The one-time leader of the Independent National
Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), now senator of Nimba County, Thursday claimed that the Independent Human Rights Commission (INHRC) has announced plans to forward him and others listed in the TRC report for prosecution to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial.
During a press conference held at the Capitol Building, Sen. Johnson, listed in the TRC report as the ‘most notorious’ that must be tried for war crimes, said he has “serious problem” with such move by the INHRC.
“We want the legality to prevail, the INHRC has no legal ground, authority to contact The Hague or recommend anybody there for prosecution. You have to do that through the government.
“The government is not the executive mansion; there are three branches; it has to be legislated by law. The ICC does not take request from any human rights group; they take report from the government,” Sen. Johnson said.
But contacted for clarification, Commissioner James Torh of the Independent National Human Rights Commission said the Commission has made no such recommendation.
“Sending people to the ICC is a grave matter and it must be the government’s decision. We have not made any such recommendation to the Government and it does not mean we cannot make it in the future under the right circumstances. But at no time have we met to decide that Senator Johnson should be transferred to the ICC.”
He said it is unfortunate that Commissioner Thomas Brewer gave held a press conference claiming that Sen. Johnson is slated for trial when no such decision was taken.
However, Sen. Johnson told journalists: “We came to free this country from oppression… from dictatorial regime. But if the law say we have to face prosecution, I am not above the law, but there are problems; the act that established the TRC gave it a specific mandate to be submitted to the legislature by the president within ten days.”
“That submission has been made by the TRC to the president but she has refused to submit it to the legislature for almost two years now. The whole report should be sent to the legislature for debate and the end result would allow the human rights commission to work,” Sen. Johnson noted.
He suggested that the human rights groups should be “thinking on how to recover all the conventional weapons that were used to fight the war”.
“These were conventional weapons that only people with so much money could get, we were not capable of purchasing a single barrel so how did we get those classical weapons that we used during the war? They were giving to us by Madam Sirleaf, Amos Sawyer, Richard Tolbert, Harry Greaves and many others who served in a group call the association of Liberians for constitutional democracy established in 1985,” he charged.
He suggested that President Sirleaf should also be recommended for prosecution to the ICC for “aiding and abetting” them (warlords) during the war.
Sen. Johnson: “It could be US$10 million, because US$10,000 could not buy any guy. Because US$10,000 cannot be your contribution towards somebody that you push in the war front to fight.
“Who determines who goes to palaver hut and who doesn’t go to palaver hut? Because those who aided and abetted are the key figures, if they have not sponsored and brought arms, we would not come forth to fight. So why are you only focusing on fighter, fighter, fighter?” he questioned.