International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

In Sierra Leone, Victims Celebrate Taylor’s Conviction

It is not every day that victims of crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s 11 year brutal conflict express positive emotions when they share their experiences but granted the opportunity to do so, they will not hide their feelings. The recent decision by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in upholding Taylor’s conviction and 50 year jail sentence provided that opportunity. Throughout Sierra Leone, this decision has been received with joy, especially among victims of atrocities that Taylor was convicted of having aided and abetted.

Savage Pit

In various places in Sierra Leone, where the scars of the country’s bloody conflict are still visible, hundreds of people came out to share their elation with the Court’s Chief Prosecutor Brenda Hollis as she traveled around the country, sometimes through rough terrain and almost undrivable roads, to explain the judgment to Sierra Leoneans. In the diamond mining town of Tombodu, in the Kono district, the infamous “Savage Pit,” named after the notorious rebel commander known as “Savage,” is still visible. Hundreds of civilians killed by Commander Savage were dumped in the said “Savage Pit.” With painful recollection, the residents of the town show the pit to visitors, explaining the massacres they witnessed as well as the family members and friends that remain buried under what looks like a swamp. They did not follow every day of the proceedings in Taylor’s case, but when judges announced their final decision in late September, they listened. And for what they heard, they are happy.

‘We are happy,” a man told me in Tombodu, raising his hands and showing exuberant body movement. “Many of our brothers and sisters did not live to witness this and while we can’t bring them back to life, their souls know that people heard their cry, and for that, we will celebrate,” he added.

Another man, explaining how he narrowly escaped death from rebels in Tombodu said “we are poor but free, Taylor is rich but will never have freedom.”

In Tongo Field, another diamond mining town, civilians were killed and subjected to forced labor for diamonds, many of which judges say were taken to Taylor who in turn supplied the rebels with arms and ammunition. Here, more than 500 residents came to the town-center to listen to the prosecutor. Speaker after speaker expressed their joy over the judgment. Many asked questions about the kind of punishment that Taylor will receive for his crimes. A resident took the microphone and suggested that Taylor must be shown on TV during the course of his sentence so that victims of his crimes will see. Some asked whether he will be subjected to forced labor. The prosecutor took time to explain the international imprisonment standards and how they will apply to Taylor.

Participants at Outreach Event

A woman in Tongo asked if Taylor’s sentence could be transferred to his son in case he dies before completing his 50 year jail term. Prosecutor Hollis informed her audience that Taylor’s son, Chuckie is already serving a more than 90 year jail term in a US prison for crimes of torture committed in Liberia. There was applause from the crowd.

In Kailahun, home to the Revolutionary United Front’s (RUF’s) headquarters for many years, the residents have moved on but have not forgotten their experiences. Kailahun is the location of the infamous “slaughter house,” which is still painted with blood stains. Like in Tombodu, the residents here are never shy to point this site of unimaginable horror to visitors. They too now share the joy of Taylor’s conviction and sentence.

A woman broke down as she expressed her views on Taylor’s conviction and sentence. She called it tears of joy. “My life will never be the same again, but my heart is satisfied that a man as powerful as Taylor has been made to answer for what the rebels did to me,” she said.

In the country’s capital Freetown, home to the infamous January 1999 rebel invasion, one which judges said Taylor had helped to plan, some people expected a jail term of more than 50 years. Some raised concerns about the comfort of the prison in which Taylor will serve his sentence. SCSL staff have been explaining that prisoners also have rights and that prison facilities must meet specific UN standards. The people listened, but for some, they wish Taylor and the rebels he supported had allowed Sierra Leoneans to enjoy their own rights. A religious leader, acknowledging the importance of the judgment was more concerned about life beyond Taylor’s prison. “We can’t get back what he took from us. Some of us forgave him a long time ago,” she said. “His 50 year jail term is temporary, his real judgment and punishment will come when he faces his maker in the life beyond this world,” she added.

Around the country, views will differ about what everybody expected from this process and the punishment that Taylor deserves. What they all agree on is Taylor’s guilt. In their minds, they have no doubt about Taylor’s involvement in the commission of crimes in Sierra Leone and for which he will now almost possibly spend the rest of his life in jail.

In April 2012, Trial Chamber judges convicted Taylor of aiding and abetting crimes, as well as planning attacks by RUF and Armed Forces Revolutionary Forces (AFRC) rebels in Sierra Leone. He was sentenced to a 50 year jail sentence. On September 26 this year, Appeals Chamber judges upheld both Taylor’s conviction and sentence. He will serve his jail sentence in a British prison.

 

24 Comments
  1. I first want to pray for the victims of the Sierra Leone crises and pray that God give them the strength to sustain and recover all they’ve lost. Having followed this sham of a trial from day 1, it saddens me that Africans are apparently still in bondage to the workings of the world. That Brenda Hollis could travel on a victory tour and be well reserved in Sierra Leone speaks to how enslaved we still are.

    Is the very West that through slavery, colonialism and post-colonial support of dictators created the conditions for the implosion of Sierra Leone and West Africa now the saviours? I challenge these judges to draw a straight line between Taylor’s alleged aiding and abetting and a motive for why. Who did he sell the diamonds to? Who did he in turn buy the arms from and where are the evidences to corroborate diamond sales and profiteering? I have no doubt this case will single handedly impair the perception of international justice for decades to come and that is truly an atrocity to the memory of the victims.

  2. Excellent reporting, Mr. Alpha! the world needs to know all these pieces of what really happened. Taylor, an educated man, christian, he professed to be, carried out these dark side of his ‘twisted mind, and yet supporters are claiming his innoncence, what in the world are they thinking? Mother africa cannot afford these types of monsters. For others who think this is a “whiteman”plot, let me say this: if a whitman had done this to them whould they still ask for clemency? they must realize that taylor was a ‘sick’ man, and what they need to ask is for the world to sent taylor to mental institution..he is insane! he needs to get mental treatment..he is a sick lunatic! But if they keep talking garbage, we will shred this man to pieces..until his ultimate end in prison! he is now history and we shall write volumes of books on his rise and fall! wake up Africans!

  3. I wish the west will now see reason to assist the people of Sierra Leon especially the victims of the civil war for which Mr. Taylor is sentenced. Whats about those European and Western companies that bought the so-called blood diamonds? Well, so be it if this what civilized minds call justice. Mr. Taylor is history now, but who else ?

    • October 17, 2013 at 1:24 am, jfallahmenjor said: Aki, i do not need to read or open this link. taylor is is where he belongs. all other talks is baloni;’an american expression, that tells ‘cheap’ talks. your man will know ‘who borns dog!’ your role model killed innocent Sierra leoneans, Liberians, for no apparent reason, but greed, and some of you are still saying he is innocent. what kinds of people are you portraying yourselves to the world? cannibals that this man engaged himself to be? you are better than him; forgive yourselves for supporting him and get on civilized world. I will come hard on any idoit that thinks this is all a “whiteman Plot” that you are ignorant fools who must now be delt with to save ‘Mother africa” and for those african nations that are saying or ploting against ICC, you are going to be next; we will deal with your ignorance one by one! this is a promise! The world is not going to accept your silly cheap arguments that have no merits! grow up Africa! You cannot continue to live in darkness!
      Reply

  4. Now is the time for Sierra Leone to be happy we know you guys murder, amputated your own brother and sister legs and arm in your country now you have the gut to blame an other country president. but I say to you be mindful of your joy because all our crises from the 8th up to the 9th you where part of our problems, I’m not talking about this useless government that we(liberian) have in place today but one day a government for the people (liberian) will come in place there will be a war crime court set up here, then we will run after you guys that destroyed our beloved country Liberia and kill our people. I say to you Sierra Leone we will never be at peace with you. you are liberian enemy! wait for the right president to came

    • Marie,

      With all due respect, I diametrically and fundamentally opposed to your statement concerning Liberia and Sierra Leone being enemies. It is not in the best interest of both countries and needless to make mention of the sub-region. Our hearts should go out to the victims of Sierra Leone and hope they don’t have a bitter re-occurrence of their recent past.

      Aki,

      The prosecutor is on a propaganda stunt. Can you imagine a population of over 7 million people of Sierral Leone and she was only able to muster few hundreds? This should be embarrassing to those supporters of the prosecution. The people of S.L. are smart people. They knew this case was a charade and a political spectacle. They are going about their normal business and don’t even care about this fake case that has no impact on their standard of living. Look at the number of people that came out to meet Mrs. Brenda Hollas. Just a handful, 500 at most. Unbelievable!

    • Really,Marie? You want to start war all over again and calling Sierra Leone an enemy? I hate to say this is the silliest comment to be posted here lately! you sound so angry that you are displaying anger at the wrong people. Please do little research for your own information before coming on this site to talk trash talk. seriously, i respect your participation but not in an ignorant way as you have started! I will not spare you the next time you sound like an elementary child!

      • Fallah,

        Why are you yelling, riveting, raging, and raving at Marie comments on Liberia and Sierra Leone being enemies: when in fact, this is a reminiscent and reincarnation of you? His/her comment is an embodiment of you. You do not have that moral authority to lecture anyone about ignorance and civility. Again folks, this is just another blatant display of immoral and illegal hypocrisy on the part of Fallah. Ways to go Fallah.

  5. Well if those people who went to congratulate Ms. Hollis on her victory are happy who am I to complain
    If they did not use this last opportunity to confront her on what help are the victims of the war going to get from the West then I too am happy for them. What a shame!

  6. CMR,
    All your points are well taken. However what could we expect from two Sierra Leonean judges a Nigerian Judge an American Judge and a Judge from Austria ? The judges totally forgot that they should have been guided by decisions of the ICTY. In an ICTY trial General Perisic was accused of Aiding and Abetting forces. The trial mirrored Charles Taylor’s to the letter . The Appeals Chamber of the ICTY acquitted General Perisic of all charges by a 4 to 1 majority decision. Here the Special Court totally ignored decisions the Special Court’s mandate said they should be guided by and thru out all of Taylor’s appeals.

    • I agree Aki these judges were so mean to taylor that they did not take all your excuses into consideration!But there is a Krio saying:” we yu it aratta,yu nor for taya pan di tel.” when you eat a rat, you should eat the tail as well. that is (finish what you begin). Do you really think the Court of Sierra Leone was not going to try others, after the first notorious criminals sent to Rwanda? And can you imagine taylor wanting to join them instead of being in Britain with best care? No sir; we are also going to persue others that killed along with taylor kinds, Aki.

  7. Ignorance and lack of education exploited. How is this news worthy? Going to these people to have them celebrate what they should be celebrating, is in other words, being cold at heart. If they knew what happened, and what is truly going on in this story, they would hate everyone exploiting them.

    Enough with these insults that shows how stupid and uneducated S.L are about their own story from war to political justice.

    • Tomas,
      This should not be surprising to anyone about the way in which the people of S.L. were used. For example, the Kamajor Field Commander, Ingle Norma was charged, tried, and found guilty for similar thing that President Taylor was found guilty of. Rebel commander Ingle Norma boss, Teajan Kabbah, provided logistics, money, arm and ammunition to execute his order with perfect synchronization. Teajan Kabbah was never charged with the least, and needless to make mention of “aiding and abetting.” As the result, he is walking sky free in S.L. How can the two be reconciled?
      Unbelievable!

    • Tomas, you call all sierra leoneans stupid and uneducated just to make a stupid anology? you need to go back to school man! Seriously! The British oriented education is superior in West Africa, compared to that of the very people you now hate only because they put a cannibal behind bars! what a shame on you and your entire generation! you sound so stupid that I will not reply to any of your silly rants in future.. but angain that might make an ignorant man thinks he is right..so I will address you as nothing but a flesh eating cancer in the soul of all african brothers and sisters! you seems like a sick brother.. but let me tell you this: charles taylor don don! Unmask yourself so i can tell you how you were one of my students that could bearly make 65%.. i shall unmask you if you keep getting stupid..Man! we already know…

  8. Ok jfallahmenjor. I guess you have done a lot of research on Liberia and Sierra Leone crisis so can you please explain to me where did ULIMO come from to launch a war in liberia. as they claimed to be freedom fighter they came to liberate us(liberian) from Charles Taylor sound very silly. Jfallahmenjor I need an answer if you have one thank.

    • Marie, if you tell me where taylor ‘launch his rebellion from..’ I will tell you where ULIMO launch its attack from. Besides, why should that be relevant? you are trying to include and drag Guinea republic in your personal grudge and hatred as you just did with Sierra Leone, but again sound like you really don’t have idea on this issue. don’t listen to ‘they say’ re- read your history of Liberia, Marie! you seem bitter probably because taylor’s rebellion never left scars on you nor any of your family members as what happened to most of our relatives. which means you ‘er insensitive an cares about no one but the culprit, taylor. Marie, be careful about having a big mouth in this debate. Taylor support group learned that in the past. I am holding back a little because i do not want to offend most great ladies, that contribute on this site, by attacking without mercy!

  9. Jfallahmanjor, I have been reading comments on this site from the beginning of this trial, I thought you were more intelligent then this, despite all those insults you have been uttering to other good guys on this site, anyway don’t be afraid I’m just as them. Continue to be Jfallahmanjor and don’t think of my sex please, I ask you a question which I needed an answer, buy to my surprise you are telling me is irrelevant, I should tell you first where Charles Taylor launch his rebellion from, then you will tell me where ULIMO launch its attack from. sorry to say this but you sound like a child! you fail to realize that Sierra Leone who had prosecuted and sentenced Liberia former president Charles Taylor. they had play a great role in our civil war. anyway I will give you the benefits of the doubt. by the way LURD launch their attack from Guinea, MODEL came from the ivory Coast, LPC came from ivory Coast, NPFL launch their attack from the ivory Coast. for your information my beloved father was murdered in cold blood by ULIMO fighter, my uncle and his two girls children was murdered by LURD ROCKET! I don’t like to explain it but I will never forgive nor forget those people that causes all the pain in my heart or their supporter! If you Jfallahmanjor think you are good war victims advocate then joined us in the fight for the Establishment for the war crime court in Liberia.

    • Ok Marie, I agree on your explanations: But then why aren’t you accusing the Ivory Coast, instead of Sierra Leone? That’s my point; that you’er accusing the wrong people! You are sounding much better than earlier; maybe jfallahmenjor woke you up! I hate to offend but if people deserve it, I have no choice!

    • Yes Marie, Let us prosecute all who were responsible directly; such as dr. boley and not just Prince Johnson, whom i regard as liberator and one who stopped Doe and taylor! I will come back in details but for now;’ a hint to a wise, is sufficient!’

      • Jfallahmenjor. you have said a lot, I ask you to please tell me where ULIMO came from to launch their war in Liberia. but you told me, if I tell you where Charles Taylor came from to launch his rebellion in Liberian, u will tell me where ULIMO came from, buy up to now you are unable to tell me anything! Wow anyway not surprising.

        • Taylor broke jail in Boston, USA, fled to Libya, conived and trained along with Foday Sankor in a camp sponsored by his benefactor, gaddafi, and came through Ivory coast to launch his rebellion; using the Mano and Gio Ethnis groups to remove Samuel Doe, and later split up with Prince Johnson! This is in simple Liberian English! Now how relevant is this information to you,Marie? You should know this if you’ve been following this trial as claimed! Try again..!

      • Folks,

        It is Fallah again! But this time he is saying Dr. Boley should be prosecuted, but not Prince Johnson. UNBELIEVABLE. I am beginning to suspect that Fallah is living in an alternative universe here folks. As far as he is concerned Ellen Johnson and Prince Johnson are the good rebels and Dr. George Boley and others are the bad rebels. Folks, we are just getting the tinniest glimpse of horror that has been harbored in the hearts of likes like Fallah. The mindset of Fallah is like an evil wrecking ball so big that even the victims of Sierra Leone would not ride it. It is just only people of small mind like Fallah that will think that way.

  10. Fallamenjor, or whatever you are; u need to chill. Why do u write out of empty emotion and hatred? lol

    If I told u it’s low to even give u the undeserving attention u’re craving, it’ll be an act of unkindness. No need walking down a low path with a 60yo+ (as u said u were) man who speaks nothing, but hatred and pure assumptions.

    Reason! Is Taylor a criminal and a killer as a person or by association? Yes. Where was this? He and the rest of us know it’s in Liberia. Who brought him to Liberia, and for whom did he kill before he was made president democratically? The men in power when the CIA supported Taylor to bring Ellen to power (1989-1996). Why? For the Liberian natural resources needed to feed the great military empire’s economy.

    Why can’t we set up the war crime court for Liberia, and bring Taylor to book?
    Logically, here’s where the real justice is blocked to safe faces. Everything is open information now. Our govt in the states confirmed it’s role in bringing Taylor to Liberia. Should there be law and justice for victims of wars, how hard is it to know who is the creator of this monster u seem to hate?

    No propaganda needed to create or keep alive a negative image already made for Taylor, Jfallah(?).
    Keep the light on justice and quite your side-show. One cannot pretend to love justice, at the sametime, hate it when and where it counts most.

  11. Hi All,

    Please check out this video from your “royal highness” David Crane gloating about his role in caging President Taylor in London. This same hypocrite goes on to say that politics should be taken into account before indictments are issued. Watch from the 7 minute mark for those who don’t have much time. This leaves little doubt that the concept of international justice is a sham.

    http://video.foxnews.com/v/2769153800001/is-there-a-case-for-syrian-war-crimes-/?playlist_id=2114913880001