News Release

Charles Taylor Conviction

Taylor, a former warlord, was elected president of Liberia in 1997

Reuters reports: “A United Nations-backed court convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the first time a head of state has been found guilty by an international tribunal since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg.”

EMIRA WOODS, via Lacy MacAuley, lacy at ips-dc.org
Woods, who is originally from Liberia, is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. She said today: “Taylor’s case is associated with many firsts. He is the first head of state to have escaped from a U.S. medium security prison. He is the first head of state to publicly refuse to sign an imbalanced rubber concession agreement with Firestone Tire
and Rubber Company. He was the first sitting head of state to be brought on charges for international crimes against humanity. And now, he is the first
head of state since World War II to have been convicted of war crimes by an international criminal court.

“Taylor was accused of 11 charges, ranging from murder, rape, and sexual violence to the recruitment and use of child soldiers in a long and bloodied war in Liberia’s neighbor Sierra Leone. Taylor was charged by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, a court that predates the formation of the International Criminal Court.

“Taylor’s history is a reminder that proxy wars can be like deadly dominoes. Embroiled in cold war politics, Taylor and his forces were trained, armed, and financed by Libya’s former president Mohamar Qaddafi as an antidote to Liberia’s U.S.-backed dictator Samuel Doe. Taylor successfully ousted Doe in a war that ultimately killed 250,000 Liberians.

“While in Libya, Taylor was trained with Sierra Leonean rebel leader Foday Sankoh, head of the Revolutionary United Front. Taylor and Sankoh marched forth jointly from Libya to unleash terror in the subregion.

“Taylor, Qaddafi’s proxy, then served with Qaddafi as patrons of Sankoh as he led RUF in a push for power and control of diamond-rich Sierra Leone. Taylor is alleged to have served as kingpin in what was a vibrant guns-for-diamonds trading scheme. The spotlight of the trial shone most brightly on supermodel Naomi Campbell who had allegedly received from Taylor what she called ‘dirty little stones’ — rough diamonds.”