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Charles Taylor Convicted At The Hague – Crimes Against Humanity …

  • April 27th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

taylor-charles-2012.jpgThe former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor has been convicted of crimes against humanity at The Hague, before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

UNANIMOUS JUDGMENT

The panel of three Judges ended the five years of court investigation and trial with a unanimous judgment, finding the defendant guilty on eleven counts.

He was held liable for aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone; and for providing funds and military aid to the so-called Revolutionary United Front (RUF) there, which terrorised the country during the early 1990s — receiving so-called “blood diamonds” in return.

He was found responsible for acts of terror, murder and rape, though not convicted of directly ordering or committing the crimes.

WAR LORD HISTORY

taylor-c-mil-2.jpgCharles Taylor, now 64, an American educated Liberian, went home and worked for the government before going to get military training in Libya, and then taking up leadership of an armed rebel group in 1989.

After ruinous civil war in Liberia, he captured and replaced the President, Samuel Doe, who had himself acceded to power in a violent coup d’etat involving massacre of innocents; later having him executed, (according to persistent reports of the time, by ordering a soldier to cut off the man’s ears).

taylor-c-pol.jpgAn intimidating regime was set up in the West African state, and Charles Taylor was elected President in 1997, in a poll brokered by the United Nations.

His support for the RUF in neighbouring Sierra Leone gravely aggravated the most barbarous phases of the civil war in that country, which ran from 1991 to 2002.

Intervention by the international community in the later stages included the use of British troops in imposing order.

ARREST AND CONVICTION

Under pressure at home and from abroad, he resigned the Presidency and went into exile in Nigeria, being arrested there by the UN in 2006, and taken to Liberia, then to Sierra Leone for the commencement of judicial proceedings, and later to The Hague.

A prisoner at the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden, he is the first former Head of State to be convicted by an international court since the end of the Second World War; he has a week to appeal his conviction, and is due for sentencing on 16.5.12.

He is liable for a prison sentence which some legal authorities estimate could be as much as 40-50 years.

The legal process has given some satisfaction to human rights organisations wanting access to international justice for sufferers of violent oppression, which might be despite the will of their national state authorities.

DEBATES RE-STARTED

One authority weighing up the issues in the debate which the Charles Taylor conviction has now got under way, is Prof. Jon Silverman of the University of Bedfordshire, in the United Kingdom. He opened a commentary for the BBC considering two perspectives:

“In evaluating the significance of the Charles Taylor trial, it is necessary to strip away the partisanship with which many have responded to its judgment.

“For proponents of international justice, it represents an “end to impunity” for the perpetrators of egregious crimes. For detractors, it symbolises the triumph of power politics over justice. As ever, the truth lies somewhere in between.

“The achievements of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) should not be under-estimated. In 2007 an earlier trial of three leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council made history when the court handed down convictions for the recruitment of child soldiers…”

(A former BBC correspondent Prof. Silverman studies international war crimes tribunals, and has been undertaking research supported by the UK government, on media and civil society in  Sierra Leone and Liberia.)

Reference

Moses D. Sandy, “Charles Taylor’s War Crimes Sentence Hearing Set for May 16”, the Liberian Journal, Brooklyn Park Minn., 26.4.12. http://www.theliberianjournal.com/index.php?st=news&sbst=details&rid=2435&comesOfTheHome=1, (26.4.12).

Jon Silverman, “Taylor verdict: Implications for international justice”, BBC News, London, 26.4.12. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17854039, (27.4.12).

University of Bedfordshire, Research Institute for Media Art and Design, Luton, “Prof Jon Silverman”. http://www.beds.ac.uk/rimad/people/jon-silverman, (27.4.12).

Wikipedia, SF, “Charles Taylor (Liberian politician)”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Taylor_%28Liberia%29, (27.4.12).

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