IN OTHER WORDS
The trial of Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, is looking like the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, former leader of Yugoslavia, and that is too bad. Taylor, the first African leader to be tried in an international court for crimes against humanity, refused to show up at the opening of his trial in The Hague. He fired his lawyer and dismissed the proceedings as a charade. Taylor, like Milosevic, is trying to deflect attention from his crimes by casting doubts on the validity and efficacy of international justice.
That would be unfortunate. This was an extraordinarily vicious leader on a continent that still suffers terribly at the hands of men like him. His rebel army in Liberia recruited children and was responsible for unspeakable horrors during a 14-year civil war. This time though, Taylor has not been charged with those crimes, but those he abetted by supporting the equally inhuman and now deceased Foday Sankoh in Sierra Leone, whose forces were notorious for mass rapes, amputations and other horrors.
The Milosevic trial was long, costly and inconclusive. Saddam Hussein’s legally shoddy trial ended in an Internet circus of an execution. Washington is openly hostile to the International Criminal Court. International justice itself is on trial once again. We hope it wins.