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Taylor in Custody


Charles Taylor, Liberia's former president, is now in Sierra Leone to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. He had been indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The court was set up jointly by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations. Charles Taylor stands accused by the prosecutor of “bearing the greatest responsibility” for the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone during its civil war.

Since 2003, Mr. Taylor had been living in exile in Nigeria. Nigerian authorities had agreed to transfer him to Liberia at the request of Liberia's new president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The United Nations mission in Liberia had previously been authorized to transfer him to the Special Court should he return to Liberia. But Charles Taylor attempted to flee from his refuge in Nigeria. He was arrested by Nigerian authorities at Nigeria's border with Cameroon, transferred to Liberia and further transferred to the Special Court.

Nigeria's president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was in Washington, D.C., where he was thanked by President George W. Bush:

"I appreciate the decision he made regarding Charles Taylor. The fact that Charles Taylor will be brought to a court of law will help Liberia, and is a signal, Mr. President, of your desire to have peace in your neighborhood."

Charles Taylor was elected president in 1997, following Liberia's seven-year civil war. The war claimed the lives of more than two-hundred-thousand Liberians and displaced a million others. During Charles Taylor's presidency, the economic situation deteriorated in Liberia. Unemployment and illiteracy were more than seventy-five percent, and little investment was made in the country's infrastructure. Rather than working to improve life for Liberians, Mr. Taylor supported rebels of the Revolutionary United Front, who terrorized the civilian population in neighboring Sierra Leone and in Liberia itself. According to news reports, Charles Taylor traded Liberia’s natural resources, such as diamonds, for weapons and cash. The weapons were in turn used to kill thousands of men, women, and children in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, Charles Taylor "is through raping and pillaging. And," she says, "the Liberian people are trying to look forward and. . . .we owe it to them to look forward, not backward."

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

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