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Former Liberian President Charles Taylor Guilty of War Crimes: Justice for Whom? Justice by Whom?

On April 26, former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international law for aiding and abetting rebels from 1996-2002 in Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war. Immediately after the verdict, announced on the eve of Sierra Leone's 51st Independence Day, emotions ranged from excitement to disappointment, showing the complexity of the case.

In a special co-production by SOAS Radio and Pambazuka News, our presenter Robtel Pailey was in the Hague, interviewing Brenda Hollis and Stephen Rapp, current and former chief prosecutors of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; Courtenay Griffiths, Taylor’s defense attorney; Sharon Taylor, Taylor’s daughter; Hawa Momoh and Abu Duffae, Sierra Leoneans who witnessed the verdict with anticipation; and A. Fasu Kanneh, a Liberian resident in the Hague who worked with Taylor in 1980s Liberia. We discuss whether or not Charles Taylor’s verdict is an indication of selective justice, as argued by the defense, or a victory for international justice, as argued by the prosecution.

Our featured artist is Dezarie.

Editor: Zoe des Clayes

Producer: Robtel Pailey, with assistance from Caroline Sorbier.

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