News / Africa

Ex-President Taylor Requests Government Pension

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor appears at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, January 22, 2013.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor appears at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Leidschendam, January 22, 2013.
Jennifer Lazuta
As former Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor appeals his sentence for atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war, he also is asking the Liberian government to pay his pension and give diplomatic benefits to his family.  Taylor’s request, which is being discussed by the parliament this week, has led to fierce debate among Liberians.

In a letter to the Liberian legislature, dated September 12, 2012, ex-President Taylor claimed entitlement to all the benefits afforded to former presidents under Liberian law.

The secretary of the Liberian Parliament, Nagbolor Sengbeh, read Taylor’s letter to the Senate on Tuesday.

“As a citizen of Liberia, I am entitled to have access to consular and diplomatic services, but have been denied that right. I would like to have that right observed. I speak of privileges customarily given to former members of my first family, such as diplomatic passports for the wife and children," Sengbeh read. "This is a tradition observed and respected over the years, and I hope it can be honored.”

According to Liberia’s Executive Law, all former presidents and vice presidents are to receive a pension that is equal to 50 percent of the salary of the incumbent president, as well as be provided with a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his or her life. The amount allotted for this should not be less than $25,000 per year.

Taylor served as president from 1997 until 2003, when he was forced to resign under mounting international pressure. He is widely criticized for his role in starting Liberia’s 1989 civil war and for supporting rebel forces during Sierra Leone’s civil war, which ended in 2002.

Last April, a U.N.-backed Special Court in The Hague sentenced Taylor to 50 years in jail for wartime crimes.

This controversial past has led to a debate over Taylor’s right to his pension. Daniel Diegar is a political science major at the University of Liberia. He said he believes Taylor deserves the benefits.

“While it is true he is being punished, it is still necessary that he has the benefits for his family. It doesn’t deny you of your rights. Being in prison it doesn’t deny you of any rights," Diegar noted. "It’s constitutional, so let his family benefit that.”

“Taylor was working against the legitimate government. So I strongly believe that Taylor does not reserve any benefit today, tomorrow, and it would be an advantage to make sure he does not receive any benefit because he committed huge atrocities against our people,” stated Naketah Williams.

Former president Moses Blah, who served as vice president under Taylor and took over the office when Taylor resigned, said the law is the law. “Yea, as former president of this country, he requires that. That is sure. Not even Liberia alone - other countries - the governments should take care of that person who is the former president of that country,” he added.

Lawmakers say the parliament could rule on Taylor’s pension claims as early as the end of this week.

Taylor also is appealing his conviction by the court in The Hague, and coincidentally, oral arguments are being heard this week. A decision by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court of Sierra Leone on that case is not expected until later this year.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs