Liberty Party Reconciliation Paper Section IV
A Liberty Party government will take the follow other measures to facilitate national reconciliation:
Demonstrate commitment to the unification of our people by immediate Executive
Orders directing that, given the abundance of uninhabited land in our country, no person, concession or non-concession, would be allowed to dispossess village dwellers of their ancestral homeland to plant rubber trees or to harvest forest timber. And government officials and other urban elites who, by virtue of their status, attempt to possess land that rural dwellers would otherwise need for farming, would be prohibited.
Undertake such interim measures as allowed under existing law until major land reform laws are instituted, ensuring, among other things, that Liberians living on “public land” within the interior of the country, whose affairs are still governed by customary law, would be issued fee simple deeds for the land on which they live. This is not only a right that they deserve, but also an obligation of the government, as it would give the majority of Liberians a stake in their country, as well as empower them economically.
Encourage and even induce Liberians, especially those returning from exile and village dwellers who have since taken residence in urban cities as a result of the war, to own and develop land in areas other than their counties of origin, as we strive to develop into a nation of citizens, and not a collection of ethnic groups.Introduce a new social protection net so that older Liberians, who have not made the transition into the monetary economy, will be allowed some form of old age benefit during their twilight years. Elderly citizens, who are not within the monetary sector of the economy or who may not have contributed to the social security fund, will be grandfathered into the social security system.
Develop a national policy to deal with the group of our citizens who have become disabled as a result of the war—the Amputees and other physically and mentally challenged. This program will also apply to other Liberians who are also physically and mentally challenged, such as the blind, the deaf, and the mentally challenged. These Liberians can also contribute to the rebuilding of our nation. A Liberty Party Government will work to assist them acquire marketable skills and gain employment.
Integrate our dual legal systems that we have developed along parallel lines since President Arthur Barclay’s Interior Plan of 1904. Whether a Liberian lives under customary law or statutory law, everyone should be entitled to the same rights and privileges under the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Liberia must be the final arbiter of all litigations, as provided for under our Constitution. But today, the President of Liberia regrettably, is the Chief Judge as to all civil matters arising under customary law.
Harmonize our national symbols with the values and complete history of our country.
A Liberty Party government will, within the first six months of coming into office, establish a commission, representing every county and ethnic group to review our national Symbols—flag, motto, and seal—along with the names of major cities, among others, with the view of strengthening the national integration and unity of the people of Liberia, regardless of place of origin, ethnic, regional or other differences, into one body politic.
Honor all of our heroes and teach a history of our country that tells the story of all of our people. A Liberty Party government will, within the first six months of coming into office, establish a commission to conduct comprehensive research and study of Liberian history, with the view of discovering contributions made by all Liberians, especially non- repatriates, and identifying ethnic heroes and heroines who contributed in shaping the history of our country. The goal of the research will be to ensure our history immortalizes all of our heroes and tells the story of all of our people.
Our immediate and urgent reconciliation concern is to heal the wounds of the civil war and restore our various communities, which have been further divided as a result of the war. We have to reduce the risk of impoverished, idle ex-combatants slipping back into violence. The result of a survey conducted by US-based non-profit CHF International, indicates that ex-fighters at risk of returning to violence can destabilize a country still recovering from war. The report found that almost thirty percent of Liberian ex-combatants surveyed said they were willing to take up arms again to earn a living wage, family and community acceptance, and respect for their tribe or religion. The authors noted that economic integration tends to train fighters for a market that does not have enough jobs. “Most rehabilitation and reintegration programming places immediate emphasis on skills training and only secondary emphasis on job creation,” CHF International wrote. “This order of operations is intuitive, but perhaps misguided. A push for immediate, state-supported job creation may be the best way to reduce the risk of impoverished, idle ex-combatants slipping back into violence.”
For us to have a secure, stable, and peaceful Liberia there must be a national policy designed to ensure that these ex-combatants cease to be fighters-for-hire. These men and women should be integrated in the restructured national armed forces. Of course, they should not be recruited into combat units of the armed forces, but should be enlisted in the auxiliary battalions, such as the agriculture, engineering, and medical battalions. These new “soldiers” would not be allowed to handle or otherwise come in contact with weapons. The military, instead, will be used as a vehicle for rehabilitating them through the discipline and regiment of the armed forces. They will be trained as technicians, taught to become productive citizens, and then discharged into civilian life.
Of course, no reconciliation policy will be complete while hundreds of thousands of Liberians are lingering in the Diaspora unable to make the transition back home. When sustained and relentless violence started in Liberia, many of our citizens fled to protect their lives and the lives of their family members. Many of them reached places of safety in our neighboring countries. Still many others went abroad to Europe and America. In order to escape economic deprivation and/or social and political discrimination in their places of refuge, some of those persons obtained citizenship of other countries. We must make it easier for those who wish to return to be able to do so, as Liberian citizens. Our archaic citizenship laws will be reformed so that citizens who obtained citizenship in other countries during periods when the Liberian constitution was suspended would not have automatically lost their citizenship, with its attendant rights and privileges.
Office of Reconciliation Policy and Transitional Justice
In order to show maximum attention to its reconciliation policy, a Liberty Party government will create a cabinet level position in the office of the President to plan, coordinate and implement strategies regarding the policies articulated in this document and which will be adopted as the official government reconciliation plan.