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Charles Taylor verdict

April 30, 2012

The conviction of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), of crimes against humanity and war crimes including acts of terrorism, murder, sexual violence and the use of child soldiers, is welcomed by Australia.

On 26 April the SCSL found that while Taylor was President of Liberia, he aided, abetted and planned brutal crimes committed by Revolutionary United Front and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council rebels in return for ‘blood diamonds’ during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

Those harmed by Taylor’s evil acts waited a long time for justice to be delivered.

Taylor’s conviction is another important milestone on their journey to recovery and the long-term peace and stability of Sierra Leone.

Charles Taylor has the dubious honour of being the first Head of State to be convicted by an international tribunal since Karl Dönitz, who succeeded Hitler as Head of State in the final weeks of World War II.

For this reason, the verdict is also a milestone in the international community’s march towards ending impunity for serious international crimes.

The verdict handed down against Taylor is proof that an ever increasing number of States, including Australia, are committed to ensuring that no one, no matter their title, can run from justice.

The SCSL was the first hybrid international tribunal, established after the then-President of Sierra Leone wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to ask the UN to set up ‘a special court for Sierra Leone’.

The Court is funded by voluntary donations from States, including Australia, which has contributed over $2 million to the Court. Taylor is the ninth person to have been tried and convicted by the SCSL as bearing the most responsibility for crimes committed during the war.

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