As the transfer of Liberia's former president to face trial in The Hague remains stalled, the EU ministerial meeting this week with the Economic Community of West African States could not be more timely.
Six weeks earlier, many governments cheered as Charles Taylor was surrendered to the UN-backed court for Sierra Leone. As the principal backer of Sierra Leone's main rebel group, he is charged with the worst kinds of atrocities committed during the 11-year conflict, including amputations, rape and murder.
The court requested that his trial be moved on the grounds that holding it in Sierra Leone could pose security risks to the region. The Dutch government agreed to host Taylor's trial in The Hague, but insists that Taylor does not remain in the country after the trial. This means a third country must agree to take him if convicted.
Liberia's new President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said that she took a risky step under enormous international pressure when she requested Nigeria to surrender Taylor, which was the prerequisite set by the Nigerian government. Taylor supporters are still active in Liberia, some in government positions, and Liberia remains fragile. Johnson-Sirleaf has strongly supported transferring Taylor's trial out of west Africa.
Despite the significant security concerns that prompted the request to relocate Taylor's trial, no state has offered to take Taylor if he is convicted. Among EU member states, Austria, Denmark, Sweden have cited legal and other obstacles to helping out.
In the international push for Taylor's surrender, EU members were in the front seat. EU members in the UN Security Council - Denmark, France, Greece and the UK - unanimously supported Johnson-Sirleaf's request for Taylor's surrender when she briefed the Security Council on 17 March. But today, where are the EU member states willing to step forward to take Taylor if convicted?
Offering jail cells to convicted war criminals is obviously one of the less appealing ways a state can support international justice. Yet this is a reality that states increasingly face with international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court.
This is no time for the EU to turn its back on western Africa. If no individual country offers to take Taylor if convicted, the EU as a whole should step into the breach so that the transfer is not postponed any longer. The EU could - and should - make a collective commitment that one of its member states will ultimately take Taylor if convicted.
Moving Taylor's trial out of west Africa has real drawbacks. The Sierra Leone war crimes court and its donors will have to redouble their efforts on outreach to ensure that the proceedings in The Hague are accessible to the communities in Sierra Leone most affected by the crimes.
If the EU is serious about supporting peace and stability in west Africa, member states can no longer make excuses about where Taylor should serve his sentence if convicted. They should be lining up to ensure that if he is convicted, there will be a prison cell available.
Elise Keppler is counsel for the international justice programme at Human Rights Watch.