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Liberia
31.10.08
Urgent Interventions

Milestone verdict for torture victims

Geneva, 31 October 2008. The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) welcomes the guilty verdict delivered by a United States (US) jury on 30 October 2008 against Mr. Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr., son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Mr. Taylor Jr. was indicted for torture and conspiracy to commit torture in Liberia between 1997 and 2003, while he headed Liberia’s notorious Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) during his father’s presidency.

The jury in the trial, which has been taking place at US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami, since 29 September 2008, found the defendant guilty on all counts. “For the victims, this verdict provides hope that the crimes they have suffered will not go unpunished”, says Mr. Eric Sottas, OMCT Secretary General. Mr. Chuckie Taylor is reportedly due to be sentenced in January 2009.

It is also the first conviction for the act of torture under the US Federal Extraterritorial Torture Statute, which makes it a crime for US citizens or anyone present in the US, regardless of whether they are a US citizen, to commit torture abroad, or to attempt or conspire to commit torture abroad. This statute was passed in 1994 to implement US obligations as a state party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. As underlined by Mr. Sottas, “this verdict sends a clear message to those who believe that they can get away with serious human rights violations.”

OMCT considers that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia has a significant role to play in addressing past human rights violations, but it is crucial that alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law are investigated and prosecuted in accordance with international law and standards.

Contacts

OMCT: Eric Sottas: +41 22 809 49 39

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