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Liberia truth commission starts gathering witness statements

[JURIST] Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) [UN Mission in Liberia news release, PDF] on Tuesday began the long process of documenting personal statements on crimes and abuses committed during the country's 14-year civil war [Globalsecurity.org backgrounder]. Jerome Verdier [ELaw profile], head of the commission which was established under the 2003 peace accords [text], has dispatched 192 people to all 15 counties in Liberia to take statements and Verdier hopes to compile a database indexing the victims, perpetrators, and kinds of atrocities committed. The formal hearing process is scheduled to begin in January 2007. Verdier implored the statement takers not to be swayed by issues of political, economic, tribal, ethnic or blood relationships, and instead execute their duties honestly and with a sense of patriotism.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission formally began its work [JURIST report] in June after being inaugurated [JURIST report] in February. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf [BBC profile] has said that the commission is intended to heal the war-torn country and uncover the truth about the civil war, but the TRC has been criticized by human rights groups [JURIST report] who instead advocate a Liberian human rights court because the TRC cannot prosecute war crimes violations. Reuters has more. From Monrovia, the Inquirer has local coverage.

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