Son of Liberian Dictator Indicted for Torture in the U.S.

Dec 7, 2006 9:38am

Charles Emmanuel "Chuckie" Taylor, son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor (pictured to the left), is the first American ever to be charged with committing torture abroad.  He’s accused of helping his father during the 14-year civil war that left more than 200,000 dead. 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. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS A Tale of Two Prisons Accused War Criminal in U.S. Custody Click Here to Check Out Who’s Blowing Hot, Cool and Smoke on the Brian Ross Homepage As a U.S. citizen, he can be tried for human rights violations and war crimes under U.S. jurisdiction, even if the acts alleged were perpetrated abroad. If convicted, Chuckie Taylor could face up to life in prison. "This is a really major step in the U.S. government ensuring justice for torture," says Elise Keppler, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch who’s been working on the case. "It’s a significant precedent in the U.S. for future cases brought by the U.S. government for torture
committed abroad." Click Here for the Brian Ross Investigative Homepage.
Taylor was already in custody facing charges of passport fraud for allegedly lying about his father’s name on his passport. Prosecutors are reportedly asking for a two-year prison sentence if convicted of those charges. He has pled not guilty Meanwhile, his father Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, 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. The U.S. "actively pressed" for Taylor’s surrender to the U.N.-backed war crimes commission, says Keppler. "This administration has shown a major commitment for justice for serious crimes committed in West Africa," which could explain why the Justice Department decided to
charge the younger Taylor, she says. "After the civil war, the Liberian justice system isn’t in the position to deal with these kinds of cases," says Keppler. "It’s really important for victims in Liberia." No arraignment date has been set and calls to Charles "Chuckie" Taylor’s lawyer were not returned.

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