Jerome Verdier, the former head of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says he supports the civil lawsuit against former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her alleged role as a fundraiser for Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia during the during the civil war.
Torli Krua, a Liberian based in the U.S., recently filed a lawsuit against several individuals who he alleges are the main perpetrators and sponsors of atrocities committed against civilians, including violence, torture, and rape, during the country’s bloody civil war. [Full disclosure: Torli Krua is a part owner of The Bush Chicken]
Speaking on the Voice of America’s Day Break Africa program from South Africa on Monday, April 2, Verdier said the lawsuit filed by Krua is a reminder for African leaders to govern well “so when they leave power, there will be no need for accountability.”
“I welcome the idea of holding people accountable for their stewardship and political actions in the Liberia civil war,” Verdier told VOA.
The lawsuit, according to Verdier, is an effort for all justice activist support around the world.
Verdier said the former president was not completely forthcoming when she appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Council to testify.
“Sirleaf’s belief is that sponsoring the war that killed over 200,000 Liberians, destroyed and polarized different levels of the society is justifiable, but we think differently,” he said. He added that the war also displaced 1 million people and destroyed many institutions.
He said Sirleaf’s acts were immoral, stressing that “whatever pursuit at the time, whether for morality or vengeance against the Liberian people, it is not justifiable.”
“During Sirleaf’s appearance at the TRC, she said that she supported Taylor with US$10,000 for humanitarian purposes and in the estimation of the TRC, she lied,” he said.
The former head of Liberia’s TRC further said Taylor told the International Criminal Court during his testimony in The Hague that Sirleaf was more than a minor financial supporter but rather the principal fundraiser for his rebel group, the NPFL.
He also said Sirleaf made a statement at the U.S. Congress where her support of NPFL was very explicit. He said the former president called on the international community through the U.S. Congress to give full support to Taylor.
In addition, Verdier said the former president was aware of the recruitment of child soldiers for Taylor’s war, which he said is a “war crime” in itself.
According to him, because Sirleaf lied to the TRC and tried to minimize her role and participation in the civil war, the commission found her liable for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“The former president has failed to make any progress on the recommendations from the commission,” he added.
“Sirleaf now stands in the category of all others accused of war crimes in Liberia.”
He indicated that African leaders should be conscious of their actions and be mindful of the way they govern “so when they leave power, there will not be any issues against them.”
But Sirleaf told a local radio station last week that she did nothing wrong during the country’s civil war to be charged with war crimes or crimes against crimes humanity.
VOA said neither the government nor a spokesperson for Sirleaf was available for immediate comments.
Featured photo courtesy of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission