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Sierra Leone News: Special Court Denies Charles Taylor Motion to Serve His Sentence in Rwanda

cttThe Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) Tuesday issued a release disclosing that the former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor had been denied a move to Rwanda.
According to the release Charles Taylor had filed a motion “requesting that the RSCSL terminate the enforcement of his sentence in the UK and transfer him to Rwanda to serve the remainder of his 50-year prison sentence.”
“Mr. Taylor had argued that his imprisonment in the UK denied him his right to a family life as his wife and children had been denied UK visas and so prevented from visiting him. He also argued that because he was at risk from other inmates he was being held “effectively in isolation” as he was “too much of a target and too vulnerable” to be accommodated within Frankland’s general prison population” the release said.
“Mr. Taylor also argued that he is the only prisoner convicted by an international court forced, against his wishes, to serve his sentence on another continent. Africa is his continent of origin, and he maintained that travel costs to Rwanda are lower and Rwandan personnel share a “cultural affinity” with him.”
RSCSL Prosecutor Brenda J. Hollis reportedly opposed the motion and argued that “if Mr. Taylor were imprisoned in Rwanda that it would “increase the possibilities available to Taylor to undermine peace, security, stability and good order in Liberia and the West African sub-region, and would have implications on the security and sense of security of witnesses, Court personnel and former and current high level State officials.”
The Residual Special Court Trial Chamber, consisting of Justice Teresa Doherty (presiding), Justice Richard Lussick and Justice Emmanuel Roberts, denied the motion in its “entirety.”
“The Court found that the inability of Mr. Taylor’s family to obtain UK visas did not constitute interference by the RSCSL or the UK authorities with his right to a family life. Rather, the Judges said, this was due to their failure to provide information showing that they intended to leave the UK at the end of their visit and ruled that “such inability is due purely to his wife’s failure to comply with the United Kingdom visa requirements and her ignoring the assistance offered to her (by the Registrar’s office) to re-apply.”
“The Trial Chamber also noted that prisoners do not have the right to choose their place of detention and that Mr. Taylor had no justification for demanding that he be treated in the same way as other prisoners from Africa given his exceptional circumstances and the gravity of his offences. The Trial Chamber cited UN Security Council 1688, which concluded that his presence in the West African sub-region could pose an impediment to security and a threat to peace. Further, the Trial Chamber held that a prisoner convicted by an international court is subject to the same rights and restrictions as those applicable to convicted persons in national jurisdictions.”
“Charles Ghankay Taylor was found guilty in April 2012 of eleven counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. The Court found that he had planned, and aided and abetted, crimes committed by RUF and AFRC rebel forces during Sierra Leone’s civil war. In May 2012 he was sentenced to 50 years in prison, with credit given for time served in detention since March 2006. His conviction and sentence were upheld by the Appeals Chamber in September 2013, and he was transferred to Frankland Prison the following month.”
ThursdayMarch 26, 2015

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