A War Crimes Investigator Allen Von says jailed former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor is entitled to make several telephone calls to those he wishes to speak with, but that these calls must be closely monitored or screened by authorities of the International Criminal Court based in The Hague.
Mr. Von, who extensively investigated Taylor’s involvement in the Sierra Leonean civil war, argued that even though the ex-Liberian president was convicted and sentenced for aiding and abetting RUF rebels in Sierra Leone, the ICC should know who Mr. Taylor wants to talk to, where the person resides and when such calls should be made.
The War Crimes Investigator’s comments come in the wake of continuous media reports that Taylor was directly meddling in Liberian politics thru frequent contacts here with influential political leaders, including his own National Patriotic Party or NPP, giving instructions and advancing strategies.
Mr. Von made these assertions on Tuesday, 14th Februarywhen he spoke to a local radio station in Monrovia via phone call from outside Liberia. He emphasized that despite his conviction, Mr. Taylor is permitted to make several telephone calls, adding that in accordance with international norms, prisoners such as Taylor is privileged to establish contacts with his lawyers, family members, and the media, among others, but clarified that such telephone calls must closely be monitored.
The comments followed an “African Confidential” reports quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently in which it was said that the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, now a Residual Court, which tried and convicted Taylor, says it is urgently following up with the Government of Great Britain over recent call he made to Liberia, advising his followers on tactics, while urging others to return to base.
But Mr. Von believes the War Crimes Court was monitoring Taylor’s conversations outside, adding that authorities of the Court must increase their monitoring role at the prison to ensure that what Mr. Taylor saysin Liberia doesn’t affect the current political process here.
He maintained that all telephone calls made by the former Liberian President is provided by international laws and can in no way be denied by the court. He said besides the Residual Court, civic society organizations and the Government of Liberia (GOL) should also be concerned about calls made by Mr. Taylor because they directly represent the interest of the Liberian people.
The War Crimes Investigator said if the Court deemed it necessary to restrain Mr. Taylor, it has the right to do so, provided that such doesn’t not entirely prevent the leader of the disbanded National Patriotic Front of Liberia or NPFL rebels from freely making contacts with those he wishes to talk with.
Many political pundits watching the Taylor’s phone calls saga, are of the conviction that recent calls he made to Liberia led to the merger of his National Patriotic Party (NPP), Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP) of former Speaker Alex Tyler.
Others believe Mr. Taylor’s involvement in Liberian politics, while serving his sentence in Britain has a propensity to plunge the country’s current political process into serious predicament.
They also expressed apprehension over alleged failure of the Special Court to monitor what Mr. Taylor says or do while in prison, wondering whether there were individuals closely coordinating Mr. Taylor’s calls to Liberia based on dates and times that such telephone calls were made.
They also believe Taylor’s calls to Liberia could possibly dictate what happens in the October 10th elections, which are very crucial to the country and its people especially, at the time Liberians were gearing up to democratically elect a new president.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne