27 Mar 2006
The Day of Reckoning is Nigh For Charles Taylor
The news that exiled former Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor may soon be turned over to the International tribunal in Sierra Leone to face charges of war crimes is certainly a welcome development.
The ex-president has been living in comfortable exile in Calabar, Nigeria since August 2003 after stepping down as president under international pressure. Taylor has been a torn in the flesh of his people and those of neighbouring countries since he escaped from custody in the U.S. and somehow found himself on the Liberian political scene. His National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) began an uprising against the government of military dictator samuel Doe in 1989. A splinter group of NPFL captured and gruesomely executed Doe in September 1990. Charles Taylor was later to launch an all out war against is former comrades, against ULIMO and even against a peacekeeping force assembled by countries of the West African sub-region. In his war campaigns, Taylor recruited children as young as eight and executed civilians that refused to cooperate with him. His violent campaign was to cost Liberia more than 150,000 dead and over a million displaced-all this in a country that had a population then of around three million.
Even with this abysmal record, Taylor was still allowed to contest elections after an internationally supervised disarmament program succeeded in 1997.
After consolidating power in Liberia following his election victory, Taylor decided to aide the rebels in Sierra Leone headed by his friend and warlord late Foday Sankoh. The Taylor-Sankoh alliance committed untold atrocities especially against Sierra Leone and her people. They were involved in stealing Sierra Leone’s natural resources like diamond and timber and marketing them to the outside world through Liberia. Calculated atrocities were visited on the civilian population in order to terrorize them. Limbs of people including children as young as a few months were hacked with axes. Parents were executed in front of their children before forcefully conscripting those orphaned children into the rebel army. It was documented that part of the initiation of male children into the rebel army involved drugging them and letting them rape and execute adult females. The female children became automatically sex slaves for the rebels.
Charles Taylor’s partner-in-crime was captured and imprisoned by the UN in 2000. A special war crime tribunal was established in 2002. In 2003 Sankoh and others were indicted for rape, murder, sexual slavery, conscription of children into armed force etc. Being smarter than Milosevic, Sankoh died in July 2003 and saved himself the embarrassment of a humiliating trial. Charles Taylor has had temporary reprieve because of Obasanjo’s hospitality. Now that his Nigerian host has finally disowned him, the victims of this vicious man and their sympathizers are eagerly waiting for the day he will stand in the dock and listen to the charges pressed against him.
CopyrightÓ2006 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah