Suspect of Crimes Against Humanity Arrested in France
Former Rebel Combatant Arrested in France for Alleged Crimes Against Humanity Committed in Liberia.
Kunti K. was arrested in France this week for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity committed during the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1996) while acting as a commander for the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO).
The ULIMO rebel faction fought against Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) during the First Liberian Civil War and was responsible for over 11,500 documented violations, according to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report.
This breakthrough arrest marks the first time a ULIMO member has been charged in France with international crimes committed during Liberia’s civil wars.
Since 2012, Civitas Maxima has been working with the Monrovia-based Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) to document crimes committed during the wars by all warring factions and find avenues for accountability for Liberian victims. Civitas Maxima and the GJRP have assisted several prosecuting authorities, resulting in six arrests in the last four years for crimes linked to crimes against humanity committed during Liberia’s civil wars in five different countries.
Civitas Maxima filed a complaint in July 2018 against Kunti K. for his alleged commission or command of multiple crimes against humanity. “What Civitas Maxima and the GJRP have accomplished is unprecedented for non-governmental organizations,” said Hassan Bility, director of the GJRP in Monrovia, Liberia, “to see numerous arrests abroad demonstrates that domestic criminal justice procedures can work to promote accountability for crimes against humanity.”
“Victims of these international crimes will not remain silent, they want justice for the wrongs they endured. We stand with the victims and help them access justice mechanisms no matter where, so that these former commanders, like Kunti K. are held accountable” said Alain Werner, director of Civitas Maxima.
There has yet to be domestic accountability in Liberia for the crimes committed during the back-to-back civil wars, which in 14 years claimed over 150 000 lives, most of them civilians. Kunti K.’s arrest comes at a time when the momentum for justice in Liberia has never been stronger.
Hassan Bility continued: “This arrest comes at such a crucial time. In Liberia, people are hopeful that the highranking commanders, the people who committed the most horrific crimes, will be held accountable. Kunti K.’s arrest, and the previous arrests, show that justice for crimes committed during the civil wars can be achieved. We therefore call on the Liberian legislature to take steps aimed at legislating the necessary laws that will pave the way for the creation of a war crimes court that will address war-time violations of international humanitarian law.”
“Each additional arrest of alleged Liberian war criminals abroad adds to the strength of the movement by Liberian civil societies calling for the establishment of domestic criminal justice procedures for the heinous crimes committed during the civil wars.” added Alain Werner.