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Did 82% of Liberians Agree to Transitional Justice?

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Claim: “82.2% of the Liberian population opted for transitional justice or the Palaver Hut discussion to settle issues surrounding our civil war” – Syrenius Cephus, Solicitor General

There is no evidence that 82.2% per cent of the Liberian population opted for Transitional justice or the Palaver hut discussion to settle issues surrounding our civil war.

Full Text 

When Solicitor General (SG) Cephus appeared on OK FM, on August 2, 2021, he claimed that  “82.2 per cent of the Liberian population opted for transitional justice or the palaver hut discussion to settle issues surrounding our civil war.”

Cllr Cephus in an interview said his source was the TRC report.

“You have to read the report, it is stated there, my reliance is the TRC,” he said.

In Liberia, there have been calls from both local and international countries for the establishment of a war crimes court to bring justice to those bearing higher responsibility for Liberia’s more than a decade-long bloody civil war.

But the SG says 82.2% of Liberians agreed to transitional justice instead of a war crimes court.

Councilor Cephus also claimed that in the absence of what he calls total stability, the government would not opt for the establishment of such a tribunal.

Liberia went through civil crises which resulted in the destruction of lives and properties, including the loss of approximately 250,000 lives and the displacement of thousands of Liberians, when a crisis engulfed the country in 1989.

Verification

This researcher perused the Truth Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report which the SG said he relied on and found that although there were palava huts on transitional justice forums, there was no mention of the percentage of Liberians who opted for it.

Fubbi Henries, a War Crimes Court activist, also says there has been no survey conducted in Liberia to ascertain the total number of people who preferred transitional justice.

“The claim is a lie,” he said in reaction to the claim.

At the same time, Tennen Dalieh, a doctoral student at Dublin City University researching universal jurisdiction, transitional justice, peacebuilding and reconciliation in Liberia, said in an interview that there is no record of 82 per cent of Liberians consenting to transitional justice.

“There is absolutely no record that 82 per cent agreed to transitional justice,” Dalieh said.

Background 

The Senate endorsed the recommendation of its leadership committee to set up a Transitional Justice Commission (TJC).

The plenary action of TJC came as a response to the request of President George Weah for advice on how his administration should proceed in handling the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The unanimous decision was taken by the senate after expert opinions and inputs were solicited from the Solicitor General of Liberia, Saymah Syrenius Cephus, the Liberian National Bar Association and other interested parties.

The TJC is to analyze the TRC report and give further recommendations to the President.

Conclusion

There is no evidence that 82.2% of the Liberian population opted for transitional justice or the palaver hut discussion to settle issues surrounding Liberia’s civil war. According to the TRC report, though there were town hall meetings, there is no record that 82% of Liberians opted for transitional justice.

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