"Why take the unnecessary risk of being robbed on the road en route to Monrovia?
Paragraph 26 quotes allegedly from Foday Sankoh's correspondence to the effect that the diamonds mined in the Kono area by RUF should be airlifted directly from Kono rather than through Monrovia because they could not trust the people in Monrovia. This appears to be a direct contradiction and refutation of the theory that the President of Liberia and the RUF were partners in the diamond mining schemes, especially if paragraph 87 is to be given any credence that the RUF permitted the President of Liberia to permanently station his special representative in Kono to supervise the mining operations there. No attempt was made by the panel to reconcile these apparently conflicting and contradictory statements.
Even if the mass of unsubstantiated hearsay evidence contained in paragraphs 73 to 87 is given any credence, the panel was unable to identify any RUF commander, including Foday Sankoh or Sam Bockarie, who claimed to have personally delivered any diamonds to the President of Liberia.
The Liberia government again reiterates that the report does not contain any documented evidence which could possibly indicate government's complicity in the RUF diamond trade."
Then the next subheading is:
"The sale of diamonds is used to fuel the Sierra Leone war.
Although the Liberian government has amply demonstrated that the conclusions reached by the panel has no basis in fact, it is nevertheless an undeniable fact that conflicts around the world, and particularly in Africa, are fueled and financed by the exploitation of natural resources in areas controlled by insurgents.
The government can therefore neither deny nor confirm that the war in Sierra Leone is financed by the sale of conflict diamonds. What the Liberian government can confirm and has maintained is that the Government of Liberia is in no way connected with it, nor is it a party to the illicit trade of Sierra Leonean diamonds and challenges the production of any credible evidence to the contrary.
It is important to note and the report confirms that the sale of blood diamonds, whether originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola or Sierra Leone, the great majority of these sales are transacted in Belgium with other major powers also being the beneficiaries of these transactions.
It should be emphasised that the use of illicit diamonds to fuel conflict around the world is greatly facilitated by the lack of a transparent global certification process and the panel concedes that conflict diamonds comprise 20 per cent of global diamond trades. It recognises the need for immediate and urgent reforms in this industry."
And then we have a section on:
"Recommendations on diamond smuggling and export.
The Government of Liberia remains supportive of United Nations Resolution 1306 and has already commenced taking appropriate steps to ensure compliance, one of which is the passage of legislation centralising the certification and export of precious metals from Liberia by the newly established Central Bank of Liberia.
The Liberian government in the past repeatedly requested the assistance of the international community in providing much needed logistical help and support in establishing and maintaining a credible and internationally accepted diamond certification and monitoring system.
Consistent with this position, the Liberian government therefore fully endorses all of the recommendations on diamonds submitted by the panel of experts (paragraphs 7 through 18 of the report) with the following provision to paragraph 9:
That the United Nations, in particular, and individual members of the international community provide logistical and personnel assistance to the Liberian government to immediately establish an internationally acceptable certification and monitoring system regulating the movement and exportation of diamonds and other precious metals.
That pending the establishment of the certification system, a moratorium be placed on the exportation of all diamonds from Liberia for a fixed and definite period of time consistent with the establishment of the certification mechanism not to exceed two years.
Considering that the panel has recognised the difficulty of tracking the movements of conflict and illicit diamonds in the sub-region, the Liberian government proposes that the moratorium on the exportation of diamonds be extended to include all countries in the sub-region listed in the report pending the establishment of an internationally accepted certification and monitoring system.
Alleged Liberian government support for the RUF.
Paragraph 183 of the report found 'unequivocal and overwhelming evidence' that Liberia has been actively supporting the RUF at all levels including training, weapons, related materiel and logistical support and a staging ground for attacks, as well as a safe haven for retreat and recuperation.
Notwithstanding the above statement, the Liberian government states also unequivocally that no 'unequivocal or overwhelming evidence' was presented to substantiate these conclusions. The presence in Monrovia of Sam Bockarie found in paragraph 182 is based on the request, knowledge and acquiescence of the international community, the Security Council, ECOWAS and the Clinton administration."
Now, we've gone through that documentation, Mr Taylor, and I do not propose to waste any time going back over that point now. So let's move on then to:
"Weapons allegedly supplied the RUF.
The Liberian government has always denied and reiterates its denial that it provides tactical or materiel support to the RUF.
The report confirms in paragraph 170 through 174 that the region is awash with small arms with its consequent reality of the rapidly increasing incidence of armed violence. The report acknowledges that the demand for light weapons during the past decade has increased, contending that guerilla armies receive weapons through interlinked networks of traders, criminals and insurgents moving across borders. The RUF, the report emphasises, depends almost exclusively on light weaponry, although it does have access to more sophisticated equipment. With access to a high of $125 million per annum, in a region awash with small arms and existing networks of traders, criminals and insurgents moving across borders, the panel seemed to have described a theatre within which light weapons may clearly be one of the easiest commodities to come by. More importantly, paragraph 177 concludes that with no standardised marking system for small arms and the proliferation of great amounts of weapons of this nature, the arms flow to rebel groups on the African continent remains largely uncontrolled."
I'm going to pause, Mr Taylor, to ask this: Do you agree with the proposition that that part of the world was awash with small arms at the time?