Weah, Koijee Risk Prosecution by the International Criminal Court for Election Violence

Washington (Globe Afrique) – Liberia is slowly inching towards state-sponsored terrorism and violence against its citizens. Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), stated, ‘when passions run high during elections, and people do not act with restraint, this may lead to large-scale crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC. In such a case, the office of the prosecutor will not hesitate to act under the criteria defined by the Rome Statute.

She went on to say, “Political leaders are equally obliged to ensure that the electoral process and elections proceed calmly and that they, their supporters and sympathizers, refrain from any violence before, during and after elections.”

President Weah

Liberia is a party to the Rome Statute. And, Article 15 of the Rome Statute allows ICC Prosecutors to investigate allegations of crimes based on information from victims, nongovernmental organizations or any other reliable source.  Moreover, the ex officio provisions of the Statute give victims and survivors a role in the ICC process by enabling them to trigger investigations.

Over the years, the ICC has conducted investigations and prosecutions of crime against humanity, war crimes and aggression in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Burundi. Madam Bensouda added, “Anyone who incites or participates in mass violence, by ordering, soliciting, encouraging or otherwise contributing to crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is liable to prosecution before the Court.” And no one should doubt the determination to investigate such crimes.

Statements by Koijee Are Deemed State-Sponsored Atrocities and Terrorism

Recent activities and statements made by leaders of the ruling party, particularly, the mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee, where he stated, “Make no mistake to think that because we bear certain titles or bear certain space in government, that position has taken from us our true identity.”

The mayor went on to say, “…any day that would be announced by anyone (referring to protestors), we want to say to you that similar day would be announced by us. And wheresoever they are, we would also be there, and we would meet in flesh and blood.” It’s quite apparent that the young and inexperienced mayor fails to realize that his statements are treated as state-sponsored or supported atrocities.

If one were to couple the mayor’s statements with recent acts of violence, this would lead to a decision by the ICC to open an investigation into violence in Liberia because it falls within the category of crimes against humanity which will lead to future prosecutions of state-supported atrocities. Failure by the President of Liberia to forcefully and publicly reject and sanction the mayor may be deemed as silent support of Koijee.

Proposed Ban on Jefferson Koijee from Entering the United States

On another note, Liberians in the United States are gearing up to petition the U.S. State Department to prohibit Jefferson Koijee and other political party members of the ruling party from entering the U.S. for fear that they are sponsoring domestic terrorism in Liberia.

According to 8 U.S. Code Subchapter 2, Subsection 1182 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, any person, including government officials who endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity are inadmissible to the United States.

“Terrorist activity” is defined as any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if it had been committed in the United States, would be unlawful under the laws of the United States or any State) including a violent attack upon the liberty of a person.

According to an official at the U.S. Justice Department, who wishes to remain anonymous, the United States government and members of the United States Committee on Foreign Relations are closely following events unfolding in Liberia. Globe Afrique will continue to monitor these events as they unfold.

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Mitch Rodinski

Mitch is a political journalist who is passionate about understanding governments in Latin America and Africa. Mitch holds a graduate degree in journalism from Cornell University. Mitch covers LATAM for Globe Afrique and will continue to focus on developments in fragile countries.
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