On Friday at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia Thematic Hearing for Children in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, Libera a former child soldier testified of his recruitment into Charles Taylor’s army in 2003. According to his testimony from the Inquirer:
at age 9 he was recruited along with other children by former government militia commander RolandDuo around their 72nd, Somalia Drive residence to become bodyguards. According to a TRC release, he said they were used by Duo and other commanders to execute captives and to loot stores in and around the Monrovia.
From AllAfrica.com, here is an explanation of the TRC Hearing Process:
The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005. The TRC was established to “promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation,” and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.
A key mandate of the Commission is to hear stories from all parts of the population of Liberia, including from children. Interestingly, the hearings are public and part of the mandate of the hearings includes public discussion and debate. It does sound like there are allowances for the children to meet privately with only the commissioners, but nevertheless, it must be ensured that the children are fully protected. This has been an issue before in the Charles Taylor Trial, where former child soldiers were not given adequate protections due to the fact that they were now adults.