Liberian Quest for Justice Campaign
We have been collaborating with the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) since 2012 on providing legal assistance to Liberian victims of war crimes. Some of the alleged war criminals who were arrested based on our work attracted international media attention. However, the majority of our work on empowering victims to seek their own path to justice, was mostly taking place through our legal work, behind closed doors.
With the Mohammed Jabbateh a/k/a Jungle Jabbah trial around the corner, our goals clearly set, we asked ourselves the following questions : How to speak to non-lawyers? How to reach the youth? How to promote a more accessible form of engagement? These were questions demanding action from our side. Together with the GJRP we formed a team and started the work to launch our first digital communications campaign #Quest4Liberia.
We got in touch with JP Kalonji, a renowned artist who had illustrated our annual report, and proposed to him the idea of making a series of cartoons illustrating the Liberian Quest for Justice. So, Musu, our young Monrovian protagonist was born. Throughout the comic strips, the character questions impunity and the trial through a fun and somewhat naive narrative. On the script of Musu’s Diary, we worked closely with our friends in Liberia, who provided us with feedback and ideas.
Also, involved in these endeavors, was New Narratives, a program which supports leading Liberian journalists deliver independent, honest news that Africans can use to drive change. Civitas Maxima supported, through a partnership with New Narratives, three Liberian journalists who provided independent and balanced coverage of the trial from Philadelphia and Monrovia. We cross-posted their live videos, similar related Facebook posts and tweets. The material got a lot of audience feedback and resonated within Liberia. For example, one of the posts got around 807 shares.
However, the kick-start and highlight of the campaign was our promotional video made by the Argentinian filmmaker Nicolás Braguinsky Cascini. The video got more than 90000 views and generated debate on our social media pages. Our Facebook page flooded with comments and questions from Liberian followers. Inspired by that reaction and perceiving the success of our campaign video, we elaborated the Key Questions animated series - using exactly the questions asked in the comments, such as: “Why Jungle Jabbah when so many others are free?” Also, inspired by our followers’ comments on Facebook, we launched the #VoicesfromLiberia tweets, which got retweeted among human right activist, peace makers, and people interested in justice.
While our legal team was reporting everyday on the trial producing reports, our communications team was elaborating creative ways to transmit all the information. The union of the law-universe with cartoons, videos, and engaging posts, put our campaign out of the locked doors and into the streets of Liberia.
Sketches of the court room made by the Liberian artist Chase Walker, weekly posts featuring highlights of the trial as well as posts explaining legal terms further helped Liberians and the world visualize and understand what was happening in Philadelphia
The trial ended on the 18th of October with a guilty verdict and was a big step for justice in Liberia and a milestone for Civitas Maxima and GJRP. The sentencing of Mohammed Jabbateh is set for the 18th of January, 2018.
Throughout 2018 more cases of alleged war criminals are expected to move forward.The Liberian Quest for Justice carries forward its reporting and Musu’s adventures will continue. The Jungle Jabbah trial in Philadelphia was only chapter 1.