Liberia: Agnes Taylor Sues War Crimes Court Advocates for Wrongful Prosecution Despite “Evidence of Torture” against Her
MONROVIA – Ms. Agnes Reeves Taylor, ex-wife of jailed President Charles Taylor, has filed for action for damages for malicious prosecution and action for wrong against Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), represented by Mr. Hassan Bility and Civitas Maxima (CM), based in Geneva, Switzerland.
On 2 June 2017, she was arrested in London by the Metropolitan Police and charged with torture on the grounds of her suspected involvement with the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NFPL) rebel group, which was led by her ex-husband, during the First Liberian Civil War, from 1989 to 1996.
As the second Liberian civil war broke out in 1999, Agnes Reeves Taylor was appointed by Charles Taylor to serve as Permanent Representative of Liberia to the International Maritime Organization, which headquarters in London, from 1999 to 2005.
In 2007 she claimed asylum in the UK, while she was still on UN travel ban list, which was updated to include her location as being in the United Kingdom. She was removed from the travel ban list in 2012.
She settled in the UK, where she worked as a lecturer at the London School of Commerce and Coventry University.
In 2017, she was charged with seven counts of torture allegedly committed in Gbarnga, in northern Liberia, and in Gborplay, in north-eastern Liberia. The torture charges were brought under section 134(1) of the UK Criminal Justice Act 1988. She was also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit torture between 23 December 1989 and 1 January 1991, under section 1(1) of the UK Criminal Law Act 1977.
Her residence in the UK allowed the UK authorities to arrest and charge her, based on universal jurisdiction laws, with the crimes she allegedly committed in Liberia.
She filed the suit before the Civil Law Court in Monrovia for damages for malicious prosecution/wrong, accusing the institutions, along with Bility and Werner of allegedly conniving and inflicting untold suffering and pains against her.
She is asking the civil law court to hold the pair and their institutions to pay over US$1 million for their alleged false accounts which led the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom to prosecute her for alleged torture charges, though the U.K. court systems later dismissed the charges against her.
Despite her claims, the Central British Court, according to court documents available to FrontPageAfrica, did not release Dr. Taylor based on her innocence of the allegations brought against her by Mr. Bility’s GJRP and Civitas Maxima.
On 6 December 2019 the Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey) in London decided to dismiss the charges against Agnes Reeves Taylor. The Court’s decision came after the UK Supreme Court confirmed, in a historic judgment on 13 November 2019, that members of non-State armed groups may be prosecuted for crimes of torture under section 134(1) of the UK Criminal Justice Act 1988, thus legally paving the way for the case against Agnes Reeves Taylor to proceed to trial. However, after rendering its judgment, the UK Supreme Court sent the case back to the Central Criminal Court to consider further evidence from the prosecution’s expert and apply the legal standard confirmed by the Supreme Court to the facts of the case.
In order for a member of a non-State armed group to be prosecuted for torture, the group must have been exercising “governmental functions”. The Central Criminal Court ruled that the evidence presented by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to prove that the NPFL had the requisite authority over the relevant territory at the time the crimes in question were committed. Therefore, the Court dismissed the case. However, in its decision, the Court noted that “there is prima facie evidence that she held a high rank in the NPFL and carried out, whether personally, or by giving orders, or by acquiescing in, the acts of torture which took place in, or on the border of, Nimba County.” Thus, Reeves Taylor was not found innocent.
Civitas Maxima and the Monrovia-based Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) provided the initial information to the UK authorities which led the Metropolitan Police to conduct an investigation into Agnes Reeves Taylor for several years. UK law allows the CPS in these circumstances to return to court if further evidence of government-like control is gathered. It remains to be seen if CPS will do this.
Seven months after the dismissal of her case, Agnes Reeves Taylor returned to Liberia. Although she had claimed asylum in the UK, her application to settle there permanently was refused under a Home Office rule that there were serious reasons to consider that she had, amongst other things, committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity.