Liberian President formally requests Nigeria to transfer Charles Taylor, indicted for crimes against humanity in 2003

24 Mar, 2006 | Press Releases

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has formally requested the Nigerian Government to transfer Charles Taylor; Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is reportedly consulting with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States on how to respond to the request.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was indicted in March 2003 by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity: the indictment remains outstanding and his arrest warrant unexecuted. On 11 August 2003, Charles Taylor resigned as President of Liberia and travelled to Nigeria where he currently resides. In just one manifestation of global determination that Charles Taylor be held accountable for the crimes allegedly committed in Sierra Leone, a coalition of nearly 300 African and international civil society groups sent a declaration to the African Union in June 2005 demanding that Nigeria send President Taylor to the Special Court. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1638 of 11 November 2005 granted the UN Mission in Liberia the power to detain President Taylor if he returns to Liberia and transfer him to the Special Court.

Statement by Sergio Stanzani and Gianfranco Dell’Alba, President and Secretary-General of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice calls on Nigeria to fulfill the request of the democratically-elected government of Liberia. This is an opportunity for Nigeria to support the democratic process in Liberia and the first freely-elected female president of an African nation in a courageous act to end impunity. President Obasanjo previously said he would respect the request of a democratically-elected president. Thus, the time for action is now. As a member of the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Management Committee, the body responsible for, among other things, encouraging States to cooperate with the Court, Nigeria should embrace this opportunity to resolve the outstanding warrants from 2003.

“No Peace Without Justice also calls on the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the United Nations, and the European Union to support Liberia in its request to transfer Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It is important that the African Union and ECOWAS stand united in favour of justice, to send a strong message – particularly to those who continue to profit from impunity – that no leader is above the law. The UN has already passed a resolution to facilitate the transfer and must encourage Nigeria to use this opportunity to advance justice in the region. The EU has been an ardent advocate and supporter of the Special Court and must fulfill its commitment to ending impunity in West Africa by supporting Liberia’s request.

“According to investigations carried out by NPWJ’s Conflict Mapping Program, there are clear indications that the campaign of terror and atrocities undertaken by the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone were directed and supported by Charles Taylor, both before and after his Presidency. We would echo the words of Desmond de Silva, chief prosecutor in Sierra Leone’s Special Court, who said “This does send out a message, in my mind, to all leaders and warlords and all people in positions of dominance: ‘Be you ever so high, the law is always above you.

“The success of recent elections on Liberia could not have been foreseen just a few years ago. Nigeria’s cooperation in 2003 helped to end a deadly war in Liberia that had contributed to the destabilisation of the region. The people of Liberia have requested Nigeria’s cooperation again to bring closure to the region’s history of conflict. We urge Nigeria to promote accountability by transferring President Taylor to the democratically-elected government of Liberia.”