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 … Continue Reading

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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

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Why the Special Court for Sierra Leone Should Establish an Independent Commission to Address Alternate Judge Sow’s Allegation in the Charles Taylor Case

Dear readers – The article below is written by Professor Charles C. Jalloh at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Introduction

On April 26, 2012, after Presiding Judge Richard Lussick read out the summary of Trial Chamber II’s long-awaited verdict in the case Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), Alternate Judge El Hadj Malick Sow controversially proceeded to issue his own “dissenting opinion.”

The way in which Trial Chamber II reacted to Sow’s decision to make a public statement on Taylor’s trial, the exclusion of Sow’s statement from the official transcript of the hearing and recent information suggesting … Continue Reading

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Public Reaction in Sierra Leone to the Judgment of Charles Taylor

With the support of the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Center for Accountability and Rule of Law-Sierra Leone (CARL-SL) and the Fourah Bay College Human Rights Clinic (FBCHRC) conducted a series of outreach events in July 2012 in Freetown, Kenema, Kailahun, Kono, and Makeni to inform the Sierra Leone people about the judgment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in the case of The Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor.  The outreach series consisted of a panel discussion in Freetown at the Fourah Bay College and public discussions in Kenema, Kailahun, Koidu (Kono), and Makeni.  These locations were selected for outreach events because the Trial Chamber specifically listed these as the locations of the crimes Taylor aided and abetted … Continue Reading

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Charles Taylor Judgment: From the Public Gallery

This article also appears on the Open Society Foundations blog. 

April 26, 2012, marked the conclusion of a nearly six-year long saga. A three-judge panel at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) sitting in The Hague, the Netherlands unanimously found the former Liberian president Charles Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting 11 crimes, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, and forced labor. He was further convicted of planning, with Sierra Leonean rebels, attacks in three different areas of the country, including the capital Freetown and diamond-rich district of Kono. Taylor, wearing a dark, tailored suit, white shirt, and maroon necktie, sat solemnly—often gazing down—as he listened for nearly two and a half hours as Judge Richard Lussick read the summary of … Continue Reading

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Charles Taylor Judgment: A Victory for Gender Justice

This article earlier appeared on the Open Society Foundations blog. 

Today’s groundbreaking judgment in the case of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor represents a milestone for both international justice and gender justice. The former president of Liberia was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone of 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual slavery. He was also convicted of the charge of enabling “outrages upon personal dignity”, arising from incidents in which women and girls were forced to undress in public and then raped and sexually abused, “sometimes in full view of the public, and in full view of family members”. In the conviction for terrorism too, the judges found … Continue Reading

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Will Charles Taylor “be back”?

This article was originally published on the Open Society Initiative for West Africa website, available here. 

Under a spectacle that made many an African leader sit up navel-gazing, Charles Taylor stepped down as president of Liberia in 2003, promising “God willing, I will be back”.

It followed mounting pressure both from within and without. A rebel war in his country led by the Liberian’s United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) had intensified and was snaking its tail into the capital, Monrovia leaving the man who came to power through rebellion on the verge of being ousted by a rebellion.

Diplomatic pressure was also being mounted, after the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone had indicted him on allegations of war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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Charles Taylor and the Delayed Special Court for Sierra Leone Judgment

Dear readers – The article below is written by Professor Charles C. Jalloh at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. It originally appeared on the JURIST website, available here. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The case against the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who is being tried at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague on an 11-count indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity, formally started with the prosecution’s opening statement on June 4, 2007.

Although the oral hearings phase concluded when the last defense witness took the stand on November 12, 2010, the defendant, his alleged victims, as well as the … Continue Reading

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Judges Reject Taylor’s Request to Reopen Case

Judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague have rejected a request by former Liberian President Charles Taylor to reopen his defense case.

On February 9, the judges unanimously ruled that the Taylor defense “has failed to establish any justification for the re-opening of its case.”

Taylor’s defense team filed a motion on January 31, 2012 to reopen its case in order to seek the admission of a December 2011 report of a UN Panel of Experts on Liberia. The UN Experts report discusses the participation of Liberian mercenaries in the conflict in neighboring Ivory Coast and this, defense lawyers say, does not lay blame on the current Liberian government as being involved or complicit in the movement of fighters from … Continue Reading

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Charles Taylor’s Lawyers Apply to Reopen Defense Case

Charles Taylor’s defense lawyers have made a request for judges to allow the former Liberian president to reopen his defense, almost one year after arguments in the case were concluded.

The motion, filed on January 31, 2012, requests that the defense be allowed to “re-open its case in order to seek admission of Panel of Experts Report on Liberia.”

The motion relates to a December 7, 2011 Panel of Experts Report on Liberia that discusses the participation of Liberian mercenaries in the conflict in neighboring Ivory Coast. Taylor’s defense lawyers seek to submit in evidence Section III of the report titled “Liberian Mercenaries and Ivorian Militia.” This section, defense lawyers argue “describes the continuing phenomenon and underlying causes of mercenary activities in West Africa.”

According … Continue Reading

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