MONROVIA – The founder and Director of the the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), Hassan Bility has termed as ‘a lie’ claims made by Ms. Agnes Reeves Taylor, ex-wife of the jailed former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
Ms. Reeves-Taylor returned to Liberia in July, seven months after her release from a UK prison where she spent over two years for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. Taylor was freed in December 2019 after an Old Bailey judge dismissed a series of torture charges against her, relating to offenses allegedly committed during the Liberian civil war in 1990.
At the end of her trial, the judge said Madam Taylor could not be charged with torture as a crime against humanity or a war crime because the alleged offences took place in 1990 – before the relevant sections of the International Criminal Court Act were introduced in 1991.
Addressing a press conference upon her arrival in Monrovia, Ms. Taylor described lead war crimes court advocate Hassan Bility and Civitas Maxima and its subsidiary GJRP as being on the “rampage with venom and will do anything to keep their funding coming.”
Mr. Bility is a Liberian journalist, and the founder and Director of the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), a non-governmental organization dedicated to the documentation of wartime atrocities in Liberia and to assisting victims in their pursuit of justice for these crimes.
She siad the allegations levelled against her and her subsequent incarceration pending trial was “guilt by association.
“Guilt by association appears to be the locus in cases related to Liberia. This poses a threat to anyone of any significance who dares travel or live in a western country,” she stated.
She also accused Mr. Bility and his GJRP group of manipulating western countries to believe that he is a renowned journalist and human rights, activist.
“I beg to differ. When did he become a renowned journalist? There have been many renowned journalists over the years and some of you are here today. This erstwhile individual claiming to be a renowned Liberian Journalist is nothing but a, fraud, Bounty Hunter, and mercenary. He has no conscience or moral compass.”
However, responding to Ms. Reeves Taylor in a press conference held in Monrovia on Thursday, Mr. Bility termed those allegations as “outrageously ridiculous.”
“Ms. Agnes Reeves Taylor’s assertion that she was arrested before British authorities began their investigation of her alleged crimes was a lie. Outrageously ridiculous,” he debunked.
Speaking further, he said Ms. Taylor’s claims that the GJRP fabricated evidence against her was untrue, adding the investigation started in 2013, four years to her arrest.
The case, he adds was not dismissed because of no evidence as claimed by Taylor.
The court did not say that there was no evidence. The evidence did not reach the courtroom. The judge did not get to hear the witnesses speak in court.”
“We are not saying [you are] guilty but when you want to provide misinformation as it obtains, then we will be under professional and ethical obligation to make the corrections for you.”
Mr. Bility was speaking a day after nine human rights organizations alarmed threats against human rights defenders who, for many years, have been fighting for justice alongside victims of Liberia’s civil wars.
The group said they included multiple threatening phone calls to GJRP staff, including the director, Hassan Bility, as well as against witnesses of her alleged crimes. Several witnesses have said that people claiming to be Reeves Taylor supporters have threatened their lives — including in person.
In a joint statement release on Wednesday, August 5, the groups called on the Government of Liberia to ensure that human rights defenders in Liberia are protected from harassment and threats by individuals within the Government security services.
Speaking on Thursday, Bility reiterated the call but said they will never be deterred in their pursuit for justice.