Cummings Prefers Reconciliation to Retributive Justice for War Crimes

GANTA, Nimba – As debates continue over the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, especially on the prosecution of warlords and war actors through the establishment of a war crimes court, the presidential candidate of the Alternative National Congress, Alexander B. Cummings, Jr., has said he would avoid setting up a war crimes court.

Rather, Cummings promised he would support the process of reconciliation. He made the comment in Ganta when he appeared on a special talk show on the Voice of Gompa radio station.

“On the TRC report, I support it for restorative justice and many elements of that report that speaks to that,” Cummings said. “[But] I am not in support of retributive justice.”

Cummings said, in as much as Liberians want to move forward, they should acknowledge the level of pains and agony many Liberians faced during the war and “I think we need to acknowledge it and celebrate some of the brave people that lost their lives.”

“I think it will consume us if we start to focus on retribution,” he said. “If we go that route, all of the energies, the time, the radio broadcast, everything will go behind – I know it is hurtful, it is painful and lots of those people are running around.”

While many Liberians in and out of the country have been calling for the implementation of the TRC recommendations, especially the portions banning war perpetrators from political activity for 30 years and establishment of a war crimes court, Liberians have had to rely on the court systems in other countries to see former warlords punished.

Former President Charles Taylor was jailed for crimes committed in Sierra Leone’s civil war. His son, Chuckie Taylor, is serving 97 years in prison after being found guilty of breaking a U.S. law that prohibits American citizens from committing torture outside of the country. The trial of Mohammed Jabateh, informally known as Jungle Jabbah, has recently begun in the U.S., where authorities said he broke the law when he lied during his asylum application about atrocities he committed during the war.

As Liberians go to vote next week, there are 20 presidential candidates vying for the lone seat at the Executive Mansion. Like the 2005 and 2011 elections, a single political party will likely not acquire the 50 percent plus one vote needed to make them a winner after the first round of voting.

Cummings said, should the ANC not progress to the second round of voting, it is likely that the party would support any of the two political parties that may go to the runoff.

“I likely will,” he said. “The executive committee of the party together will decide…but we will likely support a candidate if we don’t win.”

Cummings has promised that when elected president, his government would be made up of both Liberians living in the diaspora and at home: “I hope you are recording this; we will bring a few Liberians from the diaspora and let me not lie about this, but majority of them we will appoint, would be Liberians already on the ground [here].”

Featured photo by Arrington Ballah

Arrington Ballah

A resident of Ganta, Nimba County, Arrington has a background working with credit unions and other organizations dedicated to rural finance.

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