- Our Senior Staff
- Category: Legislative Focus
- Friday, 27 April 2012 10:44
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has now been found guilty of crimes against humanity he was indicted for in 2003 while serving as a sitting President of the Republic. It was in Accra, Ghana where he was served an indictment writ by the Special Court for Sierra Leone while attending a peace conference on Liberia, but with the intervention of the Ghanaian authority, he did not honor the indictment but immediately cut short the conference and returned to Liberia. Of course, the 51st National Legislature at the time did not give credence to the indictment as loyalists of the regime at the time claimed that the move was a conspiracy politically motivated.
The indictment remained hanging while the LURD and MODEL war against the Taylor-led government was raging and at the Accra Peace Accord where representatives of both rebel factions, the Liberian Government and civil society groupings negotiated for interim arrangement, behind the scene negotiations among leaders of the West African region secured a deal with Mr. Taylor to exile in Calabah, Nigeria thereby bringing an end to the hostility in Liberia.
It can be recalled that Mr. Taylor left Liberia on August 11, 2003 for Calabah and after a one- month rule by Moses Z. Blah as President in September, the National Transitional Government of Liberia, headed by Charles Gyude Bryant stepped in, which all factions had pieces of the cake in terms of power sharing. The expiration of the NTGL following the conduct of the 2005 presidential and legislative elections began a renewed trouble for Mr. Taylor.
It was now the ruling Unity Party –led government seeking means to soften the political ground and attract international goodwill as war-ravaged Liberians seemed desperate for a change of status quo. Up to today, it has not been made cleared what was the official position of the 52nd National Legislature, the " First Branch" of government concerning extraditing Mr. Taylor from Nigeria to go to Freetown and then to The Hague where his prosecution and guilt has finally been established, that he aided and abetted crimes against humanity during the 11 years of rebel war in that country. So far, it was only seen that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf allegedly and single-handedly sought the extradition of the former Liberian leader in fulfillment of demand from the international community for justice to be done to Sierra Leone.
At the time, and even up to present, those who believe in the former president’s ideology have maintained claims of witch hunt against the regime of the National Patriotic Party, even though some of those who immensely benefited from the regime in terms of education and other forms of wealth are no longer seen as being part of the old order. This is part of the political culture Liberians seem to be accustomed to which indicates that ‘out of sight is out of mind’.
Well, it seems the guilty verdict rendered against Mr. Taylor on Thursday, April 26th will prick the minds of critical thinkers and legal minds as to what extra in addition to a jail sentence the former president shall serve perhaps in Great Britain, Sierra Leone’s colonial master, will be required for Liberia to do in compensating Sierra Leone if the need for reparation is requested. This concern is likely to involve the active participation of the 53rd National Legislature in debates that might come out of the post Taylor’s verdict. If reparation is indeed required it must be the Liberian Government to take full responsibility in settling the matter.
Inarguably, if Liberia’s tax payers’ money would be used for any settlement in such instance, the legislators must have a stake in it because they were elected to speak on behalf of the masses and ensure the proper use of the nation’s resources.
With further legal proceedings after the verdict still pending, comments, opinions and analyses are bound to come out and members of the 53rd National Legislature may not be mute in contributing to the debates ahead. Developments from the post Taylor’s verdict, if they go in the direction of reparation intended for Sierra Leone would surely cause deliberations at the Capitol Building. Of course, the Supreme Court of Liberia may not be left out of handing opinion on the matter. So here we are imagining what comes after the guilty verdict of former President Taylor in the 11 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes he was linked to committing during the civil war in Sierra Leone while serving as a sitting President of Liberia.