The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) has given detailed analysis on potential violence in regions and actors that could instigate violence based on historical and current factors.
According to recent JPC study, 71.8% of 1,500 respondents believe political leaders will instigate violence while 58.2% said unemployed youth could spark off violence as the country gears toward presidential and legislative elections. Interestingly, the study showed Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Montserrado as the main flashpoint counties for violence because of both historical and current factors. The JPC reports also indicated that 79.3% of Rivercess County inhabitants have the potential to instigate violence due to the denial of justice during the civil war, while Nimba, Grand Kru and Grand Cape Mount counties remain violence prone areas at 74.9%, 74.4% and 74.2% respectively. The JPC report also asserted that politically driven attempts made by some Liberians to declare Liberia a Christian state was seen as destabilizing effort to instigate violence in the country. The JPC report says Liberians still believe that despite the 13 years of uninterrupted peace, the peace is still fragile and volatile as issues which led to war have not been adequately addressed. Making the disclosure recently during release of a Catholic Relief Services-funded study on “The State of Peace, Reconciliation and Conflict in Liberia”, JPC acting Director Pilate Johnson said the study was commissioned in 2016 to understand the state of peace, reconciliation and conflict in Liberia with regards to imminent pull out of UNMIL and the pending legislative and presidential elections, in response to deep concerns over the slow pace of post-war recovery in Liberia and the growing risk of renewed conflict. Findings from the study showed that Liberians generally believe that although the horrors of war and extreme violence are in the past, the positive attributes of peace, social harmony, mutually beneficial inter-ethnic co-existence, trust in institutions, and productive citizen-state relations are still not present. The JPC boss said that while 1,500 respondents used in the study were evenly split on whether Liberia is at risk of descending into large-scale violent conflict, they highlighted that powerful risk factors for renewed violence still persist including public sector corruption, disputes over land ownership and high rate of youth unemployment. Johnson further said Liberians also believe that curbing corruption in public services, resolving divisive land disputes, furthering employment of young people and conducting free and fair general elections in 2017 are the necessary next steps for advancing positive peace. "Liberians strongly acknowledge that strengthening inter-communal relations and fostering meaningful reconciliation are crucial for the country to overcome the deep division from the enduring distrust, hurt and hatred sown by the civil war,” Johnson noted. Quoting the report, Johnson said the vast majority of Liberians believed that the main perpetrators of violence of war escaped punishment and the victims of violence were denied justice. The report further said more than 80 percent of respondents felt that people who suffered grave injuries during the war did not receive justice through the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The report said half of the respondents believed that post-war reconciliation failed to achieve its objectives.