Aiding Victim Participation in the Prosecution of Liberia’s War Crimes

“We are very grateful for the help and support we have received to get justice. We thought we had been forgotten by our people and by the whole world, but there is a justice under the sky after all. When Alieu Kosiah was in Lofa county, he had power of life and death over anyone. He was at the top of the pyramid, and we were at the bottom. He could crush us like ants if he wanted. Now as I said in court, we are the ones at the top of the pyramid and he is the one at the bottom, he has to listen to us and listen to what he did”.

We provided support to our partner, Global Justice and Research Report (GJRP) for the implementation of a project seeking justice for victims of war crimes in Liberia. The beneficiaries of this project after several years of waiting for justice finally saw the perpetrator of the war crimes they had suffered have his day in court. For the beneficiaries of this project, it was a long-awaited dream come true for them. One of them captured her feelings in the words cited above.

Under this project, GJRP worked to facilitate the (re)trial of former ULIMO commanders Kunti Kamara (October 10 to November 4, 2022) and Alieu Kosiah (January 11 to February 3, 2023) which took place in France and Switzerland respectively. Sub-grants from the ATJLF enabled the organisation play a key role in facilitating the travel of testifying victims to France and Switzerland. They also accompanied the victims throughout the entire legal proceeding.

Consequent upon the testimonies of the seven plaintiffs in Alieu Kosiah’s appeal trial in Switzerland, the erstwhile ULIMA commander’s 20-year prison sentence initially handed down in 2021 was confirmed as Kosiah was convicted of 22 counts of war crimes, including rape, murder and an act of cannibalism. He was also convicted of crimes against humanity committed during Liberia’s first civil war in the 1990.

To victims of war crimes whose testimonies enabled this prosecution and conviction, this was a proud moment of justice and relief after so many years and several attempts to attain justice which seemed elusive for a long time.