Episode 37 – Liberian Truths with Massa Emilia Washington and Emmanuelle Marchand

Massa Washington (top right) and Emmanuelle Marchand (bottom left) talk to Stephanie and Janet on accountability in Liberia and abroad for war crimes

There has been in boom in the numbers of trials all over the world that tackle the horrors of the first Liberian civil war. It essentially spanned the 1990s and a quarter of a million people died.

Up until recently we only had Liberian president Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone – and he wasn’t tried for anything he did in Liberia. Right now we’ve got Finland where Sierra Leonean Gibril Massaquoi is now on trial for murder, rape and using child soldiers in Liberia, while he was a commander in the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). He was not prosecuted by Special Court, because he was one of their insider witnesses on other RUF commanders.

And in Switzerland there is another case at the Federal Criminal Court in the city of Bellinzona. Alieu Kosiah, a former commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy armed group, known as ULIMO is on trial. He is the first Liberian to be put on trial for alleged war crimes committed during the first civil war.

We spoke to veteran Liberian journalist Massa Emilia Washington who was also a member of the Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Emmanuelle Marchand, head of legal at Swiss NGO Civitas Maxima which pushes universal jurisdiction prosecutions of Liberian war crimes.

Reading recommendations where an anthology of poems by Senegalese poet and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor from Emannuelle and we think she was talking about Anthologie de la Nouvelle Poésie Négre et Malagache. Massa wanted everybody to read a new novel Sadjio by Liberian author Fatoumata Fofana.


This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.