On 26 April 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague found ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that former Liberian President Charles Taylor ‘is criminally responsible … for aiding and abetting the commission of the crimes 1 to 11 in the indictment’.1 Taylor had substantial influence over, and provided military support for, the Sierra Leonean Revolutionary United Front (RUF), which had committed the war crimes and crimes against humanity for which Taylor was convicted, but his contribution was judged to have fallen short of effective command and control. The majority of the reactions to the judgment around the world were effusive in their praise of the SCSL and, on the face of it, the judges’ conclusions about Taylor’s liability were reasonable. The judgment acknowledged some RUF independence in decision-making and unintentionally emphasised the point that the Conflict may be too complex to reduce to a black-and-white legal process. Indeed, seeing the war purely in terms of criminality hides a whole terrain of political textures. Impunity has been marginally reduced by the Taylor trial, but at what political costs in Sierra Leone and neighbouring Liberia? And at what ongoing costs elsewhere? This chapter looks at how justice affects politics and politics affects justice with regard to the SCSL and the contemporaneous Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and contrasts this with the primarily realpolitik approach to Conflict resolution in neighbouring Liberia.
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- Taylor Is Guilty, Is That All There Is? The Collision of Justice and Politics in the Domestic Arena
- Palgrave Macmillan UK