U. S. House of Reps Calls for Full Implementation of Liberia’s Truth & Reconciliation Recommendations

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President Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H. Res. 1055 to reaffirm strong U.S.-Liberia ties and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Ed Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I rise in support of H. Res. 1055, which affirms the strong ties between the United States and Liberia and calls for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. I want to thank Reps. Donovan and Johnson for their work on this resolution.

During my time as Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, we held hearings and passed legislation to bring attention to the brutal civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone that killed 200,000 people and displaced more than 1 million – one of whom, who was also orphaned by this conflict, worked in my own office in Congress. We heard a young girl – no more than 10 years old – recount the atrocities she herself endured during the war, a gruesome illustration of the horrific and lasting impact this conflict had on the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Africa Subcommittee worked across party lines and alongside the international community and the people of Liberia to apprehend the notorious warlord Charles Taylor. Today, he remains behind bars.

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In 2003, the Government of Liberia, rebel groups and political parties signed a comprehensive peace agreement. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created, which recommended the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to ensure justice for the people of Liberia.

Unfortunately, however, this war crimes tribunal has never been established, although Liberian government figures and activists alike have continued to call for one. This resolution repeats this important call.

We have turned the page on this horrific chapter in Liberia’s history. In March, the U.N. peacekeeping mission there officially ended. It is not often we get to celebrate the successful end of a mission, and we remember the 202 peacekeepers that lost their lives to bring peace and stability in the region.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was democratically elected in 2005 and reelected in 2011 before stepping down from power. Last year, the country experienced its first democratic transition of power since November 1944. This further strengthened democratic institutions and set an important precedent for future leaders.

Much more needs to be done to crack down on corruption and create a more conducive environment for trade and economic investment. The government must ensure policies are in place to encourage businesses to invest, grow and create jobs.

But this resolution affirms the U.S. commitment to continue to partner with Liberia to support civil society, rule of law and good governance. We stand by the Liberian people in their continued efforts for a more prosperous and democratic Liberia.

The United States and Liberia have shared close historical, political and economic ties over the course of a nearly 200-year relationship. The United States is home to an estimated 80,000 people of Liberian ancestry. This resolution commends this diaspora population, which has been instrumental in America’s efforts to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Liberia.”

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