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Recommend Prosecution For Heinous Crimes...US Professor Holloway Tells TRC...Says Reconciliation in Good, But Justice Is Better

The TRC must recommend prosecution for past government officials that committed the most heinous economic and political crimes against the Liberian people at a special tribunal set up to address wrongs against humanity, Professor Joseph Holloway has suggested.

Professor Holloway said reconciliation is good and necessary, but justice is always better. By justice, he said the idea of political, economic and social justice should also be considered on the road to reconciliation.

Dr. Holloway said that people who have been violated must be guaranteed their safety from state terrorism, provide them with food security. He said individuals who have committed crimes against humanity should receive justice.

He was testifying Thursday at Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) ongoing Thematic and Institutional Hearing on Historical Review at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia.

Holloway, professor of Pan African Studies at California State University and a prolific writer on Liberia cautioned the Supreme Court, the court systems, government officials, including the office of the president to not use their positions to protect groups that have violated the human rights of Liberian citizens.

"The mandates of most Truth and Reconciliation Commissions have been to discover and reveal past wrongdoing by the governments. In the case of Liberia, one can argued that issues of class, culture, ethnicity and land are at the roots of the historical crisis. More importantly, the people and victims of internal unrest, civil war, state terrorism have been left in a state of confusion because the new governments have established Truth and Reconciliation Commissions based on the South African model, which has been controversial because many of the individuals accused for crimes against humanity are now part of those governments, and go unpunished with impunity," Professor Holloway said.

Holloway insisted that the government should make a public apology for past crimes against the people and should pay reparation in the form of building schools, roads, and medical centers in rural areas.

He said past economic and political crimes against indigenous peoples by the True Whig Party government should be heard by the TRC, saying that many of these issues involve land ownership.

Dr. Holloway proposed that the TRC should recommend to the government the removal of honors of individuals who abused government offices at the expense of its poor citizens.

Under the theme: "Examining Liberia's Past: Reality, Myth, Falsehood and the Conflict", the hearing will provide a critical review and expert perspectives into Liberia's past not only for the purpose of understanding the historical antecedents to the conflict, but to ensure the country's history or national narrative reflected the experiences, beliefs and aspirations of Liberians of all backgrounds.

The hearing featuring the testimonies and presentations of historians, anthropologists, journalists, lawyers, politicians, diplomats and clergymen is intended to help Liberians rewrite their history by seeking to identify the issues that underpinned our history, divided us as a people and nearly eviscerated the state.

The hearing is focused on events between 1979 and 2003 and the national and external actors that helped to shape those events.

The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 Accra 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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This had been the official website of the Liberian TRC. The Commission ended operation
in 2010. This website is maintained by the Georgia Institute of Technology.