Justice for Sierra Leone? Special Court delivers a guilty verdict.

Former Liberian President Convicted of War Crimes

UPDATE:  The Special Court for Sierra Leone has found Charles Taylor guilty  of aiding and abetting war crimes on all charges.

The judge read out 11 offences of which Taylor had been found guilty,  all war crimes or crimes against humanity. They were:

1. Acts of terrorism
2. Murder
3. Violence to life
4. Rape
5. Sexual slavery
6. Outrages of personal dignity
7. Cruel treatment
8. Other inhumane acts
9. The use of child soldiers
10. Enslavement
11. Pillage

For an excerpt of the live reading of the judgement by Judge Lussick go to BBC.

I spent 6 months in 2003 working for Sierra Leone‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  This Commission worked in tandum with the Special Court for Sierra Leone  and was created to address the 10 years of crimes committed during the Civil War (1991-2002).   My task was to research the 10 year war to create an impartial history of the war.  A gruesome war, families and cultures were torn apart and the communities of Sierra Leone were deeply affected by the war.

Today at 11:00 a.m. Hague time in Netherlands, the Special Court for Sierra Leone delivered its judgement against Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia.  This case was transferred to Europe and removed from Sierra Leone because of security concerns.

“Charles Taylor was charged in an 11-count indictment alleging responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone during the country’s decade-long civil war. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.” (Press Release 4-26-12)

Charles Taylor is the first sitting leader to have been arrested and then convicted of an international crime.  Taylor’s conviction stands to warn leaders that they will be held accountable for international crimes committed against their own people as well as for aiding others to commit those crimes.

“Taylor’s conviction sends a powerful message that even those in the highest level positions can be held to account for grave crimes,” said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch. “Not since Nuremberg has an international or hybrid war crimes court issued a judgment against a current or former head of state. This is a victory for Sierra Leonean victims, and all those seeking justice when the worst abuses are committed.” (Washingtopost.com)

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