Taylor’s Passport Expires

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Former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, who is wanted for war crimes and was indicted by the U.N.-backed special court sitting in Sierra Leone, after a brief escape has been captured by Nigerian authorities. He has been living in exile there since stepping down in 2003 and paving the way for elections that brought in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently.

Taylor faces 17 counts of war crimes. He led a life of luxury in Nigeria with stolen millions. Johnson Sirleaf recently called for Taylor’s arrest. He is charged with unleashing and financing brutal wars in West Africa, including in Sierra Leone, where Taylor-backed rebels committed heinous atrocities against civilians.

During her recent U.S. trip Johnson Sirleaf appealed to the US to support her effort to bring Taylor to task. Taylor is accused of selling diamonds and buying weapons to finance Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels, who terrorized the populace, hacking off the hands and legs of civilians.

The world is today becoming very small for war criminals. A good example include the arrest and prosecution of former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic who recently died in jail at The Hague. African dictators and war criminals must face their past crimes and be prosecuted. They should never be let scot-free like Idi Amin of Uganda and Mobutu Sese Seko of former Zaire, both of whom impoverished their countries and decimated the populace.

The international community, particularly the U.S. and U.K., must stop supporting African dictators for their own myopic geo-political interests, spilling African blood in the process. Case in point is Uganda’s current Dictator, Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 20 years. Currently, practically the entire populace of two million in northern Uganda is confined in
concentration camps—victims of a war that both the Lord’s Resistance Army and Museveni’s military are uninterested in ending.For Taylor, his passport to tyranny has finally expired. Here’s hoping that other African despots join him in similar jail cells.

Otika Okema writes for The Black Star News New York. He is also the Coordinator for the Africa Project www.africaproject.net an organization that advocates for peace, justice and human rights in Africa. Contact him at peter@africaproject.net

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