July 26, 2012

I. Background

The Sierra Leone Armed Conflict

The devastating 11-year armed conflict in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002 was characterized by extreme brutality and widespread human rights abuses against civilians. The rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the rebel Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) were responsible for systematically hacking off the limbs, noses, and lips of adults and children with machetes, and subjecting women and girls to widespread sexual violence.

While the RUF and the AFRC were responsible for the most egregious violations, government armed forces and the government-backed Civil Defense Forces (CDF) militia were also responsible for numerous abuses, including killings, torture, rape, and using child soldiers. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed and up to half of the population was displaced.

A peace process that began in 1999, though marred by ceasefire violations and continuing human rights abuses, eventually led to the end of the armed conflict in January 2002.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone

Following the end of conflict in Sierra Leone, the domestic justice system lacked the capacity to hold perpetrators of war-related crimes accountable. Prompted by a request from then-Sierra Leone President Tejan Kabbah to the United Nations, the government of Sierra Leone and the UN established the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL, or “Special Court”) in 2002 to prosecute serious crimes committed during the war based on “international standards of justice, fairness, and due process of law.”[4]

The court is the first standalone international-national war crimes tribunal—often referred to as a “hybrid” or “mixed” tribunal—that is located in the country where the crimes occurred but is not a part of a domestic justice system.[5]

The hybrid SCSL differs from earlier international war crimes or “ad hoc” tribunals—the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)—in that it includes both Sierra Leonean and international staff, rather than an entirely international staff, and its statute includes both domestic and international crimes, instead of only international crimes. [6] The seats of the ad hoc tribunals were also outside the countries in which the crimes occurred.

The Special Court has jurisdiction over “serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996.”[7] The court’s jurisdiction notably excludes crimes committed during the first five years of Sierra Leone’s armed conflict.[8] Its mandate also is limited to prosecuting those who “bear the greatest responsibility” for the crimes.[9]

The Special Court consists of three organs: the Chambers (Trial Chamber I, Trial Chamber II, and the Appeals Chamber), the Registry (including the Office of the Principal Defender, Outreach and Public Affairs, and the Witness and Victim Section), and the Office of the Prosecutor.

The court was set up to be dependent on voluntary contributions.[10] This has caused financial instability that has weighed heavily on the court; key officials have devoted extensive time to securing resources, and staff recruitment and retention has faced difficulties.[11]

Cases before the Special Court for Sierra Leone

In addition to Charles Taylor, the Special Court has indicted 12 individuals on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during the second half of the Sierra Leone conflict. The cases were grouped into three trials according to the suspects’ affiliation with the three main warring factions—the Revolutionary United Front, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council, and the Civil Defense Forces—with a fourth trial for Taylor alone. No other indictments are expected and the court is in the process of winding down its operations.[12]

The Revolutionary United Front

Five leaders of the RUF—Foday Sankoh, Sam Bockarie, Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao—were indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.[13] Sankoh and Bockarie’s indictments were withdrawn in December 2003 due to their deaths.[14] The trial of the remaining accused began in July 2004. In February 2009 the defendants were found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.[15] In October 2009, the Appeals Chamber sustained most, but not all, of the convictions, and upheld the prison sentences of 52 years for Sesay, 40 years for Kallon, and 25 years for Gbao.[16]

The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council

Four AFRC leaders—Alex Tamba Brima, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, Santigie Borbor Kanu, and Johnny Paul Koroma—were charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.[17]Koroma fled Freetown in January 2003. His case remains open, but he is widely believed to be dead.[18] The AFRC trial began in March 2005. In June 2007, Brima, Kamara, and Kanu were found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.[19] In February 2008, the Appeals Chamber upheld the convictions and sentences ranging from 45 to 50 years.[20]

The Civil Defense Forces

Three leaders of the CDF—Allieu Kondewa, Moinina Fofana, and Samuel Hinga Norman—were tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.[21] The trial started in June 2004. In February 2007 Norman died of natural causes before a judgment was issued. Fofana and Kondewa were found guilty of war crimes and Kondewa guilty of other serious violations of international law in August 2007.[22] In May 2008 the Appeals Chamber overturned part of the convictions, but also entered new convictions on some counts and increased the sentences.[23] Fofana is serving a 15-year prison sentence and Kondewa is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Charles Taylor

From 1989 to 1997 Taylor led a rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), which sought to unseat Liberia’s then-president, Samuel Doe. Forces under Taylor’s command were implicated in widespread abuses committed against civilians, including summary executions, numerous massacres, systematic rape, mutilation, torture, large-scale forced conscription, and the use of child soldiers.[24]

The conflict ended on August 2, 1997, when Taylor was sworn in as president after elections that were held under an implicit threat that he would resume the war in Liberia unless elected.[25] Taylor’s presidency, which lasted until 2003, was characterized by significant human rights violations in Liberia, including repressing civil society, journalists, and anyone deemed opposing his government.[26] By 1999, Taylor’s widespread abuses had fueled a rebellion to unseat him.

During the armed conflict in neighboring Sierra Leone, Taylor supported the RUF and the RUF/AFRC alliance, whose fighters killed, raped, and cut off the limbs of tens of thousands of people, and forcibly recruited thousands of child soldiers. Among other methods of support, Taylor traded arms to the rebels for diamonds mined in Sierra Leone, allowing the groups to continue terrorizing civilians and prompting UN sanctions and embargoes on his government.[27] Taylor was also implicated in destabilizing the wider West African sub-region, including neighboring Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.[28]

The Indictment

On March 7, 2003, the Special Court issued a sealed indictment for Taylor for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during the second half of Sierra Leone’s armed conflict.

Taylor was initially indicted on 17 counts, but an amended indictment approved in March 2006 reduced the counts to 11.[29] The underlying offenses constituting these crimes include murder, pillage, outrages upon personal dignity, cruel treatment, terrorizing civilians, mutilation, rape, enslavement, sexual slavery, and the use of child soldiers. The indictment covers a multitude of locations across Sierra Leone where crimes were committed over 5 years, involving 6 of Sierra Leone’s 13 districts.

The indictment alleges that Taylor is individually criminally responsible for these crimes based on three theories:

  • That Taylor “planned, instigated, ordered, committed or … aided and abetted” in the “planning, preparation, or execution” of the crimes.[30]
  • That he participated in a joint criminal enterprise involving the alleged crimes or in which the crimes were “a reasonably foreseeable consequence.”[31]
  • That he held a position “of superior responsibility and exercis[ed] command and control over subordinate[s]” who directly committed the atrocities, namely the RUF, AFRC, RUF/AFRC alliance, and Liberian fighters.[32]

The indictment does not allege that Taylor entered Sierra Leone during the time in question, but rather that he is responsible for the crimes “from the outside … through his participation, involvement, concerted action with and command over the criminal conduct.”[33] The indictment alleges that Taylor’s support of the RUF and later RUF/AFRC alliance took many forms, including strategic instruction, direction, and guidance; provision of arms, ammunition, and manpower; training of fighters; the creation and maintenance of a communications network; the provision of a safe haven for fighters; financial support; and medical support.[34]

Taylor’s Surrender

The surrender of Taylor was a fraught process that some people, especially within West African civil society, believed would never come.[35] The SCSL Office of the Prosecutor and many in the international and African human rights community spent nearly three years from the time the Special Court unsealed Taylor’s indictment in 2003 building support for Taylor’s surrender among Western governments, especially the United States and United Kingdom, West African governments, and members of the UN Security Council.[36]

The Special Court “unsealed” its indictment against Taylor, still president of Liberia, on June 4, 2003, while he was attending peace talks in Ghana with officials from rebel groups fighting to oust him from Liberia. The unsealing during peace talks generated controversy and criticism from African and international leaders.[37] The Ghanaian government declined to detain Taylor and lent him a presidential plane to return to Liberia.

The following month, Taylor submitted an application to the Special Court to quash his indictment and to set aside the warrant for his arrest on the grounds of sovereign immunity and extraterritoriality, while simultaneously refusing to surrender to the court.[38]

As rebel forces moved on the Liberian capital, Monrovia, in August 2003, Taylor stepped down as president and accepted an offer of safe haven in Nigeria.[39] The US, UK, African Union, and then-South African President Thabo Mbeki were among the powerful players that supported Taylor’s exit from Liberia and his move to Nigeria.[40]

On May 31, 2004, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court dismissed Taylor’s challenge to the indictment. It found that the Special Court was empowered to indict and try a head of state based on the principle “now established that the sovereign equality of states does not prevent a head of state from being prosecuted before an international criminal tribunal or court.”[41]

In May 2005 then-President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria said that he would consider supporting Taylor’s extradition to Liberia if there was evidence that Taylor had interfered in regional politics or if a duly-elected Liberian government made a formal request.[42] Six months later, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was elected as the new president of Liberia in democratic elections. Although Johnson-Sirleaf initially suggested that Taylor’s arrest was not a priority, in March 2006 she made a request to the Nigerian government that he be surrendered. She stated that her actions were “courageous but risky” and taken under significant international pressure in the face of a fragile peace and continued presence of Taylor loyalists and business interests in Liberia.[43] Multiple sources report that she was only willing to make the request on the condition that Taylor be tried outside West Africa given fears of renewed instability if Taylor was tried in the sub-region.[44]

On March 25, 2006, President Obasanjo stated that Liberia was “free to take former President Charles Taylor into its custody,” but he remained at liberty in Nigeria.[45] Within 48 hours, Taylor disappeared. Obasanjo had been scheduled to meet with US President George W. Bush in Washington, DC that week, but upon hearing of Taylor’s disappearance on March 28, White House officials reportedly suggested that Bush would cancel the meeting unless Taylor was found.[46] On March 29 Nigerian police arrested and detained Taylor near the country’s border with Cameroon. He was then sent back to Liberia, where he was taken into UN custody and transferred to the Special Court in Freetown.[47]

The Taylor Trial’s Move to The Hague

The day after Taylor surrendered, the president of the Special Court submitted requests to the Netherlands and the International Criminal Court that Taylor’s trial be relocated to The Hague, citing concerns about the stability of the West African sub-region if Taylor were tried in Freetown.[48]

The Dutch government indicated it was willing to host the trial if three conditions were met: a legal basis for the Special Court to conduct Taylor’s trial in the Netherlands was provided, an agreement for the use of appropriate facilities was secured from one of the international criminal courts based in the Netherlands, and another country agreed to accept Taylor if he faced a prison term following a conviction.[49]

The following month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) consented to the use of its facilities and the UN Security Council prepared Resolution 1688 providing the legal basis for Taylor’s transfer to The Hague.[50] Identifying a country willing to accept Taylor post-conviction was more challenging: no state initially offered. However, in June 2006 the UK agreed to provide detention facilities if Taylor was convicted.[51] Taylor was transferred to The Hague on June 30, 2006.[52]

The Trial

During Taylor’s trial the Trial Chamber heard 115 witnesses, admitted 1,522 exhibits into evidence, and issued 281 written decisions.[53] By the close of the case, there were almost 50,000 pages of trial records.[54] The court sat for 420 days over the course of 3 years and 10 months from the prosecutor’s opening statement to the closing arguments on final trial briefs.[55]

The prosecution’s case began on June 4, 2007, closed on February 27, 2009, and reopened briefly in August 2010. In total, the prosecution presented testimony from 94 witnesses who fell into three categories: 3 experts, 59 crime-base witnesses (individuals who testified to the underlying crimes committed), and 32 linkage witnesses (individuals who testified to links between Taylor and the underlying crimes). The prosecution relied heavily on “insider” witnesses—themselves often suspected of, or having admitted to, committing serious crimes—in its attempt to adequately link Taylor to the perpetration of crimes.

The defense’s case began on July 13, 2009, and closed on November 12, 2010. Twenty-one witnesses testified for the defense, including Taylor and former leaders and fighters from the RUF and NPFL. Their testimony challenged the allegations that Taylor controlled, supported, or assisted the RUF or RUF/AFRC alliance. Taylor’s examination-in-chief lasted approximately 13 weeks, an exceptionally long testimony by an accused before an international or hybrid trial.[56] Taylor’s cross-examination lasted almost nine weeks, resulting in a total of approximately six months on the stand.

Verdict and Sentencing

On April 26, 2012, Taylor was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on all 11 counts of the indictment on the theory that he aided and abetted the commission of the crimes and was therefore individually criminally responsible for them. He was also found guilty of planning attacks on the diamond-rich Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone and the town of Makeni, the economic center of northern Sierra Leone, in late 1998 and the invasion of Freetown in early 1999, during which war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed.

The judges found that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Taylor was individually criminally responsible on the theory that he held positions of superior responsibility or exercised command and control over subordinate fighters, or on the theory that he participated in a joint criminal enterprise.

On May 18, the court released the full written judgment, totaling over 2,500 pages. On May 30, Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Both prosecution and defense indicated they plan to appeal.[57] Given the judgment’s length and the complexity of the case, the court estimates the appeals process could take 15 months, with an appeal judgment expected in September 2013 at the earliest.[58]

[4] See Human Rights Watch, Bringing Justice, pp. 1, 10; United Nations, Letter from President of Sierra Leone to the Secretary-General (2000), Annex S/2000/786; United Nations, Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone (2000), Annex S/2000/915; United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1315 (2000), S/RES/1315.

[5]For a more detailed discussion of types of tribunals, see Human Rights Watch, Bringing Justice, pp. 1-2.

[6] However, the individuals tried at the Special Court have been charged exclusively with international crimes. See Special Court for Sierra Leone, Cases, http://www.sc-sl.org/CASES/tabid/71/Default.aspx (accessed May 22, 2012).

[7]Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL Statute), January 16, 2002, http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=uClnd1MJeEw%3d&tabid=176, art. 1(1).

[8]The secretary-general’s report indicated that creating jurisdiction from the beginning of the Sierra Leonean conflict in 1991 could over-burden the prosecution and the court. United Nations Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on the Establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, October 4, 2000, S/2000/915, paras. 25-26.

[9]This is in contrast to the mandates of the ad hoc tribunals, which allow prosecution of “persons responsible” for serious crimes. For a more detailed discussion of the SCSL’s limited mandate, see Human Rights Watch, Bringing Justice, pp. 2-3.

[10]According to the Special Court’s website, “The Special Court has received contributions in cash and in kind from over 40 states, representing all geographic areas of the world. Canada, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States have provided strong support. In 2004, 2011, and 2012, the Special Court has been funded by subventions from the United Nations.” See Special Court for Sierra Leone, http://www.sc-sl.org/ (accessed June 20, 2012).

[11]Human Rights Watch interview with Registry staff, Leidschendam, November 9, 2011. See also Antonio Cassese, Report on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, December 12, 2006, p. 11. For a more detailed discussion of the court’s funding scheme, see Human Rights Watch, Bringing Justice, pp. 2, 4-5.

[12] Special Court for Sierra Leone, Eighth Annual Report of the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone: June 2010 to May 2011 (“SCSL Eighth Annual Report”), http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=kK8RBeHGowQ%3d&tabid=176 (accessed May 4, 2012), pp. 5-7.

[13]Prosecutor v. Sesay, Kallon, and Gbao, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-2004-15-PT, Corrected Amended Consolidated Indictment, August 2, 2006. Sankoh, Bockarie, Sesay, and Kallon were indicted in March 2003. Gbao was indicted separately in April 2003.

[14] Foday Sankoh died in custody of natural causes in July 2003. Sam Bockarie was killed in Liberia in May 2003.

[15]Prosecutor v. Sesay, Kallon, and Gbao, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-2004-15-T, Judgment (Trial Chamber I), March 2, 2009.

[16]Prosecutor v. Sesay, Kallon, and Gbao, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-04-15-A, Judgment (Appeals Chamber), October 26, 2009.

[17]Prosecutor v. Brima, Kamara, and Kanu, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-2004-16-PT, Further Amended Consolidated Indictment, February 18, 2005. Brima and Koroma were indicted in March 2003, Kamara was indicted in May 2003, and Kanu was indicted in September 2003.

[18]Koroma was widely reported to have been killed in June 2003, but as definitive evidence of his death has never been provided, his indictment has not been officially dropped. See “War Crimes Court Probes Death Reports,” BBC News, June 16, 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2992462.stm (accessed May 2, 2012).

[19]Prosecutor v. Brima, Kamara, and Kanu, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-04-16-T, Judgment (Trial Chamber II), June 20, 2007.

[20]Prosecutor v. Brima, Kamara, and Kanu, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-2004-16-A, Judgment (Appeals Chamber), February 22, 2008.

[21]Prosecutor v. Norman, Fofana, and Kondewa, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-03-14-I, Indictment, February 4, 2004. Norman was indicted in March 2003, and Fofana and Kondewa were indicted in June 2003.

[22]Prosecutor v. Fofana and Kondewa, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-04-14-T, Judgment (Trial Chamber I), August 2, 2007. The Trial Chamber ruled that the Prosecution had not proved the necessary elements to convict on crimes against humanity. 

[23]Prosecutor v. Fofana and Kondewa, Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No. SCSL-04-14-A, Judgment (Appeals Chamber), May 28, 2008.

[24] See, for example, Human Rights Watch, LiberiaEmerging from Destruction, November 17, 1997, http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/1997/11/17/emerging-destruction; Human Rights Watch, Youth, Poverty and Blood: The Lethal Legacy of West Africa’s Regional Warriors, vol. 17, no. 5(A), March 2005, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/westafrica0405.pdf.

[25] Human Rights Watch, Emerging from Destruction. See also Helene Cooper, “Recalling Horrors in Liberia Wrought by Taylor,” New York Times, April 26, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/world/africa/recalling-horrors-in-liberia-wrought-by-taylor.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all (accessed May 2, 2012).

[26]HRW Calls on Liberian President to Cease Harassment of Civil Society,” Human Rights Watch news release, October 24, 1998, http://www.hrw.org/news/1998/10/23/hrw-calls-liberian-president-cease-harassment-civil-society; Letter from Human Rights Watch to Charles Taylor, President of Liberia, “Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders: Offices of the Centre for Democratic Empowerment Stormed,” December 12, 2000, http://www.hrw.org/news/2000/12/11/letter-liberian-president-charles-taylor-intimidation-human-rights-defenders; “Leading Liberian Rights Lawyer Tortured by Police,” Human Rights Watch news release, April 27, 2002, http://www.hrw.org/news/2002/04/26/leading-liberian-rights-lawyer-tortured-police.

[27] See United Nations Security Council, Report of the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1306, December 2000, S/2000/1195, paras. 180-193. The UN imposed an embargo on the importation of Liberian diamonds and a travel ban on Taylor, his family, and members of his government in 2001. United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1343 (2001), S/RES/1343 (2001), paras. 6-7; Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-03-1-T, Judgment Summary (Trial Chamber II), April 26, 2012.

[28] “The Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in the Mano River Union,” Human Rights Watch news release, May 22, 2002, http://www.hrw.org/news/2002/05/21/human-rights-and-humanitarian-situation-mano-river-union; “Côte d’Ivoire: Liberian Fighters Attack Civilians,” Human Rights Watch news release, April 15, 2003, http://www.hrw.org/news/2003/04/14/c-te-d-ivoire-liberian-fighters-attack-civilians.

[29] See Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-03-01-I-001, Indictment, March 7, 2003; Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-03-01-I-75, Amended Indictment, March 16, 2006. See also Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-03-01-PT, Second Amended Indictment, May 29, 2007.

[30]Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Second Amended Indictment, paras. 33-34.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33]Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-03-01-T, Prosecution Final Trial Brief, April 8, 2011, para. 48.

[34] Ibid., para. 49.

[35] Human Rights Watch interview with Tiawan Gongloe, civil society leader and former government official, Monrovia, January 10, 2012; Human Rights Watch interview with Paul James-Allen, program officer, Trocare, Monrovia, January 11, 2012; Human Rights Watch interview with John Caulker, director, Fambul Tok, Freetown, January 16, 2012; Human Rights Watch email correspondence with Ibrahim Tommy, executive director, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, Freetown, March 7, 2012.

[36] Human Rights Watch interview with Office of the Prosecutor former staff, New York, December 7, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Office of the Prosecutor former staff, New York, December 13, 2011. See also, for example, “Prosecutor Welcomes Resolution on Charles Taylor in U.S. Senate,” Special Court for Sierra Leone Office of the Prosecutor press release, May 11, 2005, http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=LNzyp3H%2fkQQ%3d&tabid=196 (accessed May 2, 2012); “Nigeria: Surrender Taylor to War Crimes Court,” Human Rights Watch news release, April 12, 2005, http://www.hrw.org/news/2005/08/11/nigeria-surrender-taylor-war-crimes-court; Letter from Human Rights Watch to Liberian President Johnson-Sirleaf, “Urging Prompt Action to Ensure Taylor’s Surrender,” January 27, 2006, http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/01/26/letter-liberian-president-johnson-sirleaf-urging-prompt-action-ensure-taylors-surren.

[37]For a more detailed discussion of reaction to the indictment, see Human Rights Watch, Selling Justice Short: Why Accountability Matters for Peace, July 7, 2009, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2009/07/07/selling-justice-short, pp. 20-22.

[38] See Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-03-01-I-059, Decision on Immunity from Jurisdiction (Appeals Chamber), May 31, 2004.

[39] The precise terms of Nigerian President Obasanjo’s offer to Taylor have never been disclosed. See Human Rights Watch, Trying Charles Taylor in The Hague, p. 15; “Nigeria Would Shield Taylor from Trial,” CNN World, July 9, 2003, http://articles.cnn.com/2003-07-09/world/liberia_1_liberian-politics-charles-taylor-nigerian-president-olusegun-obasanjo?_s=PM:WORLD (accessed May 4, 2012).

[40] Human Rights Watch, Trying Charles Taylor in The Hague, p. 15; “Background Briefing on President Bush's Visit to Nigeria,” United States Office of the Press Secretary, July 12, 2003, http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2003/07/20030712-2.html (accessed June 12, 2012); Human Rights Watch interview with Office of the Prosecutor former staff, December 7, 2011. See also “Nigeria Would Shield Taylor from Trial,” CNN World.

[41]Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Decision on Immunity from Jurisdiction (Appeals Chamber), para. 52. The exercise of this principle builds on the precedent of the Slobodan Milosevic trial, where, for the first time, a sitting head of state was indicted by an international criminal tribunal to answer for his alleged role in atrocities.

[42] Michael A. Fletcher, “Nigerian Leader Says He Won’t Turn Taylor Over for Trial,” Washington Post, May 6, 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41485-2005May6.html (accessed June 12, 2012); “Obasanjo Wants Elected Government to Handle Taylor’s Case,” This Day (Lagos), May 17, 2005.

[43] Warren Hoge, “ Liberian Seeks Extradition of Predecessor for Atrocities Trial,” New York Times, March 18, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/18/international/africa/18liberia.html?_r=1 (accessed June 12, 2012); United Nations Security Council, The Situation in Liberia, 5389th meeting, S/PV.5389, March 17, 2006, http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/resguide/scact2006.htm (accessed May 23, 2012), p. 3.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview with Office of the Prosecutor former staff, December 7, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with civil society member, The Hague, November 7, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with Office of the Prosecutor former staff, New York, December 7, 2011.

[45] “Statement by the Federal Government of Nigeria – Former President Taylor to be transferred to the custody of the Government of Liberia,” March 25, 2006, http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/gazette/2006/03/charles-taylor-transfer-statement.php (accessed December 16, 2011).

[46] “Ex-Liberian Leader’s Location Unknown,” Associated Press, March 29, 2006, http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-03-28-nigeria-taylor_x.htm (accessed May 17, 2012).

[47] In November 2005, the UN peacekeeping force in Liberia had been given authority to detain and transfer Taylor to the Special Court for prosecution if he were to enter Liberian territory. United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1638 (2005), S/RES/1638, http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_resolutions05.htm, para. 1.

[48] “Special Court President Requests Charles Taylor be Tried in The Hague,” Special Court for Sierra Leone Press Release, March 30, 2006, http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=gR%2BYCtzTfKg%3D&tabid=111 (accessed January 25, 2011).

[49] United Nations, Letter from the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the President of the Security Council, Annex S/2006/207, March 31, 2006.

[50] United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1688 (2006), S/RES/1688, http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_resolutions06.htm. The Taylor trial later relocated to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, also in the Netherlands, on May 17, 2010. “Taylor Trial to Move to STL Courtroom,” Special Court for Sierra Leone Press Release, May 13, 2010, http://www.scsl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=xw3DmArRVNA%3D&tabid=53 (accessed January 25, 2012).

[51]Britain Agrees to Imprison Taylor if Ex-Liberian Leader Is Convicted,” Online PBS Newshour, June 15, 2006, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/africa/jan-june06/taylor_06-15.html (accessed January 25, 2012).

[52] Special Court for Sierra Leone, Cases, “Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor,” http://www.scsl.org/CASES/ProsecutorvsCharlesTaylor/tabid/107/Default.aspx (accessed February 27, 2012).

[53]The Prosecutor v. Charles Ghankay Taylor, Judgment Summary, para. 8.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid. The Prosecutor’s opening statement was delivered on June 4, 2007. The trial phase officially concluded on March 11, 2011.

[56] Human Rights Watch interview with member of prosecution team, New York, September 13, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with former member of prosecution team, Washington, DC, November 2, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with member of prosecution team, Leidschendam, November 8, 2011.

[57] “Morris Anyah Named Lead Defence Counsel for Taylor Appeal,” Special Court for Sierra Leone Office of the Principal Defender press release, May 4, 2012, http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=d%2fs%2ba5HqB9Q%3d&tabid=53 (accessed May 17, 2012); “Sierra Leone: Taylor’s Appeal Judgment Due Next Year,” Heritage (Monrovia), June 13, 2012, http://allafrica.com/stories/201206130287.html (accessed June 14, 2012).

[58] Interview with Registry official, New York, June 5, 2012.