25th March, 2015
An international tribunal said Wednesday it had rejected a request from Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor to be allowed serve the remainder of his 50-year jail term for war crimes in an African jail.
The announcement was made by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which convicted Taylor in 2012 of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during a bloody 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone, which neighbours Liberia.
Taylor, 67, is serving his sentence at Frankland prison near Durham in northeastern England.
The former warlord has complained that his wife and daughters have been refused entry to Britain and asked to be moved to a prison in Rwanda instead.
“The motion is rejected,” a three-judge bench of the court said in a decision handed down on January 30, but only published on Wednesday.
“Prisoners do not have the right to choose their place of detention,” the tribunal added in a press release.
Other inmates convicted by the tribunal for atrocities in Sierra Leone are serving their sentences in Rwanda, but “Mr Taylor had no justification for demanding that he be treated in the same way as other prisoners from Africa, given his exceptional circumstances and the gravity of his offences,” the court said.
The judges found that his wife and daughters’ inability to visit him in jail was not due to “interference with his rights to family life.”
“Rather, this was due to their failure to provide information showing they intended to leave the UK at the end of their visit” and Taylor’s wife’s “failure to comply with the United Kingdom visa requirements.”
The judges also cited a UN Security Council resolution that said Taylor’s presence in west Africa could pose a threat to peace and security in the region.
A spokesman for Sierra Leone’s government, Abdulai Bayraytay, hailed the decision, telling AFP it was “in the best interest of justice” and a “way of combatting impunity”.
Taylor was arrested in 2006 and sentenced at The Hague in 2012 for what judges called “some of the most heinous crimes in human history”.
As president of Liberia between 1997 and 2003, he supplied guns and ammunition to Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels across the border in Sierra Leone, who were notorious for mutilations, conscripting child soldiers and taking sex slaves.
Taylor was found guilty of backing the rebels in return for “blood diamonds” mined by slave labour.
A number of famous witnesses took the stand during Taylor’s trial, including actress Mia Farrow and model Naomi Campbell.
One of the victims of the RUF’s amputation campaigns on Wednesday also welcomed the rejection of Taylor’s transfer request.
Brima Sillah, who lost an arm in an attack during an attack in the in the eastern Kailahun province in 1998 said “no one should have pity” for the ex-Liberian leader.
“Charles Taylor’s troubles are only beginning,” said Sillah, who works as a security guard in the capital Freetown. “Now he knows what it means to pay for your crimes.”