Justice cannot be bought!

Press release
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After several weeks of bloody combat in Liberia between the government and the rebel forces of the LURD (Liberians united for reconciliation and democracy) and the MODEL (Liberian movement for democracy), which has caused the death of several thousand civilians and the displacement of more than half of the population, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) takes cognizance of the announcement on 7 August 2003 of the departure of Charles Taylor, President of Liberia, who is to turn over his responsibilities to the vice-president for a transitional period.

Furthermore, the FIDH takes cognizance of Resolution 1497 adopted on 1 August 2003 by the Security Council which authorizes the establishment of a multi-national force in Liberia, which will have the specific responsibility of enforcing the cease-fire agreement signed last 17 June in Accra, Ghana, by the parties in conflict, as well as contributing to the establishment and maintenance of security after Charles Taylor’s departure.

However, the FIDH is deeply concerned about the immunity, as provided for in Resolution 1497 on request by the United States, which grants to the States participating in this multi-national force exclusive jurisdiction over any crimes committed by their personnel, and which expressly disregards the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In this regard, the FIDH firmly denounces the paradox of the position of the international community which has granted the immunity, whereas the Sierra Leone Tribunal issued an international warrant for the arrest of Charles Taylor on 4 June, for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian law committed in Sierra Leone.

Furthermore, the FIDH believes that there will be no sustainable peace in Liberia nor in the surrounding region if justice is obstructed. The FIDH asserts that Charles Taylor’s departure must not be in exchange for his impunity. Having been accused of some of the most serious crimes, Charles Taylor must not escape a fair trial. Any manoeuvre aiming to arrange for him to peacefully retire to a neighboring country, or anywhere else, must be prevented. It is the victims’ right to see their tormentors have to face up to their responsibilities before the Court.

The FIDH appeals to all States participating in the multi-national force to strictly observe international humanitarian law. The FIDH also appeals to them to deliver Charles Taylor to the Sierra Leone Tribunal, according to the warrant issued for his arrest.

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