Taylor’s conviction

The International Criminal Court at The Hague has pronounced former Liberian president Charles Taylor guilty for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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Published: Sat 28 Apr 2012, 9:50 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:38 AM

The five-year long trial finally culminated with the judges deciding against Taylor, who is the first head of state to be charged by the ICC since the Nuremberg trial post World War II. Taylor’s right to appeal the sentence is not expected to absolve him, considering the serious charges that he stands convicted of.

The judgment itself is a landmark one, setting a precedent for many other powerful figures worldwide who are allegedly involved in such crimes. The international community and human right groups have hailed this verdict as a triumph of justice for not only for the people of Sierra Leone but also those who continue to suffer and await justice. The list of charges are a chilling reminder of the brutalities inflicted on the people of Sierra Leone by the Revolutionary United Front rebels who were being aided and abetted by Taylor, who allegedly armed these rebels with weapons bought from the sale of diamonds. The heinous crimes that include murder, rape, terror and conscription of child soldiers may not have been ordered by the accused but his involvement in abetting the rebels’ activities was enough to make him face the judges tribunal at The Hague. Finally the ICC has brought justice to the victims who have long waited for this trial’s end.

The length of Taylor’s sentence is yet to be decided but it is expected to be long, and one that he will serve in a British high security prison. Rising from the ranks of a rebel in the 1980s to that of President of Liberia in 1997, Taylor’s fall from grace came about after he was forced into exile in 2003 and consequently arrested in 2006 and sent to Sierra Leone and then onwards to stand trial the following year. The fact that an international judicial body has punished a ‘criminal’ statesman also puts greater pressure on the ICC for persecuting others who have so far remained on the periphery.

Taylor’s conviction must also be applicable to states that indulge in similar crimes, irrespective of their current standing with world powers. It is a lesson that must be understood in totality.

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