2 Oct 2013

So FAR and yet so Close

Charles Taylor is the first former Head of State to be convicted for war crimes by an international criminal tribunal since Nuremberg in 1946. The Appeals Chamber upheld Mr. Taylor’s convictions on all 11 grounds of the Indictment with one minor modification, and agreed with the Trial Chamber’s decision sentencing Mr. Taylor to 50 years in prison.” – Brenda Hollis, Chief Prosecutor at the Sierra Leone Special Court in The Hague.

What’s the importance of this for rock-crawlers on small and large rocks > 5500 miles apart? What’s it got to do with me, or you? What’s the big deal about some bloke who got done in some third-world neck of the woods, for rapes, murders and slavery? Why is it anybody’s business, now that he’s behind bars for 50 years?

Well, if  you understood anything about the Rule of Law and judicial independence, it would matter to you – it would be close to you. No – you don’t you need not be a lawyer to understand any of it but you’re entitled to use that lame excuse if you want. What this landmark judgment highlighted, is the threshold at which international criminal courts will hold ‘heads of state’ to account.

If you read nothing else, this judgment emphasised that it is the effects of actions that will be held against the accused, when there are charges of ‘aiding and abetting’ various crimes against humanity. That means that it is not a defence to say, that there was no specific intention or direction of the said crimes. [I’m of course paraphrasing this into the simplest non-legal language, so it may not appear accurate to legal minds out there].

For those who can distract themselves from foraging for food, expanding their abdominal girth, and from bathing dogs etc the following will be of much importance.

  1. A proper lesson to ‘older brother’.
  2. The impact of Charles Taylor’s verdict.

Of the full judgment below, focus first on pages following 307.

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