By: Ernest G. Smith Jr. & Mantue S. Reeves (April 10 2006)
"...Besides his notorious role in fuelling the barbaric civil war in Sierra Leone and destabilizing that country during her 11-year war, the 17-count charges accused Taylor of several atrocities, including exciting rebellions in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire, causing mayhem, mass murders, smuggling of minerals and crime against humanity. As it were, the prosecutor also published Taylor’s warrant of arrest along with the indictment..."
The dispensation of man’s evil living after him has been rapidly fading away, as the saying goes, man’s evils nowadays accompany him as he breaths. The dramatic end of the likes of Foday Sankor of Sierra Leone, Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia and other is an unshakable and glaring signal to the schemers of atrocities.
As for back as the early 90s the man Taylor speedily evolved as a symbol of every imaginable inhumane crime against humanity. As if he had monopoly over gruesome atrocities, McArthur single handedly successfully the entire West African sub-region into an unprecedented anarchy, which is very visible today.
Whilst he was still president of Liberia, Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor was on March 3, 2003 indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown. The Special Court fingered him as one of those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law in the territory of Sierra Leone between November 30, 1996, and the end of that country’s 10-year fratricidal war. The indictment was published by the prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone on June 6, 2003. The publication of the indictment coincided with a time Taylor was attending peace talks in Ghana. His government was facing serious threats from rebels who had commandeered a better part of the country. To arrest the drift and to prevent the renewed war in Liberia spilling over to neighboring countries, ECOWAS leaders facilitated the peace talks between his embattled government and the rebel groups.
Besides his notorious role in fuelling the barbaric civil war in Sierra Leone and destabilizing that country during her 11-year war, the 17-count charges accused Taylor of several atrocities, including exciting rebellions in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire, causing mayhem, mass murders, smuggling of minerals and crime against humanity. As it were, the prosecutor also published Taylor’s warrant of arrest along with the indictment. The warrant of arrest went as far as appealing to the international community and INTERPOL to take all necessary steps to have Taylor arrested and turned over to Special Court for Sierra Leone and to identify and locate assets owned by Taylor and adopt provisional measures to freeze such assets.
The international enthusiasm that greeted the publication of the indictment and the issuing of the warrant of arrest was surprisingly not complemented by the necessary political will of the leaders of the West African Sub-region. Ghana was the first country to demonstrate the mindset of Sub-regional authorities over Charles Taylor’s indictment. In utter gross disrespect for international law, the sanity of humanity and spite for the Special Court, Ghanaian authorities did not only refuse to arrest and hand over Charles Taylor to the Special Court but also considered the service of the warrant of arrest on them as a declaration of war against Ghana by the Special Court had endeavoured to serve the warrant of arrest on the Ghanaian Government before Taylor attended the peace talks in Ghana. With Charles Taylor out of his backyard and on a faraway neutral ground, the Special Court had hoped that the Ghanaian Government would do what was right and arrest and hand over Taylor. Instead of cooperating with the court and the international community over the international criminal with international indictment and warrant of arrest, the Ghanaian Government first shamefully denied receipt of the warrant of arrest and then expressed disgust at the auspicious request of the Special Court. In the words of Nano Akufo-Addo, the then Foreign Minister of Ghana, the indictment and warrant of arrest were embarrassing to the Government of Ghana.
In reality, what was most embarrassing was Ghana’s excuse that the peace talks were more important than the collective efforts of conscionable world to have Charles Taylor face the legitimate legal proceedings against him. After the display of some high degree of disregard and injustice to humanity by so-called political giants of Africa, out of panic, Taylor left Ghana immediately in one of his most humble moods; progressive observers were quick to read the hurdles that the Special Court for Sierra Leone was up against. Debunking Ghana’s display of arrogance of shame, the progressive commentator, Joseph Tellewoayan commented as follows: “Although the timing of the publication of the indictment and the warrant of arrest may have stalled the peace process, the aforementioned negative reactions to the UN tribunal’s action should be viewed within a broader context-most modern African nations have little regard for the rule of law and the judicial process. For many, the judicial process is seen not as part of a societal procedure that attempts to adjudicate disputes and criminal activities, but a nuisance. When President Obasanjo of Nigeria recently visited Liberia to discuss amnesty for President Charles Taylor, his reaction toward the charges brought against Charles Taylor were these lackadaisical words, “…. I will not be pressured…”, an apparent reference to the fact that he was not going to be pressured by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He showed no respect for the UN/Sierra Leonean tribunal.” Well, against all odds, nature had her own way of amicably embarrassing the Obasanjo’s led government relative to the Ghankay Saga.
While the helpless ones suffered unbearable ills as the result of his manipulation and gross involvement, Taylor brawled of being the godfather of the rebel-infested sub-region. He also accumulated huge wealth, why? Quite simple is the reason. McArthur traded arms, ammunition, professional rapists, rogues, killers and drug addicts to the mentally retarded and coward RUF leader Foday Sankor for the diamonds of Sierra Leone.
In desperate effort to accumulate far more as possible, he in fact over supplied RUF and infested the then volatile Sierra Leone with enough of the finest, amputators wicked ones that hell has ever prone. Not only that his bandits rained terror upon the citizenry of Sierra Leone, they meticulously looted every movable objects.
In summary, the crimes committed by Charles Taylor and his fellow travelers are triable by the Special Court in Sierra Leone. Definitely, clearly Taylor is guilty in the court of public opinion and the court of all reasonable and rational human beings on the surface of this earth. We are quite sure that hell already knows that Taylor is one of its candidates and is awaiting him. We are however gratified to herald the justifications for his indictment and trial by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on behalf of all victimized youths.
Under Article One of the Statue of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Special Court has power to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 1996, including leaders who, in establishment of an the implementation of the peace process in Sierra Leone. In Article 6, the statute provides as follows:
- A person, who planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted the planning, preparation or execution of a crime referred to in articles 2 to 4 of the present Statue shall be individually responsible for the crime.
- The official position of any such accused, whether as Head of State or government or as a responsible government official, shall not relieve such person of criminal responsibility nor mitigate punishment. The crimes referred to in Article 6 are crimes against humanity, violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Convention and Additional protocol II, and other serious violations of International Humanitarian Law.
Article 2 provides that the Special Court shall have power to prosecute persons who committed the following crimes as part of widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population:
- Rape, Sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, force pregnancy and any other form of sexual violence,
- Persecution on political, racial, ethnic or religious grounds,
- Other inhuman acts.
Article 3 provides that the Special Court shall have power to prosecute persons who committed or ordered the commission of serious violations of article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of War Victims, And OF additional Protocol II thereto of June 1977. These violations include:
- Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment,
- Collective punishment
- Taking of hostages
- Act of terrorism
- Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault,
- The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
- Threat to commit any of the forgoing-acts.
Article 4 empowers the Special Court to prosecute persons who committed the following serious violations of international humanitarian laws:
- Intentionally directing attacks against civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities,
- Intentionally directing attacks against personnel installations, material, unit or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict,
- Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities.
From the foregoing it is irrefutably clear that Taylor is indictable and liable to prosecution. Other leaders of his ilk have been tried by similar tribunals. If Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia was stripped of his so-called immunity and made to answer for his atrocities against his people. Taylor has no hiding place. It’s a glaring fact that McArthur’s sojourn in Nigeria was not his first as he has been a fugitive since his dramatic fallout with the late Liberian leader Samuel K. Doe. He served as Doe’s chief procurement officer/Director General of the General Service Agency.
In just about three years on the job, he ripped off the agency by stealing as much as US$900,000. When he was to be arrested he fled to America. Authorities in America were said to have arrested and imprisoned him, but believable commentaries have it that the same authorities encouraged and facilitated his escape from whence he went to Libya and acquired the training for the onslaught on his country.