In Establishing WECC: CRITICAL LOAD TO CARRY -As Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi Becomes Executive Director By: Yassah J Wright

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Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi has been appointed for the as the Executive Director of the Office of the War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia by the President of the Republic of Liberia. This is Cllr. Massaquoi’s second appointment to a top level national position under this regime. It can be recalled that he was earlier this year, appointed as Justice Minister of the Republic of Liberia but was later withdrawn. The appointment follows the signing of Executive Order #131 on May 2, 2024, which officially established the office of the War and Economic Crimes Court. The signing ceremony, was highly embraced and attended by a cross section of government officials, and many other stakeholders, including justice and peace advocates, the interfaith community, and victims of Liberia’s civil conflicts.  In a letter written to Cllr. Massaquoi, President Joseph N. Boakai expressed confidence in Cllr. Maasaquoi’s ability to spearhead the court, and ensure that justice is served rightly to victims of the 14 years civil war.  “Consistent with the executive order establishing this office, we trust you will expedite its full implementation,” the letter said.  Cllr. Massaquoi’s appointment came barely a month after President Boakai signed an executive order to establish the War and Economic Crimes Court, intended to penalize those who committed atrocities during the conflict era. When confirmed, Cllr. Massaquoi will be the first director of the office that will be tasked with setting up the court and conducting research and studies in consultation with international partners.  “As you are aware, the establishment of this office and the War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia represents a historic milestone in the fight against corruption and impunity in this country,” President Boakai remarked. “I am convinced that combating these corrosive practices in our society will contribute to peace, sustainable development, and prosperity. You are expected to use your best efforts to ensure the success of this initiative. I trust that you will carry out your duties with the utmost diligence, dedication, and loyalty to your country.” According to the Executive Order signed by President Boakai, the “Office of War and Economic Crimes Court shall be headed by an Executive Director who shall be an astute lawyer of impeccable character, knowledgeable in Liberian constitutional and criminal law, and capable of working with the international community in formulating the mechanisms, procedures, and processes necessary for establishing a war crimes court and an anti-corruption court for Liberia.” As head of the WECC, Cllr. Massaquoi would set up a model of an international tribunal for war crimes, including the jurisdiction, and situs of the special war crimes court for Liberia, consistent with and in harmony with international models that have been used for similar trials of war crimes.  Cllr. Massaquoi will liaise with international partners in sourcing the funding for the Special War Crimes Court for Liberia.  Between 1989 and 2003, the 14-year civil war killed an estimated 250,000 people. Many more fled to neighboring countries as refugees. Women and girls were raped, abused, and killed. Warlords recruited child soldiers to fight for them.  The war ended in 2003 with a call to establish the War and Economic Crimes Court to ensure that those who committed these atrocities were penalized. The WECC is one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that was set up to investigate the 14-year war. Once up and running, the court would operate in Liberia in line with international standards, with backing from international institutions, including the United Nations. It will also try those accused of economic crimes.

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