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Liberia considering war crimes trials for civil war violations

[JURIST] Liberian Justice Minister Christiana Tah has said that a report [materials] issued by the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) [official website] will be reviewed by Liberian officials in order to determine if prosecutions for possible war crimes should proceed. The TRC report, issued last December, detailed crimes committed during Liberia's civil war [UNMIL backgrounder; BBC backgrounder], including the recruitment of child soldiers, the rape of women, as well as the death of more than 250,000 citizens. According to Tah, the committee reviewing the TRC report will be trying to determine who committed the most serious atrocities [Reuters report] so that prosecutions can proceed as quickly as possible. Some in Liberia are skeptical that the government will proceed with prosecutions based on the TRC report. One of the report's most controversial recommendations is a proposed 30-year ban [JURIST report] from holding office for those who supported the civil conflict, which could affect prominent leaders such as current President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf [BBC profile]. Skeptics contend it is unlikely that Sirleaf would support some of the recommendations while ignoring those that would have a direct impact on her political future. Supporters of the TRC report contend that prosecutions are necessary to achieving justice but warn that the process would be drawn out and that it could take up to 10 years before the trials could be held.

The TRC report also contained a list of "Most Notorious Predators" and a list of perpetrators of economic crimes, which includes the head of the legal association for the defense of former president Charles Taylor [JURIST news archive]. Taylor is currently on trial [case materials] before the Special Court for Sierra Leone [official website] sitting at The Hague. Taylor faces 11 counts [indictment, PDF] of crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Conventions [materials], and other violations of international humanitarian law stemming from a "campaign to terrorize the civilian population" of Sierra Leone [JURIST news archive].

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