Liberia: ‘Mother of NPFL Revolution’ Denies Role In Liberia’s War But Admits Carrying A Pistol for Self Protection
MONROVIA – Agnes Reeves Taylor who prides herself as the ‘Mother of the NPFL Revolution’ which was waged by jailed former President Charles Taylor, her ex-husband, to unseat then-President Samuel K. Doe, denies all allegations of wartime torture and murder leveled against her, but admits to being given a pistol by Taylor’s militias for self-protection.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Madam Taylor made the admission in Monrovia on Monday, June 27 while speaking to journalists on her incarceration in the United Kingdom for allegedly committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and why the British Justice system dropped the case and freed her from prison.
She was arrested in London in 2017 and charged with eight counts of torture and conspiracy to commit torture as part of her husband’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which in the 1990s participated in one of Africa’s bloodiest recent civil wars.
The charges were dismissed on December 6, 2019.
The UK law that Agnes Taylor was charged under only applies to people involved in acts of torture who were “acting in an official capacity” at the time.
This means that they must have worked for the government or been members of a rebel group that had a certain kind of authority / control over the area where the alleged crimes occurred.
Agnes Taylor was charged for offenses allegedly committed in 1990 in certain areas of Nimba county.
Ultimately the judge decided that the evidence the UK prosecutors had provided the court was not enough to prove that the NPFL had the required level of authority/control in Nimba at the time of the alleged crimes, in order for Agnes Taylor to be prosecuted under that law.
I was Given A Pistol
Despite denying allegation of her involvement with the civil war, Madam Taylor admitted to carrying a pistol but questioned whether there was any law at the time that prohibited her from carrying one.
“I had a pistol, I don’t deny that. Was there a law against carrying a pistol at that time? We were in a militarized situation. I was given a pistol and I know what you’re referring to – it’s a picture of me that’s being circulated. That picture was taken by a journalist, Patrick Robert, a French journalist. That picture was taken on August 17 .”
She explained that she had gone to the Duside Hospital in Harbel, Margibi County to sympathize with some wounded people that had been evacuated from the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in Monrovia and access what needs they had in order for her to speak to the NGOs for them to provide food and medicine.
“I was advised by my bodyguard commander that because they were people that were evacuated from Monrovia, he did not know who is how because when I go around them, I’ll mingle with everybody. They thought that wearing a military uniform at that point and having a pistol serves as a disincentive for anyone to just openly try to attack me,” she explained.
I Played a Motherly Role
Madam Taylor said her role during the civil crisis at the time was purely humanitarian gestures. According to her, she ran a charity dubbed “National Emergency Relief Organization” which was distributing rice, medical supplies and also coordinated the affairs of the non-governmental organizations that came into the country at the time.
“As a wife, I did as much as I could to minimize any kind of difficulties that civilians and Liberians in general faced… I was a wife and a mother. In fact, they referred to me as the ‘Mother of the Revolution’ was not because of military role, it was because I was a mother to all,” she said.
War Crimes Court Establishment or Not?
Though being aware that war crimes are international crimes that must be prosecuted, Ms. Taylor said the establishment of a special tribunal in Liberia to hear cases relating to atrocities committed during the war is a matter that should be left to the Liberian people to decide.
She said most importantly, Liberians should be asked if they have restorative justice or retributive justice. “We have a fragile country; what would be best in the interest of peace. I will be happy with any position that Liberians would adopt,” she said.
Madam Taylor added: “I personally have no fear of a war crimes tribunal, I’m not a perpetrator of war crimes, I was not mentioned in the TRC Report and the British Police went to the archive of where all the statements were kept from the proceedings of the TRC, that included statements taken in the diaspora… There are 74,000 statements kept in the archives of the University of Georgia, they went through all those statements searching for any account of any activity that is supposed to have been perpetrated by me. Well, thanks be to God, there was not a single of any of these accounts,” she said.
“I had a pistol, I don’t deny that. Was there a law against carrying a pistol at that time? We were in a militarized situation. I was given a pistol and I know what you’re referring to – it’s a picture of me that’s being circulated. That picture was taken by a journalist, Patrick Robert, a French journalist. That picture was taken on August 17 .”– Agnes Reeves Taylor, Ex-wife of Jailed President Charles Taylor
Guilt by Association?
She 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.”
She views 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 added: “Maybe, all of Charles Taylor’s former ministers, former Ambassadors, former professional associates may just one day be picked up on frivolous charges and deemed guilty by association. This kind of precedent must not be allowed to go unchallenged. And I say to you here that these lies will not go unchallenged by me. The truth must be known and people need to see them for who they really are.
Hassan Billy and his GJRP group have manipulated 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.”