Charles Taylor who waged a war in Liberia and ended up becoming the president was forced out of the office and later tried and convicted for his role in the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
(African Stand) — Former Liberian president Charles Taylor will remain in a UK prison, an UN-backed court that tried him has said.
Taylor, who waged a war in Liberia and ended up becoming its president, was forced out of the office and later tried and convicted for his role in the conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone.
He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2012 and sentenced to 50 years in jail.
But the former Liberian president has always wanted to serve his term in Africa, a request that has been declined on security grounds.
He launched his latest bid on grounds of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone, which tried him, has since been replaced with the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL), whose mandate it is to monitor the progress of the detention of convicts.
The RSCSL is presided by alternating judges.
The Designate Duty Judge, Justice Teresa Doherty, passed her judgment on the matter on Friday, September 4, according to court documents seen on Wednesday.
In a 26-page ruling submitted to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the judge said Taylor’s application for temporary relocation to a “safe third country” was vague, noting that his claims that the HMS Frankland prison facility was overcrowded and therefore poses risk to his safety were inconsistent with what the prison authorities said.
“There is no imminent danger to Mr. Taylor’s detention at HMP Frankland arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. UK prison authorities and the RSCSL have upheld their obligations in the UK Enforcement of Sentence Agreement to ensure that Mr. Taylor’s detention complies with relevant health and human rights standards during the Covid-19 pandemic,” judge Doherty said.
The Sierra Leone civil war, which lasted for 11 years and claimed over 50, 000 lives, was characteristically brutal in its nature. The Revolutionary United Front rebels who waged the war had support from a warlord and later president Taylor.
Taylor, 72, was convicted for 11 counts, including aiding and abetting the rebels.
Taylor’s Gambian defense lawyer, Essa Faal, argued that his client’s old age made him a high-risk person for Covid-19, in one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
“Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020, a substantial number of inmates in prisons and detention centres across the United Kingdom are reported to have contracted the disease and people in overcrowded areas and older persons are among the highest and most vulnerable categories to the disease,” the defence said in their application.
They also cited overcrowding in prison, without social distancing.
The judge dismissed all these assertions, noting that the defence’s failure to identify the third country he wanted to be relocated to also weighed against him.
The prosecution argued that Taylor is safer in the UK prison than anywhere else.
“Taylor is rather trying to capitalise on the moment basing his strategy on highly speculative non-fact scenarios and an over-stretched notion of the right to protection of life obligations on authorities, to explore possibilities for a selfish gain,” the prosecutor was quoted saying.
In 2013, Taylor made a failed bid to be relocated to Rwanda, where all the convicts from the Sierra Leone trial, are serving their terms.