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Charles Ghankay Taylor Escapes!

28 March 2006 at 20:17 | 452 views

Office of the Prosecutor


Freetown, 28 March, 2006

Urgent Statement by The Prosecutor of the Special Court - Desmond de Silva QC, on reports that the wanted war criminal Charles Taylor has absconded within or from Nigeria

Responding to reports from the Federal Government of Nigeria that Charles Taylor has disappeared from his place of former asylum in Calabar, Nigeria, the Chief Prosecutor stated:

“Today marks a step back on the road to accountability and justice. Charles Taylor is now an international fugitive. He has been indicted by an international criminal court. The President of Liberia has requested an end to his temporary asylum in Nigeria. The President of Nigeria has agreed to this. For him now to disappear, on the eve of his transfer, is an affront to justice.

As I have always stated, Charles Taylor is a threat to the peace and security of West Africa. His disappearance now from under the eye of a regional superpower only heightens that threat and puts the whole region on the highest alert.

It is now up to the Government of Nigeria, the regional leaders of West Africa and the international community to respond immediately and to take all necessary steps to ensure that Mr Taylor is located, detained and transferred to the Special Court for Sierra Leone forthwith.”

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Office of the Prosecutor
Special Court for Sierra Leone
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Brief Chronology on Efforts to Bring Charles Taylor to Justice

On 3 March 2003 the Special Court Prosecutor signed a 17-count indictment alleging war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. The indictment was confirmed by the Trial Chamber on 7 March 2003 but ordered kept under seal.

The Prosecutor unsealed the indictment on 4 June 2003, during Taylor’s first trip out of Liberia since the signing of the indictment.

On 4 August 2003 Taylor went into exile in Calabar, Nigeria.

On 31 October and 1 November 2003 Taylor’s lawyer, the late Terrence Terry, introduced a preliminary motion before the Special Court’s Appeals Chamber unsuccessfully challenging the Court’s jurisdiction to try him. The motion argued that as President of Liberia, Taylor enjoyed head of state immunity. He also argued that the Court was not an international tribunal and thus had no jurisdiction outside of Sierra Leone.

On 27 November 2003 a warrant for the arrest of Charles Taylor, issued by the Special Court was transmitted to the Government of Nigeria via the Nigerian High Commission in Freetown.

On 31 May 2004 the Appeals Chamber decided the Special Court was an international court and that a head of state does not enjoy immunity from prosecution before an international court. The motion was consequently dismissed.

On 24 February 2005 the European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution calling for Nigeria to transfer Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

On 4 May 2005 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Resolution, 421-1, calling for Nigeria to transfer Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

On 11 May 2005 the U.S. Senate passed the 4 May House Resolution by unanimous consent, joining the call for Nigeria to transfer Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

On 24 May 2005 members of the United Nations Security Council underlined the importance of ensuring that all those who have been indicted by the Court appear before it, thereby strengthening the stability of Sierra Leone and the sub-region and bringing an end to impunity.

On 30 June 2005 a coalition of up to 300 African and international civil society groups sent a declaration to the African Union (AU) demanding that Nigeria surrender Charles Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Press conferences were held in 14 countries throughout Africa announcing the declaration.

On 11 November 2005 the UN Security Council passed resolution 1638 which gave the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) the powers to detain Charles Taylor should he ever be returned to Liberia, and apprehend and transfer him to the Special Court. This resolution clearly displays the views of the UN Security Council’s that Taylor should be brought to justice at the Special Court.

On 5 March 2006 a formal request was sent to President Olusegun Obasanjo by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf requesting that former President of Liberia Charles Taylor be transferred to the custody of the Government of Liberia.

On 25 March 2006 President Olusegun Obasanjo informs President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that the Government of Liberia is free to take former President Charles Taylor into its custody.

On 26 March 2006 The Prosecutor of the Special Court called upon Nigeria to execute the warrant of arrest issued by the Special Court and which was received by Nigeria in November 2003.

On 28 March 2006 The Nigerian Government announce that Charles Taylor has disappeared from his place of temporary asylum in Calabar.

Photo: Charles Dahkpannah Ghankay Taylor, on the run.