Ex-Pres. Taylor Denied Request For COVID-19 Jail Transfer

Judges have rejected a request by Liberian Ex-President and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor to be moved from a British jail, where he claimed he risks dying from coronavirus.

Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence at Frankland prison near Durham in northeastern England after being convicted in 2012 by a court in The Hague of fuelling civil conflict in Sierra Leone.

The former warlord had requested that due to a massive outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK, his life was at risk from continued detention in Britain and that he wanted to be moved to a safe third country.

But the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone said in a statement that former President Taylor had failed to comply with court directions that he specifies which countries he considered safe.

The court said Teresa Doherty, the duty judge dealing with Taylor’s application, noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not declared any place in the world safe from COVID-19.

Taylor’s claims that his prison was overcrowded and offered bad conditions were also at variance with facts, the judge found.

Taylor also lost a previous request he made to be allowed to serve the remainder of his term in an African jail back in 2015.

Meanwhile, former President Taylor has filed a lawsuit against the Liberian government of George Weah over its refusal to pay his pension and retirement benefits, according to a court statement.

The ECOWAS Court of Justice confirmed that Taylor filed the lawsuit alleging his right to property had been violated by Liberia’s refusal to pay his pension and retirement benefits since 2003.

“The former President said the action of the government constitutes a violation of his human rights, particularly the right to freedom from discrimination, equal protection of the law, right to dignity, fair hearing and property,” ECOWAS Court said.

The court said no date has been fixed for the hearing for Taylor, who was Liberia’s President from 1997 to 2003.

“He wasn’t convicted for crimes committed in Liberia so that doesn’t affect his rights here,” said Adama Dempster, the Secretary General of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia.

“I think he should be given what the law says he should have,” he stated.

Taylor was the first former head of state to be jailed by an international court since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in Germany after World War II.

He was convicted in 2012 on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over acts committed by Sierra Leone rebels he aided and abetted during the war.

The residual court is the successor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which was established by the UN in 2002 to try those who bore the greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed during the civil war.

Taylor sparked a 13-year civil war in Liberia when he led a rebellion in 1989 to oust President Samuel Doe, which turned into one of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts.

Taylor was the first ex-head of state to be jailed by an international court since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in Germany after World War II.

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