Sources in Monrovia say Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will issue an executive order sometime this week to freeze the assets of former President Charles Taylor, his immediate family and associates.
The U.N. Security Council imposed the assets freeze and a travel ban in 2004 because then President Taylor and his associates were interfering with the efforts to bring peace to Liberia. Taylor is currently on trial in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In a unanimous resolution over the weekend, the Security Council called on the Sirleaf government to continue to make all efforts to enforce the assets freeze.
Among those whose assets would be frozen is Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, former wife of Ex-President Charles Taylor. She told VOA she will sue the Liberian government if President Sirleaf goes ahead to issue an Executive Order.
“This is a rumor that started in 2006 when she became president. There were indications then that they might be considering an executive order to freeze the assets of persons on the assets freeze list. And this was vehemently opposed by civil society, and I think some members on the assets freeze list had taken the government to court at that time. And it was stated through the court process that no one can arbitrarily freeze peoples’ accounts without due process. I don’t think this is going to work because if something like that happens, we’ll definitely take the government to court because it is against our constitutional requirement,” she said.
Taylor hoped President Sirleaf would not go against her own promise to uphold the rule of law in Liberia.
The former first lady said President Sirleaf should go through the national legislature to create a new law that would enable her to implement any assets freeze.
“Either the laws are enforced or you create a new law to give everyone their day in court. And I think Jewel Howard Taylor as an individual has been charged with ongoing ties with Charles Taylor. Let me say in this public manner, because I know others will be listening, that I do have two children that belong to Charles Taylor. Those children have to have access to their father; he has to speak to them, and I am not going to cut them from their father because I’m on the assets freeze list. If the government intends to freeze assets that I might or might not have it will have to go through a due process out of which I will be declared innocent. Anything outside this would be unconstitutional, and we will take them to court,” Taylor said.
She said whatever executive powers the president of Liberia might have should not contravene the constitution.
Taylor said she is legally divorced from former President Taylor and does not understand why her name is still on the U.N. travel ban list.
Besides the former Liberian first lady, others on the U.N. travel ban and assets freeze list include former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Edwin Snowe, former chairman of Taylor’s National Patriotic Party, Chief Cyril Allen, and former Commissioner of Maritime Affairs of Liberia Benoni Urey.
Former First Lady Taylor also played down reports of a movement to impeach her as senior senator from Bong County.
“I’ve been hearing on the radio and reading in the newspapers that a few people from the county have set out to start a process of impeachment. But I would like to say that our laws do not provide for the impeachment of any senator or any representative for that matter. A sitting senator can be removed for proven cause as for the court of conduct or if she or he does something against the Liberian Senate. And that is not the case here, Taylor said.
She said the efforts to impeach her are politically motivated because she had recently been talking about corruption issues in Bong County.
“If you want to say that Jewel Howard Taylor can be removed from her seat only because she speaks about corruption in the county and the county development funds, then it’s a sad day. But I don’t think this is something that has any bearing on the work that I continue to do for the people of the county. So I’d like to say it is purely politically motivate. I’m a prominent member of the Liberian Senate, I’m a hardworking representative of the people of Bong County, and I think I continue to enjoy their confidence,” Taylor said.