Thursday, January 13, 2011

Liberia: Defense Lawyers Seek Investigations Into United States Government Cables Released By Wikileaks

Source: CharlesTrial.org

Mr. Charles Taylor
Defense lawyers for former Liberian president Charles Taylor have filed a motion before Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague seeking an investigation into leaked United States Government (USG) cables by the whistle blowing website WikiLeaks about Mr. Taylor's trial.

According to defense lawyers in their motion filed on Monday, January 10 2011, two cables emerging from the US Embassies in Liberia and The Hague respectively suggest that the USG has a specific interest in Mr. Taylor's trial and that sensitive information from within the various sections of the Court have been compromised through agents who are answerable to the USG.

Defense lawyers state in their motion that based on a March 10, 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Liberia, it is clear that the USG wants to keep Mr. Taylor behind bars at all costs.

The defense motion quotes the US Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, as saying in the cable that "the best we can do for Liberia is to see to it that Taylor is put away for a long time and we cannot delay for the results of the present trial to consider the next steps. All legal options should be studied to ensure that Taylor cannot return to destabilize Liberia."

The second cable from April 15, 2009, according to defense lawyers, "reveals that sensitive information about the trial has been leaked to the United States Embassy in The Hague by unnamed contacts in the Trial Chamber, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and the Registry." A footnote in the motion states that this cable relates to the pace and efficiency of the trial, funding, and personnel issues.

"Based on these cables...and other available information, there is an inescapable and axiomatic concern that the impartiality and the independence of the Court may have been compromised," defense lawyers state in their motion.

The motion adds, "The disclosures in these cables, in no small way, place the integrity of the Court itself on trial, and the Court would have failed...if it is not seen to have been fair, or if it appears that the hidden hand of a third party influenced the proceedings."

Defense lawyers have therefore asked that the Prosecution and Registry be made to disclose any USG contacts "within their respective organs, as well as the nature and extent of the relationship and the information that has been exchanged between the contact(s) and the USG."

If such disclosures are not made by either Prosecution or the Registry, defense lawyers requested that the judges order an independent investigation to determine who the said contacts are and the nature and extent of any relationship they might have with the USG.

Regarding alleged USG contacts inside the Chambers of the Court, defense lawyers in their motion ask the judges to use their inherent powers to commission and independent inquiry "within its own quarters to determine the identity of the contact and the nature and extent of their relationship with the USG."

During the entire period of Mr. Taylor's trial, his lead defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths has constantly told the media that Mr. Taylor is on trial not because of crimes committed in Sierra Leone, but because the USG wants to keep him out of Liberia. Mr. Taylor himself, when he testified as a witness in his own defense, made emphasis on an alleged USG ploy to keep him behind bars. With the USG cables referencing the former Liberian president's trial in The Hague, defense lawyers now say that they have been right to point fingers at the USG as the Western power seeking to keep Mr. Taylor behind bars. Defense lawyers in their motion point to the fact that the USG has been the highest funder of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and that three of the Court's four Chief Prosecutors to date are American nationals.

"It will be recalled that Lead Defense Counsel [Courtenay Griffiths] submitted during his opening statement that Mr. Taylor was only indicted and arrested because of the USG's interests and pressure," the defense motion states.

It adds, "Mr. Taylor subsequently testified that the USG had a vendetta against him and sought to remove him from power through various means."

Defense lawyers therefore now argue that "[t]he published cables provide further insight into this relationship between the OTP and the USG."

"They also disclose and give fresh insights into what appear to be equally close relationships between the USG and source(s) within Chambers and the Registry, with the clear implication being that the USG has successfully infiltrated all organs of the Court," the motion adds.

In addition to proof that the USG has contacts or sources inside the OTP, Chambers, and Registry of the Court, defense lawyers say that the released cables also point at the USG's desire to ensure that Mr. Taylor does not return to Liberia.

This, they say raises serious doubts about the independence and impartiality of the Court's prosecution of Mr. Taylor.

"Viewed objectively and reasonably, evidence suggests that the indictment and trial of Mr. Taylor...is no more than an extension of US foreign policy interests in West Africa, with there being no connection to any alleged crimes in Sierra Leone," defense lawyers claim.

In view of the above, defense lawyers have sought the judges order disclosure and/or and investigation into the following:

"The identity of the source(s) within the Trial Chamber, Prosecution and Registry who provided the USG with the information in the Cables;

The full nature of the respective sources' relationship with the USG, specifically including an explanation of the context and circumstances in which each of the comments recorded in the Cables were made to representatives of the USG;

Information tending to suggest that the Prosecution has sought or received instructions from the USG regarding any aspect of the Taylor trial; and
A full explanation of the money provided by the USG to the Prosecution, including the amounts of money given and when; the purpose of the funds; how the funds were used; and who the OTP was accountable to in the distribution and use of the funds."

These, defense lawyers say, will be the only way to remove any doubt about the independence and impartiality of the tribunal.

The Prosecution is expected to respond to the defense motion next week.

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Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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