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 trial officially ended on September 26, 2013 when the Appeals Chamber of the court upheld Taylor’s conviction and sentencing on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of international humanitarian law. Over the years, the trial chamber heard testimony from 94 prosecution witnesses and 21 defense witnesses, including Charles Taylor himself, who took the witness stand for nearly seven months.
Throughout the duration of the website, we have moderated over 18,000 comments from readers around the world. Readers have commended and challenged our reporting, posed questions to the lead prosecution and defense lawyers handling the case, debated issues of war and peace in Sierra Leone and neighboring Liberia, and contributed passionate arguments for and against Taylor. Readers’ comments added vibrancy to the website and kept us on our toes every step of the way, ensuring our reporting was accurate, fair, and of high quality.
Over the years, we worked with many partners that have added value to our website through research, analysis, and expert commentary. We would especially like to thank all of the below, who have contributed to our work, including: Charles C. Jalloh; Clifford Chance LLP; Eleanor Thompson; Erna Sattler; Jennifer Easterday; Judith Armatta; U.C. Berkeley War Studies Crimes Center; Umaru Fofana; White & Case LLP; Heather Townsend Goodman; and Valeria Oosterveld.
We would also like to formally acknowledge staff members from the Open Society Justice Initiative who have given a tremendous amount of time and expertise to help make this project succeed, especially Tracey Gurd, Eric Witte, and Kelly Askin, as well as our Communications team for all of their technical support over the years.
There is no doubt that Charles Taylor’s arrest, subsequent hand-over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and conviction were significant moments in the history of international justice. Regardless, of the various opinions expressed on this site on Taylor’s guilt or innocence, we hope that our monitoring of the case provided greater transparency about the trial process.
Taegin & Alpha