Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Comes to the United States

by Peggy McGuinness

For the first time, a truth and reconciliation commission has picked up stakes and moved to a foreign country to take public testimony: The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission began its first extraterritorial session in St. Paul Minnesota this week.

The Star Tribune has the full story here. One remarkable aspect of the story is the size of the Liberian expat community in the twin cities, and what it says about how the international becomes local — and vice versa:

Minnesota is home to about 30,000 Liberians. It is one of the largest Liberian communities in the nation, and most have never told their stories publicly, said Jennifer Presthold, deputy director of the Minneapolis-based Advocates for Human Rights. The organization, which does work around the globe, has been a partner of the truth commission, sending dozens of Minnesota attorneys into the community here and nationally to take written testimony about Liberians’ war trauma and its effects years later.

We can add the ability to travel to take testimony in foreign countries to the list of distinctions between TRCs and national prosecutions for war-time atrocities. It would also appear to have at least one important advantage over prosecutions in that it permits the participation of victims who are too traumatized to ever be able to return to their home country and/or groups that are too long exiled to be considered active participants in politics back home.

For those in the St. Paul area who are interested, the public hearings are taking place at Hamline University (full press release here):

The hearings will take place Tuesday, June 10 through Saturday, June 14 from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (CST) in Sundin Music Hall, located at 1536 Hewitt Avenue on Hamline University’s Saint Paul campus. The hearings are free, and the public is welcome to sit in and observe the proceedings.

One Response

  1. As one of the few Libero-Americans (American born in Liberia when my folks were there) and having participated in the latest Liberian Studies Association Conference held at Toledo, the rebuilding process is a remarkable one. One area of particular interest is the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund which is an effort to fund improved markets in various places in Liberia to help the market women improve their lives and the lives of their communities. My sister Dorothy Davis is one of the people working on that project. For more information, you can go to the website at Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund. There is even an adopt a market program.



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