Taylor's "General Amnesty" Put to Test

The Perspective

August 2, 2001

In what appears to be a test of the general amnesty President Taylor granted to opposition politicians in prison and outside the country recently, the Unity Party (UP), the second runner-up in the 1997 general and presidential elections, has issued a challenge by calling upon the government, its Justice Ministry, to drop treason charges against its standard-bearer, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as a condition for her return into the country.

In a press release issued recently by Joseph B. A. Derrick, Secretary General of the Unity Party, the party called upon the government to go one step further by having the charges hanging over the exiled opposition leaders removed from court records as a way of allaying apprehensions and demonstrating that Liberia is a country of laws and not of men. The party said it believes that as soon as this is done, it can assure all Liberians that its standard-bearer, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf shall return to Liberia within few days. Challenging the Justice Minister, the release said: "the president has exercised his constitutional right to grant amnesty to any citizen charged, it remains with you to proceed to court and enter, on behalf of the Republic of Liberia, a plea of nulli prosequi."

President Taylor on July 26, granted general amnesty to all exiled Liberians who were charged with treason for allegations to overthrow his government. The amnesty was also extended to dissidents currently fighting government forces in Lofa County.

Prior to the general amnesty, President Taylor pardoned three of the thirteen prominent Krahn citizens languishing in prison since 1998.

Meanwhile, political observers feel that President Taylor needs to take the next step by instructing the justice ministry to drop the treason charges.

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