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Liberia Asks For Former President


On a visit to Washington, D.C., Liberia's new president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said her government has asked Nigeria to extradite former Liberian president Charles Taylor. She says it is important to bring him to justice:

"It is a known fact that Mr. Taylor continues to have people operating in our country, that he does, in fact, have business operations in our country. The longer we wait for this matter to have closure, the more difficult it will be for us to move forward as a nation and a people."

Since 2003, Charles Taylor has been in exile. During his six years in office, security forces killed many Liberians and, according to a U.S. State Department human rights report, were responsible for the "disappearances of numerous persons. Security forces tortured, beat, and otherwise abused or humiliated citizens."

During the same period, there was little economic investment in Liberia. Rather than working to improve life for Liberians, Mr. Taylor supported rebels who terrorized the civilian population in neighboring Sierra Leone. According to news reports, Mr. Taylor traded weapons for natural resources such as diamonds. The rebels he supported killed thousands of men, women, and children in Sierra Leone. In June 2004, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is a hybrid UN and Sierra Leone tribunal, indicted Charles Taylor for war crimes.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli says bringing Charles Taylor to justice is "a goal we all share":

"We've made it clear that we believe that Charles Taylor should answer for his crimes. . . .We look to Liberia and Nigeria to work together to resolve this issue. We have been, and will continue to be, supportive of their efforts."

"This isn't a question of pressure," says State Department spokesman Ereli. "This is," he says, "a question of the victims of Taylor's crimes. . . .wanting to see justice done."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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