Nigeria: No impunity for Charles Taylor

'The simple departure of Charles Taylor will not bring about a just and lasting peace to Liberia,' Amnesty International said.

'The Liberian people - who like their neighbours in Sierra Leone have suffered so terribly - must see those responsible for the crimes against them held accountable.'

'Nigeria, instead of seeking to end the culture of impunity, is fostering it and in so doing perpetuating what has been a major contributing factor to years of conflict in West Africa,' the organisation added.

'Nigeria is also undermining the important contribution being made by the Special Court towards justice, reconciliation and sustained peace in Sierra Leone.

As a party to the Geneva Convention, Nigeria is under an obligation to bring those who have committed or ordered grave breaches of the Conventions to justice in its own courts, to extradite them to another country willing and able to do so or to transfer them to an international criminal court.

The human rights organisation says there must be accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all parties to the internal armed conflict in Liberia.

'There must be a full and independent investigation of the war crimes and crimes against humanity which have occurred during Liberia's conflict. Those accused of being responsible must be brought to justice,' Amnesty International concluded.

Background

The indictment made public by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 4 June 2003 accuses Charles Taylor of being among those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone's internal armed conflict. These crimes include:

  • widespread and systematic killings of civilians,
  • deliberate amputation of limbs,
  • rape and other forms of sexual violence,
  • the use of child soldiers, abduction and forced labour.

Amnesty International expressed its dismay to both President John Kufuor of Ghana after the authorities failed to arrest Charles Taylor while he was in Accra on 4 June and to President Obasanjo when he made his offer of 'asylum' on 6 July.

The organisation has also called on other states in West Africa and elsewhere to fulfil their obligations under international law and cooperate fully with the Special Court for Sierra Leone. International law requires that those who are suspected of having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and other breaches of international law be investigated and, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, prosecuted.

The Government of Nigeria is bound by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In addition, by ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Nigeria has made a commitment to ending impunity for crimes under international law.

The United Nations Secretary-General and Security Council have consistently expressed their support for the Special Court for Sierra Leone and called on all states to cooperate fully with it. The UN Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Human Rights have repeatedly said that the perpetrators of such crimes in Liberia will be held individually accountable.

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