Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, now convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relations to atrocities committed in Sierra Leone, has stressed the need for former US President George W. Bush to be prosecuted for similar crimes.
Taylor made the call in his first post-verdict special statement he read before judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone Wednesday. He said he agreed with the judges’ statement that the April 26 historic judgment reinforces the new reality that Heads of State will be held accountable for war crimes and other international crimes, that with leadership comes not just power and authority, but also responsibility and accountability, and that no person, no matter how powerful, is above the law.
Then, Taylor, who sees unfairness in his prosecution in comparison to the scot-freeness of ex-President Bush, states: “President George W. Bush not too long ago ordered torture and admitted to doing so. Torture is a crime against humanity. The United States has refused to prosecute him. Is he above the law? Where is the fairness?”
Although it is not known whether the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague or the justice-oriented international community will seek President Bush’s prosecution as a result of Taylor’s comments, the call to indict and prosecute the former president has continuously been made in various quarters.
Just last year (December 2011), when the former US President was about to make a visit to three African countries – Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia – Amnesty International called on those countries to arrest Mr. Bush and detain him for allegedly committing international crimes, including torture. The organization had earlier made a similar call.
In October of 2011, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch jointly called upon the Canadian government to arrest and prosecute the former president if he visited Canada.
In January of 2010, one Professor Francis A. Boyle of the College of Law at the University of Illinois filed a Complaint with ICC against President Bush and at least five of his senior officials for allegedly committing international crimes.
In May of 2009, when the former president was scheduled to visit Canada, a group of Canadian lawyers under the banner, Lawyers Against the War, campaigned for the President to either be barred from entering Canada or to be arrested and prosecuted for what they termed his role in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture.
Many have said that the failure of the ICC to issue an arrest warrant on the former president shows that the ICC is biased towards leaders of developing or African countries. Those accusing the ICC indicate that, besides the late Milosevic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, all the other leaders whose arrests have been announced, or whose trials have started, are African leaders.
However, some have said that it is highly unlikely that a US President, whether former or sitting, will ever be indicted or prosecuted by the ICC, while others say it is possible, but it is only a matter of time.
Meanwhile, Taylor admitted that terrible things happened in Sierra Leone and there is no justification for that. “… My sadness and deepest sympathies at the crimes suffered by victims and their families in Sierra Leone.” Taylor said.
He, however, stated that witnesses were paid and coerced to testify at his trial. He also pointed out that the prosecution team both former and present is all former US Government officials suggesting a team of conspirators hired to accomplish a mission.