Capital-Building (FrontPage Africa)

On Thursday, April 10, 2024, members of the House of Representatives concurred with the Senate’s amended resolution for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court. Following the consensus, the resolution was forwarded to President Boakai for action.

More than 40 House members signed the resolution, and 28 out of 29 senators agreed to establish the War and Economic Crimes Court.

The resolution was amended during debate in the Lower House after Montserrado County District #3 Representative, Sumo K. Mulbah, proposed the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia to the House of Representatives.

The majority of members of the House of Representatives then signed the resolution supporting the establishment of a war crimes court to give justice to victims and survivors of the 14-year civil war in Liberia.

The lawmakers pledged their support for the creation of the War and Economic Crimes Court and called on President Joseph N. Boakai to work with the United Nations, international partners, institutions, and civil society organizations for assistance in establishing the Extraordinary Criminal Court in Liberia in a manner that allows the trial of international crimes per international standards and best practices.

“Recognizing that economic crimes are the progenitor of war crimes, call for legislative action to establish an Economic Crimes Court for the swift and speedy trial of corruption and economic crimes. Attested Members of the House of Representatives hereby affix their signatures,” the resolution stated.

“NOW THEREFORE, it is resolved by the House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia in the Legislature assembled: expresses its support for full implementation of the TRC recommendations, including the establishment of an extraordinary criminal court in Liberia, and commits to working with President Joseph Nyuma Boakai for the court’s establishment. Section 48 of the TRC Act provides that “the Head of State shall report to the National Legislature within three months of receipt of the report of the TRC and on a quarterly basis thereafter as to the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations,” the House’s resolution said.

After 49 lawmakers, making it two-thirds of the House of Representatives, signed the resolution, it was then sent to the Senate for concurrence.

Almost a month later, the Senate endorsed the establishment of the court but with a twist, with 28 senators signing.

The Senate termed their Resolution, the Establishment of the Extraordinary Criminal Court and Domestic Corruption Court for War and Economics Crimes, and sent it back to the House of Representatives, where it originated.

The House of Representatives acted Thursday, April 11, on the Senate’s version of the War and Economic Crimes Court, which was renamed “Extraordinary Criminal Court and Domestic Corruption Court for War and Economic Crimes.”

Can the Resolution establish the Court?

Former Bong County Representative George Mulbah said the resolution is an expression of intent. The legislature must enact legislation to establish the WECC.

“In that bill, it will outline the number of judges, the jurisdiction of the court, and sources of financing for the court. The law will establish the appeal or appellate process of the court.”

Furthermore, former Montserrado District 8 Representative Acarous Gray stated in an interview with TSM that, while both houses agreed on the resolution, no one can be prosecuted for it.

Gray, like Mulbah, stated that the court can only be established if a bill is passed by either the Legislature, the President, or the Liberian people through a legislative representative.

“Wherever the bill comes from, it will be open for debate, and an onward decision can be made by both houses; however, the resolution signed is an intent or expression of interest to establish the court; the resolution does not establish the court after the signatures,” Gray explained.

Conclusion: The House stated that the majority of members have agreed to the Senate’s Resolution, which has been delivered to the President. Indeed, signatures from both the Senate and the House are insufficient to establish the court unless both chambers pass legislation.


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