"Taylor Is a War Criminal" - Declares U.S. Congressman
By: Alex Redd
Speaking over the weekend before a large conference audience, United States Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, declared Liberian President Charles Taylor a war criminal and that there are efforts underway to formally bring the Liberian leader to justice at one of the internationally recognized war crime tribunals, either in Freetown or the Hague.
The U.S. Congressman said that he has been conferring with the assigned judge at the war criminal court established in Sierra Leone on a number of issues that will enhance the function of the court in bringing to trial perpetrators of gruesome acts against humanity.
Senator Feingold is a ranking member of the Sub-committee on African Affairs---Committee on Foreign Relations in the United States Senate. He is popularly known on Capitol Hill as a co-author of the Feingold- McCain Campaign Finance Reform Bill aimed at restoring financial integrity in the American electoral process.
The U.S. Congressman said current measure taken by the United Nations Security Council as well as some core countries, including the United States to isolate or pressure Taylor in order to respect the sanctity of human life is not enough. Therefore, he is designing ways and means with fellow members on his committee on foreign relations to push for the trial of Charles Taylor as a war criminal at any of the international court of justice. The Democratic Congressman told his audience that it is a known fact that Taylor is the primary instigator for destabilizing Sierra Leone. Seeing Taylor as a greater threat to regional stability in West Africa, Mr. Feingold lamented the continued trend of large-scale violence in Liberia, the Ivory Coast as well as foreseeing another human tragedy in the West African region. " What will Liberia be like ten years from now if nothing is done to arrest the current chaos, the congressman wondered."
Senator Feingold lamented that the "strong man politics" in Africa has ruined the continent with instability---which has created a tenuous situation with no political, social, economic and cultural progress. Mr. Feingold, who vehemently opposes war as a means to resolve the current standoff with Iraq, said "if the United States is to get involved in creating a model of democratic change in any country, it will have to stand up to its own principles by helping to stay and nurture the structure of such new democracy."
Many observers wonder whether Senator Feingold, in collaboration with other ranking members in Congress, will indict Taylor before the upcoming Liberian elections in October 2003.
The two-day conference, which was held at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, attracted attendance of high profile individuals from both governmental and non-governmental establishments. The conference entitled: Representations of Violence; Art about the Sierra Leone Civil War was organized by the 21st Century African Youth Movement to exhibit visual arts that depict the large scale violence that devastated Sierra Leone over the years.