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Link - Taylor Implicates Colleagues in War Crimes

August 26, 2003

The Nigeria Coalition on International Criminal Court (NCICC) is a coalition of more than 40 Non Governmental Organisations and many stakeholders in Nigeria. The aim of the coalition among other things is to advocate on the issue of ICC and generally on International Justice Mechanism. As part of the International Justice Mechanism programme of the coalition, NCICC is interested in legal action in bringing Charles Taylor to Justice in Nigeria.

The coalition has observed over the years the atrocities committed by Charles Taylor during his reign in Liberia. Since the last fourteen years, the country has lost close to half a million people. More than this figure has been maimed and others have been subject to ethnic bigotry and disorganised lives due to unending cycle of wars.

The coalition has also noticed with concern the death of Nigerian soldiers during the ECOMOG mission to Liberia and most importantly the death of two Nigerian Journalists Kris Imodibie of the Guardian Newspaper and Tayo Awotunsi of the Champion Newspaper. The coalition wants to believe that as the Minster of Justice you have a responsibility to protect Nigerians and get justice for the families of the murdered Nigerians especially the above mentioned journalists.

Since 1999 when the Guinea-based Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) lunched attacks on Taylor's government, innocent Liberians have been brutalised and killed. It has been reported and documented that these atrocities have turned Liberia to a country where wickedness was law and mercy an aberration.

The coalition is seriously concerned about the asylum offered to Charles Taylor. Our investigation revealed that the absence of an asylum clause in the constitution has cast doubt on the legality of this arrangement. We believe that this asylum is an arrangement between the President and Charles Taylor and does not have the overwhelming support of the Nigerian people. We also believe that the asylum does not confer immunity on Charles Taylor from prosecution.

Our coalition also notes the indictment of Charles Taylor by the Special Court in Sierra Leone and a warrant of arrest issued for this purpose. If we harbour indicted war criminal and protect them from prosecution, we are violating international norm and negating our obligation to the international community.

The Legal Action and Point of Argument:

The coalition notes the government's persistent stance that it will not be harassed or compelled to extradite Charles Taylor. We are equally aware that extradition has to be through mutual agreement between the contracting parties. It must be stated that the popular argument in International law is that no municipal law or any other law should be used to shield an indictee from justice or as an excuse to entrench impunity.

We are aware that the Nigeria Government has ratified the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 in 1969 and the additional protocol I and II of 1977 in 1988. The Nigerian government has equally domesticated the Geneva Convention as Geneva Convention Act. Cap 162 of Laws of the Federation 1990. It follows logically that Nigeria has an obligation under the Geneva Convention to uphold the provisions.

The Geneva Convention of 1949 ensures that civilians should be protected from all forms of brutality during wars. Under article 3 of the convention it states: "in the case of armed conflict not of international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties..........

(1) Person taking no active part in the hostilities.....shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of execution without previous judgment pronounced by regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

The above offences have been reported and documented to have occurred in Liberia during the reign of Charles Taylor.

We are actually empowered by the Geneva Convention Act. Cap. 162 of Laws of the Federation 1990 to bring Charles Taylor to Justice. Under section 3 of that Act, it states:

(1 ) " If , whether in or outside the Federal Republic of Nigeria, any person, whatever his nationality, commits, or aids, abets or procures any other person to commit any such grave breach of any of the convention as is referred to in the articles of the Conventions set out in the First Schedule to this act, .... He shall , on conviction thereof - ...." be sentenced

(2) "A person may be proceeded against, tried and sentenced in the Federal Capital for an offence under this section committed outside Nigeria as if the offence had been committed in the Federal Capital, and the offence shall, for all purposes incidental to or consequential on the trial or punishment thereof, be deemed to have been committed in the Federal Capital".

In line with the above point of law, the coalition hereby implores you to discharge your constitutional duty under section 11(1) of the same act which states " Proceedings for an offence under this Act or under an order made under this Act shall not be instituted except by or on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation". We also note the provision under section 12 of the same Act, which stipulates that the Act shall apply throughout Nigeria.

We hope that with the above information, you will be able to use your good offices to start legal proceeding to bring Charles Taylor to justice. We equally hope that you will be able to start the discharge of the following constitutional duties within the next fourteen days:

1. Either to extradite Charles Taylor to Sierra Leone or

2. Start a legal action under Cap. 162 (Geneva Convention Act) of Laws of the Federation 1990.

The coalition will be available to work with you in this process of combating impunity, at the expiration of the fourteen days. If we receive no information whatsoever on the progress of this action, the coalition might consider other legal actions.

We recognize that you have the constitutional power to act and we hope you will be able to muster the political will to do so.

We hope you will be able to update us consistently.

The Nigeria National Coalition on International Criminal Court is based in Abuja


April 1, 2003

A Global Witness report has accused Liberia's government of destabilising West Africa by supporting and arming rebels in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone. In a report issued on Monday, Global Witness also accused the government of Liberian President Charles Taylor of regularly importing weapons in violation of UN sanctions.

The report, titled: 'The Usual Suspects: Liberia's Weapons and Mercenaries in Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone' charges that Liberia's government has been backing two rebel groups that operate in the west of Cote d'Ivoire since late November 2002: the Popular Movement of the Ivorian Great West (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP). Liberia, it added, planned to use mercenaries to destabilise Sierra Leone.

Global Witness urged the UN Security Council to renew existing sanctions against Liberia - which cover the sale of weapons to Monrovia and trade in its diamonds - and to extend them to include Liberian timber. The timber industry, it said, continued to be the Liberian government's primary source of financial and logistical access to international markets for weapons and mercenaries.

"We have uncovered information showing the Liberian government is still actively involved in the illegal arms trade, and is the driving force behind the training, arming and deployment of the Ivorian rebel groups MPIGO and MJP, with Liberian President Charles Taylor calling the shots from Monrovia," said Alice Blondel, a Global Witness campaigner. "The 'usual suspects', including President Charles Taylor and former RUF commander Sam 'Maskita' Bockarie, who have been involved in previous regional insecurities, are now involved in the Cote d'Ivoire crisis and are planning to undermine the fragile peace in Sierra Leone".

According to the report, the Liberian timber industry provided the government with the means necessary to maintain its supplies of fighting forces and illegal arms, which, Global Witness said, it receives from eastern Europe via France, Liberia and Nigeria.

Cote d'Ivoire's MPIGO and MJP rebels, the NGO said, were made up mainly of Liberian and Sierra Leonean mercenaries. It added that the MPIGO and MJP fighters were organised in Liberia before deployment into Cote d'Ivoire, and were commanded by close associates of Taylor.

And in Sierra Leone, Liberia's government is now implementing a destabilisation strategy so as to disrupt the operations of the Special Court, "by which President Charles Taylor and other key figures in Liberia expect to be indicted for war crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war", the NGO said.

Global Witness is an NGO that works to expose the link between natural resource exploitation and human rights abuses. It operates in areas where environmentally destructive trade is funding conflict or human rights violations.