WHAT HAS CHANGED IN LIBERIA?
By Counsellor Frederick A.B. Jayweh, LL.M (June 4th 2004)
....Liberians and members of the international community, please remember that one of the reasonable tests to determining whether the Bryant-led government and the United Nations have control and power in Liberia relative to securing peace and security, is to ensure that a national census is conducted nationwide in Liberia before the October 2005 elections...
If you were to summon the time and courage to carefully read and digest the May 24, 2004, Global Witness’ Report on Liberia, especially so considering the level of the immediate security threat that faces Liberia and West Africa...
If you were to compare, contrast and reflect on the connections and inner-connections of the criminal and so-called business industries that have existed and are continuing to survive in Liberia, with direct connections to, and surviving with the direct consent of the past and present governments of Liberia, an out-rightly ware, illegitimate and inappropriate industries that have primarily fueled wars and civil conflicts in the Liberia and the sub-region...
If you were to consider the huge benefits that grow out of these economic and political connections, and if you were to take a critical and keen look at the structure of the present rebel-led transitional government that is entrusted with power in Liberia and review its activities and credibility, you cannot help, but be compelled to ask yourself, what has changed in Liberia?
By the way, were Mr. Taylor and his criminal associates allowed to live and survive the so-called meaningful reforms in Liberia, in spite of the purported huge political changes that were said to have been effected in Liberia in the name of peace and security, and are these war criminals surviving because the Bryant-led government has continued to directly and indirectly lend active support and assistance to them and their criminal industries? Or, has Mr. Bryant benefited or is benefiting somehow and someway from these illegal business transactions and connections? The past and present record of association of the Bryant-led government speaks to clearly and directly to this fact.
In other words, accounting for the fact that the United Nations Mission is present in Liberia and is sacrificially effecting disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and has the mandate to maintain national and international peace and security, has Mr. Taylor along with his disciples taken control of power and economic control in Liberia and more so, power and control over the rich-natural resources of Liberia?
Wait a second, are the so-called business and well-known criminal industries which were purely connected and united in criminality under the Taylor-led government still allowed to exist and continue their act of criminality and are they posing visible security threat to national and international peace and security in Liberia and the sub-region right in the direct view, and to the actual knowledge of the Bryant-led government? In short, what practical and realistic reform has been and is being undertaken in Liberia in order to guarantee and protect the actual outcome of national and international peace and security in Liberia?
Specifically, what sustainable and durable change has occurred in the Republic of Liberia, apart from the fact that the entire Taylor-led government, together with a renewed national criminal industry was appeased, installed and permitted to take power and pretend to operate as a government in Liberia? Do the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the Liberian Transitional Government have control and effective management over and in the Republic of Liberia, more so, power and control over its rich diamond, gold and forest industries to prevent their illegitimate use to support criminal and warlike activities in Liberia and West Africa?
And last, but most importantly, is the deployment of the United Nations forces in the big cities and towns in the Republic of Liberia, practical and realistic enough to be representative of actual control of national and international peace and security in Liberia? Or by pronouncing and declaring that disarmament in Liberia is about 85% completed and that civil authorities can now be restored, though there yet exists actual and credible fear to conduct national census before the October 2005 elections, amounts to actual and physical control in Liberia? Let it be known that this declaration, standing alone, cannot reasonably represent and/or amount to realistic and actual control of peace and security anywhere in Liberia, when the rebel forces are still attacking the civilian population and abusing their rights at-will right before the clear view and in the direct presence of the UN forces in the interior parts of Liberia. At this stage in the peacemaking and peace-building history of Liberia, Liberia certainly needs to have pro-action and not simply reaction, relative to its peace and security.
Liberians and members of the international community, please remember that one of the reasonable tests to determining whether the Bryant-led government and the United Nations have control and power in Liberia relative to securing peace and security, is to ensure that a national census is conducted nationwide in Liberia before the October 2005 elections. Any thing short of this will definitely resemble and be representative of the ECOWAS’ kind of comprehensive and complete disarmament and reintegration declared and passed down to Liberians and the international community in mid-1990. To conduct nationwide census in Liberia before the October 2005 general and presidential elections is not just an act of honoring the Liberian Constitution, but it remains paramount to determining and establishing by visible proof that peace and security has indeed returned to Liberia and can be sustained. Please note that NO amount of resorting to the taking of national ID cards by Liberians before October 2005 elections will amount to the necessary proof that peace and security has been restored and is being guaranteed in Liberia.
Along this line and regarding what has changed in Liberia, in light of the conclusive and comprehensive report issued on Liberia by Global Witness, I am aware that there will be some immediate and out-right obvious answers that might flow from out of some Liberians, such as, the war in Liberia has stopped. The guns, whether big or small, have ceased from firing at Liberia and Liberians. A government of inclusive inclusion headed by a neutral businessman has been installed and is uniting our people in Liberia. Presidential and congressional elections are slated for October 2005. Schools and hospitals are once again opened and Liberians are again starting to go about their normal business, and they are honestly attempting to live in total and absolute peace and security. Reconciliation and peacemaking has remained the order of the day in Liberia. So, what do you mean by asking, what has changed in Liberia? What really do you want to see changed in Liberia, and changed as to what, and by whose standard?
By reasonable standard, while the foregoing facts and apparent changes are recognized and highly respected, nonetheless, Liberians still need to know and actually become aware of what really has changed in Liberia, since the fact remains that the nefarious and heartless regime of Mr. Charles G. Taylor and his associates are still masters of power and control in Liberia, and since there is a new criminal and disintegrated regime called transitional government established in Liberia and has taken power and control over voiceless Liberians and Liberia, but virtually has no power and control over peace and security in the interior parts of the Republic of Liberia.
In spite of the rosy declaration and pronouncement relative to the level of peace and security in Liberia, what really has changed, while the Liberian political institutions remain ever silent on what constitutes actual peace and security in Liberia and are simply conducting themselves primarily in readiness only for the October 2005 elections? Why is the National Elections Commission of Liberia consciously and knowingly attempting to do away with nationwide census before the October 2005, elections in the midst of total silence and to the disadvantage of national and international peace and security in Liberia? If peace and security has returned to Liberia, why the Bryant-led government has not attempted and is not attempting to visit the interior parts of Liberia, left alone, the entire 15 counties of Liberia?
What has not changed in Liberia?
To realistically survey and practically determine what has changed, and what must be changed in Liberia in order to promote and guarantee national and international peace and security in Liberia and the sub-region, Global Witness emphasizes and underscores that the foregoing factors are clearly visible and represent actual and immediate threat to the struggling peace and security in Liberia.
• Absolutely and without any doubt, the continual criminal use of the forest industry of Liberia by Mr. Taylor and his business partners united in criminality represents Immediate and actual threat to the peace and security of Liberia.
• The illegitimate and Out-right trafficking of huge amount of money by some members of the banking community of Liberia for Mr. Taylor imposes immediate and known threat to the peace and security of Liberia and West Africa.
* Mr. Taylor and his associates are still controlling and managing the diamond and gold mines of Liberia for criminal and warlike purposes.
• Logging companies with criminal intent and connections to Mr. Taylor and the rebel groups in Liberia are operating under multiple corporate names and identities.
• The Oriental Timber Company, (OTC) which has no lawful corporate standing in Liberia, still exists in Liberia and conducting logging business for Mr. Taylor and his criminal associates.
• Local Liberian Logging companies incorporated in Liberia and owned by Mr. Taylor are surviving and doing business for Mr. Taylor with warlike intents and purposes.
• Primary and basic security remains under the classic control and management of Mr. Taylor and his worshippers.
• The Bryant-led government, is consciously and clearly sleeping in economic and political bed with Mr. Taylor and his supporters to the disadvantage peace and security of Liberia.
• The Bryant-led government, continues to lend direct aid and unrestricted support to the criminal industry of Mr. Taylor and his associates by appointing his followers.
• Liberia and Liberians, continue to live under the fear and rumor of war without much Investigation.
• And lastly, Mr. Taylor and his partners in war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to evade justice and the rule of law, while Nigerian and the Bryan-led governments are refusing to surrender Mr. Taylor to face trial.
What Must Change in Liberia?
Unlike Rwanda and other unfortunate like minded African nations that suffered and sustained untold deaths and destructions of their peoples and properties due to the lack of political will and because of the active inaction of the international community sometimes in the 1990s, Liberia and Liberians are overwhelmingly blessed to have the full force and goodwill of United Nations mounted in Liberia. Just to note, Liberia and the problems of Liberia have become more and more discussed and discernible by the international community.
This time around, Washington and other powerful members of the international community have found the necessary political and economic will and have employed the requisite action and not inaction to ensure that Liberia and the sub-region enjoy relative international peace and security. To-date, the international community has shipped a little over fourteen thousand trained and professional military men to save Liberia and its people from total deaths and destructions. Therefore to protect and sustain peace and security in Liberia and West Africa, Liberia must experience and enjoy the impact of the foregoing changes:
• The national security of Liberia and Liberians must be removed from under the control and management of Mr. Taylor and his criminal associates.
• The forest industry of Liberia must be absolutely and completely brought under the power and control of the United Nations for the benefit of Liberia and Liberians.
• The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Liberia must immediately summon and commence to investigate national and international companies operating under multiple names and hidden identities.
• The International Community must investigate and immediate neutralize the military might and war-making connections and power of Mr. Taylor and the rebel groups in Liberia.
• The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Liberia must summon and investigate the banking community in Liberia relative to money trafficking for Mr. Taylor.
• The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Liberia must summon and investigate local and international so-called businesses with direct connection to Mr. Taylor and the rebel groups.
• Political institutions in Liberia must work with the United Nations to ensure peace and security in Liberia.
• Arm trade and deal must be investigated and put to immediate end in Liberia.
• The international community must ascertain and investigate the personal account and business interests of Mr. Taylor and his associates in Liberia.
• Nationwide census must be conducted in Liberia before the October 2005 election.
And as emphasized by Global Witness, the UN must establish a data bank to have human rights violators and war criminals persecuted later in Liberia.
The foregoing remain essential and necessary, because Liberia and left alone the sub-region cannot this time around afford another round of war.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Counselor-At-Law, Frederick A.B. Jayweh worked as a Human Rights Lawyer in Liberia, he is a member of the Liberian National Bar Association, former Executive Director of Civil Rights Association of Liberian Lawyers, Inc., and an LL.M graduate of University of Denver College of Law, and currently resides in Denver, Colorado. Counselor Jayweh can be reached at: 303-884-2653 and firstname.lastname@example.org
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