One of the estranged wives of imprisoned ex-president Charles Ghakay Taylor, Dr. Agnes Reeves Taylor says she has no fear of the establishment of a War Crimes Court here, arguing that she is not a perpetrator of war crimes and she is not listed in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report.
“I personally have no fear of a war crimes tribunal; I am not a perpetrator [of] war crimes, I was not put out. I am not on the TRC report,” Dr. Taylor told a press conference in Monrovia Monday, 27 July.
Dr. Taylor recently returned to Liberia after British authorities dropped all charges of seven counts of torture and one count of conspiracy to torture and released her from about two years of detention in a maximum female prison that she says is meant for terrorists and other hardcore criminals.
According to her, the British police went to where the achieves of all the statements were kept from the proceedings of the TRC report that included statements taken in the diaspora, searching for any account or any activities that were supposed to have been perpetrated by her.
“Well thanks be to God, the truth, you know they say hard, the hard evidence does not lie. There was not a single mention of any of these accounts,” she says.
She says despite her protestation of innocence, she was taken into a police station by British authorities and questioned about issues that she had never, ever heard about.
Concerning calls for a war crimes court here, Dr. Taylor says it is an issue for the Liberian people to decide whether they want restorative justice or retributive justice.
“We have a fragile country. What would be best in the interest of peace I would go ahead with any position that the Liberian people adopt,” she says. She believes that guilt by association appears to be the focus in cases to Liberia, disclosing that she will be seeking legal advice regarding lies which have tinted her character.
“I came to Liberia to face my so-called accusers in an environment where they claim these crimes occurred,” Dr. Taylor says, and trashes claim that she encouraged rape during the civil crisis here during the 1990s.
She argues that she is a woman and a mother who knows that rape is one of the most heinous crimes that can be perpetrated against a woman.
All though all charges are dropped against her, Dr. Taylor, however, notes that there is still speculation out there that maybe she may have done it. But she warns that “this concept of guilt by association needs to stop,” adding that the fact that she was married to Charles Taylor does not make her a criminal.
She recounts that during the civil war, she set up a charity called National Emergency Relief Organization that delivered rice, medical supplies and subsequently coordinated the affairs of the NGOs that came into the country at the time.
“That was my role and I served as a mother and friend to all who came to me. That was my role. I had no military role ever,” she explains further. “During the Liberian civil war, I was the wife of Charles Taylor. That does not make me a criminal,” she says.
“At no point in time did I ever or would ever carry out torture or any form of inhumane or degrading treatment to anyone,” she argues. While expressing regrets that people died during the war, Dr. Taylor says as wife of Mr. Taylor and a mother, she did as much as she could to minimize any kind of difficulties that civilians and Liberians in general faced.
Initially before her incarceration which began early June 2017 by the British authorities, Dr. Taylor says she spoke to former President Taylor, saying he called constantly to speak to his two daughters.
“…I have spoken to former President Taylor when he was … initially before my incarceration, he would call to speak to his two daughters, because I have two daughters for him,” she says.
Following her release from detention, she says Mr. Taylor sent her a message, but notes his phone calls are being monitored constantly.
However, Dr. Taylor indicates that realizing that things could be misconstrued, Mr. Taylor thought it was best that he did not maintain contact while she was in the United Kingdom.
According to her, the UK authorities monitor you 24 hours and you are photographed about 360 times per day, noting that CCTVs monitor you from the time you step out of your house until you get back into your house.
Additionally, she says the conversations between she and Mr. Taylor didn’t touch on war crimes court or politics, but they were about their children and their grandchild. She laments being accused about torturing people she had never ever met and she still does not know.
She argues that under normal circumstances, you would have assumed that a country of that nature – the UK, would have carried out intensive investigation before carrying out an arrest.
“Unfortunately it worked slightly different in the United Kingdom. They were given statements, concocted by a group that purports to be a human rights group – Global Justice and Research Project, headed by a one Hassan Bility,” she laments.
According to her, Bility and his group works with Swiss charity Civitas Maxima which was allegedly set up by a gentleman who served on the prosecution team of Charles Taylor. “Seeing how much money they were able to make during that period …, they felt that this was a gold mine. So they set up … a so – called charity to go after alleged … perpetrators of war crimes,” she claims.
Dr. Taylor contends that she is not on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report, neither is she cited as a perpetrator in any capacity of war crimes.
Quizzed if she has any plan to make claims against Mr. Bility, his group and others connected to the allegations made against her, Dr. Taylor notes that she is speaking with her lawyers because she thinks it is about time that this issue is laid to rest.
“And I’m talking about not just for me; I was fortunate God on my side that charges were dropped. But how many others are they going to do this to and how many other people will be victims and not be so lucky or not have the grace of God and get thrown into jail for things that they did not do?” she concludes.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah