The TRC, for those who are not completely involved in everything Liberia, is the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, established by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003 that began preliminary work in 2006. They recently, over the past month, released their recommendations and basically created a list of everyone who should be tried or investigated in relation to the war, including warlords, fighters, and funders. I haven’t finished reading the document but what I’ve read shows that the amount of victims who went and spoke to the TRC was not as great as the amount of perpetuators, so there are now a lot of people implicated but the TRC’s findings. The main problem is that no one’s hands are clean from the war and President Johnson-Sirleaf is listed for her funding of the NPFL in the early stages of the war. Also in 1991, she encouraged the NPFL to burn it [Monrovia] to the ground, we can rebuild it. That’s not a direct quote but the meaning is the same. Sadly, her rebuilding has not involved an electric grid for residences, city water, or sanitation. Or if it has it hasn’t happened, yet.
I asked people what they thought about the TRC in order to get a better view of the problems and fears that I’ve overheard. Most of the negative views seem to be coming over the radio.
For instance, one individual who is a high school graduate would like Liberians to “forget about everything…everyone felt the weight of this war.” Another, who spent some time studying in the US and has his masters said that the TRC recommendations are a good document but will not be implemented because the current government is implicated. He believed that if the people had the political will to see the recommendations acted upon, they would be, but the people of Liberia, he believes, do not have that will.
A man from Mali, who now lives and works in Liberia, described the TRC committee as unprofessional, since they released an “unedited copy” when they did not have the document complete by the due date. He also said that the committee only sent one copy of the recommendations to the Senate, due to lack of funds, and the Senate was expected to make copies or in other ways distribute the information. He also pointed to the Virginia Declaration that was attached to the final document as a particularly troubling piece. The problem he said with the VA declaration was that the delegates of the TRC committee claimed to be representing the people of Liberia, but they were not elected and were not a representational body.
The controversy then is that political leaders are implicated by the recommendations. But, as many advocates and social workers have argued to me, what was the purpose of the investigation if it is just going to be ignored now that the present government doesn’t like the findings.