Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Monrovia, Liberia :The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) says it has collected more than 49,000 statements from victim of the 14 years civil war. TRC Chairman Jerome Vedier indicated that the commission might not call some victims for public hearing to recounts their ordeals due to the severity of their horrific statements owing security reason.
In his remark during a one day ‘Reporting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ workshop for News Editor and Senior Reporters held last Saturday at the Carina Hotel in Monrovia, TRC Chairman Vedier said the TRC will convene 88 times in Montserrado County while the commission intends to convene 30 sessions in each county.
According to Chairman Vedier, the Commission will invite perpetrators and other individuals to the hearing at the appropriate time.
The Chief of Public Information at the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), George Summerwill welcoming participants to the workshop, said the process of the TRC is at a critical time. He indicated that it is time for Liberians to put aside their differences to move the country forward if the nation should not slip back into conflict. Mr. Summerwill furthered that Liberians doubt if the TRC process would work, and if so, they are wondering as to what difference will it make.
However, he told journalists that the TRC process has worked in other countries, and it should work in Liberia . “The TRC is not a process that will happen over night but it will take time,” he noted.
Calling on journalists to report the true happenings at the TRC hearing, Summerwill urged the media to put aside personal views in their reportage, be objective, fair and balance. He said the role of journalist in the TRC process is very important, stressing that it is not the job of a journalist to pass judgment.
“Report what is said at the TRC hearing,” the Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia, Peter Quaqua told the participants. “Journalists,” he said, “should be careful in giving information from the TRC hearing to the public.” He warned that it should not be journalists fault if the TRC process should failed.
The information Consultant of the TRC, Richmond Anderson, applauds the media saying, “Journalists are on course when it comes to reporting issues of the TRC since the hearing started. Urging journalists to ensure that Liberia remains stable, Mr. Anderson urged journalists to report what is said and what they see at the hearing.
Facilitating the workshop, Dr. Audrey Gadzekpo said the role of the media is to create awareness and public support for the TRC processes. Dr. Gadzekpo, a professor at the University of Ghana , told the participants that while it is necessary to cross check information provided at the hearing, journalists should bear in mind that the processes of the TRC are not legal issues.
Discussing the topics “The Importance of the Media in the TRC and Experiences of Coverage of the TRC”, she said it is essential to monitor media coverage from time to time during process.
Meanwhile, more than 20 journalists from both the print and electronic media from various media institutions attended the one day workshop.