CEDE Welcomes the Trial of Former Liberian Leader Charles Taylor


Press Stsatement Issued by The Center For Democratic Empowerment

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
June 5, 2007


The Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE) welcomes the opening of the trial of former Liberian leader, Charles Taylor. Mr. Taylor has been indicted on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other offenses. The Center believes that the trial will provide Mr. Taylor the opportunity to defend himself and the call for justice by victims of Sierra Leone will be heard. For Liberia, this is an important trial given the fact that the crime Mr. Taylor is alleged to have committed in Sierra Leone appeared to be similar to crimes committed in Liberia. What is more, Mr. Taylor’s trial points to a significant departure from the past, when African leaders committed heinous crimes and did not have to be held accountable. In addition, the trial is clearly a marker on the country’s path to banish war forever and ensure that those who abused the rights of Liberians could face a similar fate.

CEDE has complete confidence in the Special Court on Sierra Leone to deliver justice and unlike some of our compatriots do not believe that Mr. Taylor run the risk of not having a fair trial. In a Star Radio broadcast on Today, June 4, 2007, a reporter, visited the Sierra Leone facility, where Mr. Taylor was detained for three months beginning on March 30, 2006 prior to his departure to The Hague in June 2006. The reporter spoke to the Prison officials and the following representations were made. Mr. Taylor cell met international standards (3 meters by 8 meters by 4.3 meters), he has a bed with a mattress that is about 4 inches thick, and is let out of his room from 7:00 A.M. for about 13 hours, daily. He had telephone privileges, at no cost to him, to speak to his lawyers and family, a DVD player to watch movies brought by his family and had had access to a cable television (DSTV services). Mr. Taylor had three square meals a day and he chose the items on the Prison Menu that he wanted for any particular day. His cell had a fan, mosquito net, and adequate ventilation. These are the standards that are in place for the facility where Taylor spent three months in 2006. No doubt, the facilities in The Hague are not any less than those in Sierra Leone, perhaps even better, as the Netherlands is a more developed country than Sierra Leone.

Mr. Taylor declared that he did not have funding to pay for his defense. The Special Court has provided him with that including a Liberian lawyer, Laveli Supuwood, former Minister of Labor and former Solicitor General of Liberia, no less. His supporters in Liberia have been allowed to organize themselves to raise funds and campaign in his behalf with no intervention from the State. Unfortunately, the leader in this endeavor reported that they are having difficult raising sufficient money for their beloved leader. What a pity, given the fact that several important business and politicians in Liberia are beholden to Mr. Taylor, such as the former Speaker of the House, Edwin Snowe (Taylor’s former son-in-law and a Taylor appointee in the NTLA Government, where he served as Managing Director and has since be accused of theft of property in the amount of US$1 million) and the owner of Farmer’s Paradise, Mr. Benoni Urey, who incidentally served as head of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs under Taylor, and is a major shareholder in Lonestar Phone Company, which virtually monopolized the cell phone industry in Liberia from 1997 – 2003 and made huge profits. Why is it that these two “successful” individuals would not come to the aid of their benefactor is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps the lack of support for the lackluster Campaign to raise funds for Taylor’s defense is a clear testimony that the majority of Liberians are pleased with where Mr. Taylor has found himself, behind a prison bar. Perhaps Liberians are relieved that Mr. Taylor no longer has the capability to interfere in their lives and that they can truly begin to rebuild, knowing that the future is more secured. Perhaps, Liberians remember only too well, the atrocities, mayhem and death that they had to endure during the period 1989 – 2003. Perhaps, Liberians believe that Mr. Taylor indictment, surrender and detention, is a clear manifestation that justice, after all is possible in their live times. Whatever, the reason or reasons, it is amply clear that Taylor’s trial is indeed welcome news to a battered country that is painfully beginning the process of returning dignity to its citizens and residents.

The Center would like to thank all of those, including the Government of Liberia, which sought Mr. Taylor’s surrender from Nigeria, the United Nations that investigated him Taylor and unveil his indictment in 2003; those campaigned for justice for the people of Sierra Leone and those who have agreed to testify against him for the offenses he is alleged to have committed. While, CEDE is assured of a free and fair trial for Mr. Taylor, the Center would also admonished all those involved in this seminal trial to ensure that “justice is done and is seen to be done”. Godspeed, Mr. Taylor!

Contact: Ezekiel Pajibo, Director, Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE)
Contact: Phone: +231 5 867 280 Email: obiejap@yahoo.com

© 2007 by The Perspective
E-mail: editor@theperspective.org

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