By Josephus Moses Gray
April 26, 2004
Efforts being made by the United Nations backed War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone to bring to book and persecute the exiled former Liberian Leader, Charles G. Taylor, a well known Liberian international Human Rights Defender based in Canada, Mr. James Doe Torh, has presented what he termed as “Documentary dossiers on Taylor’s abuses against humanity”.
Mr. Torh who arrived in Monrovia recently on a six nation-tour of West Africa told an array of National and International journalists on during his visit to Liberia that he has detailed and submitted a dossier of widespread human rights abuses committed by Mr. Taylor to the German Parliament as well as other Western Nations and powerful human rights organizations around the world.
According to Mr. Torh, the dossiers contained evidence, adding that Mr. Taylor and all those who have committed crimes against humanity should be brought to book and account for their deeds.
Recently, Chairman Gyude Bryant said that his government would not be part of any arrangement that would compel the former President Charles Taylor to face justice on charges of crimes against humanity at the UN tribunal in Sierra Leone. In his argument, Chairman Bryant said Mr. Taylor was granted amnesty as part of a special peace arranged by ECOWAS and others Western nations
In a pensive mood, the outspoken human rights defender said, “If Mr. Taylor and others allegedly involved in crimes against humanity are left unpunished by the civilized world”, he finds it unhealthy for genuine peace and stability to exist in the sub-region.
He added that there can never be genuine stability and peace in the civilized world without justice and rule of law.
According to him, it will be unfair and injust if Mr. Taylor does not go to Sierra Leone to explain why he should not be held responsible for charges bought against him by the UN backed War Crimes Court. He appealed to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to hand Mr. Taylor over to the Court.
Apart from Mr. Taylor, Mr. Torh said all leaders of the belligerent forces and others who perpetrated mayhem and terrors against peaceful citizens should also be brought to book. Commenting on other issues in the country, the human rights defender commended the Gyude Bryant Administration for dismissing corrupt officials from government. He called on the government to arrest and persecute officials connected to financial abuses, saying that such action when taken will meet international aspiration and support.
Calling for good governance, transparency and accountability in the government, Mr. Torh admonished all Liberians to roll up their sleeves and battle against corruption and other unwholesome activities.
Mr. Torh who won for himself dozens of honors from several institutions including the independent media and democracy groups told journalists that his feasibility tour of the region would take him to Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Mali, etc.
The mission to the sub-region, Mr. Torh said, is aimed at establishing a West African Regional Human Rights Headquarters for the Human rights defenders in the region.
Mr. Torh stated that he would return to Liberia in June 2004, establish an office and undertake project, intended to link national human rights institutions in the region, build their capacities, train them and setup website for the West Africa region.
During the Taylor regime, he was charged with “sedition” because he openly spoke out against the lavish spending of state’s funds by Mr. Taylor and his associates. Without fear, Mr. Torh, the than executive director of focus on child advocacy group accused Mr. Taylor and his dreaded presidential guards, ATU of human rights abuses.
However, Mr. Torh fled the country to Sierra Leone after days of journey via the forest and heavy rain to escape Mr. Taylor’s wrath. “A good general will always retreat to enable him to fight many successful just battles”, Mr. Torh stated.