Liberia: Visiting Canadian Legal Expert Terms Taylor’s Incarceration Unfair at African Bar Conference in Monrovia

Canadian International Legal Expert John Philpot

Monrovia – Former Liberia President Charles Taylor is currently languishing behind bars in a British Jail for 50 years after the UN-backed Special International Criminal Court of Sierra Leone sitting in the Hague convicted him of war crimes and crimes against humanity in neighboring Sierra Leone on April 26, 2012.

Barely seven years after his conviction visiting Canadian International expert John Philpot, who was in the country as one of the participants of the just-ended Africa Bar Association Conference in Monrovia from October 21-24 says Taylor’s conviction was “unfair.”

In an interview with FrontPageAfrica on the final stage of the conference on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, Philpot, who presented on the “Rule of Law”, added that Taylor’s conviction was unfair because the pieces of evidence were not enough to convict him.

“I know this because before the judgment I spoke with one of the judges (name not disclosed), who told me that the evidence was not enough to convict Taylor but there others judges within who wanted him jailed,” said Philpot. According to him, the judges conspired to convict Taylor amid limited evidence.

He added that that the ICC trial has been targeting African leaders and abandoning victims of crimes committed by America, which, according to him, “is the biggest criminal empire in the World.” 

He indicated that as Taylor was held for crimes allegedly committed in Africa, he should have been tried in Africa where the crimes were allegedly committed and not The Hague.

According to Philpot the ICC had chosen to accept evidence from organizations known as the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) which is wrong indicating that those organizations are not non-governmental because they are financed by western countries. 

On the issue of rule of law in Africa, the topic on which he had moderated on at the conference, Philpot added that rule of law is a major challenge due to the rising waves of terrorist attacks and other forms of violence on the continent.

Background to Taylor’s conviction

The ICC had indicted Taylor, who was the first African leader, to face the court in a sealed indictment on March 7, 2007 on 11 counts including, terror, rape and murder in a civil conflict staged by the Revolutionary Front of Sierra Leone led by the late Foday Sankoh, who died while in prison in Sierra Leone.  

Taylor, after a series of armed insurrections from various warring groups in his country opposing his presidency, reached a peace deal with other African leaders to relinquish power and moved to Nigeria in 2003 as part of the deal which he consented.

He was picked up in Nigeria two years later and taken to Sierra Leone but was transferred to The Hague to stand trial after the Sierra Leonean Government at the time had expressed security concern of trial because of its common border with Liberia.

During the trial, former President Taylor denied all 11-count charges leveled against him by the ICC alleging that he had nothing to do with the conflict in Sierra Leone rather his prosecution was based on his refusal to work with the United States Government, which he had a bitter relationship since his nearly six years as Liberia’s President.

“My greatest error made as President of Liberia was not to work with the United States Government and that no Government in Liberia can succeed easily without working with the United States Government,” Taylor was heard saying while on trial at the Hague.  

The former Liberian leader’s conviction for 50 years by the ICC was met with mixed reactions in Africa and that of Liberia. 

Some Africans stated his conviction was to end the act of impunity on the continent; while others said his conviction was politically motivated because he had refused to work with the West mainly the United States.