Zwedru City: Day 5: Institutional/Thematic Hearings

Back to List of Transcripts
The Women

Presentation made by: Miss Jasadeh T.C. Boley
(First Institution)

The presenter of First Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Chairman: good afternoon and welcome. We want to thank you for coming to make this presentation on behalf of the Women.

Experiences Grand Gedeh County Women Suffered During the Civil Crisis.

?Women saw their children, husbands, and parents die from hunger, sicknesses, rockets, and other deadly weapons;
?Women were raped in many forms and shape: for example inserting of sticks, knives , and guns into women, gang-rape cause many women to be barren today, and also left us with different kinds of sexually transmitted diseases;
?Many women were used as sex slaves which is very degrading and humiliating ;
?The women of Grand Gedeh were also used as domestic slaves which include; beating (pounding) of rice from sunrise to sunset, cooking for people whom they saw killing their husbands and other relatives;
?They were also used as transportation, carrying loads on their heads while they were beaten by enemy forces or fighters;
?Forced marriage was also one of our experiences, today some of our mothers are still in Nimba , River Gee, and other counties as a result of forced marriage;
?We saw our houses, villages, towns, burnt to ashes;
?We saw and knew what it meat to be rejected or stigmatized by society, even a two years old Krahn child could not play with other children, we were afraid to tell our stories;
?Our worst experience was and is ; discrimination because of our ethnic background, most of us were forced to change our names and members of other tribes stopped affiliating with us; we are saying this because this discrimination is still being practiced in other forms;
?Force deliveries were done just on bet by fighters to satisfy their curiosity of the sex of an unborn baby;

To summarize, our right and dignities were grossly violence and abused.

Role of Grand Gedeh County Women during the Civil War:
Women were protecting and finding food for their children, husbands, relatives, and other children they met along the road while running. Some women took up arms to defend themselves and other family members. In the struggle for survival, others were forced to become prostitutes.

Impact of the Civil War/ Crisis on the women of Grand Gedeh County:

The civil crisis left behind many windows, orphans, and disables/ handicaps that have now become liabilities to society;
Recovery for most us is very difficult to come as husbands and children who should have been of great help today were all killed;
Most of the women are seriously traumatized, frustrated and mentally ill;
Increase in illiteracy rate among us women;
High increased in teenage pregnancy;

Recommendations:
We the women of Grand Gedeh County recommend the following:
?Medical treatment and psycho-social counseling for some of our sisters and mothers who were infected as a result of rape;
?Sustainable livelihood for women that is to say vocational schools, soap factory, clothing factory as well as housing facilities for communities that are most in need;

?To conclude, we recommend forgiveness for perpetrators who ask and let by- gone be by- gone.

Questions from the commissioners:

Commissioner Syllah: Thank the group for the presentation.

Washington: In your presentation, you touched on the issue of discrimination. How are you coping with the issue now?

Presenter: well we are managing it but it is still existing.

Chairman: Do you live here in Zwedru?

Presenter: Yes, sir.

Do you go to school here in Gedeh County?

Presenter: Yes, sir.

Which school?

Presenter: College of J. Kuda Jarry community College.

How is the issue of discrimination still going on now?

Presenter: You know even if a Gedeh woman goes out here to do business they will ask a question and if you indicate that I am from Grand Gedeh, the treatment will be different.

Have you had a personal experienced with discrimination?

Presenter: No.

Commissioner Coleman: What could you say is a way forward as a Grand Gedeh woman?

Presenter: For me, I am a Christian, and as such I believed in forgiveness.

Do thoughts come to you for the rebuilding of our society?

Presenter: Yes, like you were saying those things

Commissioner Washington: What do you think; do you still see women of Grand Gedeh being pulled down to this discrimination?

Presenter: Yes.

Do you think it is possible to bring back those Grand Gedeh County women since the discrimination is still continuing?

Presenter: Well, it is partly difficult because some of these people taken there as sex slaves have being assimilated and made part of the local people. So it's difficult to bring some of them back to their original county.

Buttress from the Audience:

Felecia Duncan: We say the issue of discrimination and slavery "WAS and IS" because as we speak when you go to the villages in Grand Gedeh, you will see Nimba County, you don't see Grand Gedeh people there. If you do see them at all they have changed their names to Nimba towns. Some of the women the Nimba men took to their county as sex slaves who later changed the slavery to marriage have still have to change their names?

What are the feelings of Grand Gedeh when it comes to intermarriage; it is allowed by the people here?

Presenter: There is nothing as strong as love. Even if your people don't want a particular person to marry this person when there is love, it will happen.

Chairman: But besides the power of love what the parents frown on it for social- culture differences?
Presenter: Yes, parents still do frown.

Is it of interest that the women of Grand Gedeh prefer to be farmers or they have other interests?

Presenter: Yes, women of Grand Gedeh are farmers and business people, but we also love other interest.


Civil Society
Presentation made by: Mr. Otis M. Jolo (Administrator)
(Second Institution)

The presenter of Second Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Chairman: good afternoon and welcome. We want to thank you for coming to make this presentation on behalf of the Civil Society.

Presentation:
The establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
After a protracted civil crisis in Liberia when the entire county was drowned in the blood of it citizens for more than 14 years to heal the wounds is a logical demand of the society to purge itself of all the ills that caused and influenced the course of the war. And also to provide the platform for Liberians to rediscover themselves and determine a new direction for a lasting peace in this country. The ability to reach out and discuss the root causes of the conflict will buttress the work of TRC in changing the mindset of ordinary Liberian which Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI) greatly welcomed

We were invited to make a presentation on the Democratic and Governance Process during and after the conflict period in Grand Gedeh County, the challenges, prospects and recommendations on the way forward.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I will begin with Democratic and Governance Processes. Grand Gedeh County, that id 44 years old this is nursing fresh wounds of a protracted civil conflict believed to be a product of political failure. Exclusion and bad governance like any other counties in Liberia. The political tragedy of this county is made clearer by the paradox where professed adherents of good governance principles use rhetoric and false promises to gain political positions in this county only to replicate the policy of repression, sectionalism, rampant corruption and marginalization of leaders who they earlier condemned and subverted. Grand Gedeh County suffer the blunt of the most chaotic vicious cycle of violence that came to the fore between 1989 and 2003 when a litany of reckless corrupt and selfish warlords and their ruthless rebel. Fighter fought for military supremacy professedly in defense of the excluded, prosecuted, and marginalized. By the time the last bullet in the conflict was discharge the already backward county had receded deep in the abyss of social, political and economic desolation.

a. The administrative structure for political Governance in Grand Gedeh County is outdated and confusing, and particularly for fostering balance development, democracy and full citizens' participation in decision making. The prevailing system is punctuated by two critical ills; Local officials appointed and sent in the county.

b. The second is Superintendent who is appointed and only accountable to the President is heading the county, this brings about transparency and accountability problem because the Superintendent is directly responsible to the President rather than the people of the county in managing the affairs of the county. Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a strong consensus amongst Grand Gedeans that persistent bad Governance during much of the county's history has been amongst the root causes of this prolong economic and social decline.

Since the establishment of the county, 1964 and up to the present decisions making and management processes of the county's natural resources and development funds from Central Government and other partners are not participatory, transparent or accountable. From our view the process is not a success in Grand Gedeh County.

Challenges:
There is no distinct definition of Local Government in the County as result; the various Layers of Local Government remain weak. Highly fragmented and therefore unable to effectively coordinate Local development activities. For example some sections of the Local Authority in the county are filled with unqualified personals who do not have the requisite skills for their positions. Ladies and gentlemen, as a result of this, monitoring and evaluation of development projects and other activities are not effectively carried out. For example, during the selection and implementation of the 66,000 Dollars (USD) projects in the county in 2007 that failed opportunity for agriculture activities, particularly for production or skill training both of which could have created the prospect for youth and women empowerment and long-term sustainable employment opportunities.

The domineering of the Local Authority, coupled with exclusion of local communities and residents in the implementation of these projects is accentuated by the focus on such projects as the construction or rehabilitation of Commissioners Residence which largely directly benefit the local authority instead of the ordinary locals. If you take a visit in the various communities you will be overwhelmed with outcries not only about the locals' exclusion, but the selection and implementation of projects that do not directly positively impact their impoverished condition.

TRC is not Krahn friend - the benchmark is not being observed.
-Majority of the ordinary people in the county are deprived of their rights to be part of decision-making processes in their communities. Their views are not considered when decisions are being made on issues affecting their livelihood.
-The vast majority of the locals in the county are not aware of their constitutional rights making it difficult for them to engage their policy makers in a constructive manner.
-Resources management in this country remains as serious problem in the county's governance system. Institutions and processes to ensure transparency, accountability and productivity largely within the public sector, are weak and remain casualties of a system characterized by political patronage and corruption.
-Ladies and Gentlemen, the foundation upon which democratic pillars rest are not too strong in the county because there is still a sense of vulnerability within the people of this county. For example, Civil Society Organizations and pro-democratic activities are constantly threatened with court action by the county officials. In some cases Coos staffs are arrested and dragged to court upon the order of the County Officials just because of speaking against ills in the society. Media institutions and journalists in the county are constantly intimidated and on two occasions the local radio station was closed by the local authority for airing the views of pro-democratic activities and ordinary people on burning issues in the communities.

Prospect:
Ladies and Gentlemen, despite the prevailing governance situation in the county the vast majority of the people continue to believe that the county is heading in the right direction. The principle reasons for this optimism are the commitment of the Madam Sirleaf lead Government to promote democratic Governance at all level of the country. And the constructive engagement of Civil Society Organizations in demanding GOOD GOVERNANCE PRACTICES from policy makers in the county.

-More Grand Gedeans still know little of democracy, but there are noteworthy signs of progress amongst the people in articulating the meaning of democracy and its significance for the individual citizens and also their role in promoting democratic norms in the county.
-There is a high optimism amongst the locals that with the passage of the new forestry law by the Central Government, the mess that was visited upon this county via mismanagement, rampant corruption political patronage and act of exclusion by past political leaders will be abolished and they, the locals will be empowered to claim stake in the management of their resources.

Recommendations:
Plan should be put into place to ensure the direct involvement of beneficiaries and communities in the activities of TRC and decision-making of the county development funds.
-Civil Society Organizations should establish action-oriented alliances committed to keeping surveillance on and monitoring of every step of implementation of the county development funds.
-The statement taking process should be relaunched.
-CSOs should advocate the full and direct involvement and participation of the residents and beneficiaries of projects in the formulation design and execution projects in their communities.
-The issue of deep-rested corruption in our society must be tackled and those responsible should punish in accordance with law.
-The current governance system in the county must be trimmed down with a focus on supporting transparency, accountability and productivity.
-CSOs should be seeing as partners in progress by the county authority.
-To have a functioning democracy in the county, the culture of democracy has to be taught, the structure of Government has to be known and understood by every citizens and residents alike.

Presented by: Mr. Otis M. Jolo
REGIONAL COORDINATOR/LDI

Questions from commissioners:

Commissioner Syllah: Thank you very much Mr. Jolo for your presentation. What you just mentioned will form part of our work and the reconciliation process. The commissioners will now ask you few questions starting from Commissioner Washington

Commissioner Coleman: Thank you very much for your splendid presentation. Your presentation was fabulous. The challenge that all of us have as to ensure to put together what we have now and to bring...the past is the past that why we gave the topic that you have just presented, the problems of democracy.... And we have to move forward. For example one thing I notice in your presentation. There is a need to decentralize the whole system. If the people in the communities can get involve in their own activities. Where as in the past system of government did not have the chance to reach out to the people in all the different counties. And yet have the power..... So as we now see ourselves as a new legislature ok. These kind of things they talked about the law much become a legalize activities to change our government system....we can not go on living this. So what is the Civil Society doing to safe guard the situation in a national wide level how can you reconcile this because I am sure that your problem is just like similar problem in the counties...and Liberian now want to have their own destiny, what is the plan, have develop the plan because you have 9 years...so what do you think about, because the subjections you gave us the TRC will take it serious and take it into consideration and have to do our part even though they have given us a short mandate...to getting the Legislature to do something is the test so can you help me concerning this?

Presenter: Thank you Mr. Coleman, I think for your own program, we have being engaging the Legislature. In fact we have meeting with the legislature when they were in the county. And we have a forum here we known as...and this forum is the forum where people go and engage the issues that have to do with the county burning issues. So on several occasions we engage, we confronted the President Protemp who have to be the Senior Senator of this County. And the issue was raised, the issue of trying to carry the amendment. And some of the items we have received was to carry on the. There is a need that you go out the legislature. It shall be true referendum of the legislature, to go about it. Yes according to him all the plan we have...you can remember since the constitution was passed into law, since 1986, I think only one was amended or no measure was put into place. So the issue of amendment was very intensive, and we can't engage them like that. We have make sure that all these are put in place...and let us work together and demand change to our culture, change some of these legislation at the local levels, because there are some official in the area of balancing democracy and development. We don't have no place to stand. So we are doing our own home work, but this concept will be taking out of Monrovia. As you know we have just coming to the lead ward part of the county with this Civil Society activities and so forth. It is still bothering our people, because our people is still subverting rule of the.... So it is process not an event. And we are in that process and making sure that people will graduate from that system and see our country move forward as nation with a vision in overcoming our past.

Thank you, are you saying now that the responsibilities of the government are in the hands of the people to become only recourse and that violence could be that destructive to the same people.

Presenter: That what I just said people are just become to pick up a bit, and that is a process and more to that the issue of how this country was founded. Where the president sit in Monrovia and just sent those local officials in the lead ward areas to carry on the activities without consulting the people that are going to lead, there post a problem. So if you want to engage here, you have to...and you have to ask them how they want you to lead them just like our Superintendent, I am serving the way of the president, if you say I am corrupt and she say I am not corrupt, then like Honorable Yannogbo, Honorable Gbayeyoun, Honorable Tinnu, we hold them accountable. Even holding those people accountable, I have traveled with the Senator through out the length and breath of Liberia because he came here and encouraged the civil society and the Senator honorable Yannogbo. We went to Kondogbo, we went to other places. There is nobody who able to come out and say and engage the Senator and ask them any question. Every town we went in there was drumming beating. There was chicken, there was goats, there were many things, were dancing and no one was able to ask. What are you doing for us. So I think people in Monrovia who do not leave Monrovia should also focus their attention to the lead ward. And the interesting thing is that the central government that is now led by Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is putting weight behind this decentralization, is putting weight behind system of government and making sure that the people will have their own decision in their own hand. All we need is to pull the bull by the horn. And it can not be done over night.

Chairman: That an example of suppression of free speech and the press. And you mentioned the radio station. It is our understanding that there was a dispute between the board and the management team and nothing intended to silence the voice of the people in this area. What is your account?

Presenter: yes it that was a dispute between the management and the board. And that has been discussed by the community. And the radio station is owned by the communities. This station was established to make sure that the ordinary people have their own voice aint you understand. There was an issue that came out about the board that appointed, selected or elected by the community and they voted for decision against the manager that was suspended and the manager went to the administrative building for redress. And from there the administrative building came out with a board, they set up a board to replace the board that the community elected. I think it is a direct interference of the operation of the radio station. And while they were in that process, other people went to work violently to shot down the radio station. Aint you understand. And you see they are going, traveling here sky free, and no punishment for them. So what kind of activities they want to introduce in our county. How can good activities go on smoothly after you have set up this committee and the very board wrote and we got the copy as civil society, denouncing this decision that they were set up by the community, if there is any problem it should be the community to take decision. The administration went to work and another fellow went and placed a lock on the door of the station. There was a management team there, because the station went off.

And what have the community and the civil society done?

Presenter: they have being engaging the Authority, because we don't have the arresting power, we don't have the power to force our way. We met the Superintendent we made our presentation. You know. Unwitting things that the board of management of the Radio Station by the...

You formalize the engagement like the civil society or the community wrote?

Presenter: no the civil society...the grouping was made up of women, made of FIND, and made up of others. And we made our representation clearly to him.

And that's where it stops?

Presenter: yes and we are in the way of lumbering how we can find a way forward. And the station is still operating by the staff and...labraching around to find out...to go through investigation. The community only to take the decision. It is the decision of the county authority to take the matter to the community. That there is a problem at our radio station what is the way forward what can we do? Rather than the county attorney coming up with a board from government institution to manage the station which is we say will not outer well.

The accountable of your local officials it seems from your presentation gathered the impression that if the president was not appointing local officials to be more accountable to the people. So what is the alternative to the solution to that?

Presenter: I think the best thing is you just talked about decentralization. We just about changing those other laws that there. That the president has to appoint, has the power to appoint Superintendent and other county officials.

You want the citizens to elect?

Presenter: I want the citizen to have saying in those that going to lead them to be part of the selection process. They should not be there and people just come and say look I am appointed as superintendent of this county. But I think they have to go through and amendment and referendums and so forth so are waiting.

So in the absence of that the citizens, civil society can not create an awareness and check the gross activities to make sure for example the superintendent is appointed by the president?

Presenter: that's what we been doing that what I just said. These are some of the things that will lead us to court and we are engaging, the accountability...from funds that we collected. We asked for you know democratic...` in the county and some time they said that we are not one to ask them. You know we are not the one to make to be where they are

But they are right.

Presenter: that is what we are saying, so we are calling for change now.

I think apart from calling for change, your change seems to subject that there needs to be a referendum to change the constitution. That is for the future. I am talking about the situation that is already on hand. You have the superintendent who is appointed by the president and that is a given that is fight there is nothing you can do about it and that of us. But the people believes that the superintendent is going beyond what they expect, he's not leading up to the term. He is not accountable to the people. He doesn't care for the people. So what do the people do should they sit and wait for referendum that will come in the next ten to fifteen years?

Presenter: Counselor Verdier, I just said it, our people they are still in the dark when it comes to this thing of engaging. When it come to coming up in a bold manner and say look. This thing you're doing, we going to rise up and we're going to come up with a petition. We going to take this issue up. People don't have that mind yet. The concept was yet to be bought by our people. So what we can do is to go back to the local for instance my institution, the LDI, we just finished with a, we just gone through with a sponsor program from UNDP it has to do with promoting local government and civil society participation. And which we went all over this county.... And also we are in the processes now and other program we have on hand is this forest governance. You know we get to get down to the people and explain to them the new foresting laws. The certified way, the certified version in simple English, and reduce it in writing and explain it to them and if we read. If any company come, with superintendent. They will say no we should be the one to say to them, not you. And so to avoid further confrontation and so forth you have to go back to our people and our people are the one now going to take the lead in deciding for themselves. So that we are doing through sensitization, town hall meeting and some other interactive forum that the people will be aware of their own you know undertakings
This brings me to the roles of the civil society and our present issue for us to think about the root causes of the problems that face us. You can say basically what the TRC is doing by trying to find out what is the real problem. Because I don't think that if the problem persists. That if the citizens elect the superintendent today I don't think it will change. For example you say the people are backward their minds are darken to those things. Our entire legislatures are elected by the people. So to speak, is there any difference in accountability or even the representative, senator is conscious to their people. Just about the time the representative and senators were have their agriculture break. That when we were going around the country. And beside Nimba and Grand Gedeh, most of where we went representatives weren't there. The Senators weren't there and so and the people are not putting pressure on them and say this is it. And everybody remains quiet until there is election or six months to election then a new whole thing starts and this post a lot of responsibility on civil society. With the issue of awareness and the education of our people there is a common believe where democracy will not success. If the civil society is not strong is not proactive. Is not itself understanding the issue and getting to the people. And the issue of accountability, we have to use the civil society any means possible. Instead of violence and antagonism to hold them accountable even the superintendent. Even the superintendent is appointed by the president. The superintendent know that he's governing people and need the support of the people to carry on his development projects. So people should have a way through engagement, through dialogue what ever it is. In making sure that their superintendent is really their superintendent. If the president say well submit a list...beware of the president that is of the president good will to say submit a list. The president is empowered by the constitution. I heard some people say that we should elect the superintendent. If you want to elect superintendent that is a different form of government that we have to put in place which will be the product of a debit for the next ten to fifteen years. And whether we want to change our government we want to bring prime minister or bring in federacy or all of that. That is a new argument. But I am saying civil society is and has a very very important role to play. Maybe you want to elaborate on this, or so, of what civil society has being doing. , Yes especially the TRC process how has civil society position itself to assist with the TRC process? The process is very, very vital because it takes into considerations all the past experience of victims, and apart from the experiences of victims, these institutions are functioning and how we can make them more responsive to the needs of the people.

Presenter: for, for our side, we are making sure that the TRC is taken to the people. I think I just said it in my presentation. Ell the issue that this culture we need to divide from it. When you are not in Monrovia, you can't win contract to carry on piece of job in this country. We got some powerful women group like SEWODA that is in this region. And if you want to carry on sensitization of civil society grouping, you engage them as well. They will go down to the people. Whether they got cells in all these five counties. LDI also has cells, Offices, I means in all these five counties. And even to make the work so unique you have to call some civil society personnel left their jobs and went to TRC to serve as statement takers, to serve as coordinators and they contributed immensely, but we can't go beyond that we don't have the funding. You gave somebody money in Monrovia to come and carry on awareness in Grand Gedeh and they stopped to Triangle, are we going to go to Gbogenwon? Are we going to walk from here to Kponwenjaudie, are going to Ziah town kondogbo? Or are we going to walk to Badeken? No. so if we can depart from this sunapart that Monrovia will not use as a winning point. And when it comes to the lead ward areas that people will be empowered, so we look at the TRC process as a great process. A process of where people can heal their wounds and make sure that we move forward in rebuilding our society. But where will we contribute immensely. We can involve in this undertaking. So civil society in Grand Gedeh, if you can take a tour, we are involve, we are engaged in forum at the attire forum, we are engage where people congregate to change the mindset, first where TRC launched here, the Krahn people said that it was not Krahn friend and it was meant to indict their kinsmen. We got to erase that notion, we have to tell them this is a nationwide issue, we have to embrace the idea and make that we can engage our people and be part of the process of this healing process, of this healing activities that the TRC is undertaking. But who is going to buttress this process now. That TRC will not come in one in Zwedru and see that things change overnight. And we don't have. Our Liberian parable that say the turtle wants to box but the hands are very short. So there where we stand ell eell counselor, to end that there is a need that TRC shall come back as I just said, we go beyond the main road, from here to Toe town. On the left where they got Gbarzon, the inside Gbarzon, you got Gbo and Kplo, you talked about TRC to the people because the only thing they get from UNMIL is what they know, nothing like this there. When you talk about TRC they will say but when the people will come. Aint you understand, when you go to go to let towards Ivory Coast border where they called ell ell Tempo Borer where they have Tienpo or Tuapo district, when you go there nothing you hear about TRC. So civil society where we can reach, like in the urban belt, we are massively engage with people telling them that TRC is not there as a trip set for their kinsmen. But rather is a process of nation healing and we all can work toward of putting behind us this ugly past.

Last the superintendent, the honorable superintendent was very critical of civil society groups in his presentation to the commission. That they are short sighted, light vision. They are one party, ell I mean one set up in the county to mislead their people in the county and all of that and now you have to become so very critical of the administrative office here. Is there a way to forge a common balance because as much as we have freedom? As much as we want to promote democracy we can not leave out dialogue.

Presenter: definitely

Is there a structure or mechanism where by the superintendent is approachable so this opportunity for dialogue can be present because what we want is to promote democracy and not to tear it down.

Presenter: for us the statement made or the presentation made by the superintendent saying that any civil society grouping challenger. When we talked about SEWODA, SEWODA fell in five counties in the region; in Zwedru here they got more than ten women that actively working for SEWODA. You talked of JPC is well established, in term of monitoring the civil society standards. When you talked about LDI, LDI has a region office that is by far that are working on the field and at the administrative, when you talked about the FIND, FIND has the offices here. When you talked about the other civil society groupings, when you about TARZOO, Save my future foundation they are also, they are also well established. Since he said that they are not working and he has a one man show going around that we can challenge, but on the aspect of dialoguing. We are trying our own, we are also dialoguing with the superintendent to make sure that we engage him as I said in my presentation. We will not be seen as political ell ell enemy but we are monitoring to make sure that the demands are deliverable.... So some times when we are so harsh they see us as political enemies....saying that we are going along with. So what we are going to do, from that present last year where LDI, the local authority were threaten here and there for court action. From there was a meeting held here, so the superintendent extended us entrance and we welcome it. And we're working. If that for him he told us that if that something is going on we should engage him. Instead of taking the air wave. And this time around he said oh Jolo; you don't talk nowadays and so forth. And you got case and the case go on, so I said no, I have been engaging, constructive one, so superintendent look this is what going on. What happened to the scrubs? You told us in a meeting in a well attended meeting at the City Hall. That the skill from the scrubs will be used for development purposes, what happened to the machine trucks leaving this place with scrubs. And we say oh we are trying to find means because to control them there is a problem. So I am finding way to curtail these illegal practices are going on and make that we go there and engage them. We want to see this society not going back to the blood bath we came from. So we need to make sure that we engage the superintendent to every local official to make sure that Grand Gedeh take the lead in establishing functioning and a well balance democracy process.

Thank you

Presenter: Thank you

Commissioner Syllah: Ok Mr. Jolo, thank you for your presentation, so your presentation was on behalf of all the civil societies or LWI?

Presenter: you wrote me, as a regional coordinator of LDI to present on this issue.

Yes, but you mentioned several other things on civil society so are they coming?

Presenter: Say that?

It is ok aint, I thought all the civil society or we wrote LWI to do a presentation on democracy?

Presenter: LDI

You talked about LWI and other levels

Presenter: You wrote to talk about this issue. So how we responded to this invitation and that how we came out. And if you have another letters for other civil society I think they can come forward and make their own presentation:

Well thank you very much. So you've being working with other civil society groups as well.

Presenter: precisely

Now I have one concern before you leave, you told us that when the president protempt came and your visited the various district and other things. People never voiced out any concern to ask the Senator as to what being done present in terms of what affecting them. As civil society what are you doing presently to make the people know that these people are accountable to the people?

Presenter: that what I just said. .. We are told and we are doing the process of sensitization and meeting our people in the town hall in discussing matters....For instance LDI came with a program where increasing the voices of women in decision make and peace building. And we have that program on the radio but these people are very shard when you tell them on the radio station, they say I not prepared. So if we went to the Kondogbo belt, the Puttoo belt and the president protempt was there given the people on the ground and on the platform and he say your come to ask me. And some times he spent lengthen time in the night and say this evening your come to ask me. And lets go dialogue and...so when the man came here the honorable came here for three times and each time he say we got the length of time because have a commitment to the radio station program to be carried live, so that one hour or one hour thirty minutes and he say no. I can go three hours, I can go four hours. Let the people come out to ask me those questions that really bothering their mind, but people will not come clearly and so what we doing as an institution, is that we being lumbering around the county, you know we are gender biding, we lobby with UNDP our program we have in keeping with citizens decision making and good governance it failed away last year and we went to see how we can win another one that will take us to the people that will make us to...and to depart from this path. For instance we saw fleet of cars and none of them marked with GSA license plate. How can you arrived the corruption, and he said my son I went down there, I went to Belgium and I am Senator, I got fundial I got police, I got other secret services and huge entourage so that how I went my self I paid for these cars garage a car manufacturing place and that how I paid for these cars. So I doing it, the car that government gave me, the lebozin is still in there, you know I can bring Mercedes Benz to this bad road they are packing right there. I can't come on this side with it so to do some thing. I have come back to my people. So will not wait and say government will make allocation of funding to buy fleet of cars for me. So I am going beyond my own spending to make sure that I see to make things straight for this county. Some of the place we went. When that some lit cars without 4wheel you will get down. But since these cars were build, were well built we were just going smoothly, smoothly, I think we welcome that as he was the only Senator that came here and allowed us to accompanied him whosesoever her went and to take record of what he was doing and how opened the process was and how opened the meeting he was having with the people and it was good for us. I think it was fine.

So on behalf of the commission we say thank for your presentation and what you just said will form part of our work. Thank you

Presenter: Thank you very much.


Chiefs and Elders
Presentation made by: Jayllah Yannuh (City Cooperation Worker)
(Third Institution)

The presenter of Third Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Chairman: good afternoon and welcome. We want to thank you for coming to make this presentation on behalf of the Civil Society.

Presenter: On behalf of the elders and chief we just want to say a special thanks to the TRC members fro coming to grand Gedeh. And as they can see since they entered grand Gedeh they have not seen a sort of violence it is in this regard that we are in the true nature we don't encourage violence in grand Gedeh one of the things that was said is that let bygone be bygone and every body accepted it and I think by now the Liberian all over the world knows that we the Krahn people are not the violence type we are also aont eh defensive we don't have anything against our brothers that even fought us in the war what we the elders and chiefs are asking you people to do is only help us to build our roads so that our people would be able to come to the market those things that happen I the past has happened and we have put them behind us. One of the things that you notice is that by right this hall should be fill with grand Gedians but say I have a farm then I come sit down here and listen to somebody telling me that I kill your mother or your father then the person walk away it is a waste of time so most of decided to do our farms then to come and waste our times

And so the chiefs and elders don't have anything much to say but rather welcome to grand Gedeh and we going to continue to work with you and any thing is that we are aware that the TRC of Liberia is not equip to that of the South Africa situation where the white verses the black and those we see behind the desk and they question those people that come here let turn the table on you on the Liberian conflict which side were you on and I know you will not tell me that you all were outside the country or you are not for the other group or this other group. One thing that we the Krahn did during the war was that we were alone we fought this war alone I know that you have come to ask for reconciliation this is all you need to come with grand Gedian forgive us we know we harm you we did bad to you we wrong you we are very sorry but of course we forgive you before you even put your foot on our soil so this all the chief and elders have to say.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Commissioner Syllah: like you have rightly said the Grand Gedian have forgiven but it is also good to understand that there are still individual victims who still do not share the understanding of let bygone be bygone TRC process is about giving those victims a voice we agreed that during the conflict people suffer a whole lot some people wanted the opportunity to talk or cry but they did have that opportunity and as long as you carrying these things in your heart it remains on your mind and the TRC process is not only about that but also to document the past so that what happen in the past will not repeat in our times and our children times our time is almost over and the Liberian history has to be written that's why we are giving everyone an opportunity the truth and reconciliation process like you mentioned south Africa, south African is not the only nation that have gone through the process there have other country that have similar things like sierra Leone they had the truth commission and the special court in Ghana they had one Argentina and a lot of other countries had wanted to know about the past we always say let the past be the past but it is always hunting us. This time we have been giving us the opportunity to look into our past so that we will be to look at a better future.

Commissioner Coleman: how was the chief role in the civil conflict that we went through were they involve in advising the those that were involve in the day to day fight of the war or you just sat and look at them, how did you people response to the root causes of the conflict?

Presenter: I don't want to share view that other elders won't go alone with me when such thing like the war happen the elders usually come together we are always on the defensive we don't means to escalate anything we say let wait and see for example when sawyer was appointed or selected to come to Liberia we would have been angry that this war when a new leader was selected after the other government we turn over the keys of the executive mansion key to the people with we grand Gedian do have problem with anybody if you went on Suah street now you will see people making business that are not grand Gedian we don't have go against them now but they were about people that were fighting us you find Mandingo and the people from Nimba these were the people that were in the conflict with us we don't just care how they live their life, we the elders don't care much about these kinds of things. Buck of these people are in the gold and diamond mines; motor bikes are all around here there is no information we ever harm anyone. It is our god-given rights for us to not cause anything but when things are caused we can end it.

Primary Witness: But I ask a question here earlier and you people did not answer to it I said if the table was turn on you to say what side you were during the war please tell us.
Presenter of Education Sector - Napoleon B. Collins Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County

Syllah: Thank you very much for coming and also for being patience with us, despite your busy schedule you decided to come here to present to and we say you are welcome and before you proceed I will once again introduce the commissioners now present. To my immediately left commissioner Jerome Verdier, the chairman person, on my immediate right is Jerald Coleman, next to Jerald Coleman, commissioner Sheikh Karfumba Konneh.
Before your proceed, would you kindly state your name again

Presenter: I am Steven G. Collins

Occupation or where do you work?
Presenter; I worked with the Education Ministry as District Education Officer for Tchien district in Grand Gedeh County

Date of Birth?
Presenter: I think that is not much important

Ok, you may proceed now.

Presenter: ok, first place we want to thank God for your safe arrival in the county and the Education system of this county want to whole heartedly welcome you and it is very much please with the activities presently on the ground and also those that being going on during your absent.
Our letter received tells us to present or address this forum in three areas, Challenges, progress and way forward. And so based on that, we want to firstly. We want to express our experience during the war. But one thing we want to say in particular is that among all institution that were hit during the war, education suffered the most. Simply because during the war bulk of our educated and qualified teachers died, those that didn't that were saved left the county and went into other places, those that remain, could not remain with the system but rather joined the NGO sector for better wages or daily bread. So we suffered a lot and that is one of our challenges presently we want to see to it that we have qualified teachers. Beside that the low salary had being another setback for us. And the, with the present government stipulated salary structure, we still look at education to be down the line, because that the watchman of an NGO is making one hundred and fifty dollars US. And the PhD holder is also making the same. For this in coming ell budget period and so that is another challenge for us. Again we also suffered another, inadequate infrastructure of school, house, and educational activities. Lack of proper or precise textbooks in the school system. Lack of laboratory facilities in the school system. Lack of boarding institutions; lack of adequate instructional materials. Lack of conducive living place for our teachers, lack of nobilities for both the education officer and principal to do monitoring and supervision. Lack of agricultural implements to augment the feeding program of the system and lack of proper road network to enable us carry supply to other projects and programs to various schools. And so these were. These are our challenges as we look at them to be.
and the progress so far we want to bless God so far that we have other entity, NGOs, national and international that are now in the county try to work around the clock to see to it that we are teacher trained in the various school workshops and other things. We also have NGOs and NGOs building schools in our county. Yet schools have not cover the entire county, there are many other areas that we do not have school. Ell solid school buildings.

Before that way forward for us, we believe that when there is school representation among the citizenry of the country. We believe most of our citizens. Most of our citizens that fled the country with their school age children will return and there will be high enrollment in our school system. Too, proper instructors who fled the country will also return to strengthen the education system of the county, of the county. International donors and humanitarian organizations will also help to sort and establish school, especially boarding education and vocational education through out the county. And the next, we also believe that the TRC will be able to extend to the bordering neighboring countries so as to enable our qualified teachers and other educated and school going persons as to return to make our education system viable in the county. And so far this we have to present from the education sector of Grand Gedeh County.

Comments and Questions from the commissioners;
Syllah: Thank very, Mr. Collins for your presentation
Presenter: ok
I am sure what you've just stated will help us in doing our work. As we listened to other programs in the various counties from various speakers, like River Gee, Grand Kru. You concerned here today is not in isolation to what they said in their county. So thank you again and the commissioners will ask you just few questions.
We begin with commissioner Sheilkh Karfumba:

Sheilkh: we want to thank you very much for your presentation. What you have presented is enough saying what you called Challenges, Progress, and A way forward. You went in detail of the work as it is.
Can you tell us if you know the number of elementary school in Grand Gedeh? Both private and public? Junior High and Senior High? And where there is any technical school in the county?
Presenter: ok thank you, with that I can only give the summary or that total schools in the county.
We have 173 schools in the county. Of the 17, we have four (4) Senior High, two (2) governments and two (2) private
For the Junior high, we have 36, of the 36, we have 34 government and 2 private. The rest are elementary
And of the elementary we have about 30 that are private

Thank you very much
Presenter: ok, technical institution we only have one private and that is Zwedru Multilateral High

No Teacher Training?
Presenter: No Teacher Training
Thank you.


Coleman: First of all thank you for your presentation. I will like to find out some things, for example, did you say that the elementary school prospective of this county is it up to date or there is still a gape?

Presenter: for the elementary, yes fully fitted
Next how about Jr. High School and Sr. High school?
Presenter: for Jr. High we, we really need more junior high school in the county. In the qualified teachers that we made reference to are limited and so as the result we can not have more Jr. high school in the area, we have less qualified teacher if I am getting you correctly. But really we need more jr. high schools to be exact.

How about High School?
Presenter: likewise in the whole county, we only have four high schools. Everyone has to come Zwedru to achieve their high school education which is not fine.

And you say the main.. the jr. high school and the sr. high school are not destructive too much. ;;;;......what is the requirement for Jr. and High school teacher's academy requirements?
Presenter: the academy requirement for Jr. High should be B. Certificate
And for High school?
Presenter: BSC and above

Coleman: so the reality is that we have the BSC holders around but there is not incentive to the interior or is it some thing else?
Presenter: .is one thing. We have some BSC holder around but then incentive as you really said is not there so current to get into the...but render some free services from the NGO sector or the head, but really we don't have them

We went to place yesterday, we saw lady there and she said that she was a volunteer, but there is no salary, but the love of her country she come home to just serve. So what I am concerned about is government develop any policy, because I know you have the free education policy while the have the resources of the government few of those facilities...is there any fund for the Jr. and Sr. high school?
Presenter: still there is no hope yet. We have not gotten any feedback as to whether incentive is put aside for teachers to be encourage to come in the interior part of the country. This is why we mainly recommended to our minister and also the county superintendent for the budget. For the county development budget to remain to augment the education sector. Portion of that money will come in so that we will use it, one to increase the teachers' salary to encourage them, two to improve some conducive property for them so that teachers can be happy to teach.

How about the property that they request?
Presenter: so far not yet
Thank you.

Syllah: Now I want to please comment a bit on the enrollment, the percentage of girls to boys?
Presenter: thank you, the enrollment as from 2007 -2008 is like 40 to 60
Boys to girls 60 to 40 simply because the girls through the free education policy many girls are coming in and also the NGOs the implementing the implementing partners putting in some incentives for the girls like WFP is putting in food ration for girls and the other NGO like save the children, CAP they have girls club, mothers' club. Where they give little loan to parents so that they will be able to help the girls to go to school. So with that it brought in more increase of the enrollment of girls in the schools.

Are you saying that we got 60% girls
Presenter: 40% girls
Boys are still in majority?
Presenter: the boys are still in majority.

So what are you doing to make that we get more girls in school?
Presenter: ok,
Besides the NGO, and the government entity,
Presenter: ok in that, what we are doing now is to open the night section the ELP they called it ELPP youth in the evening hours from 5 going to 6 o'clock and that is under creative and that will enable most of the mothers to make them to go to school so that they can catch up with the regular school
Thank you
Presenter: ok

Chairman: as a follow up question, we realized reality between boys to girls enrollment. The girls enrollment has increased..is there inherent, are people reluctant of sending their children, or is it that access to school is not available. Or parents are some times turn down because of schools are filled to capacity or is there an enrollment issue?
Presenter: Ok, well we want to say yes and no. yes in the sense that in other areas where school are constructed we don't have qualified teachers in that area as the result those who are able to move from that area to come to like Zwedru or any other area and find a living place to just sit down and they don't go to school>

So the school is there?
Presenter: the school is there
But there are no qualified teachers
Presenter: Yes

So the students tell themselves there is no qualified teachers so we will not go there
Presenter: exactly, and another one again is the over grown age, sorry to say many of our boys are passed the school going age. And they have whole lot of responsibilities to leave their family to go to school is a very hard thing. Still there is teachers for them but get them go to school at this time. Even at the time we have meeting with the PTA, saying that these children are over grown (So big). They have their women and children and we cannot send them to school and we can't force them. And they have their own way to go to school and so forth.

In the end are you it will sound like repeated question. I want to know whether the education system on time or comparing with other counties or whether Grand Gedeh is still lacking behind and the second part to that question is the curriculum. Have you being able to keep up with the curriculum as identify with the ministry Education? Is a perennial problem that you can't and problem associated with?
Presenter: ok, for Grand Gedeh as compare with other counties I want to say, but not to that extend in that I clearly see. We have Bong County, Nimba, bulk of their teachers are well trained. And even when you reached up to their village they have jr. and sr. high school are there working.

Are they paid better or
Presenter: no not that, we all make the same three thousand dollars crossed the board.
There is only the shortage of teachers?
Presenter: there is a shortage of teachers, in terms of the curriculum we have curriculum because. The Jr. high and sr. high we don't have enough curriculum. Some other schools would have to come to Zwedru to do photocopy the curriculum to carry to their schools. The curriculum area at the jr. high we have some problems even at the ministry is very sketchs to find curriculum for us.

No jr. high Curriculum
Presenter: Many of the times, I went there and I was not able to find it

Do you have regular in service training to upgrade the performance, the qualification of those who are already making the sacrifice?
Presenter: for now, the only thing we have regularly is workshop, but that workshop that we having is on the primary level partners we called the ALP. We don't have a sr. high we are still looking up to LCCP to start the in service program in the county. And the WRTTI that is closer to us is still under renovation

National exam,
Presenter: yes
Do you participate in the national exam?
Presenter: Exactly
What was the last result?
Presenter: well, last year result was not as fine as year before last
It seems that it declining?
Presenter; it is declining, in fact the problem is from the education ministry, because what happened. At WAEC administering of the exam, and then they changed the time of the exam many student felt reluctant and so coming back again to take it I mean created some kind of problems but in terms of national exam results were so fine.
So that is not an excuse, you the administrator should support the children to feel reluctant
So what was the result last year?
Presenter: Yes, it was not that bad, it was fine to me.
Can you speak in statistical terms, how many students took and many student passed?
Presenter: I can't remember the figure now
You too shame to say it aint?
Presenter: no not that
Thank you very much

Coleman: just a follow up point concerning the situation of the war, could you say that the elementary perceptive.... The enrollment is up to expectation...is high enough in the county etc? many children attending the elementary schools? In the future
Presenter: yes yes, from the free education, many children are attending from the primary division, the place have problem is the nursery area we do not have qualified teachers, I continued to say qualified teachers. Really we need qualified teachers to give them the basis to come up to perpetual to reach up to actual level. Like in Zwedru we only one kindergarten school for the government you see. It is a problem.

For the private institution, the churches, are they trying to reactivate their school system or even going beyond to where they were before?
Presenter; they have reactivated their school systems, even some are going as far as high school level now

Also, do you have some novel program, like home training or what they called studies programs to help those that suffered too many years in school. Because we also know that.... They have study programs that will not a take a year maybe three or four months to be motivated, that will also provide a platform for some people who find themselves too big for their classes. Is the ministry forge any of these new ideas helping to resolve this war torn issue or what is does for our people?
Presenter: Yes, I made mentioned, the creative carrying up the ALPPU(Creative Initiative Associates), so they have the evening section what they called the people like that. Beside that we have the adult literacy program in the county that take care of that

Thank you very much.

Sheilkh;
Let me ask one more question, among the number of public schools you talked about are all modernized school buildings or this still and mod buildings?
Presenter: we have still we have mis shift buildings as we called them and some are modern buildings.

Thank you

Syllah: Thank very much. For you courage, before you leave is there any last word.
Presenter: as yes as I said before I commend the TRC to extend the activities to the schools, not there are friction among the students, they are also, they can also be used to sensitize the communities so that peace will be maintain our country. The other people in the foreign country. And they are out of the county will be able to come back. In the school, we believe that will be a great progress in the activities of the program. So we are recommending that if you crosses the border where we have our people there not going to school and time are passing and they come back and they don't have room in the community, surely there maybe another problem.

Chairman: Thank you
Presenter: so I created a question for myself aint?

Syllah: No, you just made a suggestion extending the activities to the schools, TRC art says we should pay special attention to the children

Presenter: yes
But we have being doing that well, we've doing workshops in all the 15 counties now for the children and we just have a TRC, a workshop for children of the TRC process. We are anticipating 80 and we have 150 and these children help to carry the message in the community, in their schools so that they too can share the experience/

Presenter: Does it include the teachers and some administrators?
Syllah: yes, some teachers accompanied their students, and the teachers go back they can relay the information to the schools together with the students
Presenter: thank you very much

Chairman: You mentioned on the long term sustainable basis, to have regular engagement of the students so that they can receive regular information up to date and all
That kind of things.

Sheilkh: Mr. chairman, even if you can go further, we could include the TRC concept in the curriculum



Back to List of Transcripts