Vice President Boakai Says TRC Process Only Way to Sustainable Peace

Friday, 19th June 2009
Monrovia, Liberia - Vice President Joseph N. Boakai says considering what transpired in the country between 1979 and 2003, the TRC process is the only way to sustainable peace, stability and democracy in Liberia.

He emphasized that like South Africa and Sierra Leone, the TRC process will help heal the wounds of the country's brutal civil conflict.

Vice President Boakai made the observation on June 19 when he delivered the keynote address at the close of a five-day National Reconciliation Conference hosted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the Unity Conference Center.

The Conference, held under the theme: "National Reconciliation, the Way Forward," was attended by 400 delegates from all the 15 counties and from all walks of life.

The Vice President commended Commissioners of the TRC for their good work: "The public hearings, county conventions and this National Reconciliation Conference have all provided the needed forum to enlighten the public and authorities about what transpired during the war and set a guide for us to take the necessary precautionary measures to ensure that our bitter past is not repeated.

"The testimonies and contributions of witnesses and scholars have also enlightened us about what led us as a people to the path of conflict- ethnicity, greed for power, corruption and obsession with self-aggrandizement, as opposed to nationalism," he added.

The Liberian Vice President, however, lamented that the Liberian TRC process was marred by perpetrators openly denying what everyone knows happened. "Some gave skewed versions of how they remembered what happened, while others spoke what we know as the "truth"," Vice President Boakai observed.

According to Vice President Boakai, "It was observed during the testimonies that some of the perpetrators reportedly failed to acknowledge that they inflicted harm or injury on victims, even though there were witnesses to prove that they did; some of the perpetrators failed to demonstrate sincere regrets and remorse for the injury done, and showed no readiness to apologize for their role in inflicting the injury."

He added that the "deportment of those testifying was sometimes questionable." Vice President Boakai cautioned the Commission against "advancing recommendations that are not easily achievable merely to please victims and perpetrators" because, he noted, such recommendations will only saddle the Government with tasks that it cannot achieve.

The week-long Conference ended with delegates calling for a change of the motto of the Liberian seal from its current "The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here" to "The Love of Liberty Unites Us Here."

In what they referred to as the "Virginia Declaration," the delegates also recommended that the palm tree be used as a national symbol for common identity in the new Liberia, and that those who died as a result of the conflict be memorialized by monuments and  multi-purpose halls erected in the name of victims at all sites of massacres.

The delegates called for the granting of individual reparations to "victims of Liberia's civil crisis in the form of psychosocial support, educational scholarships, micro-loans, livestock and agricultural support and food aid." They also recommended that perpetrators be made to provide financial or in-kind contributions for reparations to buttress reparations programs at the community level.

The delegates also called for the prosecution of all perpetrators in positions of leadership during the civil conflict, including heads of warring factions, frontline commanders, and that a court of competent jurisdiction be established in Liberia to deal with these cases.

Among other recommendations, the delegates also called for the re-writing of Liberian history to reflect the period before the coming of the settlers, and that March 15 be set aside as 'Presidents' Day' in honor of all of Liberian presidents.

The Conference brings to a close activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up during the August 2003 peace talks held in the Ghanaian capital Accra by Liberian stakeholders.