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In Sierra Leone, Mixed Reaction to Taylor's Trial Transfer


Yesterday’s transfer of former Liberian president Charles Taylor to the Netherlands for trial is getting a mixed reaction in Sierra Leone. To date, Taylor has been held in Sierra Leone under the custody of a UN-backed tribunal. Some believe the jurisdiction in which Taylor is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity is where his trial should be conducted. But others say security concerns and political pressures from the international community played a part in the decision. VOA English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser discussed the situation with the Freetown director of Sierra Leone’s Campaign for Good Governance, Valnora Edwin.

“We are aware that it’s a highly political thing, and even the transfer of Taylor from Nigeria to Sierra Leone, hearing that Taylor had escaped somewhat, we know there is a lot of push from the western countries and there were even rumors here in Sierra Leone that the president of Liberia is doing all of this because she is being pressured by donor countries that if she doesn’t comply, get Taylor put on trial, she will not be funded.”

The Good Governance advocate says her campaign has close ties with the Freetown Special Court, which has custody of Taylor during his detention in Europe. She says Sierra Leoneans will be able to make use of the Court’s extensive resources to monitor day-to-day progress of the judicial proceedings and to provide input necessary for the Court to carry out its tasks.

Edwin spoke of yesterday’s transfer. “I think everybody is happy about it, but you have a lot of mixed feelings, now that he has been taken to The Hague. You have some of us, and I am part of that group, who feel he should be tried in Sierra Leone because this is why the Special Court was established. And then you have others who feel a bit relieved that he is physically not here, so that there would not be any further problems.”

Although Sierra Leone is expected to pay a lot of attention to the Taylor trial in the coming months, Valnora Edwin says Sierra Leoneans are satisfied that proceedings have begun and are eager to move on with their lives.

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