It’s All About You, Too!

Dear Readers:

You have been so active, engaged and thoughtful on our site.  You continue to raise excellent issues each day, and respond to each other with new and interesting ideas.  It is high time we devoted attention to you, and the issues you are raising as a prompt for further debate. 

Today, I want to pick up on a regular thread infusing the commentary on this site: why is Charles Taylor being prosecuted when other former leaders, such as former American president, George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and former Sierra Leonean Prime Minister, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, are not answering cases about any alleged responsibility they may, or may not, have for crimes committed during conflicts in which their troops were involved?

For example, Bnker asked: “So what’s the difference between the CT, and Bush and Blair on the other? So how would you classify the attacks in Iraq? So should GW and TB be put on trial too? The reality is this will never happen, because their respective countries will fight against it….”

Aki questions: “is Bush being prosecuted for the torture that was done by American soldiers at Abu Graib prison? The answer is no. How can you then hold a President of Liberia responsible for what happened in Sierra Leone?”

Meanwhile, Irene has said: “Sure, George Bush should be tried for war crimes in Iraq. (Good luck.) But that has nothing to do whether Charles Taylor should be convicted. He should. And even more so I hate to say because I hate George Bush.”

These comments speak to a criticism often leveled at international justice: the selectivity of cases – why pick on one person when not another? And in particular, is it legitimate to prosecute only leaders of countries not powerful enough to resist international accountability? Each of these comments raises important points.

First of all, Irene hints at a key idea that is important for us to keep in mind: regardless of who else is prosecuted for international crimes, this should not detract from the idea that Charles Taylor has a case to answer for his alleged role in crimes committed in Sierra Leone after 1996.  Just because other leaders have not been called to account for crimes committed in which they may or may not have played a role – it should not mean that nobody should be called to account anywhere.  Mr. Taylor’s case is surely important in and of itself: not only for the victims who suffered from crimes committed in Sierra Leone to be able to hear Mr. Taylor answer the charges against him in his own words, but also for Mr. Taylor to be able to present to the world his version of events – in essence, that he was a peacemaker in Sierra Leone, not a criminal — and to defend himself as innocent unless he is proven guilty.

Irene thinks Taylor should be convicted.  However, we do not yet know whether Mr. Taylor should be convicted because the judges haven’t yet heard all the evidence in the case.  Only once Taylor’s defense team rests their case can the judges make up their minds about his guilt or innocence.

Second, Bnker’s argument that Bush and Blair would never be prosecuted because “their respective countries will fight against it” raises an important point too: the value of national communities pushing their own national justice systems to address their countries’ own past wrongs, even – perhaps especially – if the political leaders are unwilling to confront these crimes through prosecutions or other means.  In this case, the fact that Mr. Taylor is having his day in court speaks volumes to the efforts by civil society, particularly in West Africa, to push for accountability from their leaders through legal means.  In Mr. Taylor’s case, for example, two Nigerian businessmen, David Anyaele and Emmanuel Egbuna, whose limbs were amputated allegedly by Mr. Taylor’s forces in Liberia, challenged Mr. Taylor’s asylum in Nigeria in 2004 and sought to have him extradited to the Special Court for Sierra Leone to face justice.  Their efforts were part of the broader movement to push for this current trial.  Similarly, African civil society groups elsewhere on the continent – the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example — were instrumental in getting their governments to become parties to the Rome Statute (the document which governs the International Criminal Court (ICC)).  Joining as a party to the Rome Statute then paves the way for individuals from their own countries, including their leaders, to be brought to account by the ICC for any alleged involvement in international crimes committed after 2002 (when the ICC treaty came into force) in the event that their own national justice systems prove unwilling or unable to do so. 

Civil society from other countries, in the west and elsewhere, have much to learn from African civil society’s efforts to bring their own leaders to account, either in national fora or international ones. The strength and commitment of the movements in Africa, and the strategies and campaigns civil society groups have employed, to push for justice and accountability for their own leaders should serve as inspiration for other civil society groups around the world where crimes are currently committed with impunity. 

Third, a variety of ways exist to bring individuals, including leaders and former leaders of States, to account for their alleged roles in international crimes.  Here are four key ways this can happen:

  1. The ideal way is through national justice systems. But to be credible, there must be political will to bring individuals to trial, and the justice system must also be capable of being independent, fair, and operating by clear rules that meet international fair trial standards. 
  2. Another way is through the International Criminal Court – but this court can only operate when national systems are either unwilling or unable to prosecute the crimes themselves. Also, for the ICC to be able to bring a person before its judges to answer a case, that person must either belong to a country that has signed up to the Rome Statute or to have committed a crime in a country that has signed the Rome Statute.  Alternatively, an entire site of conflict where international crimes have occurred must be referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council (this can happen even if a state has not signed up to the Rome Statute).  For example, in March 2005, the Security Council referred the situation of Darfur – the site of widespread killings, rape, torture and destruction of property – to the ICC.  The ICC has since issued arrest warrants for Sudanese government officials and militia leaders, including the Sudanese president, Omer al-Bashir.  The prosecutor also plans to prosecute Sudanese rebel leaders for the killing of African Union peacekeepers in 2007. (We should note that the Security Council may be able to refer a situation, but has no say over which individuals the ICC can prosecute – that is up to the ICC prosecutor, who is independent.)
  3. A third way is through the set-up of special tribunals to deal with particular conflicts.  The Special Court for Sierra Leone is one.  Such courts have also been set up elsewhere, including in Cambodia, where the court is charged with prosecuting crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s, under which an estimated 1.7 million people died from starvation, torture, extra-judicial killings and overwork. The possibility of setting up a special tribunal in Kenya to address the post-November 2007 election violence is still a live issue.
  4. A fourth way is through universal jurisdiction. This means that a State can prosecute individuals from another state for crimes committed anywhere. The crimes or the victims do not necessarily need to be connected to the State that is prosecuting the case.  For example, earlier this year, a Spanish judge started a universal jurisdiction investigation against six advisors to former US President, George W. Bush – including high ranking military figures and others in the former US Administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — because of their alleged role in authorizing “a systematic plan for abuse” in the American jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the US placed enemy combatants from the “war on terror.”  It is unclear how far this case will go, but it does demonstrate the availability of these types of accountability options in countries with universal jurisdiction laws on their books.

Given the success of African civil society groups in pushing for accountability for their own leaders, what this speaks to is the power of individuals — such as you, our readers on this site — to help control the direction of our own countries by pushing for reform in each of our own legal systems, and pushing our leaders to create political environments where fair national trials for international crimes can happen. Failure to address past wrongs can potentially lead to losses at the election polls when constituencies feel angry, disillusioned and that the law does not provide anything meaningful to them. No leader wants that either.  The challenge for each of us is to push for greater legal accountability domestically so that this criticism of selective justice at the international level will eventually no longer be an issue, because each of us is playing our part in taking care of our own problems.

Now tell me, dear readers, what are your thoughts? 


  1. I’ve been following this trial with keen interest. What’s really surprising about this case is that Mr Taylor has lifted the lid on the worms. I’ve actually been more interested in the case more because of the revelations coming thru. From his testimonies so far, it’s like he has been made the sacrificial lamb because of his opposing views to western dominance. The west has actually painted Taylor like a demon. Lastly, I’ll like to commend the authors of this site for keeping us in Liberia informed about developments in the case. Most western media has been silent so far. But thru this website, we’re getting all the info on a daily basis.

    1. Dan,
      Are you shock and surprise??? The plan was to get him and they have but gave me a LEAD WAY thinking he was going to fold and go away but he has turned the table with the little oxygen he has left and it’s pretty to know what we heard as rumto be FACTUAL.

      1. Staff,
        When this site went up, you had EXPERTS telling us POINTS(pros and cons). What happened to such import???

        I have asked these questions and up til today’s date , I have not gotten an answer.
        1. What role does the ACCORD played in this case””
        2. And why Pres. Kabbah is NOT on trial??

        1. Fair point, dear Noko4. We will try to find some experts to help answer your questions. Best,

  2. Most of the things Mr. Taylor is saying are facts. When the war erupted in Liberia a lot of soldiers from the AFL deserted and fled into Freetown. They were later incorporated into the army in Sierra Leone to fight against Mr. Taylor NPFL. These soldiers were trained by ECOMOG and sent back into Liberia under the name of ULIMO. The group killed innocent civilians and destroyed homes in their fight against the NPFL. Why should the president of Sierra Leone go free despite supporting a rebel group that killed innocent Liberians. Is the lives of the people of S.L better then those of Liberia? I think Mr. Taylor should be set free but provided asylum in another country. He is not treated fairly by the international community. What is so foolish about the court is the lack of evidence on most of the charges against the former president of Liberia. From some of the witnesses, you will see that that their testimonies were all set up and full of lies. Does Mr. Taylor looks like a man who will drink human blood? That was just one of the many lies that circulated in a court that we considered international . If Mr. Taylor is found guilty, it will be a disgraace to the international court and all of its judges. The people of SL should be held accountable for their own death and destruction and leave Mr. Taylor alone

    1. Excellent points james. This man is truly innocent. What is embarrassing is that these people have no class. Consider the process used to get President Taylor where he is. He was accorded no due process. David Crane unsealing the indictment of a seating president especially while on a peace conference in Ghana met to opposition. What wrong with these people? Why are they not following their own rules the made?

    2. From my observations, Mr. Taylor’s team has not presented any solid evidence to refute the testimony of others. They have merely denied allegations and claimed outrage at accustaions, which is not much of a defense. Does Mr. Taylor look like a man who will drink human blood? I don’t know. What does that type of man (or woman) look like? You? Me? No one knows what lies in the hearts of men. It is a known fact that there are accounts of ritualistic killings in Liberia, especially to advance one’s own selfish interests and desires (e.g., political office). It is very well possible that Mr. Taylor participated. There is very little evidence to prove he did and very little evidence to prove he did not.

      1. Timothy,
        One fact isthe prosecution’s star witness has been discredited. Vamuyan Sheriff told the court Mr. Taylor ordered him to go to Sierra Leone and bring Sam Bockarie back to him in Liberia and he did bring Bockarie to Liberia. Mr. Taylor has now shown written documentation a letter from the Ambassador in Guinea that some RUF people wanted to use Liberian documentation to travel to Liberia. These people including Sam Bockarie said they only had a contact in Liberia named Vamuyan Sherriff. This shows Vamuyan was lying when he said he brought Bockarie into Liberia to Taylor. Unlike the prosecution which only depended on hearsay evidence Mr. Taylor is providing both documentary and photographic evicdence to the court. Stay tuned!

        1. Aki, I agree that the burden of proof is on the prosecution, which seems to have only provided allegations which play into preconceived notions. So far, the trial seems to have taken a “he-said, she-said” type of flavor. The prosecution’s case for convicting Mr. Taylor on the specific charges indeed seems weak in my mind. Where is the smoking gun?

      2. Timothy, the burden of proof is not on President Taylor as the defendant to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that he is innocent but instead, it is the other way around. Once there is a little doubt, he must be acquited and set free. Moreover, he has presented more credible documents and testimonies debunking and disproving the prosecution charges. Timothy, in the court of law, the prosecution must prove beyond all reasonable doubts that the accused actually committed the crimes. However, if you want to tell us that President Taylor is already guilty except he proves his innocence, than is another story. As of date, he is making a good defense.

        1. Jose, I agree that the the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Neither the prosecution, nor the defense, have presented much evidence to prove their respective arguments. I believe the defense is pursuing a good strategy. This seems more of a “he-said, she-said” type of trial. We all know of the carnage in Sierra Leone, it is well documented, but what exactly was Charles Taylor’s role? The trial has proven only to muddy the waters, there is no clear evidence to support either side’s claims. I was also refuting the question, does Mr. Taylor look like a man who would drink human blood? I took an objective viewpoint…for ritual killings in Liberia have been documented…and frankly, I’m sure neither you or I could tell a participant from a non-participant just by looking at them.

  3. Thanks…..And I must say this site has HELPED me combat few foes of Mr. Taylor. I’ve directed their attention to come and read words of others who are watching in DISBELIEVE. Some minds have changed already……

    Is it possible to have someone from defense and the offense camps to come on board for a A & Q session???

    1. Hi Noko4,

      We already have one set of Q&A with Courtenay Griffiths and with Stephen Rapp on our site which is currently housed in the “commentary” section, in case you haven’t seen it already. We can check with them to see if they are willing to do another set and will let readers know.


      1. Tracey,
        I read the interview but my questions were NOT part of….maybe the next time you get them on, you can ask my concern…..the ACCORD and Pres. Kabbeh.

        1. Noko4 – we are trying to get in touch with both the prosecution and defense for a new Q&A. Once we get an answer from both teams about whether they are willing to do a new Q&A, we plan to let readers know. If both sides are willing, we will ask readers to submit questions then that they would like answered from both teams. Depending how many questions there are, we may be only able to ask a selection. I will note your questions now.

          Great idea, by the way, Noko4, to do a new set of Q&A. It will be an interesting time to hear from both sides again.


      2. Tracey Gurd,

        If not see if you can get David Crane for a question an answer. I know he is surprised to see that so many people here think the prosecution case is lame.

  4. Regarding a legal specialist to comment some developments:

    One year ago we met a visitor at the Catholic Convent (STC) in Monrovia. Gerhard Anders, from the University in Zurich, Switzerland, had come to learn about Liberia and its people.

    He is an observer at the trial in The Hague, a white German National, a professor at the University, and from the time I and my Liberian family/friends have spent with him I can say that he is well informed, open minded, a legal specialist, and NOT prejudiced.

    check, whether he can assist you:

    I find your site clean, fair, informative and not of partisan character. Thank you.

    Kai Kubel, German, 50
    Monrovia, Liberia

    1. Dear Kai Kubel,

      Thank you for your comment and for your tip about Mr. Anders. We will research him and see whether he can be one of the contributors on legal issues on the site.


  5. Yes, I deeply appreciate the principles, belief, opinions and/or values expressed in your foregoing notes. This commentary abourt the Special Court for Sierra Leone is noteworthy so that it will substantially disabuse the minds of many readers who see the Court otherwise.

    I don’t believe in conspiracy theories any way. I believe that this Court like other courts is established with good intent. The intent to administer justice through the rule of law and respect for human rights.

    1. Musa,
      This court to a greater stand has been FAIR, so our issue is NOT with the court as been bias but rather why didn’t the prosecutors filtered thru the evidences before bringing us this far. Like I said sometime ago, the COLLECTION of the evidences is a serious problem. Did you see or read the transcripts on the COLLECTION OF THE EVIDENCES in this case???? In a western court, they won’t even see daylight to be considered so why did the court allow them to be brought in as SERIOUS EVIDENCES??

      Again the prosecutors…..look at the STAR witnesses from the Liberian side….they are either Mandigoes or Muslims or both. Apart from Mr. Moses Blah, none were in the INNER CIRCLE of Mr. Taylor. Mr. Blah told this court he NEVER EVER heard or saw Mr. Taylor send ARMS in the years he’s charged for except those(Sherriff and the rest) that fought against him. Shouldn’t that have raised some concerns??? How in hell will one be so DAMN STUPID to allow your foes to run your dirty errons??

      Did the prosecutors factored in the theater and the conditions of the weathers and the roads??? I don’t know if you ever lived in Liberia but during the rainy season, most transportations seized going up into the hinterland….to hear Sheriff told this court he had EASY MOVEMENT with a pickup….amazing.

      Mr. Rapp goes around and preach about the BILLIONS of dollar the man has in various bank around the world including the US and Britain. What should we say when he cannot produce a SINGLE DEPOSIT SLIP???

      Honestly, I believe Mr. Taylor saw this coming down and started getting prepared. He saved his communiques and other neccessary papers and they are serving him well. And his defense is playing both sides of the court…..OFFENSE and DEFENSE. To systematically take us MONTHS by MONTHS is breathe taking……leaving no stones unturn.

  6. I wonder it is true that Mr. Charles Taylor admitted that he really gave the former RUF rebel group a little quantity of arms and ammunition? Did he disarm this group of the arms and ammunition he gave to them? I wonder he is aware of the consequencies and destruction his supply of arms and ammunition did in Sierra Leone?
    I wish to tell Mr. Taylor that the arms and ammunition he supplied to the former RUF in Sierra Leone was used upto the period of disarmament in Sierra Leone, killing and amputating innocent children and women; so there is no where he can dis-associate himself from the carnage in Sierra Leone during the period he has been accused of supporting the RUF in Sierra Leone, until he can show the date and time he took away those same arms and ammunition from the RUF.

    Thanks for the space provided me to coomunicate to the Adolf Hitler of our time in Liberia who is presently facing trial in the Hague for crime he ommitted in neighboring Sierra Leone.

    1. Ahmed,
      Are you following this case or seeking FACTS??? If you are seeking FACTS, I advise you firstly, go and read the CHARGES, the MANDATE of this court and his testimonies.

      But to answer your concern, he told this court FACTUALLY that he had a relationship with RUF in the early ’90s to keep ULIMO from extending his headache against the Doe gov’t….he gave her arms but that relationship ended in the early ’90s. And today’s date, no one has DISPROVED that…..even the prosecutors agreed.

      So then why is he on trial??? Well according to some of the witnesses, he and RUF signed a pack and since RUF was fighting into the mid to late ’90s, he is a link….this is the SUMMARY of this case.

    2. M. Ahmed Sherif, you are clueless. You are on your own program. Have fun with your name calling (Hitler). President Taylor being in court to answer the charges brought against him starts from 1997 August, when he was inaugurated President of Liberia. The period you want to use at all cost to accomplish your self fulfilling prophecy does not count. I will not waste my time restating what Noko4 has already said. I’m instructing you to read Noko4 piece below your self destruct writing.

    3. Ahmed, I am surprise you are trying to label a desent freedom fighter, africa strongman like taylor, HITLER. I want to advice you to read the sierraleon situation,read about hitler, also making sure that you, at the same time are understand what you are reading before coming up with this VAGUE argument. Get back to me when you have understood your self. Trust me, your tutorial will begin from there.

  7. Tracy,

    Thank you for opening up this dialogue. You browsed several key points all of which can not be responded to at once. I want to touch on three issues that you raised.

    1. The point that Taylor is being his day in court. The trial of Mr. Taylor is important in this regard because the trial will address and lay to rest all suspicions and allegations involving the role that Mr. Taylor played in the alleged crimes that were committed in the Sierra Leoneans civil war. My only concern is how due is the process. Does Mr. Taylor team have the required resources to conduct investigations and parade the calabre, integrity and number of witnesses that they desire. Or is Mr. Taylor just being given the day in court in order to legitimize the process of conviction.

    2. My second point has to do with upholding the standard of litigation. How committed is the ICC on Sierra Leone to the reasonable doubt standard? In as much as Mr. Taylor is having a due process(opportunity before an impartial body to vindicate himself of alleged crimes), the burden of proof in criminal proceedings rests with the prosecution and not with the defense. Mere parading of amputees appeals to emotion but does not signify evidence of guilt sufficient enough to warrant a verdict of conviction. I believe most people have this question linger just like me: Can we firmly assert that the prosecution proved all eleven counts against Mr. Taylor beyond resonable doubts?

    3. This brings me to my third point. Does Mr. Taylor trial confirm the adage that Might Makes Right? Are we witnessing the event where powerful nations take advantage of weaker ones?

    1. Andrew,
      On your first point…..totally agree!! This trial is an eye opener and HOPEFULLY we will get answers to all the rumors. As for resources, he made sure he was the A LIST of lawyers…..he picked his own and so far, BRAVO.

      On your second point, the way I see it, he is GUILTY and he has to prove himself NOT GUILTY. We saw shady witnesses but there were some emotional ones. I believe the prosecutors lost ground on that show; they brought in a witness to climax your showing to their shocking surprise, the witness told the court his limbs and arms were chopped off by SL gov’t soldiers. I seriously don’t know how they recover.

      Lastly, he has put ALL big nations on notice; plus he has shown the TWO SIDEDNESS of Britain and the US. A DISGRACE to put it lightly.

      1. Noko4,

        Thank you for the update referencing the prosecution witness who testified that it was not the alleged Taylor controlled militias that amputated him but soldiers of the government of Sierra Leonean Army. Quite Damaging. Thanks.

        1. Andrew,
          You should have seen the faces on the prosecutors side; Ms Hollis needed oxygen….she froze. I wonder if she even interviewed the witness like most REAL lawyers will do before putting him on the stand. It was a dramatic flash in the court……the last words after were “NO FURTHER QUESTIONS”.

  8. Again, I want to express appreciation to Tracey for the fine job she is doing. Tracey might soon turn into a West African celebrity (smile). Two points I would like to make and Noko4 has already touch on one of them.

    1. Fairness of this COURT: I have watch this trial from the very onset of the prosecution opening and have found that the judges have been very much fair in their dealing with the parties. There are many many other individuals who are also watching this trial but have refused to join in the discussion for one reason or the other. (I will address some of their reasons in another posting). Again, the judges have been very FAIR but there is a general sense that the political nature of this case will influence the judges decision in the final outcome.

    Let me point out two specific examples: a) The rules of the court was either amended to allow HEAR SAY, HE SAY, THEY SAY, and third party testimony which are never or should not have been part of any criminal case especially this kind of international trial. Any sane person will agree that the sole purpose of allowing hearsay is to CONVICT Mr. Taylor since the prosecution have no direct evidence linking Mr. Taylor to the charges.
    b) We saw what happened in Thursday’s testimony in which the prosecution objected to the use of a report from the United States government concerning factual evidence that would exonorate Mr. Taylor of some of the charges. We saw that the JUDGES attempted to be unbias in their decision but was compelled, due to the rule of the court, to disallow the defense to make any reference to that document.

    So the rules of the court is such that, as much as the judges might tried to be unbias, they would be compelled to convict Mr. Taylor on false charges of hear say and deny the defense any right to EXCUPALTORY EVIDENCE.

    My second issue: Tracey stated “that the fact that Mr. Taylor is having his day in court speaks volumes to the efforts by civil society, particularly in West Africa, to push for accountability from their leaders through legal means. Similarly, African civil society groups elsewhere on the continent – the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example.”

    This statement by Tracey says two things 1. Either Tracey is not aware of all of the civil society activities in West Africa, particularly Liberia or 2. Those who are feeding her with information are intentionally misleading her. Case in point: In Liberia there are many groups especially the “Forum for The Establishment of War Crimes Court” who have been advocating for years for the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia but the international community has completed ignore this group and others efforts.

    As a matter of fact, the leadership of this group have been arrested , physically abused, and jailed several times by the Ellen Johnson government yet the world looks on. Infact, just yesterday, according to news report [ the leader of this group was again arrested in Monrovia.

    Now these are the kinds of situation that makes Mr. Taylor more popular in Liberia and around West Africa because the international community is not showing any concern for the sufferings of ordinary people. Ellen government has been abusing citizens and no one cares simply because we now see all the multi-national corporation doing huge investments in Liberia. The very TRC report is now being temper with by the Ellen government. Ellen government has paid agents insisting that no one be held for the actions during the war.

    This double standard on the part of the international community is the root of the political instability in Africa because it speaks to the fact that the West is only interested in puppets leaders without respect to the rule of law. In Sierra Leone for eample, the same international community supported and sponsored the setting up of a war crimes court because they wanted to get Charles Taylor. But when it comes to Liberia they refuse to set up a war crimes court because Ellen Johnson and the many other warlords will be prosecuted. What kind of international justice is this?

    1. Hey King Gray, Good points but this forum is not about Ellen and do you have evidence that Ellen is abusing some-one in Liberia. Stick to the discussion, and its all about the Trial of Taylor. If you have your Liberia political views, please take it some where else.

      Contradiction! Its documented that Pres. Sirleaf at the early stage of Liberia war give Arms to Taylor, so in your view she’s guilty for war crime, mind-you its also documented and Taylor acknowledged that he give RUF arm at the early stage, but according to you he’s not guilty. How can you explain that logic? I started to watch this trial with an open mind and have come to the conclusion that Taylor is not guilty. I hope you can stay on topic/massage so other independent mind can learn from our discussion without you trying to infusing Liberian politic in to this.

      1. Hi, I need some help. I do not see where in Mr. Taylor’s testimony did he admit to giving arms to Mr. Bockarie. I saw where he said that he gave money but I have not seen the arms part. thanks.

    2. King Gray,
      To sum up your concerns, YES the rules of the court were AMENDED right before Mr. Taylor’s trial was about to start. Even his lawyers were NOT fully awared. At the begining, Mr. Griffin objected and was reminded by the judge that the RULES allow HEARSAY. Really with the statue of this case, to allow HEARSAY not only as FIRST HAND but SECOND and THIRD hands is beyond believe.

      And look at the game been played out…..defense wants to use a report to help her case, the US and British made sure a RULE was put into place to prevent Mr. Taylor. WHY?? I believe they knew he was going to light up the grill. Again how can one defend themself with ONE HAND tie??

      As for Liberia getting a Special Court, I will predict after the Ellen is long gone off the Earth. Do you know how DISGRACEFUL it will be to see the FIRST FEMALE AFRICAN PRESIDENT on the stand for MURDER??? Yes there is a double standard.

      Go easy on our host, Tracey, she is learning more as we exchange views. Maybe and I said MAYBE she concluded that he was guilty also but I have come to the conclusion that she is having second thoughts. Am I guessing Tracey??

      1. Noko4,

        You are absolutely right — I learn so much from our readers’ exchanges every day. I find them fascinating. The more you and other readers can educate me, and also share your opinions about the views and content of the site, the better!

        But you are indeed guessing about my views on Taylor’s innocence or guilt. I just don’t know yet. I’m waiting to see all the evidence first and then read how the judges assess it.

        My best, until we next exchange comments again,

        1. Tracey,

          I do not think you should go yet. Some of us recently joined the forum through website. But if you can give a refresher on the justification for the amendment to permit hearsay I would be grateful. Maybe you can research the basis for the change and let some of us know why and if the rules of evidence in criminal proceedings were twisted in any form or shape and its potential impact on the overall direction and outcome of the case.

          Thank you.

          1. Andrew,

            Welcome to the site! Pleased to have you with us.

            I’m happy to do the research you suggest and get back on the question you ask. But tonight I have to go offline! Do you mind if I revert to you in the coming days?

            Very best and glad you joined us,

          2. Hi Tracey,
            Please as soon as you return can you explain to some of us the reason why it has already been decided that if Taylor is convicted he would be imprisoned in Britain. Could it be that there is a predetermined outcome of this trial?

            Will be glad to hear your response. Thank you.

          3. Sylvanus – I’d be happy to do a little post on this. In short, it does not signal a predetermined outcome of the trial but let me explain in more detail in a post. I’ll try to do that tomorrow. I know I owe readers a few pieces of information which I will pull together in proper posts as soon as possible.

            Thanks for your question, Sylvanus — I think it is one that a lot of people have.


    3. King Gray,

      You make me smile with your compliments!

      On the issues you raise – they are interesting ones. We may try to talk about the issues of hearsay and exculpatory evidence in Mr. Taylor’s trial in future posts.

      Meanwhile, I am very interested in your thoughts on the push for accountability in Liberia for crimes committed during its own conflict and I read the article to which you linked. Please do help me understand. I would ask you and other Liberian readers of the site: What would Liberians want such accountability to look like – would it be in the national courts? Would it be more like a special tribunal set up, like the Special Court for Sierra Leone? Would Liberians be open to an independent process where evidence is collected by an independent prosecutor who will decide which individuals should be prosecuted? Would it have to follow international fair trial standards, like the ones at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, to be seen as credible? What kinds of crimes should be prosecuted – international ones like war crimes and crimes against humanity? I’m most interested in your views on this.


      1. Tracey,
        All Liberians even the ones that are dead will like to see a SPECIAL COURT!!!! That way, no one will whine about this and/or that. And all including MAJOR PLAYERS behind the scenes SHALL be haul. So then I ask, what part does the Accord plays that was signed in ’95 ending Liberia’s war; Like Sierra Leone, it set ALL free. Will it be MEANINGLESS too??? I seriously hope not on principle….let the ACCORD be respected.

        So we move beyond after the election, from that point ALL including the US shall be held accountable. But do you then prosecute Mr. Taylor??? The Constitution granted him the POWER to protect and defend the Republic.

      2. Tracey, please permit me to use this response to you to also agree with Brother Geobo that this site is not about our current president Madam Ellen Johnson. But I hope that Geobo will understand that they are related especially in view of your inquiries regarding what kind of accountability is neccessary for Liberia.

        I think the push of accountability is at a still-birth right now due to the kind of political machination that is going on in Liberia to discard the TRC Report. We believe, and many Liberians share this view that those who acted in the manner of undemocratic means by using violence should be held accountable for their actions. I support the TRC Report but it needs some enhancement. For example, you have read the passionate exchanges here regarding one Joe Wylie. Joe Wylie and some other war elements were not held accountable in the TRC Report.

        I believe that the TRC Report puts Liberia on that path except that those with power and influence are drowning out the vioces of ordinary victims. We have heard about money changing hands from the government to surrogate groups in Monrovia to condemn and discard the TRC Report. This is why the Liberian president is demanding that the Liberian legislature be responsible to review and approve the report, the government knows that it can bribe the legislators to vote against the report but moreover some of the very perpertrators are members of the legislature.

        My recommendation would be to have a process similar to this court. By this court, I am refering to the actual operations , the judges and other people not the policy makers that implemented this court. This court has been operating very fairly and I believe that if such a process was duplicated in Liberia it will greatly contribute to arresting impunity. I believe Liberians will be open to an independent process where evidence is collected by an independent investigative organ, not neccessarily by a prosecutor. Base on the work of that indepedent body should prosecution proceed.

  9. I started to follow this trial with an open mind, but after the prosecutor wrap up their case against former Pres. Taylor, before the Defense could start, I was convince they don’t have case against Taylor. The prosecution is struggling so badly because there’s no evidence/linkage, the court has to accept HEAR-SAY as evidence. How could the court also accept only partial document(s) in favor of the prosecution as evidence but refuse to accept the whole document because it’s favor Taylor. Any-way to be far, the Judges are doing good and so far they have been fair

    1. It’s called TRUE JUSTICE…..Same document but one side gets to enjoy the fruit. AMAZING. I hope the defense file a protest.

  10. King Gray, you strongly feel passionately about this case. You are on top of your “A” game. You are so knowledgeabe like others about events occurring in Liberia. However, in addition to the comment made about the Forum For The Establishment Of War Crimes Court in Liberia, I will like to inform the audience about the following. In August of 2006, than Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nation Mr. Kofi Anan visited Liberia. During his visit, the Forum for the Establishment of War Crimes Court had a peaceful demonstration and a petition statement was read and presented to him. As the matter of facts, those demostrators were seen carrying sixteen caskets on the top of their heads. According to them, the sixteen caskets represented those Liberians that had died from the fifteen political sub-divisions of Liberia and the remaining one casket represented the foreign troops that died during the war. They are yet to hear from the U.N. Again, just yesterday August 7, 2009, there was another demonstration by the Forum asking for the same and the full implementation of the TRC recommendation. The Liberian Government denied them permit to demonstrate and allegedly gave another pro government group permit. This pro government group was financed and supported by the government . There are rumors that the government gave US$10.00 to everyone who wore the pro Government group T-Shirt. In closing, there may be another pending demonstration from the Forum For The full implementation of the TRC recommendation and the Establishment of a war crimes court when the Secretary of States of the United States Hilary Clintor visit to Liberia next week, let see how far will their plea go. Good luck to them.

  11. Alpha Sesay,
    Congratulations on the timely and informative posting you do every day. I was wondering are you posting from Sierra Leone or the Hauge? In a recent article I read to paraphrase you said” Charles Taylor is doing a brilliant job of separting himself from the RUF”. Please try and get us some expert commentary on how the Defense is doing so far.

    1. Hi Aki – good to hear from you. I agree, Alpha is doing a great job.

      Regarding an expert opinion on how the defense case is going – it is an excellent idea, however we will probably try to do an overview of the defense case once Courtenay Griffiths and his team have rested their case so all the arguments and evidence they present can be included. I hope you will remind us again once the defense case has closed?


  12. Apologies, my studies have kept me away from posting as much as I would like to recently. I’m sure, many of those with opposing viewpoints have been more than pleased.

    In any case, Tracey, I too, would like to commend you on your excellent follow-through with the responses made to this site.
    “The value of national communties pushing their own national justice systems”
    You note excellently that these justice systems must have political will and also the ability to be fair and independent. I would say they have struggled so far to do just that…

    “Failure to address past wrongs can potentially lead to losses at the election polls when constituencies feel angry, disillusioned and that the law does not provide anything meaningful to them. No leader wants that either”

    These statements speak adequately to many of the points I have previously made concerning Taylor’s guilt or innocence…
    The reason why Taylor is even in court today speaks very much to the will of the Sierra Leonnean community in trying to hold an African leader accountable for a situation that went terribly wrong, the war in Sierra Leonne and Liberia were inextricably linked no matter when Taylor decided to stop sending arms. The dilemma arises when people question why the leader of the Sierra Leonnean government at the time isn’t also on trial. Furthermore why is Taylor not being brought to trial by his own people, the people he allegedly led as President in 1997..
    I would argue that all of this is a consequence of weak and unfair and biased national justice systems in both Liberia and Sierra Leonne.
    I have said several times that everyone who had their hands in the pot of political unrest in this region during these 2 decades should be also made accountable for their part. Including now President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. When I read above of how her government has allegedly tried to suffocate dissidence that may reveal her guilt in the war, it is disheartening, especially after she wrote that book that essentially reveals her guilt. It also speaks to the weak national justice system of present-day Liberia. In response to your question above Tracey, this is why Liberians now are pushing for a special court to preside over the case in Liberia amidst the findings of the TRC report.

    I disagree however that simply b/c these other people are not yet being prosecuted, Taylor also should not be prosecuted now. Due process is very important in this judicial case, I would never argue otherwise. Perhaps the prosecution should have done a better job. However, Charles Taylor came up into authority in Liberia as a rebel leader…he was “elected” president after several years of fighting many in Liberia just wanted to stop…and furthermore as one reader above points out, “he has prepared himself well for this day”. The reader was noting his preparation of documents, etc. Are we naive enough to think that this man, formal rebel leader, former “president of Liberia” didn’t also prepare his monetary accrual as well? The point is whether or not it can be proven in this court this year or not, Charles Taylor has innocent blood on his hands. So do other leaders not yet prosecuted.

    At the point where he was asked to step down from his post as President and offered asylum in Nigeria, what had he done for Liberia? What kind of strong institutions had he fostered? To be against western dominance but in your earlier rebel years supposedly listening to and agreeing with orders from the US??? This is contradictory and even hypocritical! I would like for this to be one of the answers of the Q&A.

    Finally again, these African civil societies are doing the right thing in seizing this opportunity for accountability, however it must be done int he right and fair way. To me it is either through a special court or universal jurisdiction.

    1. Concerned Liberian in the US – welcome back!

      You raise many excellent points in your posting — but the one I want to ask you about is this: “Furthermore why is Taylor not being brought to trial by his own people, the people he allegedly led as President in 1997.. I would argue that all of this is a consequence of weak and unfair and biased national justice systems in both Liberia and Sierra Leonne.”

      I am curious of your assessment of what makes the Liberian justice system weak, unfair and biased? What needs to happen to make it capable of addressing these types of crimes in the future?

      Glad you rejoined us, Concerned Liberian Citizen in the US.


      1. Tracey,

        My comment is in response to Concerned Liberian in the US

        The issue raised on Taylor being tried under the Liberia judicial system for crimes committed against the people of Liberia is not debatable. Legally Mr. Taylor can never be tried under the Liberian legal system. Here are the reasons:

        1. The timeframe of the alleged crimes is not litigatable. The period of the Liberian civil war leading up to the 1997 election of Taylor and his subsequent election was covered in the numerous peace accords adopted and blanket amnesty was granted to the warring factions thereby excusing them from criminal liability. Hence it would be a violation of the spirit and provision of those accord to attempt to bring anyone to trial.

        2. The constitution of Liberia forbids as treasonous the use of force to remove a seating government. The seating government has to arrest the subversion and try the accused. In the case of the civil war, the government of Samuel Doe collapse and no one was available to arrest surrogate forces and try them. De Facto governments were formed through accords in order to restore some semblance of governance. Similar accords granted blanket amnesty as stated above so I do not see any legal basis for a trial of members of various warring factions.

        3. Mr. Taylor government did not breakdown in the face of military challenge from LURD and other factions. Rather, he signed an accord to excuse office and hand power to Mr. Blah. So under what conditions can he be tried for alleged crimes committed during his presidency. Besides what are those specific crimes? Who defined such crimes, and who granted anyone the authority to define such crimes, etc.


  13. The Liberian justice system has unfortunately long been motivated by personal interests and biases. Who knows who? and who can get who out of difficult situations. I am not an expert nor have I ever claimed to be. But Taylor was in jail in the US b/c a new Liberian government (albeit corrupt in itself) accused him of embezzlement charges…one might ask how did he even leave the country if there were such suspicions…?

    This leads me to believe there were some biases going on somewhere or perhaps these charges were false to begin with??

    Furthermore, Sirleaf’s president day government, if it is true that they are silencing dissidence from some groups such as “Forum for the Establishment of War Courts” this reflects an unfair and biased national justice system. They should be allowed to protest even if they are against the president.
    The tampering with TRC evidence…though I hope that is not true, furthermore throws alarms…This is a committee designed to support the truth by the people and I’ve heard and read the report and those parts that paint Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a key player in Liberia’s unrest…

    I am unfortunately not surprised that she would want to quiet these things down, an effort to hide the truth??? Leads to an unfair justice system in my book…

  14. Concerned Liberian, your presence is like your absence. It makes no difference. However, you have already conceded that the prosecution has not done a better job. By the way, what do you mean that “perhaps the prosecution should have done a better job”? Clearly, you are a political ventriloquist who is impervious of seeing Liberia making progress. Your support for this trial is simply based on your inability to defeat President Taylor politically in Liberia. You made mention of people voting for President Taylor based on the abolishment of fighting. Bogus reason. They saw him as the best candidate among the rests that were vowing for the same job. Are you aware of other warlords that participated in the election? Why they were not voted for? There is no more hide and seek.

  15. Tracey,

    You made several good points that I hope African leaders and the people they rule understand. Moral compass is needed in many African leadership. You are right, to ensure that African and their leaders avoid such public spectacle as this trail we need to ensure that our leaders are held responsible for their actions. First, as you mentioned the political will has to exist, second the judicial temperance has to be nurtured and encouraged, and finally, the political interference into the judiciary must be discouraged. If Africans leaders don’t start setting the foundation for these programs and policies today, then tomorrow we will see more of them on trail, albeit real on charges or bogus ones.

    Having said that, I am not convinced that this trial is not based on evidence, but it is a big political conspiracy. I don’t want to the categorized as a supporter of Taylor, God knows I am not. However, I am concerned about the transparency of the proceedings. I personally think that he was involved in SL, still the burden of proof is on the prosecutor and they have failed to established that. Since their case is based on circumstantial evidence and witnesses testimony; most if not all have depicted gross inconsistency; it makes the prosecution case all the more challenging. Now, neither my personal opinion nor the prosecution’s should matter in the court of law; though it seem to be the basis of their argument.

    We understand that when building a case psychologist review evidences and behavior pattern to better understand the defense (in this case CT). Using this concept, one may readily say that the patterns of crime committed in Liberia does not mirror those of Sierra Leone (no pattern established here). OK, there are the two Nigeria’s who had their limbs hacked. This incident was not the norm in Liberia. These guys are on 1/8 of 1% of the total victims (those who lost their lives). If NPFL fighters were in the habit of chopping limbs, I think they would have continued same in SL. If the prosecution said that CT sponsored the war and his men and RUF looted everything even the name, “Sierra Leone”, I would say “guilty”, because they is a consistency about that. Sadly, this is not the case.

    We can further argue that CT financed the war in Sierra Leone, I understand that there might have been an exemption under the principle of Joint Criminal Enterprise; which suggest that a person who finances a (in this case) war, is equally as guilty as though who perpetrated atrocities during the execution of the war. In the commanders of Kono, who lived in Freetown were given exemption because they were not physically in Kono that district at the time of the crimes. So under this assumption, (even if there are evidence that Taylor commanded RUF from Liberia), he should get such exemption or waiver–verdict will then be innocent.

    But, this will not happen, this case is political. Taylor during this time as rebel leader and President angered a lot of people and nations and they all want to see him pay. Now, I could be very wrong, and if I am, he will “walk” (ie if the trail is not political motivated). The ICC were not prepared and besides, they didn’t conceive that the defense will take such a bold move by putting the accused on the stand. It was a bold calculative move, that I think has the prosecution in corrective mode and changing tactics

    Again, Tracey, GREAT JOB!

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