Is There An International Conspiracy And Contradictions Behind The Arrest And Conviction Of Charles Ghankay Taylor?

The arrest and conviction of former Liberian ruler Charles Taylor have raised series of conspiracy theories and contradictions among both his foes and supporters in Liberia. Charles Taylor was forced to resign as president of Liberia in August of 2003, followed by his arrest three years later for war crimes and crimes against humanity accused of committing in neighboring Sierra Leone. The charges against Taylor were based on his alleged role as a major backer of rebel forces in Sierra Leone and on his alleged responsibility for Liberian forces fighting in support of the Sierra Leonean rebels.

He was convicted following years of trial in The Hague, Holland, before the UN-backed War Crimes Court responsible for trying war crimes in Sierra Leone. It was the first international war crimes trial of an African ruler. Taylor is now serving a 50-year jail term at a prison in the English city of Durham. However, despite the end of the trial, Taylor’s name remains potent in the discussion of a war crimes in Liberia and Liberian politics in general with each side digging in their heels. 

At first, Taylor’s arrest, indictment and subsequent conviction, especially his imprisonment received wide-spread support and acceptance in Liberia and around the world. however, as times went by, series of concerns began to pop up among Liberians, mainly among both his supporters and foes. While the supporters of the arrest and conviction of Mr. Taylor continued to stand by the decision, however, their concern is the fact that Taylor’s conviction was for only war crimes he was accused of committing in another country through his support for rebels in that country and not in Liberia, where he planned, orchestrated, issued direct orders, and even participated in some of the worst war crimes that affected more people as compared to Sierra Leone. According to the Sierra Leone civil war statistics, Charles Taylor’s support to the rebels in Sierra Leone led to the dead of over 50,000, while Charles Taylor’s participation in the Liberia civil war, which he started and directed, led to the dead of over 250,000 and many Liberians are wondering when, if ever, will Charles Taylor be tried for his role in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia including others who committed these mayhems either in support of him or against him? Taylor’s supporters also think it is unfair to target just Charles Taylor while leaving out the others.

Amid all these contradictions is an emerging school of thought driven by conspiracy theories which seems to be garnering a lot of support along with the thought that the international community, especially, the UN, don’t care about the slaughter, torture, and rape of innocent Liberians by the various warring factions. According to this new school of thought, Charles Taylor’s arrest and conviction for war crimes in Sierra Leone was simply a way to keep him silent regarding the roles of other countries in what was seen as a wide-spread un-imaginable festival of crimes against innocent Liberians which were encouraged by economic greed targeting Liberia’s natural resources. Various reports have pointed out that companies and individuals from foreign countries were deeply involved in commercial activities mainly targeting Liberian rubber, diamonds, timbers, etc. In the final report of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or TRC, many foreign companies and individuals were listed in the various categories of perpetrators of crimes during the Liberian senseless bloodshed. Some the categories include war crimes, crimes against humanity, economic crimes, etc.

To strengthen this new school of thought was the election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Liberia first post-war president ignoring widespread cheating during the 2005 election. Followed by the silence of the international community, including the UN, ECOWAS, United States, along with such organizations like the Carter Center, as Madam Sirleaf co-opted in her government various human rights violators. Despite these and in addition to Madam Sirleaf own record about her involvement in various violent episodes in Liberia, especially, Liberia’s recent 14year-violence, the UN, ECOWAS, United States continued to not only support Madam Sirleaf and her government but lavish praises on her and is being promoted by the international community as steering Liberia away from violence and maintaining over 10 years of peace. A view that is in a complete contrast of the prevailing sentiments among Liberians. To add some icing on the cake of support for Madam Sirleaf, the international community awarded her the once prestigious Nobel Peace Prize using some of the most wildest imaginations in describing the reasons why the peace prize was awarded to Madam Sirleaf on the eve of the 2011 election. To which, up to this date, many Liberians remained confused as what to make off the international community commitment towards genuine peace in Liberia.

Supporters of this new school of thought seem to be critical of the foreign troops that were stationed in Liberia from 2003 under egis of the United Nations as part of an international brokered peace agreement that officially ended the Liberian bloodshed called the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA. Many Liberians were hopeful that during the UN troops presence in Liberia every part of the CPA would have been implemented, especially, the implementation of the final report of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or TRC report. The TRC report is comprised of series of recommendations among which is to hold accountable those described as the major and worst perpetrators of the violence during the 14-years Liberian violence. However, the implementation of the report was silent by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government under the watchful eyes of the UN with her troops in Liberia. In fact, many of other major measures that were put in place against Charles Taylor and his associates were removed such as the traveling ban and the freezing of assets.

The only consolation to for Liberians regarding the war crimes issue is that United States and other European countries using their own laws are arrest Liberian war criminals who live in their territories. It is a move many Liberians accept as something better than nothing, however, remained deeply disappointed regarding the United Nations attitude towards war crimes issues regarding Liberia, and especially, ECOWAS countries who are providing aid and comfort to many Liberian war criminals and economic crimes criminals to travel and invest in these countries with blood stained money from Liberia. The failure so far by the UN to institute a war crimes trial in like it did in similar situation in other countries is seem as an imposition by the world body of violent criminals on the Liberian people, leaving the people of Liberia at the mercy of those who inflicted upon them and country many unspeakable crimes.

By Patrick Nimely-Sie Tuon
General Coordinator
Liberia Human Rights Campaign

List Of Categories Of Perpetrators

The TRC determines that the following armed groups, rebel groups or warring factions and their financiers, leaders, commanders, combatants and advisors etc. associated with them, are responsible for committing ‘egregious’ domestic crimes, ‘gross’ violations of human rights and ‘serious’ humanitarian law violations including economic crime in Liberia between January 1979 and October 14, 2003.

These groups are categorized into two with equal culpability: (1) Significant Violator Groups; and (2) Less Significant Violator Groups. The distinction between them relates solely to the number of reported violations against them. The specific crimes and total reported violations committed by these armed groups, rebel groups or warring factions and the financiers, leaders, commanders, combatants and advisors etc. associated with them are detailed in other sections of this report. see section 1.4, Findings and Determinations







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