Documents in the Charles Taylor Trial Available on the Web
On April 26th, Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on all counts of an 11-count indictment for aiding and abetting rebels in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s long civil war. The trial was historically significant as the first in which a head of state was convicted by an international tribunal.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established in 2002 through an agreement between the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone. Its purpose is to try those responsible for serious violations of humanitarian law and the law of Sierra Leone committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since the end of 1996. Charles Taylor is the most widely known defendant, but 13 individuals were in fact indicted in 2003, with eight trials now complete through the appellate phase. Two of the original indictments were withdrawn due to the deaths of the accused, and Taylor’s trial is now in the appellate phase at the Hague. Thus, the Special Court is nearing completion of its mandate.
For those interested in the activities of the Special Court, a great deal of documentation is available at the Court’s web site, including a transcript of the trial judgment in the Taylor case. Trial and Appeals Chamber decisions are also available for the eight cases now completed. In addition, there is a complete collection of important court documents, such as rules of procedure and evidence, the Special Court Agreement, and rules of detention, as well as annual reports of the Court and various practice directives and directions issued in the course of the Court’s proceedings.