Combining Theater with Knowledge & Awareness of Court Cases Against Alleged Liberian War Criminals
Civitas Maxima has always distinguished itself with the original and artistic projects we co-fund and partner with local organisations on, and which involve local populations in debates about accountability and justice. In this spirit, within the Liberian Quest for Justice campaign, one of our most ambitious outreach projects so far was “Justice in Action”.
“Justice in Action” was a participatory theatre project, undertaken in partnership with Flomo Theatre Inc., which commenced in 2017 and continued in 2018 with the design of a theatre roadshow, public readings, and the staging of mock trials performed by Flomo Theatre actors and involving local students in Monrovia. Then in 2019, Flomo Theatre actors, together with Civitas Maxima staff and other local partners, embarked on a roadshow across rural Liberia to share the news of the trial of Mohammed Jabbateh, aka ‘Jungle’ Jabbah – former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) rebel faction who was convicted in the US for immigration fraud relating to his non-disclosure to US authorities of his involvement in the First Liberian Civil War.
The Justice in Action project was not only concerned with the vital task of shedding light on the criminal prosecutions happening abroad: it also involved Civitas Maxima staff and our local partners listening to, understanding, and engaging with local communities in the provinces. With this project, Civitas Maxima aimed to achieve much more than just sharing information about the Jungle Jabbah trial: it wanted to engage Liberians from remote communities in a wider discussion about justice, impunity, and dealing with the past.
To this day, those who committed atrocities during the Civil Wars have not been held accountable in Liberia. This is in spite of the explicit recommendation of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2009 for the government to establish a war crimes court. Alleged perpetrators still hold powerful positions in the country, and many opposing narratives – often fallacious – surround the debate on whether or not Liberia should have a war crimes court. It was therefore paramount to provide reliable information and honest dialogue on impunity, justice, and accountability.
In total, 15 towns in six different counties were visited by the roadshow. All of these towns witnessed extreme violence perpetrated by all armed groups across all factions – who raided and devastated these communities during the conflicts.