Global Policy Forum

Liberia Panel Accuses Taylor Forces of Massacre


By Alphonso Toweh

February 22, 2004

Liberia's Human Rights Commission has accused forces loyal to ex-president Charles Taylor of killing more than 360 civilians including babies, children and pregnant women in a massacre last April. Commission president Dempster Brown also said it was clear both the former president's supporters and enemies had committed atrocities in Liberia's 14-year civil war, which officially ended last August with a peace deal that sent Taylor into exile. He called for the creation of a special court to prosecute warlords from all sides. "All those that killed must be brought to justice, not Taylor alone," he told reporters in the Liberian capital Monrovia at the weekend. Brown said three commanders responsible for the massacre in the southeast of the country near the border with Ivory Coast should be arrested immediately. An investigation by the commission found that 369 local people had been killed in three towns in River Gee county, among them babies, children, pregnant women and prominent figures in the local community. "We believe in reconciliation, but not everybody will be pardoned. Those who committed (such) heinous crimes... we cannot pardon such persons," Brown said. He said the massacre took place after a convoy of pro-Taylor militia fighters, including warlords from several neighboring countries, entered the area. The commission said local people had been opposed to the militia using their area to go into neighboring Ivory Coast and support a rebel group fighting there.

Taylor, now living in Nigeria, was long seen as the mastermind behind intertwined wars in West Africa. A U.N.-backed special court has indicted him on charges of arming rebels in Sierra Leone in return for diamonds. There was no immediate reaction from the commanders named in the report. All are believed still to be in Liberia. Brown said a special court was vital to end a culture of impunity and send a clear message to those who may consider taking up arms again that they would be punished. "We want to establish an institution that will serve as a deterrent," he said.

More Information on International Justice
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More Information on the Special Court for Sierra Leone
More Information on Charles Taylor


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