July 26, 2012

“Even a ‘Big Man’ Must Face Justice”

Lessons from the Trial of Charles Taylor

Lessons Learned
I. Background
The Sierra Leone Armed Conflict
The Special Court for Sierra Leone
Cases before the Special Court for Sierra Leone
The Revolutionary United Front
The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
The Civil Defense Forces
Charles Taylor
The Indictment
Taylor’s Surrender
The Taylor Trial’s Move to The Hague
The Trial
Verdict and Sentencing
II. The Trial
The Indictment: A Complicated Balance
Trial Management
Taylor’s Representation by Counsel
The Courtroom Calendar and Rulings on Motions
Delay in Decision on Pleading of Joint Criminal Enterprise
Two Major Confrontations Stalled Court Proceedings
Witness Testimony: Largely Unlimited in Scope and Duration
Lengthy Presentation of Crime-Base Evidence
A Delayed Judgment
A Challenge for the Judges
The Defense
Defense Teams
Office of the Principal Defender
Witnesses and Sources
Protecting and Supporting Witnesses
Prosecution’s Provision of Funds to Potential Witnesses and Sources
III. The Trial’s Impact in Sierra Leone and Liberia
Awareness of the Taylor Trial in Sierra Leone and Liberia
Outreach and Public Affairs Section
Challenges to Disseminating Information about the Taylor Trial
Reflections on the Taylor Trial
Taylor’s Arrest Stunned Many in Sierra Leone and Liberia
The Trial’s Transfer Caused Dissent, Also Relief
Mixed Views on the Justness of Taylor’s Trial
Taylor’s Shadow Looms Large in Liberia
Reaction to the Verdict
The Taylor Trial’s Impact on Broader Justice Issues
Combating Impunity in West Africa
Mandate of the Special Court, Expectations in Affected Communities
Promoting Respect for Human Rights and the Rule of Law