Open Letter to the People of Liberia from U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack

In early March, I concluded my second visit to Liberia—it was a visit filled with hope and inspiration.
Like so many Liberians, I—along with the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, my colleagues here in Washington, and others within the international community—was very pleased to see President Boakai’s announcement in his inaugural address that he would begin the process of creating a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia. Liberians have waited far too long to see justice for the horrific abuses they suffered in the country’s two civil wars, despite recommendations from your Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). I applaud President Boakai for making justice such a priority in the early days of his administration.
It was also thrilling to see a resolution in support of the War and Economic Crimes Court pass with strong support in the House. Congratulations to the Speaker of the House and other Representatives for taking steps to implement the very important and welcome recommendations of the 2009 Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Now, over to the Senate!
As the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, I see daily around the world how entrenched impunity for atrocities harms not only the direct victims of those crimes but all of society and the very fabric of a nation. When there is no accountability for the worst crimes known to humankind, it undermines the rule of law and contributes to corruption and lawlessness.
In so many ways, there can be no true and lasting peace without justice.
When I again spoke on Radio OK FM during my visit, I was asked if I would be disappointed if Liberia did not build a War and Economic Crimes Court before my next visit. Of course, I would like to see a war crimes court in Liberia, but it is not my opinion that matters. The imagined Court emerged from the recommendations of your TRC with a goal of bringing real justice for Liberians. This is your court and your history.
This is why I encourage everyone reading this to let your voices be heard on this issue. Speak up in your communities. Write, call, or reach out to your representatives and local leaders and tell them how you feel. If you want to see justice, let your leadership know how impunity affects you, your family, and your community.
The bright future of Liberia is in your hands—your voices must be heard.
The United States stands with you and is ready to support you in this endeavor.
The United States will also be watching closely to make sure that those advocating for justice do not face threats to their safety and that all Liberians can step forward and speak about this effort without fear of intimidation or retribution. Victims and witnesses must play a central role in the work of the future Court, and they must be able to do so freely and safely.
I am so excited to be your partner in this journey. I had a wonderful visit to Liberia, and I cannot wait for my next one—when I hope I will be able to help you welcome the establishment of the War and
Economic Crimes Court for all Liberians.
Until next time!

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