Feature

Sierra Leone: Justice for a brutal warlord

The Hague convicted former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor of 11 counts of crimes against humanity.

Séni DaboLe Pays (Burkina Faso) 

Sierra Leone has finally seen justice, said Séni Dabo. A special U.N.-backed court in The Hague last week convicted former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor of 11 counts of crimes against humanity stemming from the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, which ended in 2002. It is fitting that Taylor should be the first head of state since 1946 to be condemned by an international court. In exchange for diamonds, the warlord gave money and arms to the Revolutionary United Front, the most grotesquely brutal fighting force in Africa. “Even if he never set foot in Sierra Leone or fired a shot with the rebels,” Taylor is responsible for their reign of terror. Entire villages saw their women raped, their children enslaved, and thousands maimed as the rebels amputated arms and legs. Child slaves had the letters “RUF” carved into their backs. Now this tyrant “who had power of life and death” will die in prison “like a common thug.” Let his fate be a lesson to other African leaders who oppress their people or cynically fuel wars among their neighbors to enrich themselves. The international court will get you in the end. “In vain will you cry ‘selective justice, unjust, imperialist...’—there will be no one to save you.” 

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