International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Final Post of Charles Taylor Trial Blog

Dear Readers,

It is with mixed emotions that we write to inform you that our blog monitoring the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor will be put into archive mode as of January 6, 2014. This means that we will no longer be posting updates or receiving comments from readers. However, the website will continue to exist as a resource on the trial and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The Open Society Justice Initiative started monitoring proceedings in the Taylor case in June 2007. After a bumpy start that included Taylor sacking his defense counsel on the first day of trial, the case commenced in earnest on January 7, 2008, with testimony from the first witness for the prosecution. The … Continue Reading

10 Comments

Exchange of Thanks: Victims and Special Court Prosector Express Gratitude in Sierra Leone

It was an exchange of thanks as Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) Prosecutor Brenda Hollis traveled the length and breadth of Sierra Leone, explaining the Court’s Appeals Chamber judgment to people in various communities that were affected by Sierra Leone’s 11 year conflict. In many of these communities, the scars of the conflict still remain. Civilians whose limbs were amputated by rebels still roam the streets. Many still bear the loss of family members while some deal with the stigma of having being raped by rebels. For these crimes, Taylor has been convicted and sentenced to a 50 year jail term. For what they did to make this historic judgment possible, Prosecutor Hollis visited these communities to thank the … Continue Reading

24 Comments

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 … Continue Reading

24 Comments

Charles Taylor’s Conviction and Sentence Upheld: What next for him?

Appeals Chamber judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone today upheld Charles Taylor’s conviction that was handed down by the Trial Chamber in April 2012 as well as his 50 year prison sentence. This brings an end to several years of judicial proceedings during which the former Liberian president called himself a peacekeeper who made efforts to end the conflict in Sierra Leone. Taylor also called his trial a conspiracy by western countries, led by the United States and Liberia, to keep him out of Liberia. Today, Appeals Chamber judges said Taylor’s categorization of himself and his trial was wrong.

In a jam-packed public gallery full of diplomats, court officials, civil society, journalists, and victims of the conflict in Sierra … Continue Reading

44 Comments

Appeals Chamber Upholds Taylor’s Jail Sentence

Today, the five-judge panel of the Appeals Chamber at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) upheld the conviction and sentencing of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. In April 2012, Taylor was convicted on 11 charges of aiding and abetting the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, including rape, murder, and pillage. The Trial Chamber also convicted the former president of planning, with former RUF commander Sam Bockarie, the attacks on Kono, Makeni, and Freetown, which took place in late 1998 and early 1999. He was later sentenced to a 50 year jail term.

Taylor will serve his jail term in a British prison, as provided for in a previous agreement between the United Kingdom and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

13 Comments

Charles Taylor’s Fate: Will He Be Back in Liberia?

This article originally appeared on the Open Society Foundations website here. 

It took ten years to reach this point but finally, on Thursday, September 26, 2013, Appeals Chamber judges at Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague will determine whether former Liberian president Charles Taylor will return to Liberia or spend most or possibly the rest of his life in jail.

When Taylor left the Liberian presidency to seek asylum in Nigeria in 2003, after a SCSL indictment against him had already been issued, he told the people of Liberia that “God willing, I will be back.” He was back in Liberia in 2006 but only temporarily, as he was being transferred to the custody of the SCSL in Freetown, … Continue Reading

13 Comments

Resources Ahead of Taylor Appeal Judgment

As the final appeal judgment in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor is announced in The Hague, we would like to draw your attention to a six-page briefing paper written by Open Society Justice Initiative. The paper includes a detailed timeline, describes Taylor’s conviction and sentencing, and the prosecution and defense arguments on appeal. The appeal judgment will mark the conclusion of the historic trial in which Taylor became the first former head of state convicted after his trial was concluded by an international criminal tribunal since Nuremburg. Taylor is also the first former head of state to be convicted of various crimes of sexual violence by an international court.

The appeal judgment will be announced on Thursday, April … Continue Reading

4 Comments

Special Court Announces Date of Taylor Appeal Judgment

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) issued a press release stating that the appeal judgment in the Charles Taylor case will be announced on September 26, 2013. In April 2012, SCSL judges convicted Mr. Taylor on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of international humanitarian law that occurred from November 1996 to January 2002 during the course of Sierra Leone’s civil war. The judges also convicted the former Liberian president of planning, with former RUF leader Sam Bockarie, attacks on Kono, Makeni, and Freetown, which took place in late 1998 and early 1999. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison in May 2012.

On July 19, 2012, both the prosecution and defense teams filed … Continue Reading

15 Comments

Charles Taylor’s Former Investigator Sentenced to Two and Half years in Jail

A judge of the Special Court for Sierra Leone has sentenced Prince Taylor, an investigator for former Liberian President Charles Taylor, to two and the half years in jail after convicting him on five counts of contempt of court.

Prince Taylor was convicted by Justice Teresa Doherty on January 25, 2013, and his sentence was announced on February 8.

Prince Taylor was charged and convicted for interfering with witnesses who testified against Charles Taylor by attempting to induce them to recant their testimony against the former Liberian President. Prince Taylor, according to the court, attempted to do this through Eric Koi Senessie, a former member of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the rebel group which Charles Taylor himself was convicted for … Continue Reading

121 Comments

Appeals Chamber Concludes Oral Hearings in Charles Taylor’s Appeal

Oral hearings in the Charles Taylor appeals case continued into a second day on Wednesday, January 23, as both prosecution and defense lawyers responded to each other’s submissions made one day earlier.

On the previous Tuesday, January 22, prosecution and defense lawyers made submissions to a panel of five Appeals Chamber judges, making emphasis mainly on the limits of criminal liability for aiding and abetting a crime based on the findings of Trial Chamber judges. Nearly one year ago, Trial Chamber judges found the former Liberian president guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of serious crimes by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. The crimes that Taylor was found guilty of aiding and abetting include murder, rape … Continue Reading

64 Comments