
The NEC boss meanwhile told the committee that in order to successfully transition for the existing OMR system to the Biometric Voter Registration technology, the entire Data Center and the information Technology Infrastructure of the Commission will require restructuring.
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), backed by the Liberia National Police and the Liberia Coast Guard, Tuesday June 15, 2021, embarked on the collection of fishery license fees from fisher folks in the coastal community of West Point.
NafAA said the collection of fishery license fees from fisher folks is part of efforts to generating lawful revenue for government.
The NaFAA team arrived in West Point early Tuesday morning, while the fishermen were still in bed thus giving the enforcers the leverage to identify canoes that are in violation of the “licensing-before-fishing” regulation before leaving for fishing.
The team which was led by NaFAA Director General, Emma Metieh Glassco was seen impounding several canoes for noncompliance.
Meanwhile, Director-General Glassco during the enforcement registered her disappointment in the snail-paced voluntary payment of the fees, and the role of the fishing chiefs in ensuring compliance after they had committed themselves.
She at the same time was seen moving from different landing sites using canoe and the Liberia Coast Guard patrol boat in search of canoes that are deemed illegally fishing in Liberia’s waters.
However, the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority has given the fisher folks up to Thursday to comply. This decision comes on the heels of numerous appeals to Madam Glassco by the fishermen.
It can be recalled, recently Operators of fishing canoes were given grace period twice for the payment of their 2021 fishing license fees following numerous appeals. These grace periods had since elapsed, with no or very limited efforts by fisher folks to comply. The fishermen primarily Kru canoe operators, are obligated to paying annual operational fees of US$50 (L$8,500) per canoe.