If former Liberian leader Charles Taylor is convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, there’s a good chance he would serve his sentence in a Swedish prison. That’s because, this week, the Swedish parliament passed a law making it possible for him to serve time there. However, no formal decision by the Swedish government has been announced yet. Many countries had rejected requests to accept Taylor, as did Sweden prior to passing the new law.
David Crane is the former chief prosecutor at the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and the man who signed Charles Taylor’s indictment. In Washington, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the new Swedish law.
“The Swedes have been great supporters of international criminal law both at The Hague, as well as in West Africa. I had a great relationship with their foreign office and their justice ministry.”
Immigration and domestic laws have played a role in many countries rejecting a request to imprison Taylor should he be convicted. But does politics also play a role? Crane says, “It’s both of those situations…certainly in any of these situations politics does play a role…so, it’s a matter of politics, practicality and the law."
As for the likelihood that Taylor will be both tried and possibly imprisoned outside of Africa, Crane says, “The key is to seek justice for the people of West Africa and to have fair trial and to look all the facts. And should he be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to have him incarcerated in a place that is safe and that he can also be protected… It’s both sides of the coin… again we want to show that the law is fair…I have a personal feeling that it would be nice to see him tried in West Africa…the law has brought down the most powerful warlord in Africa and humbled him before the law. And I think that is a great signal to the people of Africa that their lives matter.”