-Says her rights are being violated
A pro-democracy group, Patriotic Consciousness Association of Liberia (PACA) has called on the government and its British counterpart to release Madam Agnes Reeves-Taylor, who has been incarcerated for close to two years in England. She is the former wife of jailed Ex-President Charles Ghankay Taylor.
The two are currently jailed in British prisons. Taylor was convicted on even counts to include aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sierra Leone, while Agnes was on the other hand prosecuted for crimes allegedly committed during the Liberian crisis. However, her case is being questioned by some Liberians, who believe that she is being falsely accused or is simply “guilty by association.”
According to PACA, the charges of torture and alleged war crimes offenses in Liberia, for which Mrs. Taylor is held, “are unsubstantiated and cannot be proven.”
At a press conference in Monrovia on Monday, April 22, 2019, PACA National Executive Chairman, E. Frederick Baye, called on the Liberian and British governments to free Madam Taylor, “because she is innocent of all charges against her.”
At the time of her arrest, in June 2017, Madam Taylor was a University Lecturer in the United Kingdom. She was arrested by the UK Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit from her home in Dagenham, East London on charges of torture, and alleged war crimes offenses in Liberia in a law suit initiated by the Swiss-based rights organization, Civitas Maxima backed Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP).
PACA, which had its heydays as a pro-democracy group during the brutal regime of former President Taylor, said the accused has never been a subject of any indictment and/or investigation or person of interest in Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report. “Why is the British Government treating Agnes in such manner? She is not one of those implicated by the TRC,” PACA said.
Baye noted that Agnes’ treatment is unfair as she is yet to be accused by any Liberian of wrong; neither charged by the Liberian government. She has also never broken any UK laws. I can only conclude that this is a political “witch hunt” to further persecute family members and associates of former President Taylor,” he said.
PACA added, “She has she had no military orientation, exposure or affiliation in her entire adult life related to human rights abuses or any violation against any Liberian citizen.”
Ironically, Madam Reeves-Taylor’s name is not among the over 200 names of indicted people in the Volume II TRC Consolidated Final Report that is being used to prosecute, globally, those who committed heinous crimes during the war.
In the past few months, a number of ex-warlords, including Mohammed Jabateh, alias, Jungle Jabbah, were recently prosecuted and given long-term prison sentences for lying to immigration officials about their roles in the Liberian crisis.
However, some war crimes court advocates say that Madam Reeves-Taylor could still be hooked by the Universal Jurisdiction Law (UJL), which allows states or international organizations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accused’s nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting entity. But Mr. Baye said the UJL can only apply when a criminal case has been established—which is not the case here.
Madam Reeves-Taylor’s sister, Laurice Reeves Bright, defended what she considers her sister’s “clean human rights record”, noting, “what is happening to Agnes is unfair, because she has done nothing wrong.”
She said her sister is being held in maximum solitary confinement (Category-A), which is meant for hardcore criminals like terrorists, though she has never been such a person.
What is more baffling for Madam Bright, though she came from the U.S., is that her sister was not indicted by the TRC report, neither was she charged by the Liberian government. She however believed that there are some invisible hands behind the her sister’s indictment.
PACA has therefore written the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the British Embassy in Liberia to look into the case, which it says, is direct part of a politically motivated ploy to invoke guilt by association against Madam Taylor on account of her past affiliation as the former wife of Ex- President.
The group is however craving the indulgence of the George Weah administration to directly intercede with UK authorities to effect the immediate and unconditional release from prison and the restoration of the rights and privileges of Madam Reeves Taylor.
PACA frowned on the perpetual silence of the CDC led government in such “a grave case of human rights abuse.”
In the letter address to Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley, PACA said, “we are gravely disappointed over the deafening silence on the part of the Liberian government that has a constitutional duty to protect and safeguard the rights of its citizens wherever they may reside.”
“Mr. Minister, the circle of hatred, vengeance, animosity and marginalization are counterproductive to the efforts at reconciliation and national healing in Liberia,” PACA said.
In the letter addressed to the British Government, Baye said while PACA discount the culture of impunity and remain supportive of the global push for justice for war victims, it cannot countenance, nor entertain the illegal and unwarranted act of injustice against an innocent Liberian squarely based on fabricated lies, innuendos and insinuations.
“There has been no tangible evidence against Madam Taylor, other than hired and programmed witnesses taken from neighboring Guinea and inside Liberia in a concocted scheme to lend credibility to their premeditated case of witch hunt,” the letter said.
He added that the fact that UK judicial system arrogated unto itself the authority to carry-out such unprecedented and wanton act of degradation against an innocent Liberian beats PACA’s imagination, and calls into question the UK’s moral standing on the universal protection of the human person.
Mr. Baye added, “this extra judicial undertaking on the part of UK judiciary leaves us with the conclusion that the UK judicial system is a direct part of a politically motivated ploy to invoke guilt by association against Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor on account of her past affiliation with Charles Taylor.”
The case, he said clearly reflects legal procedural breach and a flagrant abuse of power in British jurisprudence.