Obama Supports Call for Charles Taylor to be Transferred to Special Court
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today released the following statement in support of President Johnson-Sirleaf's request to have former Liberian President Charles Taylor sent to the Special Court for Sierra Leone:
"I commend President Johnson-Sirleaf for making a request to have Charles Taylor sent to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It is a difficult and courageous decision. I call on President Obasanjo to facilitate the immediate and orderly transfer of Charles Taylor in order to face the charges brought against and help to close a horrible chapter in West African history."
Taylor has been accused of committing war crimes by international prosecutors in Sierra Leone. He was given political asylum by Obasanjo in August 2003 and has been living in the Nigerian city of Calabar.
On July 19, 2005, Senator Obama offered a bipartisan amendment, along with Senators Hagel, Leahy, and Gregg, to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to provide $13m for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The Obama-Hagel amendment, which was retained in conference and enacted into law on November 14, 2005, provides critical funding to keep the Court up and running for the near future and dramatically enhances efforts to bring Charles Taylor to justice. In a letter to Senator Obama, the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court, Desmond de Silva, wrote, "The knowledge that we have secure funding for 2006 now allows me to concentrate my energies and efforts to bring Mr. Taylor to trial...."
Following adoption of the amendment, Obama teamed up with Republican Congressman Ed Royce on December 13, 2005 to write a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Secretary Rice calling on the State Department to urge President Johnson-Sirleaf to request the transfer of Taylor to the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The letter said "Such a call by the Liberian President-Elect would send a powerful message that the use of violence to achieve political ends is no longer acceptable in West Africa, and would help usher in a new era for the rule of law in the region."