Ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor convicted of war crimes

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted of war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. SOURCE: United Nations

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty of “aiding and abetting” the commission of war crimes in Sierra Leone, where rebel forces used child soldiers to amputate, rape, and kill civilians during the country’s decade-long civil war. 

Taylor was convicted yesterday of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an international tribunal created by the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted of war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. SOURCE: United Nations

“[The judgment] is for the people of Sierra Leone who suffered horribly because of Charles Taylor. This judgment brings some measure of justice to the many thousands of victims who paid a terrible price for Mr. Taylor’s crimes,” said Brenda J. Hollis, Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Taylor, who served as Liberia’s President from 1997 to 2003, is the first head of state to be convicted of war crimes since the Nuremberg trials after World War II. He will be sentenced on May 30th; the court may not impose a life sentence or the death penalty.

“The judgment is a significant milestone for international criminal justice…It sends a strong signal to all leaders that they are, and will be, held accountable for their actions,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Taylor provided the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) with weapons, ammunitions, equipments, and supplies between 1996 and 2002. During that time, RUF forces waged a vicious civil war against the democratically-elected government in Sierra Leone.


The civil war killed 50,000, maimed thousands, and displaced as many as 2 million Sierra Leoneans at the peak of the violence. In addition, 17,000 children were forced to serve as soldiers, human shields, sex slaves, and mine laborers by RUF forces.

In exchange for supplying RUF with weapons and ammunitions, Taylor received diamonds mined in rebel-held territories. The “blood diamonds” smuggled through Liberia funded the war in Sierra Leone as well as the Second Liberian Civil war between Taylor’s government and Liberian rebels.

The court also found that Taylor abused his position as President of Liberia to undermine peace negotiations, acting as a ‘two-headed Janus’. While publicly supporting Sierra Leone’s peace process, Taylor was secretly “fueling hostilities between the [rebels] and the democratically elected authorities in Sierra Leone, by urging the former not to disarm and actively providing them with arms and ammunition.”

Taylor stepped down as President and sought asylum in Nigeria in 2003 after he was indicted by the tribunal. Taylor was arrested by Nigerian authorities 3 years later at the request of Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and he was arraigned in Freetown and transferred to the Hague to stand trial for security reasons.


Johnson-Sirleaf, who is trying to repair a country ravaged by back-to-back civil wars, called on Liberians to “respect the verdict of the Special Court and continue to pray for enduring peace and unity in the nation.”

Charges against Charles Taylor: 

Count 1: Acts of terrorism, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(d) of the Statute.

Count 2: Murder, a crime against humanity pursuant to Article 2(a) of the Statute.

Count 3: Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(a) of the Statute.

Count 4: Rape, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2(g) of the Statute. Count 5: Sexual slavery, a crime against humanity, punishable under Article 2(g) of the Statute.

Count 6: Outrages upon personal dignity, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(e) of the Statute.

Count 7: Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular cruel treatment, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(a) of the Statute

Count 8: Other inhumane acts, a crime against humanity pursuant to Article 2(i) of the Statute.

Count 9: Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, another serious violation of international humanitarian law pursuant to Article 4(c) of the Statute.

Count 10: Enslavement, a crime against humanity pursuant to Article 2 (c) of the Statute.

Count 11: Pillage, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II pursuant to Article 3(f) of the Statute.

 

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One Comment on “Ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor convicted of war crimes

  1. Pingback: International court sentences Charles Taylor to 50 years for war crimes in Sierra Leone | What The Folly?!

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