Facing the past in Liberia

Many of us who attended the ABA Dispute Resolution Conference in New York this past April were lucky enough to see an excellent movie about women and the peace movement in Liberia:  Pray the Devil Back to Hell (http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/v3/). 


This past week the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report.  The recommendation getting the most attention is that the current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, be banned from public office for thirty years.  That recommendation (and others) will become law only with Parliamentary approval.


I hope that the attention focused President Sirleaf’s potential banning from public office does not completely eclipse the rest of the TRC report.


From a dispute resolution perspective the TRC report has a number of interesting pieces.  The report reviews the “root causes” of the conflict in Liberia finding that the “major root causes of the conflict are attributable to poverty, greed, corruption, limited access to education, economic, social, civil and political inequalities; identity conflict, land tenure and distribution, etc.”  The report is also clear that all factions involved in the conflict committed gross human rights violations. The TRC recommends formal prosecutions for the most serious crimes and a “Palava Hut” for less serious crimes.  The “Palava Hut” is a process where individuals can admit their “wrongful act” and “seek pardon from the people of Liberia.”  The “Palava Hut” can choose to use traditional or informal processes “as local culture and traditions and customs may warrant.” 


If you want to take a look at the full report it is available at: https://www.trcofliberia.org/

One thought on “Facing the past in Liberia”

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