UN-BACKED SIERRA LEONE COURT INDICTS LIBERIAN PRESIDENT CHARLES TAYLOR
From: UN New York, June 04 2003 01:00PM
© UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
A United Nations-backed court in Sierra Leone
announced today that it has indicted Liberian President Charles Taylor for
war crimes and issued an international warrant for his arrest.
“My Office was given an international mandate by the United Nations and the
Republic of Sierra Leone to follow the evidence impartially wherever it
leads. It has led us unequivocally to Taylor,” David Crane, the Court’s
Chief Prosecutor, said in making public the indictment.
Mr. Taylor is charged with “bearing the greatest responsibility” for war
crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international
humanitarian law” in Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996, at the height of
that country’s brutal 10-year civil war. Mr. Crane said the indictment had
been judicially approved on 7 March but had been sealed, on his request,
Reacting to the announcement, Betrand Ramcharan, the Acting UN High
Commissioner or Human Rights, expressed solidarity with the Chief Prosecutor
and support for the Special Court. In a statement, he recalled the
aspirations of the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia for peace and
reconciliation, and appealed to all concerned – particularly the Liberian
leadership – to act with calm and wisdom and to uphold international human
rights and humanitarian law.
The Special Court’s announcement came with Mr. Taylor travelling to
neighbouring Ghana, where peace talks with rebels are underway. A warrant
for his arrest has been served on the Ghanaian authorities and sent to
Interpol, Mr Crane said.
The Prosecutor, who said the announcement was timed so attendees at peace
talks would know they are dealing with an indicted war criminal, stressed
that the negotiations should still go forward, but must not include Mr.
Taylor. “The evidence upon which this indictment was approved raises serious
questions about Taylor’s suitability to be a guarantor pf any deal, let
alone a peace agreement,” he said.
By making the indictment public at this time, Mr. Crane said, he intended to
send a “clear message” to all factions fighting in Liberia that they must
respect international law – commanders are under international obligation to
prevent their members from committing crimes against humanity.
Citing relevant UN Security Council resolutions, he called on all nations to
reinforce their commitments to international peace and security and “to take
decisive action to ensure that Taylor is brought to justice.”
In March, the Court also indicted Sam Bockarie and another rebel leader,
Johnny Paul Koroma, for alleged atrocities – ranging from murder and sexual
slavery to forced conscription of children and attacks on UN peacekeepers.
Both were connected with President Taylor and the rebel Revolutionary United
Front (RUF). The alleged body of Mr. Bockarie, who was killed last month in
Liberia, has been turned over to the tribunal for positive identification,
while Mr. Koroma remains at large, purportedly holed up in a small Liberian
The Special Court, created through an international agreement between the
United Nations and Sierra Leone, is mandated to try those who bear “the
greatest responsibility” for atrocities committed during the country's civil