As the former Liberian president charles Taylor's trial enters its eighth month, it has been revealed that, since last November, he has been imploring the African Union, Ecowas, and selected African leaders to do three things that would have implications for his trial and possible future trials of other African leaders at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
According to letters sent by Taylor to the heads of the AU, Ecowas and a select group of African leaders (a copy of which has just been obtained by New African), the former Liberian president who faces 11 counts all woven around "helping or supporting" the Sierra Leonean rebel group RUF to commit "acts of terrorism, murder, violence to life, rape, sexual slavery, outrages upon personal dignity, pillage, and enlisting children under the age of 15 into armed force", has been pleading for:
(1) "A collective insistence by the African leadership that all due processes and fair trial rights that are guaranteed me must be respected and everyone must await a final judgement before passing verdict."
(2) "The facilitation of an observer mission to my trial by the African leadership to monitor the entire process in The Hague from start to finish with daily reporting obligations to the African leadership."
(3) "The formation of a commission to look into the political and legal underpinnings of how I ended up in Europe to face trial and their implications for other African heads of states and governments."
So far, eight months after the first letters were sent out, no action has been taken by the addresses. Nonetheless, a poignant warning by Taylor has come true. "Today it is me and God only knows who it will be tomorrow," he wrote in the letters sent to "the African leadership".
For Africa, the sin of not speaking out when one member of the community is affected appears to be having its recompense. Since Taylor's arrest and transfer in dubious circumstances to The Hague in 2006, "not one African leader has tried to help me with a cent to defend myself" (as he says), not even those he helped to come to power. It has been widely reported that Taylor agreed to his transfer from the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown to The Hague, but he has repeatedly told New African that he did not agree to anything. "Forces and powers beyond my control conspired to bring me here," Taylor says. "The whole theory of what happened to Sierra Leone and what I may or may not have done is all lies...