Holding trials to punish perpetrators of violence was proposed by less than 10% of the respondents as an acceptable measure to address the needs of victims. To examine the matter of accountability further, the survey asked respondents what, if anything, should be done with those responsible for the violence. The responses were nearly evenly divided between individuals who said they should be forgiven (54%) and individuals who proposed a punitive approach (47%), including trials (27%), punishment (13%), and execution (3%).
Support for amnesty was least frequent in Greater Monrovia, Rivercess, Grand Gedeh, and Rural Montserrado, where less than half the population mentioned forgiveness. Conversely, punitive approaches were mentioned by only one in three respondents in Nimba, Bong, and Gbarpolu. The former group of counties has seen some of the worst excesses in fighting at various stages during the two civil wars, possibly explaining a larger need of the population to expect prosecution. In Bomi, where some of the worst fighting occurred during the last years of the second civil war, 51% supported forgiveness, but it is also the county with the highest share of its population demanding trials (32%). Over half the respondents further said that, in their opinion, peace without trials was possible (53%).
To examine accountability in respect to specific perpetrators, the survey also asked about the trial of former President Charles Taylor. Taylor is in the process of being prosecuted for crimes committed in Sierra Leone (not for crimes he committed in Liberia, see “Background”). The results suggest that most people in Liberia were aware of Taylor’s trial and knew something about it. Nine out of ten respondents (92%) had heard of the trial and most knew he was being tried in The Hague, Netherlands (80%), for crimes committed in Sierra Leone (56%). About one in five respondents (22%), however, believed he was charged with crimes committed in Liberia.