Africa Notes: Charles Taylor, Guilty!

The Special Court of Sierra Leone found Charles Taylor Guilty. Here is the summary of the judgment. As it states, he was found guilty of aiding and abetting the commission of 11 crimes, including terrorism, slavery, rape, and the use of child soldiers.

As a number of observers have noted, the guilty verdict falls short of the prosecution’s goals (The Economist). Mr. Taylor was not held directly responsible for any of these crimes. As Kevin Heller reports:

the judges have rejected the prosecution’s allegations that he participated in a JCE to commit the crimes alleged in the indictment or that he had effective control over the RUF soldiers who committed the crimes (i.e, no ordering or command responsibility).  The verdict represents a colossal victory for Taylor, even if it means that he will still receive a substantial sentence. (Opinio Juris)

However, as Heller also notes, Taylor is the second head of state to be found guilty by an international tribunal. (Before being tried at Nuremberg Karl Doenitz was President of Germany for 23 days after Hitler’s suicide. Milosevic could have been the second but he died before a verdict was reached.) (Opinio Juris).

Despite the weaker verdict, some victims apparently felt that some justice had been done here. Said the sister of one victim:

It’s good, this one is good, it’s a signal to other people that they should not completely use their money on war, ammunition, to destroy lives (Reuters)

Besides Opinio Juris, another good place to look for further reporting on this is IntlLawGrrls.

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