Chapter I - Trial of "Jungle Jabbah"

The Liberian Quest for Justice utilizes several artistic tools, together with grassroots partners, to bring awareness to the judicial processes happening outside of Liberia. The Jungle Jabbah trial in October 2017 in Philadelphia, was an important step for global justice and only the first chapter of our outreach efforts. 

For the first time ever witnesses of the 1st Liberian Civil War (1989-1996) testified in a courtroom about the horrific violations they and their loved ones endured.

“[D]uring the first civil war, Jungle Jabbah, personally and with ULIMO fighters acting on his order and under his command "looted, raped, mutilated, murdered, and even committed ritual cannibalism against villagers they attacked." -

Opening Statements by Nelson Thayer
United States Attorney and Prosecutor in “Jungle Jabbah’s” trial.

Courtroom Sketches

I told myself I would do something about it when I grew up; but never I knew that I would be in court drawing the faces of people who actually perpetrated these crimes

Chase Walker
Liberian sketch artist at “Jungle Jabbah’s” trial.

“Jungle Jabbah’s” trial was significant to Liberian victims for a number of reasons. We believed it would be essential for Liberians to see “Jungle Jabbah” in court - however cameras were not allowed in the courtroom.

To ensure there were visuals from these judicial proceedings - we worked with Liberian artist Chase Walker, who currently resides in the United States, to draw what he saw in court.

His sketches were the only ones produced and were used by numerous news outlets to cover the trial. To read more about Chase Walker’s experience in court while “Jungle Jabbah” was on trial, see page 24 of our Annual Report.

Trial Information and Legal Process

In order to ensure that what happened in court was easily available to the public, and particularly those in Liberia who suffer the consequences of the war, we organized legal monitoring by qualified U.S. attorneys, including a former federal prosecutor, from inside the Philadelphia courtroom to post posted daily summaries of the legal proceedings them on our website.

The many intricacies of this trial, as an immigration trial with connections to war crimes, demonstrate that creative avenues for justice can be found. It prompts questions of the effectiveness of international humanitarian law, questions universal jurisdiction and other debates that not only exist in Liberia but in all countries who suffered war.

 

 

Grassroots Partnership - Independent Reporting

 

Our partnership with New Narratives provided Liberians with yet another platform to be informed about the “Jungle Jabbah” trial. 

New Narratives is a program which supports leading Liberian journalists to deliver independent and unbiased news that Africans can use to drive change. This reporting came in the form of Live Videos on Facebook, radio broadcasts, and articles published in FrontPage Africa - the leading newspaper in West Africa. Civitas Maxima supported, through this partnership, three Liberian journalists who provided independent and impartial coverage of the trial from Philadelphia and Monrovia.

Videos

One of the highlights of the campaign was our video made by the Argentinian filmmaker Nicolás Braguinsky Cascini. The video received over 100,000 views.

Inspired by that reaction and perceiving the success of our campaign video, again with Nicolás Braguinsky Cascini, we also produced the Key Questions animated series. With our knowledge and the expertise of our Liberian partners, this series and its videos sought to answer the questions asked in the comments posted online by our Liberian audience. These questions, such as “Why Jungle Jabbah when so many others walk free?”

All videos were produced by Nicolás Braguinsky Cascini.

 

Musu's Diary

Musu's Diary cartoon series depicts the story of a young girl in Monrovia whose adventures lead her to debate justice for war crimes. During the Liberian civil wars, Musu’s and Varney’s mother fled to safety far from Monrovia. When they hear about the Jungle Jabbah trial, their hearts fill with hope and dreams that one day their family will be reunited. Disappointingly, the children realize that impunity is much more of a complex issue and that the Jungle Jabbah trial does not immediately bring justice to all victims. Not bending to this reality, Musu and Varney go on a quest to bring justice back to Liberia, even if that means meeting mystical figures of their land and facing fear.

Written by  Nathaly Leduc and illustrated by JP Kalonji, read Musu's Diary here.