International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Morris Anyah is Now Lead Defense Counsel for Charles Taylor’s Appeal

The Special Court for Sierra Leone has today announced a change in the composition of Charles Taylor’s defense team as Morris Anyah, formerly a co-defense counsel, has been appointed as the lead defense counsel to handle the former Liberian president’s appeal. It is understood that this change in his defense team  has been announced with the consent of Mr. Taylor, in line with his right to be represented by counsel of his choosing.

On April 26, judges in The Hague convicted Mr. Taylor of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002. The former Liberian president is entitled … Continue Reading

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Prosecutors Want Taylor to spend 80 Years in Jail

Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague have recommended that convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor be sentenced to a maximum term of 80 years in jail for crimes committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2002.This recommendation was made in a sentencing submission made to Trial Chamber judges yesterday. On April 26, three-judge panel found Tay

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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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Charles Taylor Found Guilty

Today, Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) judges in The Hague delivered the Court’s long anticipated verdict in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, finding him unanimously guilty of all charges against him on grounds that he knowingly aided and abetted rebel forces in Sierra Leone and that he planned attacks during which atrocities had occurred.

The prosecution charged Taylor with 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of international humanitarian law that were allegedly committed from November 1996 to January 2002 during the course of Sierra Leone’s civil war. The prosecution claimed that Taylor backed the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group in Sierra Leone and had ties to a second warring faction, the … 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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Resource Documents in Advance of Taylor Judgment

Dear readers,

The judgment in the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor will be announced on April 26 – one week from today – at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, the Netherlands.  We have monitored the trial for the past four years and have put together some resource documents, which can be accessed below. In addition, our Legal Officer, Alpha Sesay, will be using Twitter to send out live updates from the courtroom on the day of the judgment. You can follow him at @sesayalpha.

Taylor is charged with 11 counts of  war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, allegedly committed from November 30, 1996 to January 18, 2002 during the … Continue Reading

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Judges Dismiss Taylor Defense Request to Change Date of Judgment

The Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague have unanimously dismissed a request by former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s defense to change the date for the delivery of judgment.

After the announcment that the judgment to determine Taylor’s guilt or innocence will be delivered on April 26, 2012, defense lawyers filed a motion requesting a change of date because Mr. Taylor’s lead counsel, Courtenay Griffiths, has prior engagements in proceedings in the UK that cannot be changed. In addition, the defense argued that delivering the judgment on the eve of Sierra Leone’s independence will pose a security threat and add a bad taste to the country’s celebrations. Sierra Leone celebrates its 51st independence anniversary on April 27. Prosecutors opposed the defense request, urging the … Continue Reading

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Taylor Defense Wants Date for Judgment Changed; Prosecutors Disagree

Defense and Prosecution lawyers in the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor are in disagreement over the date for the delivery of the judgment. The Defense wants to postpone the April 26 date of the verdict announcement, which was scheduled by the Special Court for Sierra Leone  judges less than one week ago.

On March 1, nearly one year after the evidence phase of the case closed, the judges issued a scheduling order confirming that the trial judgment in the former Liberian President’s case will be delivered on April 26, 2012.

Five days later, on March 6, defense lawyers for Mr. Taylor filed an urgent motion requesting a change of the date for delivery of the judgment from April 26 to … Continue Reading

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Judges Set Date for Taylor Verdict

The long awaited verdict to determine the guilt or innocence of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor will be delivered at 11:00 AM on April 26, 2012, Special Court for Sierra Leone judges said today in a scheduling order issued in The Hague.

Mr. Taylor, on trial for allegedly providing support to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in their “reign of terror” during Sierra Leone’s 11 year conflict will know on April 26 whether he is guilty or innocent of the charges against him. He faces an 11 count-indictment of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone from November 1996 to January 2002. Prosecutors say that in addition to providing … Continue Reading

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