Warlord Jungle Jabbah’s sentencing and further trials for alleged Liberian war criminals set for 2018

The former Liberian rebel commander Mohammed Jabbateh aka Jungle Jabbah will be sentenced by a judge in Philadelphia on 07 February 2018. Trials of other alleged Liberian war criminals have been scheduled for 2018.

Jungle Jabbah faced trial in Philadelphia in October 2017. The trial marked the first time in history that victims of the first Liberian Civil War were able to tell their stories of horrific crimes that they and their loved ones endured in a criminal court. Civitas Maxima (CM) and the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) have collaborated since 2014 with U.S. authorities on the investigation of crimes Jabbateh allegedly committed in Liberia.

On the 18th of October 2017, after almost three weeks of hearing, a jury of 12 found the former Liberian rebel commander guilty of two counts of fraud and two counts of perjury for lying to U.S. government officials about his role as a combatant in the Liberian Civil War. He faces anything between immediate release and 30 years in prison (for an explanation of the sentencing procedure click here).

The length of his prison sentence will be determined in a separate hearing on Wednesday the 7th of February 2018. It will take place at the James A. Byrne US Courthouse, 601 Market Street in Philadelphia at 2 pm and will be open to the public and journalists. His conviction sets an important precedent for other upcoming trials of alleged Liberian war criminals in 2018.

“Liberian victims will not be silenced in their quest for justice. Faced with blatant impunity at home, they are finding access to justice abroad” says Hassan Bility, director of the GJRP.

The trials of Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, former leader of the NPFL (National Patriotic Front of Liberia), and Agnes Taylor who was Charles Taylor’s wife, will take place in 2018 in the United States and the United Kingdom respectively. It is anticipated that the former NPFL commander Martina Johnson, and the former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) Alieu Kosiah may also be tried this year in Belgium and Switzerland respectively.

In 2017 Civitas Maxima and the GJRP launched a joint communications campaign titled “Liberian Quest for Justice ” which provided an accessible, apolitical and unbiased account of the Jungle Jabbah trial in Philadelphia on Facebook and Twitter. The campaign featured a series of cartoons ”Musu’s Diary” about a young Liberian girl and her little brother, discussing access to justice through an engaging and playful narrative. The campaign made the case in Philadelphia and the impunity discussion in Liberia tangible.

It reached thousands of Liberians in Liberia and the diaspora. Moreover, Civitas Maxima entered into a partnership with New Narratives, a program which supports leading Liberian journalists to deliver independent news. Their team covered the trial from Philadelphia and Monrovia.

On the day of President George Weah’s inauguration, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) in San Francisco, Civitas Maxima in Geneva and the GJRP in Monrovia, as well as many other organizations all over the world wrote an open letter to the newly elected leader, urging him to fulfil Liberia’s obligation to investigate and prosecute war time atrocities and ensure the protection of human rights defenders. (To read the open letter click here).

The wide support for this open letter shows that 2018 is not only a year of important milestones for justice, in the form of trials of alleged war criminals, but also a year in which solidarity with the victim of civil wars is finding new strength and support, and in which their voices will be heard on an unprecedented scale.

Make sure to follow the Liberian Quest for Justice to stay up to date on our efforts, on the sentencing of Jungle Jabbah and other upcoming trials.

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