While speaking on Taylor’s warrant at AU headquarter Libya’s Muarmar Gaddaffi observed
“(ICC warrants) a practice of a new world terrorism, it’s not fair that a head of state should be arrested. If we allow such a thing (then) we should also try those who killed hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq and Gaza.” New African, May 2009
This comes from a man who being keen to interfere with pro-USA countries in the world trained Taylor’s 100 National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) guerilla’s from a score of West African countries: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the Gambia and Ghana.
Other critics insist that Taylor was to face his 11 counts of indictments in Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) instead of Netherlands which was moved because it was believed Taylor still enjoyed support from the region which could have affected the course of justice.
These critics insist on Freetown because the indictment read in part “as he (Taylor) beared the greatest responsibility for the war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone between 30th November 1996 and 18th January 2002”
In addition, the same critics said the case which started on 4th June 2007 is lopsided because after the prosecutor presented 91 witnesses, Taylor who started his defense on July last year lucks witnesses since his friends and associates are still under UN travel ban with their finances frozen.
The critics not withstanding Taylor is at ICC after Nigeria, were he retired to a sumptuous villa, bowed to International pressure after a warrant issued by the then chief Persecutor David Crane.
Not to lose hope the critics insists Crane was from US and Nigeria betrayed Taylor when he was arrested fleeing the country with laundered money.
Nigeria bent after Taylor was labeled a Pariah, had arms embargo, trade sanctions and ban on government officials.
Let’s us begin first by checking Charles Taylor’s rebellion at the end of 1986. A descendant of American slaves calling themselves Americo-Liberians, Taylor got his education from USA. He started rebellion against the weak American backed Samwel Doe who seized power on 12th April ’80 coup. America was the only country worldwide to support the October ’85 rigged elections which Doe ‘won’.
The rebellion was aided by Ivory Coast president Felix Houphert-Boigny whose son in law was killed by Doe. Together with Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso who was related with Houphert-Boigny in marriage.
Firstly, Taylor’s misdeed was recruiting heavily from illiterate teenagers hell-bend on revenge from Doe as child soldiers. A notorious group, Butt Naked Brigade, fought naked in belief it protected them from live bullets. The world saw coverage of Child soldiers high on marijuana, sometimes carrying AK 47s and toys.
“The NPFL came and we didn’t even have to act. People came to us and said: ‘give me a gun. How can I kill the man who killed my mother?’”
Taylor organized the orphans in ‘small boys unit’ before giving them rudimentary training in Kalashnikov lifestyle and turning them to psychopathic killers wrote the former Times Africa correspondent Martin Meredith in his book The State of Africa: A history of fifty years of Independence.
“Joining a militia group is both meal ticket and substitute education…..the AK47 brings food, money, a warm bath and instant adult respect.” Wrote Krijn Peters and Paul Richards on an essay “Why we Fight”; Voices of Youth combatants in Sierra Leone (1998) about children soldiers. “Underage irregulars fight without inhibition and kill without compassion, sometimes casually, sometimes as an extension of play.”
An American researcher, William Reno, estimated Taylor warlord economy to be $200 million apart from looted goods. This was at a time when Liberia was being crippled economically by war!
When Taylor’s attempted to capture Monrovia were thwarted he built a warlord commercial empire he called ‘Greater Liberia’. He cut a deal with American’s Firestone for rubber plantations; France bought timber from him while a British firm paid $100 million in three months to ship out iron ore. Taylor’s brother, Nelson netted $10 Million in three months from gold and diamond mining in south-west Liberia.
Blinded by greed Taylor’s bid to control Sierra Leone’s $300 million annual diamond traffic, and bauxite and titanium mines accounting for 60% of the country export, supported Fodhay Sankoh a man he called “Governor of Sierra Leone’ against President Joseph Momoh.
To control the fields child soldiers were used to maim dissidents and rape women into submission! By May 2000, over a period of eleven years of civil war 30,000 people died with 20,000 others mutilated.
Fodhay Sankoh’s end came when his rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF) seized 500 Kenyan and Zambian UN peacekeepers.
In retaliation civic groups organized a crowd of 30,000 people to march to Sankoh’s house forcing him to escape over the back wall dressed in woman’s clothing. He was captured ten days later, stripped and paraded naked in streets before being handed over to the government.
After all these misdeeds I know Taylor, and other dictators and war instigators like Sudan’s Omar El Bashir and Kenyan Post Election Violence perpetrators, need to go to ICC!
The criticism that the warrant was issued on June 2003 when Taylor was in Ghana with five former African presidents Thabo Mbeki (SA), Olesegun Obasanjo(Nigeria) Joachim Chisanno (Mozambique), Tejan Kabbah (Sierra Leone) and John Kufuor (Ghana) seeking peace is farfetched.
Even after 1500 lives were lost and 13 peace treaties ignored he only relented after fear of his action on region’s security made West Africa states to commissioned the ECOMOG (Economic Community of West Africa Sates monitoring Group) forcing elections on July 1977 on the 14th treaty!!
Not to be easily cowered Taylor flaunted his warlord credentials with a slogan:
“He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.”
Liberians voted for the sake of peace. Needless to say his National Patriotic Party (NPP) won elections by 75% of the vote.
His effects are still felt in region with the arms embargo being recently lifted by UN Security Council at the end of last year.