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Bringing justice to victims of international crimes

Charles Taylor

Found guilty of aiding and abetting 11 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on 26 April 2012. Sentenced to 50 years in prison on 30 May 2012. Conviction upheld on appeal on 26 September 2013. Transferred to the United Kingdom in October 2013 to serve his sentence.

Charles Taylor was born on 28 February 1948 in Arthington, Liberia. He completed his university studies in the United States, where he was arrested in 1979 for threatening to occupy the Liberian diplomatic mission in New York. He was President of Liberia between 1997 and 2003. His term in office was marked by rebellions and conflicts in the region.

According to the indictment of the SCSL, Taylor met Foday Sankoh in Libya in the late 1980s, and immediately made common cause with him. Taylor is said to have financed and supported Foday Sankoh’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) with material and personnel, providing weapons, ammunition and military training. With the aim of destabilizing the country and gaining access to the natural resources of Sierra Leone (mainly diamonds), he allegedly supported the RUF in the preparation of these military actions in Sierra Leone and during the ensuing conflict.

Taylor allegedly encouraged and supported all the actions of the RUF and the AFRC (Armed Forces Revolutionary Council) alliance, who are said to have launched armed attacks within the territory of Sierra Leone, namely in the districts of Bo, Kono, Kenema, Bombali, Kailahun, as well as in the capital, Freetown. The targets of these attacks included the civilian population, humanitarian aid workers and United Nations peacekeeping forces. These attacks were allegedly perpetrated with the aim to terrorize the civilian population and to punish it for the lack of support given to the RUF and the AFRC. During these attacks, the RUF and the AFRC allegedly committed murders, physical violence (especially mutilations and rape), pillaging and abduction of civilians as sexual slaves or forced laborers. They also allegedly abducted children in order to enroll them by force. These acts were allegedly encouraged or executed with the collaboration of, or on order from, Taylor.

On 7 March 2003, Taylor was indicted by the SCSL on 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Under pressure exerted by the international community, he relinquished power and resigned as President of Liberia on 11 August 2003. 

Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Fact sheet

Liberia 2017 2017  - 2017 2017  - 2017
War crimes
Crimes against humanity
Deprivation of life
Infringment of physical integrity
Protection of civilians
Protection of humanitarian personnel and objects

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