Time for Reckoning Has Come for Taylor

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THERE is a saying “what goes round comes around” and in the same vein those who with impunity com- mit heinous crimes by virtue of being “untouchable” when they are in power should not cry foul when the law eventually takes its course. Even the Bible tells us to do unto others what we would want them to do unto us, and Charles Taylor, that brutal African despot whose murderous reign of terror both in his backyard and those of his neighbours brought untold suffering and misery to millions and even destabilised a whole region, is a case in point. Tens of thousands of innocent souls, among them young children, had their limbs brutally and mercilessly chopped off, while others where killed in their thousands because this blood-thirsty, power-hungry despot wanted to keep his grip on power at all cost. Indeed those who live by the sword should naturally perish by the sword and this once despotic ruler who undemocratically and violently imposed himself on Liberia after he ascended to the crown via the barrel of a gun should be made to account for his crimes. Taylor, that silk-tongued mass murderer stands accused of a litany of charges among them serial rapes, hacking off limbs, mass abductions, sexual slavery, pillaging of national coffers at an unprecedented scale, forceful conscription of girls and boys among others. He stands accused of having caused untold suffering in Sierra Leone because he was in cohorts with, supported and collaborated with, rebels in that mineral rich but yet poverty stricken country. He was the brain behind the incomparable, vicious civil war in which hundreds of thousands perished in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Among the tens of thousands murdered during his bloody regime was a group of Nigerian journalists he executed via one of his numerous firing squads. He stands accused of having aided the rebels in Sierra Leone in exchange for a cut in a lucrative trade in diamonds that are tainted with human blood. Even during his Nigerian exile he was nearly lynched by those related to his victims and had to be guarded 24-hours a day so that he would not become the victim of the “justice” that could be meted out by so-called kangaroo courts presided by unruly mobs. Taylor, his family and several of his henchmen lived in Nigeria since 2003 as part of a humanitarian regional deal that put an end to the blood-letting and to the carnage in Liberia. Nigerian authorities and particularly that country’s President Olusegun Obasanjo should be commended for arresting and handing over Taylor to members of the tribunal, after his escape attempt. Equally we take our hats off to the incumbent Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for having the courage to bring the issue to the fore, resulting in Taylor’s extradi-tion. At the time of his apprehension in northern Nigeria, Taylor who once escaped from a jail in the USA reportedly had two 50-kg sacks stuffed with Euros and US dollars. Early this week Desmond de Silva, the court’s chief prosecutor noted that a precedent has been set when he issued a statement stating: “Those who commit atrocities and violate international humanitarian law will be held accountable, no matter how rich, powerful or feared people may be – no one is above the law. ” But sadly, there are many others who are still at large on the African continent after having committed many atrocities. They have maimed and they have murdered with impunity those who dared to have different political and ideological views. Taylor’s arrest is most satisfying and we hope he will not be the only one to face the music for crimes against humanity. Where there is a will there is definitely a way and we wholeheartedly support the tribunal mandated to try him. We hope justice will prevail and that an appropriate punishment would be meted on this barbarous being whose hands drip with the blood of countless victims