News / Africa

Taylor Sentence Sparks Justice Debate in Liberia

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012.
x
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor listens to the judge at the opening of the sentencing judgement hearing at the court in Leidschendam, near The Hague, May 30, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Kate Thomas
DAKAR - The sentencing of former Liberian president Charles Taylor on Wednesday was heralded as an historic moment for Sierra Leone. But in neighboring Liberia, many say the justice and reconciliation process is only just beginning.  As Taylor was handed a 50-year jail term, Liberian rights groups and activists were debating whether Taylor's allies and rivals should also be subject to international justice.  

The sentencing of Charles Taylor for war crimes committed during Sierra Leone's conflict has sparked debate in the former leader's native Liberia.

Many Liberians did not follow the trial proceedings, believing that it was more relevant for Sierra Leoneans.

But others gathered around radios Wednesday as news of Taylor's 50-year jail term was read out.

The matter has sparked calls for other Liberians suspected of war crimes to be handed over to international courts.  Liberia's media have run editorials and held radio debates on the advantages and disadvantages of the idea.

Larry Tengbeh, who lives in Monrovia, is among those who think Taylor should not be the only one held responsible for war crimes. "There are a number of them roaming around in Liberia.  They need to face justice," he said.

He's talking about former rivals, and in some cases, allies of Taylor during Liberia's civil conflict, which ended in 2003, a year after Sierra Leone's.

At least five members of Taylor's wartime inner circle are still under U.N.-imposed travel bans and subject to economic sanctions.

Others had recommendations made against them by Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

But those recommendations, including one that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf should be barred from public office for funding Taylor's pre-war rebellion in Liberia, have never been implemented.

There have been calls for Prince Johnson, Taylor's former rival who came in third in last year's presidential race, to be pursued for crimes against humanity.

In 1990, Johnson was videotaped drinking from a bottle of beer while soldiers loyal to him tortured the late President Samuel Doe.

"Other warlords like Prince Johnson who led another rebel group in Liberia, face the full weight of justice too.  He must have his day in court for the killing of former President Samuel Kanyon Doe," said Tengbeh.

But Marpue Tarnue, a 35-year-old housewife, said the issue of pursuing justice should be put to rest.

"I think the people of Sierra Leone got the justice they had been looking for.  The trial is over and it is time for the two countries to put the past behind them and move forward," she said.

Some feel that during Liberia's conflict, which left 300,000 people dead, many people came away with dirty hands.

They say that everyone became a part of the system of war, and that holding individuals responsible will prevent Liberia as a whole from moving beyond the conflict.

Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee is currently leading a reconciliation initiative in Liberia, backed by President Johnson-Sirleaf. But Liberians say the process, which focuses mostly on discussion, has been slow to get off the ground.

Teddey Morris, who has been following the trial, asks how Liberian reconciliation should be defined.

"Reconciliation is about forgiving and forgetting the past.  A sentence of 50 years is not what you call reconciliation," he said.

In 2008, Liberian novelist Elma Shaw published a book called "Redemption Road."

It told the story of a Liberian girl, Bendu, who was abducted during the war and forced to marry a rebel fighter at a camp in the forest.  It is a story that speaks to thousands of Liberian women who had similar experiences.

After the war, Bendu reflects on her time in the forest.

"For Bendu, forgetting was out of the question," Shaw writes, "but remembering and doing nothing about it was even worse."

The question, for Liberians, is just what should be done.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
June 13, 2012 1:04 AM
Why it is the war court cannot prosecute Russian president or syrian president?what about north korean president?until Africa be able to stand on their own and need no voice from the west we will always be behind.We cannot acess unless there be intervention from the west.we are not capable to solve own problem?this is a shame,and it is what it is.why the rest of the rebels that were fighting in Liberia were not prosecuted?Ellen Jonhson Sirleaf,Prince Jonhson,George Borley etc,etc for killing the Liberian people?this is nonsense


by: P. Dindas from: London
June 01, 2012 9:53 AM
Dictators who put the law into their hands must dance the music. Why live Robert Mugabe who did ethnic clensing with the North Koreans between 1983- 87 in the Midlands and Matebeleland and all is documented by the Catholic Peace and Justice.
During the 2008 Presidential Election his Defence Minister M'nangagwa conducted with the state machinery a mass killing of MDC SUPPORTERS.
Just as the UN EMMISSARY WAS PACKING HER BAGS NIVI PILLAY, a well respected uncle Magura had his life terminated under state police supervision.
WHEN WILL THE UN, EU,AU AND SADC PROTECT DEFENCELESS ZIMBABWEANS? Where will this lead the country to? Does the International await to resolve acrisis management?
Please stop the murderers who continue to violate Human Rights with impunity


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City,NJ
June 01, 2012 1:41 AM
This is an in justice to the Liberian people,first of all Charles Taylor did not carry war into sierra leone,it was late Fody Sankor and the rest of RUF rebels that took war into Liberia along with Mr.Taylor.at that time,in 1990 the Liberian people was running away from Liberia,what was Fody Sankor and RUF doing in Liberia?they were fighting along side with Mr.Taylor killing the Liberian people.The people of sierra leone took war to our country.that is the true.so this is non sense.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid