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Liberia’s Truth Commission Begins Hearing for Vulnerable Groups, Presents First Volume of Final Report

Written on:January 18, 2009
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By Mambu James Kpargoi, Monrovia

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) will Monday begin thematic hearing for vulnerable groups and people with special needs.

The two days event under the theme: “Affording People with Special Needs the Fair Share of the TRC Process which will convene at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on Ashmun Street is aimed at understanding the impact of the conflict and transitional justice mechanism on the wellbeing of people of vulnerable groups and with special needs.

The hearing will also provide the opportunity to the groups to relate their experiences, address concerns and put forward recommendations in the spirit of national reconciliation.

As part of its mandate to promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation following Liberia’s long running conflict, Article IV section 4(e) of the act establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission gives it the responsibility to adopt specific mechanisms and procedures to address the experiences of vulnerable groups and people with special needs in Liberia.

In pursuant to this mandate, the commission has been conducting investigations and research into cases of abuses and other violations during the conflict, as well as holding several individual, institutional and thematic hearings on many cross-cutting issues including people with special needs and the social, political and economic impact of the conflict in Liberia on them.

The commission will highly welcome the participation and attendance of people with special needs/disable/vulnerable groups and all organizations catering to their welfare and wellbeing.

Meanwhile, the Commission has presented the first of several volumes of its final report containing findings and determinations made by the Commission to date.

TRC Chairman, Cllr Jerome Verdier presenting the report on Friday, December 19, 2008 said, “as the Commission winds down its activities, it has become necessary to make a report, progressively on its findings and determinations so that the entire nation is in sync with the progress of the Commission’s work within the meaning and spirit of its statutory obligations. This report is by no means exhaustive. The Commission will make a final consolidated report in additional volumes by the end of its tenure in June 2009.”

The report contains major findings on: the root causes of the conflict, the impact of the conflict on women, children and the generality of the Liberian society; responsibility for the massive commission of Gross Human Rights Violations (GHRV), and violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), International Human Rights Law (IHRL) as well as Egregious Domestic Law Violations (EDLV).

The report also determined and recommended that Criminal Prosecution for these violations, Reparations and a “Palava Hut” Forum is necessary and desirable to redress impunity, promote peace, justice, security, unity and genuine national reconciliation.

Additional details, findings and recommendations will be included in subsequent volumes of the report and that a summary of the major findings, determinations and recommendations will be published in at least three major local daily newspapers, on June 22, 2009 when the consolidated volumes of TRC final Reports will be presented to the Government of Liberia.

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005. The TRC was established to “promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation,” and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.

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