In its editorial recently one of diaspora Liberian media outlets, the African Star noted that it is deeply concerned over the offensive efforts by some “opinion talk show activists” who are facilitating interviews with a notorious inmate Charles “Chuckie” Taylor aka Roy M. Belfast Jr., who is currently incarcerated at a high security facility in Virginia, the United States.
We are vividly aware that the United States Government indicted Mr. “Chuckie” Taylor, prosecuted and convicted him of crimes of torture and sentenced him to a 97 year jail term.
Liberians, especially thousands of victims, are yet to fully recover physically and psychologically from the trauma of war which former President Charles Taylor, his son “Chuckie” Taylor Jr. , various militia commanders, and supporters visited on unarmed civilians.
The devastating consequences of Liberia’s back-to-back wars in the 1990s exacted a huge toll in peacekeeping resources, lives, and money which were used to prevent Liberia from total destruction and additional loss of lives.
An estimated 250,000 persons were murdered and over 1 million others were internally and externally displaced by the bush war the National Patriotic Front waged under the direction of Charles Taylor with Charles Taylor, Jr. . The prosecution of the conflict also wracked the West African sub- region.
African Star is cleared- eyed about its consistent stance that those who bear the greatest responsibility for killing innocent citizens and committing gross human rights abuses in Liberia be held to fully account for their actions.
We believe it is an unwelcomed idea and firmly assert that “Chuckie’s apology tour” which is being facilitated by anyone who has lost the sense of gravity of the serious crimes for which he was convicted is an accessory too to the calculated scheme to humanize and rebrand his monstrous image and grave human rights offenses.
And this is totally unacceptable!
African Star is equally aware that convicts like Charles Taylor, Jr. have certain human rights. But to elevate “Chuckie” on any platform and present himself as a victim rather than a perpetrator of the hideous crimes he inflicted on thousands of families in the West African nation represent a betrayal of respect and civility and rights of actual victims.
We continue to observe how survivors of horrible abuses continue to bear the mental injuries and scars from their inhuman treatment by various militias including the Charles Taylor’s ruthless NPF. Sadly indeed, some families are dealing with long term grief and depression over the loss of family members too.
We emphatically hold the view that the most effective roadmap to reconciling in the Liberian society requires restoring justice and stamping out rights abuses through the full implementation of the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
We applaud the international community and local rights groups who have repeatedly joined their voices in unison to urge implementation of the TRC Final Report.
African Star is also concerned that delays by the government of Liberia to comply with its international legal and moral obligations are creating a climate of “forgetfulness” of the serious crimes for which the Taylors were prosecuted and convicted and provide more fuel for a more violence-prone gangster-type society. This must not be allowed to happen.
More pointedly, former President Charles Taylor and his son, Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr had opportunities to benefit from free and fair trials in the International Criminal Court in the Hague and a U.S. federal court in Florida respectively. However, former President Taylor and “Chuckie” denied their victims their due process rights.. They must serve their punishment for their crimes!
The “Liberian” way of sweeping gross abuses under the rug because of the saying that, “we are a small country, and we are all related in one way” has to go. Justice for all under the law is the only restorative path to righting the wrongs done to victims and survivors of Liberia’s wars.
African Star takes the uncompromising stance today that the Government of Liberia and anyone who is blocking implementation of the TRC Report are “accessories and facilitators” of the culture of impunity and injustice.
Equally so, those who offer succor and a favorable platform to convicted war criminals and rights abusers like “Chuckie” Taylor, for whatever reasons, are themselves a problem to maintaining a civilized society and protecting our values.
African Star will not shy away from its moral duty to inform and protect the vulnerable in our society from physical and psychological perversions of Truth and Justice and we urge solidarity in standing against those in and out of the Liberian Government who lack the decency required to co- exist as equals in our society.
To this end It, African Star wishes to make it abundantly clear that “Chuckie” Taylor is not a victim in this matter but a major perpetrator who must fully pay for his crimes of torture and look forward to his release on April 11, 2090!
We call on the United States Government, the international community and all Liberians to ensure that he serves out his jail term that is even inadequate, in our opinion, for the crimes of torture and human rights abuses for which he was convicted.
We at the African Star remain unwavering in our stance and support to ensure that the attempted rebranding of convicted criminal Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr. does not mislead international public opinion to lessen his righteous conviction and jail term until he serves his entire term so that Justice is served.
This Editorial represents the view of the Editorial Board of African Star.