Executive Mansion , Monrovia
Public Hearings for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia have begun in Monrovia, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urging all Liberians to give the process their fullest support. An Executive Mansion release says the President called upon Liberians, including herself, to respond to the TRC when called upon to do so, thereby avoiding the need for the TRC to use its subpoena powers. “Be honest and truthful in telling your experiences,” the President urged witnesses.
Recalling the preamble of the act establishing the TRC, the President said introspection, national healing and reconciliation will be greatly enhanced by a process which seeks to establish the truth, through a public dialogue which engages the nation about the nature, causes and effects of the civil conflict and the impact it had on the Liberian nation, in order to make recommendations which will promote peace, justice and reconciliation.
Meanwhile, the President has apologized to the Liberian people for Government’s role, by commission or omission, in the conflict. The President said Government was committed to ensuring that the Commission is successful in promoting peace and reconciliation.
Declaring the process formerly opened, TRC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Verdier, expressed the hope that all will share in the effort and support the process. The Commission Chairman urged all witnesses and citizens to show compassion and demonstrate tolerance during the process, which he said is essential for the restoration of peace and genuine reconciliation in the country.
The hearings being conducted under the theme, ‘Confronting Our Difficult Past for a Better Future,’ will run from early January to July 31st of this year.
At Tuesday’s opening session, three witnesses recounted the horror they and members of their families were subjected to by rebels during the country’s civil conflict. The witnesses said they were prepared to forgive if the perpetrators are willing to admit to the atrocities they committed and beg for forgiveness.
The opening session was witnessed by government officials including Vice President Dr. Joseph Boakai, members of the diplomatic corps, human rights and other advocacy groups, as well as a cross section of Liberians and other foreign residents in the country.