‘My Sister Did Not Deserve to Be Treated This Way’: Agnes Taylor’s Sister on Release
London – Ms. Laurice Reeves Bryant, sister of Ms. Agnes Reeves Taylor, wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor says she is relieved that the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom has released her sister, from prison.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica shortly after the court ruling Friday, Ms. Reeves said: “I’m extremely satisfied with the ruling of the UK Supreme Court. Considering that my sister had never been charged by the Liberian government nor was she ever listed as one of those to be held accountable for human rights violations during the civil war.”
Reeves-Taylor, 54, was charged in 2017 with conspiracy to commit torture by allegedly facilitating the rape of captive women by soldiers in Charles Taylor’s forces (National Patriotic Front of Liberia). It was further alleged that three of the torture allegations related to inflicting “severe pain or suffering”, including assaults on a 13-year-old boy.
“I’m extremely satisfied with the ruling of the UK Supreme Court. Considering that my sister had never been charged by the Liberian government nor was she ever listed as one of those to be held accountable for human rights violations during the civil war.”Laurice Reeves-Bryant
The UK Court had also heard that one allegation of torture related to a “pastor’s wife” who had resisted being raped by one of Charles Taylor’s commanders. Mr. Justice Sweeney said the evidence of that allegation was that Ms. Reeves-Taylor “ordered that the woman be tied [in a manner that caused pain amounting to torture]… The defendant then shot and killed the woman’s two young children, saying ‘See if you refuse an order this will happen’.”
All of the charges were denied by Mrs. Reeves Taylor. The university lecturer, from Dagenham in east London, denied wrongdoing and was due to stand trial in January. But after a technical appeal, judge Mr. Justice Sweeney dismissed all charges.
In his ruling, Mr. Justice Sweeney said: “I have asked myself in relation to each count whether there is sufficient evidence taken at its reasonable height upon which a jury could properly conclude that at the time and location of each offence, the NPFL [Charles Taylor’s forces] was exercising governmental function in the relevant area. In my view the answer in each instance is clearly in the negative.”
Mr. Sweeney said this was due to the lack of evidence that the Taylor regime had governmental control over the areas where Ms. Taylor’s alleged crimes happened.
Ms. Reeves-Taylor was due to face a trial for torture and conspiracy to torture relating to events alleged to have taken place in 1990, during Liberia’s bloody civil war.
Up to 250,000 people are believed to have been killed during civil conflict between 1989 and 2003.
Ms. Reeves-Taylor’s former husband, was president from 1997 to 2003 and is currently serving a life sentence for war crimes in Sierra Leone.
Mr. Justice Sweeney ruled that the case against Taylor’s former wife could no longer continue.
The unusual ruling was not a finding that she was not guilty – only that the case could no longer continue to a verdict.
Ms. Reeves-Taylor has lived in the UK since 1998 but her future is now uncertain.
While she is legally resident having claimed asylum, her application to settle 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. Her appeal against that decision remains outstanding.
Liberian Government Did Nothing
On Friday, her sister, Laurice Reeves-Byrant told FrontPageAfrica that she was elated, and threw pointed jabs at both the Swiss Based Civictas Maxima, which helped bring charges against her sister and the Liberian government for standing by and allowing one of its citizens to go through such a trying ordeal.
Said Reeves-Bryant: “This case was based on poor evidence by CIVICTAS MAXIMA and its subsidiary Global Justice and Research Project(GJRP), the court relied on the evidence to incarcerate my sister on Human Rights violations under extreme conditions for two and a half years.”
She said the court is now filing the papers now to immediately released her sister from prison. “So, she should be home sometime today. It is an example for others to follow that you cannot based your case on mere allegations without investigating. If the UK war crimes squad had investigated the claims, they would have found that it was not true. Instead, they relied on Civictas Maxima to bring forward a case that was no investigated. I hope the UK police can do a better job and not repeat this next time.”
Said Reeves Taylor: “I’m very pleased how the court handled the matter, they found that the case had no magnitude and the evidence was flawed. We are satisfied and glad that she is now freed and reunited with her family. We would also like to thank all those who supported my family on this ordeal, I also like to ask the Liberian government in the future do a better job of looking after its citizens, especially a citizen has not been charged for any crimes.”
She said the Liberian government should have intervened in the beginning. “I am disappointed that the government did absolutely nothing to help her. The matter should never have gone this far. If the UK police and War Crimes Squad had investigated, we would not be here today. I’m glad that the court has seen the light and that Liberian government will learn from this. I’m going to pick her up and bring her home. From there, we would decide as a family what to do next. I’ve fought long and hard to do this to an end. My sister did not deserve to be treated this way.”