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Unachievable Recommendations Must Be Avoided...Former Sierra Leonean TRC Chair Cautions

Montserrado County, Liberia
14 June, 2009
Categorized as pertaining to: Events

Unachievable recommendations to please victims or perpetrators of the Liberian civil conflict and sacrifice the Government on the altar of destructive criticisms must be avoided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, the former chair of the TRC of Sierra Leone has cautioned.

But retired Bishop Joseph Humper said it is encubent upon government to ensure that the recommendations of the TRC are given serious consideration they deserve.

Bishop Humper said taking the lead in considering the implementation of the TRC recommendations would go a long way in encouraging international partners to provide the support needed especially considering the enormous task facing the government for the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the political, social and economic infrastructures that had been destroyed as a result of the conflict.

Bishop Humper was speaking Monday at the Unity Conference Center in Virginia when he delivered the keynote address at the opening of the weeklong National Reconciliation Conference of the TRC.

He Said the TRC report is about life and death, saying it will constitute a road map to moving towards a brighter future.

"It is about rebuilding a new nation where justice, peace, tolerance (political tolerance), peaceful co-existence, love, forgiveness and unity must be embraced by all without exception. It is about nationals giving unsolicited support for the political, social, economic and infrastructural development of this nation."

He warned that impunity must not be sacrificed for personal aggrandizement or undue disadvantage against innocent citizens. Bishop Humper however cautioned that the TRC should not pass the buck - give the government the unenviable task of doing anything that would in the long run "rock the ship of love, peace, unity and common solidarity."

"I can say categorically that some if not many of the "perpetrators" are still alive and perhaps enjoying more luxury that the 85%-90% of innocent citizens who continue to struggle for survival," he added.

He said the intensity with which the TRC conducted its activities would yield great dividend when the transparency, sincerity and confidentiality required by the TRC is maintained and respected.

Bishop Humper said that creating a semblance of discord among commissioners and giving an appearance of nursing interest groups would culminate in compromising the integrity of the commission and ultimately the credibility of the final report.

He cautioned delegates at the conference to deliberate with preconceived notions or ideas of seeking not the interest of perpetrators but mother Liberia.

TRC Chairman Counsellor Jerome Verdier urged Liberians to put aside the things that divided the nation and build on those things that unite the country.

"We need to respect the rights of all our people and uphold the rule of law so that justice is done to all persons without fear or favor."

To succeed at reconciliation, he said, Liberians need to change the way we run our government and make sure that the resources and wealth of the nation benefit all the people in an equitable and fair manner.

"We cannot be content with the standards of living in our country and the way things are done. We need to build a functioning society where exclusion and marginalization and oppressive governments will be no more," he said.

The National Reconciliation Conference is aimed at affording Liberians a final opportunity in the current TRC process to impact the TRC's peace building initiatives, discuss the issues that led the nation to conflict and division and begin the process of reconciliation aimed at bringing closure to Liberia's conflict past.

The conference will provide an occasion for soliciting the contribution of all Liberians to the reconciliation process and ensure that the TRC process is inclusive leading to its final report which will be representative of the views of a broad spectrum of the Liberian society.

The conference will also establish a national consensus on the implementation of the TRC recommendations and create a forum where victims and perpetrators will engage each other in public demonstration of reconciliation, healing and forgiveness, aimed at setting off the nation's reconciliation agenda.

Liberians from the 15 counties, the Diaspora, government functionaries, stakeholders, TRC local and international partners and civil society organizations are represented.

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