So lots of folks have been talking about Naomi Campbell appearing at the Hague and giving testimony about Blood Diamond and former Liberian Despot Charles Taylor which was contradicted by actress Mia Farrow. Naomi because of her reputation has been the butt of lots of jokes with folks saying she’s looked crazy on the stand to Mia better watch out before she gets a phone thrown to her head courtesy of a pissed off Naomi.
With all that being said, I figured we should take a closer look as to why Naomi appeared at the Hague at all. Thats big business and from what we’ve come to understand it wasn’t trip she wanted to make due to the both the seriousness of the situation and the reputation of Charles Taylor.
What’s at stake and where can you get some more info, because once this all dies down, the horrors said to be unearthed by Charles Taylor will be unknown.. First and foremost here’s a website that can keep you updated on the trial.. http://www.charlestaylortrial.org/
Second here’s a bit of background about the Hague which is the international court where those who committed war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
Here’s abit of background to get you started..
Former warlord Charles Taylor protested his innocence on Tuesday during his first day of testimony at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.
“I, Charles Ghankay Taylor, am not guilty of all these charges. Not even a minute part of these charges. This whole case is about ‘Let’s get Taylor. Destroy him, bring him down.’ Haven’t they had their pound of flesh yet? I am not guilty of all these charges.”
Addressing the Court’s four judges, the former Liberian president looked relaxed and confident, barely pausing or hesitating as he took the court through a potted history of 20th-century West African politics. At one point, Presiding Judge Richard Lussick asked him to slow down to allow the court stenographer to keep up.
Mr Taylor is charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Although he never set foot in Sierra Leone until his 2006 arrest, the prosecution alleges that he supported, ordered and condoned atrocities – including murder, rape, amputations, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers – committed by Revolutionary United Front rebels during the country’s civil war.
During the prosecutorial phase of the trial, Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp alleged that Taylor provided the RUF with weapons in exchange for ‘mayonnaise jars’ filled with diamonds.
“There’s not one person who speaks the truth who can say I, Charles Ghankay Taylor dealt with the RUF, taking diamonds for arms. Never, ever. Whether it’s mayonnaise jars, or coffee jars, or whatever jars. It’s a lie, it’s a diabolical lie. Never.”
Arming the RUF
He admitted to providing ‘small amounts’ of weapons and ammunition to the RUF between August 1991 and May 1992, so that they would help Mr Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia secure the country’s borders against attacks. But he said it would have been impossible for him to exercise control over the events in Sierra Leone.
Taylor also admitted to negotiating with RUF rebels after being elected to Liberia’s presidency in 1997, but only at the request of other African heads of state who were trying to bring an end to Sierra Leone’s bloody civil war, he said.
“Upon being elected, jokingly, my colleagues said to me, we have a problem continuing in Sierra Leone and you are an old rebel so you know how to deal with rebels….So I laughed and said, I’m no longer a rebel but I can do what I can to help so I was placed on the committee…to help bring peace to Sierra Leone.”
Taylor’s testimony is expected to continue for at least another six weeks.
He has been held by the court since 2006 after being arrested in Nigeria where he had spent three years in enforced exile.
Trial in The Hague
The trial is being conducted by the UN-backed Sierra Leone Tribunal in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown but Taylor’s case was moved to the ICC premises in The Hague for fear that his appearance in an African courtroom could destabilise Sierra Leone and Liberia.
It’s unlikely that a verdict will be reached for at least another year.
This is the story that caught many people’s attention which then drew attention to Charles Taylor. Its the piece on his son ‘Chuckie’
“Chuckie” Taylor, the son of former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor was sentenced on Friday to 97 years in prison for mutilations and executions carried out in Liberia, in the first US prosecution for torture committed abroad.
“Chuckie” Taylor, who was born in the US as Charles McArthur Emmanuel, was convicted by a federal court in Miami for torture and conspiracy to commit torture in October last year. The son of Liberia’s former warlord Charles Taylor’s conviction marked the first use of a 1994 law allowing prosecution in the US for torture committed overseas.
Emmanuel was born in Boston and spent most of his life in Orlando. When his father seized power in Liberia in 1997, he moved to the west-African country and was made the head of the notorious Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), known in Liberia as the Demon Forces, while in his early 20s.
The widely feared Demon Forces used brutal tactics to silence Taylor’s opponents. They cut a swathe of terror across Liberia from 1997 through at least 2002, when they tortured, raped and burned people alive.
Chuckie headed the camp where his forces kept prisoners in water-filled pits covered with iron bars and barbed wire. He personally brutalised seven prisoners by pressing hot irons on their flesh, shocking them and shovelling stinging ants on one naked victim who was forced into a dirt pit.
Chuckie claims to be innocent and said his torture case is a politically motivated attempt to make him pay “for being the son of Taylor.”
Chuckie’s father, Charles Taylor senior, is currently on trial at the special UN-backed court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, on war crimes charges of orchestrating violence in Sierra Leone’s bloody civil war. Emmanuel’s crimes took place between 1999 and 2002 in Liberia, with the objective to intimidate and silence his father’s opponents by any means necessary.
After years of war, Liberia has not tried cases involving serious crimes and no international tribunal is mandated to prosecute past crimes in Liberia. Even Charles Taylor is merely accused of crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Chuckie’s case is the first criminal case dealing with Liberia’s brutal past.
Dealing with Liberia’s haunting past
Liberia is recovering from years of conflict that saw horrific human rights violations. Arbitrary killings, use of child soldiers, rape and sexual violence, separation of families and looting and destruction of properties have scarred the west-African country. Out of a population of 3 million, an estimated 300,000 Liberians were killed, with as many as 1.5 million displaced.
The only mechanism in place to confront these dark pages of Liberia’s past, is a a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC, which is currently wrapping up its work, investigates the gross human rights abuses committed after the country descended into violence in 1979.
Most Liberians welcomed the TRC when it started public hearings on Liberia’s fractious past in January 2008. Many thought it was the best opportunity for Liberians to come to terms with the massacres, rapes and torture which are still haunting them. But instead, the TRC leaves many Liberians frustrated as the hearings are often the arena in which denial resonates loudest.