Former Liberian President Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison

Former Liberian President Taylor has been sentenced by the international court in The Hague, Netherlands to 50 years in prison after being convicted of 11 counts of aiding and abetting the rebel campaign in Sierra Leone. As President Judge Richard Lussick stated, “the accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history.” (CNN, May 2012) Though Taylor was not physically on the battlefield during the civil was in Sierra Leone, he played a pivotal role as president in a neighboring who used his military capabilities to encourage the RUF rebel forces, therefore making him responsible for the subsequent bloodshed.

Pool photo by Toussaint Kluiters

The conviction and sentencing of former Liberian president Taylor marks the first was crimes conviction of a former head of state in an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II (CNN, May 2012). This is a major step in holding world leaders accountable for their actions, even if they are not physically committing crimes such as murder, torture, and rape.The fact that a former head of state has not been convicted of crimes in aiding and abetting human rights abuses since World War II is deplorable.  The global community appears to be taking world leader’s actions which influence human rights abuses more seriously; a step I sincerely feel is necessary in eliminating human rights abuses worldwide.

Taylor has vowed to appeal the conviction, claiming the United States government skewed the trial by paying off prosecutors and witnesses. Despite these claims, the likelihood of his conviction being reversed is extremely slim. Taylor shows no remorse for his involvement and claims he was acting as a peacekeeper during the bloody civil war. However, Taylor did supply the rebel army with arms and ammunition, therefore fueling the conflict in Sierra Leone.

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