UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES IMMEDIATE TRANSFER OF CHARLES TAYLOR TO SIERRA LEONE SPECIAL COURT

29 March 2006

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged the Nigerian Government today to immediately transfer former Liberian President Charles Taylor directly to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Welcoming the announcement of Taylor’s arrest today in Nigeria, the High Commissioner said the fight against impunity in West Africa demanded that he answer the serious charges against him. The Special Court indicted Taylor in March 2003 for crimes against humanity and war crimes, accusing him of, amongst other charges, providing financial backing, military training, personnel, arms ammunition and other support and encouragement to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone. The RUF engaged in notorious, widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population of that country.

“I applaud the courageous call of newly-elected Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for an end to Mr. Taylor’s temporary asylum in Nigeria, and I welcome the fact that Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has agreed”, the High Commissioner said. “There must now be quick and decisive action to ensure that there is justice for the victims of the horrendous crimes that were committed in Sierra Leone. Charles Taylor must be sent directly to the Special Court”.

The High Commissioner had called for Taylor’s transfer to Sierra Leone during a visit to West Africa in July 2005, emphasizing that “peace is not sustainable without justice."