Liberia: ‘Still Hopeful’ – Charles Taylor’s Wife Confident of Breakthrough

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The wife of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, is hopeful that her husband will get the opportunity to serve his remaining prison term in Rwanda despite denial of his motion by the United Nations backed court. Senator Jewel Howard Taylor has expressed that the decision to grant her Husband a chance to serve his remaining prison term in Africa will come.

In an interview with FrontPageAfrica in Gbarnga, Bong County former President Taylor’s strong hold during his war days, the Senator said, despite the disappointment she is still hopeful that the wishes of her husband will come to past. Senator Taylor said: “That is the law, even though we are disappointed, but we are hoping on God, we are still hopeful.”

Taylor was very popular in Bong County and it is believed that the Taylor factor played a major role in getting his wife re-elected as senator for Bong County despite a strong challenge from other contestants. Former President Taylor National Patriotic Party (NPP) is still very popular in Bong County. Taylor won as President in 1997 after serving as a rebel leader for over 10 years occupying central Liberia with headquarters in Gbarnga.

The Trial Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone based in the Hague has denied in its entirety a motion by the convicted former Liberian Taylor requesting that the RSCSL terminate the enforcement of his sentence in the UK and transfer him to Rwanda to serve the remainder of his 50-year prison sentence.

But the Trial Chamber cited UN Security Council 1688 which concluded that his presence in the African region could pose an impediment to security and a threat to peace. Further, the Trial Chamber held that a prisoner convicted by an international court is subject to the same rights and restrictions as those applicable to convicted persons in national jurisdictions.

RSCSL Prosecutor Brenda J. Hollis opposed the motion on a number of factual and legal grounds. She also argued that if Mr. Taylor was imprisoned in Rwanda that it would “increase the possibilities available to Taylor to undermine peace, security, stability and good order in Liberia and the West African sub-region, and would have implications on the security and sense of security of witnesses, Court personnel and former and current high level State officials.”

Following his unsuccessful appeal in September 2013, Mr. Taylor was incarcerated at Frankland Prison in Durham under an agreement with the UK. Eight Special Court convicts who were tried in Freetown are serving their sentences at Mpanga Prison in Rwanda. The Trial Chamber, consisting of Justice Teresa Doherty (presiding), Justice Richard Lussick and Justice Emmanuel Roberts, were convened by RSCSL Resident Justice Philip Waki last July to rule on the motion.

Mr. Taylor had argued that his imprisonment in the UK denied him his right to a family life as his wife and children had been denied UK visas and so prevented from visiting him. He also argued that because he was at risk from other inmates he was being held “effectively in isolation” as he was “too much of a target and too vulnerable” to be accommodated within Frankland’s general prison population.

The Trial Chamber arrived at its decision on 30 January 2015, but released it publicly on March 26, 2015 after a decision on a pending related motion. Mr. Taylor also argued that he is the only prisoner convicted by an international court forced, against his wishes, to serve his sentence on another continent. Africa is his continent of origin, and he maintained that travel costs to Rwanda are lower and Rwandan personnel share a “cultural affinity” with him.

He was found guilty in April 2012 of eleven counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. The Court found that he had planned, and aided and abetted, crimes committed by RUF and AFRC rebel forces during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

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