A Tale of Two Prisons

Jul 6, 2006 12:13pm

After 14 years of civil war and more than 200,000 dead, the mastermind behind the Liberian civil war and his son are finally going to court. The irony? Neither case is actually about Liberia. Charles Emmanuel “Chuckie” Taylor, son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, pled not guilty to charges of passport fraud yesterday. He stands accused of lying about his father’s name on his passport. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges. Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia and pictured to the left, has been moved to the U.N.-backed Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL), which will convene at The Hague in the Netherlands.  The court will address Taylor’s role in the civil war in Sierra Leone, which ran parallel to the conflict in Liberia.  He is accused of inciting that war in an effort to destabilize Sierra Leone, thus drawing U.N. attention away from his activities in Liberia.  Chuckie joined his father in Liberia once he assumed the Presidency in 1997. Human rights groups say the American-born and raised son has followed in his father’s footsteps, allegedly employing child soldiers, torturing victims and cutting off the arms and legs of men, women and children.  As a U.S. citizen he can be tried for human rights violations and war crimes under U.S. jurisdiction, even if the acts were perpetrated abroad. Human Rights groups are calling for the Department of Justice to investigate calling it "crucial for the United States, if it is to have any credibility in regard to international human rights." "The U.S. must use its own legislation to prosecute those within its own borders accused of widespread rape, recruitment of child soldiers, torture and disappearances," says Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch. "We think that there is ample basis to investigate Chuckie Taylor for these crimes." The Department of Justice told ABC News they refuse to comment on the case. Chuckie was arrested in March and has been held without bond at the Miami Federal Department of Corrections where he will remain until his trial. No trial date has been set.

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