President Sirleaf’s Letter To The Legislators On The TRC Report

Honorable J. Alex Tyler

Speaker of the House of Representatives

The 53rd Legislature (IN SESSION)

Capitol Building

Capitol Hill

Monrovia, Liberia

Dear Honorable Speaker:

In line with Section 4.4 of the Act Establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Republic of Liberia, I am pleased to submit to you herewith a comprehensive progress report on the implementation of the recor4mendations of the June 30, 2009 Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Overall, there are 207 recommendations contained in the TRC Report Some eighteen (18) of those are essentially general principles which do not lend themselves to practical implementation or actualization. Forty-two (42) are basically concepts intended to facilitate the fostering of good governance progressively. For example, it projects a 30-year period for the implementation of a rational reparations program. The establishment of special courts to prosecute persons listed as allegedly bearing the greatest responsibilities for the war and also for crimes against humanity also falls in this category. Consequently, actual recommendations that are implementable in a short-to-medium timeframe are about 142.

As you will note from the matrix which I have herewith attached, we have implemented or are well advanced in implementing the r4ajority of the recommendations. Moreover, a large number of the recommendations are being address in the National Vision – Liberia Rising 2030, the National Symbols Project, and the Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peacebuilding and reconciliation.

Mr. Speaker, you may recall that in my Progress Report of August 27, 2010, I informed the National Legislature that a Task Force was constituted to review the TRC Report and Recommendations and advise on implementation. The Task Force compartmentalized the TRC Report in four key categories: (1): Historicity and Memorialization, (2) Reparations, (3) Reconciliation and (4) Prosecution and Lustration.

Historicity and Memorialization relate to the 18 recommendations that aim at building a new political culture of tolerance integrity, accountability, and respect for the human rights of all persons, including those in opposition, in a plu1ralistic society that respects the rule of law and promotes equal opportunity for all with special attention to the rights of women, children, physically chal1engd, and other vulnerable members of our society.

Government has worked assiduously, and has recorded notable achievements in this regard. Although there is room for improvement, Government has promoted tolerance at all levels; has set up systems and institutions of integrity and accountability; and has observed and respected the fundamental human rights of all its citizens and those within our borders.

Moreover, Government continues to work to strengthen the rule of law. The justice and Security joint Program being implemented with support from the United Nations Peace Building Fund (UNPBF), and other bilateral and multilateral partners, and with funding from our Government is a clear manifestation. Additionally, Government adopted the program, Strengthening the Rule of Law, as one its three key peacebuilding priorities. This was articulated in the Statement of Mutual Commitments (SMCs) adopted between the Government and the U Peace Building Commission, which sets a number of commitments and targets that Government must meet overtime. Since 2011, Government has submitted four reports on the SMCs commitments and targets to the PBC with notable progress.

The second category, Reparations, accounts for eight recommendations, and entreats Government to assume all of its obligations under international and domestic laws to provide reparation for all those individuals and communities victimized by the years of hostility and conflict.

The TRC Report proposes a Reparation Program of approximately U$500 million to be implemented within a thirty (30) year period. In my report of August 2010, I suggested that given the widespread nature of our conflict, individual reparations will be prohibitively expensive and difficult to implement. Therefore, we should consider community type reparation through the reconstruction and renewal of institutions and public facilities that were destroyed during the conflict. I still hold this view without prejudice to the need to respond to specific cases of atrocities that have left individuals handicapped and unable to provide for themselves.

The fourth category, Reconciliation, covers four recommendations that introduce the National Palava Hut Program as a conflict resolution mechanism to redress outstanding traditional grievances, and create the basis and opportunity to repair and resolve broken relationships at the community and national levels.

A Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peacebuildirg and Reconciliation has been developed and is being implemented. In October 2014, I launched the commencement of the National Palava Hut Talks in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. The implementation of the Palava Hut program was stalled as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Nevertheless, I am pleased to inform you that it is rescheduled to continue in 2015 in four pilot areas. A detailed report will be submitted to you subsequently.

Mr. Speaker, while we have and must do more for reconciliation by ensuring equity, equal opportunity and justice for all, reconciliation must go beyond this as well as the processes of contrition and forgiveness through the Palava Hut. We must as individuals, organizations, political parties, business entities, encouraged by our traditional leaders and religious institutions, see the need for reconciliation as a means of ensuring the peace and stability of ourselves and our country which is the major condition for sustained development.

As regards prosecution, as you may recall, in my report of March 2010, I suggested that the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court requires joint effort of the Executive and the National Legislature, which has the constitutional mandate for establishing courts, and for civil society through participation with the Liberia National Bar Association. At the same time, we note the importance of Restorative justice that is ongoing under several of the policies, programs and initiatives covered in this report.

This is without prejudice to any future considerations by you in the establishment of Special Courts as recommended by the TRC Report.

With respect to Lustration (Public Sanctioning), we believe that this matter was addressed by the Supreme Court in an Opinion given in January 20i. It would seem therefore that any further action would require advice from the Liberia National Bar Association. At the same time we should note the Restorative justice is ongoing under several of the policies, programs and initiatives covered in this report.

Mr. Speaker, the report now submitted to the Honorable Legislature represents an update to those previously issued. To date, this information has not been placed in the public domain as I had expected reaction from your Honorable Body. Consequently, the lack of public knowledge and understanding of our progress on the status of implementation of the TRC Recommendations, fosters the misperception of inaction, inertia or disregard, by the Executive. I ask your support to address this perception by openly reading this report at your Plenary Session.

In closing, I again express to your Honorable Body my appreciation for the continued spirit of cooperation as we work for the development of our country.

Sincerely,

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

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