The transcripts of the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia. More…

  • [On former affirmation]

  • Now, Mr Taylor, yesterday when we adjourned for the evening we looked at the Security Council resolution 1156 adopted by the Security Council at its meeting on 16 March 1998 in response to the ECOMOG intervention in February of 1998. Do you recall that?

  • Yes, I do.

  • We're still tidying up one or two loose ends. With that in mind can we move on, please, to deal with another matter. Now, do you recall mention being made of an operation called Operation No Living Thing, Mr Taylor?

  • At the time whilst you were President were you aware of such an operation?

  • No, I was not aware.

  • Had you ordered such an operation?

  • No, surely I didn't. I was not even aware of such an operation.

  • When was the first time you became aware that such an operation had allegedly been mounted?

  • I heard of that here in this courtroom.

  • Now, bearing in mind that you may be asked about this, Mr Taylor, help us. Whilst President, did you, for example, listen to the BBC?

  • Very, very rarely. Well, we have to divide that up now. Sometimes BBC TV. But radio, I very, very rarely listened to BBC radio.

  • Yes, I would listen to CNN.

  • And when we say CNN, just so that we're clear, would you watch CNN on a regular basis?

  • Yes. Evening hours, yes, I would watch CNN on a regular basis.

  • What about Focus on Africa which appears to be a popular programme in West Africa?

  • As President, no, very rarely did I listen. I had people doing that. If there were anything important, I would get a briefing probably either that evening or the next morning, but personally to sit down to listen to radio, no, very rarely.

  • That's what I was coming to ask you, Mr Taylor. Did your government have a press office?

  • And what was the function of that office?

  • Well, let me just probably say one or two things. One, by press, we had a Ministry of Information. That's a government office. But also I had a press secretary. Now these are two different press offices, I think we should know.

  • If you could explain the difference between the two, please?

  • Yes. Well, the Ministry of Information is really the official voice of the Liberian government. They gave the public all government pronouncements. In terms of programmes they helped with the explanation in different dialects. Some people may call it the talking arm of the government. That's the Ministry of Information.

    Now, the press secretary of the President in the office of the President is responsible for giving official statements from the Presidency, okay. So they - then you also - they listen to radio. They listen to television. They monitor as much as they can to gather information. That's their function.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, the reason I'm asking you about all of this is that you appreciate, of course, that one of the matters this Court will have to consider in due course is the extent of your knowledge of events in Sierra Leone. Do you follow me?

  • And so consequently it's important for us at this stage to examine what access you had to information about Sierra Leone and elsewhere. Do you understand that?

  • So in that context you tell us there was a Ministry of Information and you also had a press officer, yes?

  • And so you had ample resources, can I put it this way, to monitor international news and also to monitor events unfolding in next door Sierra Leone, yes?

  • Well, I can say yes, but I mean, we have - I don't want to limit it. Sierra Leone is just one of many areas that these people are responsible to monitor. I don't just want to limit it. They were not just sitting there to monitor Sierra Leone. If there were anything important of course they listened to it, but then we have to be very careful if we qualify it before you go further because even those individuals, the Minister of Information and the press secretary to the President, are not responsible for giving the President information. Whatever they collect it is the duty of the national security adviser. The press secretary doesn't come to the President and give him information or the Minister of Information. So I think we need to put it into context here. They listen to things, but the individual that is responsible for coming to the President to give him updates of important events as they determine it is the national security adviser. So the minister doesn't come to the President's office and say, "Guess what I heard on the radio." It doesn't work that way.

  • Very well. So that your source of information about events comes from, if I understand you correctly, yes, the national security adviser?

  • So what is the extent of your contact with the Minister of Information and also your press secretary?

  • The Minister of Information, cabinet meetings. He is present at cabinet meetings. If there are any extra issues that we need to get out to the public he would be called in by the chief of staff, which is the Minister of State, and briefed. So his contact is not too much. The press secretary, there's a lot more contact because the press secretary is present both in cabinet meetings and the press secretary had clearance for national security council meetings. And so there's a lot more contact with the press secretary than with the Minister of Information. Okay, so if we wanted to assign let's say on a scale from 1 to 10, let's say if the Minister of Information is on a scale of 4 the press secretary would be up to about 7.

  • Very well. Now, we're still on the same topic and you appreciate why I'm asking you this?

  • What about your national media sources such as television in Liberia, newspapers in Liberia, radio in Liberia. To what extent would you as President - putting aside whatever other resources may have been available to you, to what extent do you as President monitor that?

  • Newspaper more than radio and even television. There were principal newspapers that I read. So in the morning, every morning when the national security adviser came in for briefings there would be copies of specific newspapers that they know I liked to read.

    Local radios, even national radios, I very rarely had the time to really listen to it. I would probably listen to - let's say if there's a news hour, if I had the time in the evening I would go into the news hour. But other than that, in terms of if you look at radio, television, and newspapers, I would have more contact with newspapers over the other two.

  • Right. And bearing your answer in mind, what were your particular preferences so far as newspapers were concerned?

  • I would read the The Patriot which was the party newspaper.

  • The National Patriotic Party, the ruling party. They had a paper called The Patriot. And there was an interesting newspaper in town that I always used to want to see because I knew that it was connected somehow with western voices, a newspaper called The Inquirer. These are the newspapers that I read. I read The Inquirer almost every day.

  • Now The Inquirer you say had some western contact, yes?

  • What do you mean by that?

  • It was our knowledge and belief that they obtained financial assistance to remain in publication from the United States embassy and other NGOs, which we had no quarrel with, because newspapers in Liberia don't make money and so there was some like the US embassy and I think a couple of NGOs helped them and this was our information and we didn't have a quarrel with that.

  • Mr Griffiths, was that "Inquiry" or "Inquirer"?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, bearing in mind evidence given to this Court by Hassan Bility, I want to ask you a bit more about newspaper publication in Liberia before we move on. Now, you tell us that The Patriot was, in effect, the newspaper of your political party, yes?

  • That is correct.

  • Did other political parties in Liberia have a connection with particular newspapers in the same way?

  • Well, assist us with that, please.

  • For example, The Analyst that was run by Mr Bility, the ALCOP, the political party of ULIMO-K, had affiliation with ALCOP. There was The News. My understanding is that - I can't be exact, but my understanding was that that paper was sympathetic and controlled by some other parties.

  • Which parties?

  • I don't want to mislead the Court. I don't know exactly, but it was our information that, you know, that's the whole trend in Liberia. Every party tried to put out its voice through some little paper, so there were a host of papers. I think there were about a dozen or more.

  • What about The National?

  • The National newspaper, yes. I can't be too sure, but it was associated if not with the Unity Party, maybe one other party, but The National was also associated with another party.

  • Mr Taylor, let's be frank about this, given these party affiliations to newspapers, did each such newspaper have a particular bias in their reporting?

  • Of course. Of course, yes. There would be a slant. They would have their own slant to whatever story and propaganda they wanted to get out.

  • Did that include your party's paper, The Patriot?

  • I would say yes. I have to be frank, yes. We had our own slant.

  • I'm grateful. Now, still on the same topic, Mr Taylor, what was your view as President about freedom of the press?

  • I was very, very, very, very, very, very much in favour of freedom of the press. As a matter of fact, there were several things that we did to promote press freedom. In fact, it was during my administration that several things happened.

    The first thing that we did that was very important was the repeal of the PRC decrees, both 2A and 88A, because those were serving as certain constraints on the views, especially when we look on yesterday at 88A what they talk about lies, rumours and disinformation, and that included the press. That was - on the first day in office, that was removed.

    During my administration, several new newspapers opened up. Television stations opened up. Talk radio, call-in radios opened up during my administration. And it was during my administration, I was the first President of Liberia to establish a radio call-in programme. Once every month the public could call the President for up to - I took sometimes up to two hours to answer questions from anyone anywhere. We didn't even know who were calling. So we promoted that.

    And, as far as I'm concerned, I'm aware of at least maybe two - at least two sets of journalists that - at least I would say one set of journalists and one individual, like Mr Bility, that I still do not consider a journalist, and I will get into why --

  • Tell us later. But just answer the question first. We'll come back to it.

  • So that we really encouraged that. Television, radio, talk shows were all brought about - repeal of decree 88A were all done by me. So even political leaders and their expressions, very open. Even though I had difficulties with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, evidence has been led here, she came into the country and she spoke her will. So freedom of speech, freedom of press, I supported it 100 per cent.

  • And why?

  • Well, if you look back at my whole life - let's go back to the United States, when I arrived in the United States, the setting up of the union, fighting for rights, demonstrations in the United States. In fact, what took me back to Liberia in 1980 was because of freedom of speech and press and what had happened with the Tolbert administration that led me back to 1980 remaining in Liberia until the coup occurred. So I fought for rights of individuals and rights of speech throughout my adult life and that is very, very, very clear.

  • Now, bearing all of that in mind, Mr Taylor, bearing also in mind where we stopped yesterday, just after the Freetown invasion, does the name James P Rubin mean anything to you?

  • Ruben, at the - in or around 1999, Ruben was the official spokesperson for the United States State Department during the incumbency of Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State.

  • And I mentioned earlier Operation No Living Thing. Was anything said by the State Department about that operation which you have seen?

  • Yes, there was a statement that I have seen that was released somewhere, I think, back in May of, I think, 1998, 1999, if I'm not mistaken, from the State Department that was stated by James Rubin. I have seen that.

  • Yes. Can we have a look, please, behind divider 7 in the material disclosed for week 34. Now, Mr Taylor, can we take matters slowly, please. We see that this is a statement issued by the US Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, on 12 May 1998, and it's been published on the Sierra Leone Web. Now, help us, when did you first become aware of this item?

  • Since my incarceration.

  • And how did you become aware of it?

  • I've read it among the documents assembled by our team and since I've been held by the Court.

  • Now, just so that we can get some context for this, can you help us, in May 1998 - so we're talking about less than a year after you had been inaugurated as President - putting it bluntly, what were you up to?

  • May 1998? I was busy trying to get my administration going, that's all. There was nothing I was up to beyond that.

  • Now, let's have a look at the article, and then I'll come back and ask you one or two questions about this time frame:

    "For immediate release.

    May 12, 1998. Statement by James P Rueben spokesman, Sierra Leone: Rebel Atrocities Against Civilians.

    The United States urgently calls for an immediate end to the violence being wreaked on the civilian population of Sierra Leone by the Revolutionary United Front and the deposed military junta. Our ambassador in Freetown and State Department officials have visited survivors and heard stories of entire villages being slaughtered or mutilated by rebel forces. The RUF calls its cam bane 'Operation No Living Thing'. Hundreds of people are being treat in hospitals after rebels chopped their arms, legs and/or ears with machetes. Thousands more have died before they were able to reach medical help. Many women and children have been raped. This unspeakable cruelty is a gross violation of every tenet of human rights and International Humanitarian Law.

    The United States strongly condemns the rebels' horrific actions and urges rebel leadership to order an immediate end to the senseless slaughter, mutilation, and torture of the rural civilian population in Sierra Leone.

    There are distressing rumours that RUF and ex-junta forces are being assisted in their campaign of terror by other governments. Although we cannot confirm these rumours, it should be clear that any government or other party which is found to be helping the rebels to prolong the tragedy in Sierra Leone will face the strongest condemnation of the United States and the international community. "

    Now, first of all, the date, May, at that time, Mr Taylor, were you aware that there was this horrific campaign being waged against the civilian population in Sierra Leone?

  • May of 1998, yes, there were news reports of that, yes.

  • Were you aware that the campaign had been given the name Operation No Living Thing?

  • No, I was not aware of any operation by the name of that, no.

  • Had you instructed anyone to launch such a campaign?

  • No, I - how could I? No, I did not instruct anybody. I had no control over anybody in Sierra Leone to instruct them in any way. No.

  • Now, help us, Mr Taylor, because, you appreciate, as we've indicated in opening our case, that this period, February 1998 through to the end of January 1999, is at the core of this indictment. Now, help us. Could you see, from your vantage point as President of neighbouring Liberia, any advantage to be gained by launching such a campaign?

  • No, none whatsoever. If we look at even - if you look at this date, if you go back a few months, if you look at February, what happens in February of 1998? That's the intervention. The intervention occurs. This is an intervention that is - while we do not have a Security Council approval, but it is an ECOWAS operation. In March, Kabbah returns to Sierra Leone. In March. We are all working towards peace, so there is no way that - I mean, I would be in control or even acquiesce in any type of situation of this sort when, throughout the revolution in Liberia, we never had this - these kinds of atrocities and all. So this is impossible.

  • But, Mr Taylor, my question is slightly different and I am going to ask it again. Bearing in mind what is suggested against you by the Prosecution in this case, what advantage could you gain by terrorising the population of Sierra Leone as that population clearly were being terrorised in May of 1998? What did you stand to gain?

  • No advantage. Nothing to gain whatsoever.

  • Can you help us as to any kind of strategic gain you would have obtained from such a campaign?

  • None. None. None whatsoever. Strategic or otherwise, no gains.

  • We appreciate from the evidence, Mr Taylor, and we've never challenged this fact, that gross atrocities were committed during that period. Is that right? Do you accept that?

  • Oh, we accept that and we condemned it even at that time. We accept that.

  • That people's limbs were, for example, chopped off?

  • Yes, we condemned it. It was unconscionable, we said.

  • Now help us. Would it have helped to solve Liberia's economic problems to embark on such an orgy of violence?

  • Not only economic. It would not have helped any problem; economic, political, social or otherwise. It would not help Liberia in any way.

  • Mr Taylor, given the centrality of this issue I have to ask you further about this. Could such a campaign have bluntly put money in your pocket?

  • Could such a campaign have put diamonds in your pocket?

  • Could it have given you control of West Africa?

  • Now, going back to that article, last paragraph:

    "There are distressing rumours that the RUF and ex-junta forces are being assisted in their campaign of terror by other governments although we cannot confirm these rumours."

    Did you hear any such rumour at the time, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, we heard rumours that in Sierra Leone following the intervention - and don't let's forget where it all started from. After the intervention from that memo from Okelo what was said that there were mercenaries from Liberia, Burkina Faso and other countries, and they were just what he describes in here; rumours. We did hear these rumours and we said that they were untrue.

  • Have you ever been presented by the US State Department of State or any other body with evidence to substantiate such rumours?

  • No. We have not, and knowing how the United States government works - and I don't claim to know all the ways they work. James Rubin, speaking at the State Department here in the memo like this, would have said bluntly, "We have evidence. We have proof that X or Y or Z government is involved in assisting." The United States government is not afraid of any country or person to speak its mind and when it comes to these kind of human rights abuses they would have been specific and to the point. And I guess just as they had received it and evaluated it, he was factual here when he said, "We've heard these rumours and we cannot confirm them." They are just what he described them; rumours. That's all.

  • Mr Taylor, on the same note, President Kabbah, as you've told us, is reinstated in office in March of 1998 following the intervention?

  • Thereafter did you make contact with him?

  • Oh, yes. There was always contact with Kabbah, yes.

  • Well, help us. Did President Kabbah ever make any suggestion to you that you were the hidden hand behind those atrocities?

  • No. No. He never did that. In conversations with Kabbah he would always say, "Oh, my brother, there are Liberians involved in what is happening here." And I would say to him, "My dear, I don't know how these Liberians got over there, but I didn't send them. So if they are there, we are going to do the best that we can to encourage them to leave Sierra Leone and come home, because as far as Liberia is concerned, the war is over." But he had mentioned Liberians.

    Now, the twist to this, even at that time I did not know that he, Tejani Kabbah, knew who these Liberians, or at least some of them, were until I read his statement in the truth commission. So in a way I do feel a little betrayed because I do admit that Kabbah did mention that Liberians were there, but what he did not tell me at that time was that he knew why some of them were there.

  • So at the time, Mr Taylor, when you heard reference to Liberians in Sierra Leone, do I understand you correctly that you were unaware that they were actually members of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces?

  • Totally unaware. I knew that ULIMO was there, J and K. I knew that following my elections Liberians had crossed. I also knew that ECOMOG had taken some Liberians out of Liberia and they were part of the Kamajors that were being fully, 100 per cent backed by ECOMOG. But what I did not know was that they had formal employment with the Sierra Leonean government and some of them calling themselves STF. I did not know that.

  • So when did you discover that?

  • Really, I first discovered this after I read - okay, after I read the report - President Kabbah's statement before the truth commission before I said, "Oh, my God." You know, we used to hear rumours, but confirmation came when I read his accounts in the truth commission report. I said, "Oh, my God," but he knew.

  • So, Mr Taylor, when at the time - and I know it's difficult sometimes to unpack from one's mind information gleaned after the event, but try and put yourself in the mindset you were in in May 1998. When you heard Liberians in Sierra Leone, who did you think they were?

  • I thought they were just ULIMO-J, ULIMO-K and other AFL personnel that were down there that had run away following my election in 1997. That was my thing. And that, operating as normal mercenaries, that they would just go and fight. That was my own understanding of the situation. I did not know it was contractual.

  • And as far as you're aware, Mr Taylor, because remember we're in 1998 now and you've already been promoted to the Committee of Six, yes, 1998?

  • Committee of Five, sorry.

  • As far as you're aware, your colleagues on that committee, did they know of the existence of the STF?

  • I can't speak - no, I can't say precisely if they knew, because no one mentioned it to me in any meeting, so I can't - I can't be sure that they knew. Because don't forget now, we had to have been put on the Committee of Five since 1997. In fact as far back as August. Right after my inauguration, my first meeting, that took place. So no one had mentioned, no. So I can't be sure that they knew.

  • Now, before we move on, can I ask, please, Mr President, that that article appearing on the Sierra Leone Web, "US Department of State, statement by James P Rubin, spokesman, Sierra Leone rebel atrocities against civilians," dated 12 May 1998, be marked for identification MFI-235, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-235.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, as I say, we're jumping about in an effort to tie up one or two loose ends. Now, during the course of evidence we heard about an incident during the course of the interim government when an attempt was made to kill you. Do you recall that?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, first of all, just you tell us in your own words what occurred?

  • Well, that was - if my recollection is correct, that was back in 1996. There was a meeting scheduled by the Council of State at the Executive Mansion. I normally went to work on time, you know, to get some staff activities done. On this particular morning it was just real luck, I would call it, through the grace of Almighty God. This day I drove - I was taken to work in a Peugeot. A Peugeot car that had been given to me. A Peugeot armoured car that had been given to me by a very good friend, and this particular armoured vehicle operates a little differently. In some cases you will find a presidential armoured vehicle, the President would ride the back. But this car was designed in a way that the President actually rode the front seat and the securities sat in the back because the door of the car was designed that if the President came under attack, the securities would slide a chute open that you could slide open on the door and you could fire from within the car outside. Now that's unlike most other presidential security cars.

    So this particular day the securities - I just came out and through the grace of God I said, "Listen, I'm not going to ride this other car, I want to ride the Peugeot today because we haven't been using it," not knowing that at the mansion a trap had been set to assassinate me. Even other members of the Council of State who were supposed to all be going in early observed that nobody was going, so I went. I get to the mansion. And not knowing these guys are upstairs, my office then was on the sixth floor of the Executive Mansion, and not knowing that guys were looking through the window and they are used to the President getting out of the back of the car. Now, my security, who happened to have been my aide-de-camp at the time - in fact, a Gambian, Jackson Mani - got out of the car and he was in military uniform. And so those that were upstairs looking down to see what I was wearing saw this person getting out of the back of the car and the boys did not know - those individual upstairs did not know me, and so they had, really, what you call trained their eyes in on me.

    So by the time I get off the elevator on the sixth floor, the first thing I hear is a massive explosion on the sixth floor of the building followed by suppressive gunfire. Now, it is so terrible because the mansion at this time with all of the Council of State members going to office in that mansion, there was a rule that none of our security personnel could enter the building with arms. ECOMOG was responsible for the building. So we get upstairs and there is this suppressive fire.

    I managed to run and get into a bathroom, keep the door open. In fact, Jackson and all of them had rushed me into this room. I go into the bathroom, keep the door ajar, and I'm standing in a tub in the small bathroom. Jackson is in the floor. These guys come in and they fire and they killed the guy, and --

  • Killed which guy?

  • Jackson, who is in the military uniform, my aide-de-camp, and then they leave. By this time my securities that are downstairs on the first floor begin to fight their way from the ground floor upstairs to the sixth floor to get to me.

    There is a Nigerian captain with me. I just remember his first name, Ali, Captain Ali. He is hit. In fact, he is weakening and bleeding. So after these guys flee, we don't know the consequences. So he rushes into the room, he finds he me, but he is too weak to even hold his rife. He says, "Mr President, hold the rifle for me." And I am holding the rifle. By this time some of my guards fight their way upstairs. In fact, one of the first security men to reach me was an SS man called Ocebio Dehme. That name is on the records here. I am saved. I come downstairs. We lose about six or more persons that are killed because they don't even have guns to fire back. I'm taken downstairs. I get into the car and I run straight to the radio station.

    By this time - and it happened at a very crucial time. By this time the news has reached wrongly into Kakata and the Harbel area. These areas are familiar known by the Court. By this time thousands of my fighters are moving into Monrovia. It's a very, very, very tense time. I rush to the radio station and I announce that I'm okay and that all individuals that are en route to the city should return. And that is what brings it under control. Ali is taken by the ECOMOG people to their base, given some treatment. He has to be flown out to Nigeria. We bury most of our people. Those injured are taken to the hospital. This is what happened.

  • Who was responsible?

  • We - at that time, quite frankly, I would say we blamed the LPC individuals headed by George Boley because Boley's nominee at the time was the Minister of State and he had access to the building and his men, and the Minister of State then was a gentleman called Charles Breeze. That's B-R-E-E-Z-E. Now, I must state that this was what we calculated. I cannot say for certain that Boley was responsible, but they were the only people that had access to the building to have brought in weapons at the time.

  • Now, was the matter reported to the United Nations as far as you're aware, Mr Taylor?

  • Oh, yes, that was reported. A letter - a full report was reported on the shooting incident at the Executive Mansion at the time.

  • Who sent that report; do you know?

  • They changed special representatives so much, I - at this particular time, if I'm not mistaken, it could have been Anthony Nyaki. I'm not too certain, but I'm sure it was not Downes-Thomas. Thomas had not come in. It was most probably Nyaki, if I'm not mistaken.

  • Have you seen that report, Mr Taylor?

  • When did you see it for the first time?

  • I saw it for the first time here amongst some of the documentation put together by different investigators and different things.

  • Could the witness please be shown the document behind divider 9 in binder 1 of 4 for week 33:

  • Do you have the document, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, we see that it's from Nyaki, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNOMIL Monrovia, to Annan, Goulding, Gharekhan, at the United Nations in New York, and it's a Situation Report covering the period from 30 October to 5 November 1996. Do you see that?

  • Yes, I do.

  • And when we go over the page, we see that under the heading "Highlights: Shooting incident at the Executive Mansion." Yes?

  • And that's the only aspect of this report that I'm interested in. It goes on:

    "Political:

    The political developments over the past week were dominated by the shooting incident at the Executive Mansion which had the potential to disrupt the Liberian peace process ..."

    Did it have that potential Mr Taylor?

  • If I had, God forbid, gotten killed, oh, I don't know what would have happened. In the Harbel area of - which is - Harbel is very near Monrovia and the Kakata general area, I - we had in that general area between 10,000 to 15,000 fighting men in that general area. The chaos that this would have caused before it was brought under control, I can't begin to imagine what could have happened. I don't think ECOMOG was in a position to have been able to stop the conflict from there, because it was construed from the beginning: (1) that ECOMOG had complicit in this because they were responsible for the building and the security of the building; and the fact that this was carried out by what was seen at that time to be carried out by individuals associated with LPC, which LPC meaning the Liberian Peace Council that we've talked about in this Court. It would just have been catastrophic.

  • "... as well as by the preparations for the forthcoming meeting of the ECOWAS chiefs of staff and the Committee of Nine at the ministerial level and the organisation of a peace rally by the chairman of the Council of State."

    And then lest jump to the next paragraph because, as I say, I'm only interested in this incident, nothing else.

    "The shooting incident at the Executive Mansion on 31 October, which was allegedly an attempted assassination of Councilman Charles Taylor, posed a serious threat to the peace process. This incident was condemned by the NPFL leader, the force commander of ECOMOG, the chairman of the Council of State, and the mediating team and strongly deplored by UNOMIL."

    Just so that we can put some faces to titles, who was the commander of ECOMOG at the time?

  • Oh, '96, that's got to be - that's Victor Malu.

  • And the chairman of the Council of State at the time?

  • "Moreover, while taking swift actions to contain the situation, the ECOMOG force commander gave assurances that every effort will be made to preserve the security in Monrovia and that a thorough investigation into this incident will be carried out. For her part, in drawing lessons from this worrying development, the chairman of the Council of State stressed the need to augment ECOMOG's troops strength to enhance the security arrangements in Monrovia and to start searching members of the Council of State as they enter the Executive Mansion.

    In the wake of the shooting incident, the mediating team met with the chairman of the Council of State and with Councilman Charles Taylor to express to them the international community's solidarity and to appeal to the councilman to continue to exercise maximum restraint."

    That's all I intend to look at in this document, Mr Taylor, just so that we can fix a date to that incident, unless I'm asked to refer to any other section.

  • Could I ask then, please, Mr President, that this report be marked for identification MFI-236. It's a Situation Report from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Nyaki to the United Nations Headquarters re attempt to assassinate Charles Taylor, dated 5 November 1996.

  • This may help, counsel, his first name is Anthony. Anthony Nyaki.

  • Anthony Nyaki. Thank you.

  • Yes, that document is marked for identification MFI-236.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, we're still jumping around, as I indicated. Now, can we go, please, to - yes. Can we go, please, to October 1998. Now, at that time, Mr Taylor, do you recall any meeting of ECOWAS?

  • In October of 1998, what I do recall, at this time there are decisions. Because normally ECOWAS would meet a little earlier than October. But decisions of ECOWAS are normally published - the journal comes out every October and these ECOWAS journals would give decisions, because we have these biannual meetings. August is normally the time. But in October - the journal is published in October that gives accounts of our major decisions and one that I remember very well is the one dealing with the status of forces agreement that is published in October.

  • That's correct.

  • Now, could we please take up the Defence proposed exhibits for week 34 behind divider 4, please. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the official journal and which decision is it that you're directing our attention to?

  • The decision relating to the status of ECOMOG in Liberia. Let me see. That should be in October. I think this is related to item 3.

  • Mr Taylor, turn over until you come to a page at the bottom with 39. It's six pages in. Have you got it?

  • Just one minute. Yes. Yes.

  • That's what I'm talking about. That's the status of ECOMOG in Liberia. It's a status of forces agreement that I referred to.

  • Right. Let's go over the page, please:

    "Agreement relating to the status of ECOMOG in Liberia between the Economic Community of West African States and the Republic of Liberia.

    This status of ECOMOG agreement is made and entered into this 5th day of June 1998 by and between the Economic Community of West African States represented by and through its executive secretary, Lansana Kouyate, hereinafter known and referred to as ECOWAS, and the Republic of Liberia represented by and through its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Monie R Captan, hereinafter known and referred to as the government hereby.

    Whereas the Republic of Liberia was plunged into a civil war on 24 December 1989 resulting into massive destruction of property, loss of lives and breakdown of law and order;

    Considering the pathetic plight of innocent civilians as a result of the civil war and its threat to international peace and security, particularly to neighbouring countries and the West African sub-region as a whole;

    Conscious of the need for a stable and secure regional environment as an essential ingredient for effective regional cooperation;

    Considering that the ECOWAS standing mediation committee established by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS at its first summit meeting held in Banjul, The Gambia, from 6 to 7 August 1998, decided to deploy an ECOWAS ceasefire monitoring group, ECOMOG, to restore peace and stability to Liberia and to enforce a ceasefire amongst the warring factions;

    Aware that the aforesaid ECOWAS ceasefire monitoring group was deployed in the Republic of Liberia in August 1990 and has since its deployment not only undertaken vital humanitarian activity to alleviate the hardship of the people of Liberia, but has also provided security, maintained law and order and has successfully contributed to providing a conducive environment which facilitated the holding of a free, fair and democratic presidential and legislative elections in Liberia on 19 July 1997;

    Mindful that a democratically elected government has now been inaugurated and has assumed all sovereign powers of the republic;

    Aware, however, of the need for ECOMOG to remain on Liberian soil not only for the implementation of the remaining aspects of its mandate under the Abuja Accord but also to assist the government in providing security and the maintenance of law and order;

    Aware of the enormous commitment and the sustained efforts exerted by ECOWAS towards the peaceful resolution of the Liberian conflict and its desire to ensure that peace is maintained in Liberia even after elections and the installation of an elected government;

    Aware also that ECOMOG is made up of military, paramilitary and police personnel contributed on a voluntary basis from ECOWAS member states;

    Recalling the ECOWAS peace plan for Liberia as contained in the Yamoussoukro IV Accord of 30 October 1991;

    Recalling also the peace agreement Cotonou Accord, the Akosombo Agreement and its clarification signed in Accra on 21 December 1994 and the supplement to the Cotonou and Akosombo Agreements signed in Abuja on 19 August 1995, the Abuja Agreement;

    Conscious of the sovereignty of the Republic of Liberia and the need to define the status of ECOMOG, its members and its operations within the Republic of Liberia;

    Now therefore the parties hereby agree as follows."

    And following the definitional part which need not concern us, going to page 42, please:

    "Application of the agreement.

    Article II. Unless specifically provided otherwise, the provisions of this agreement and any obligation undertaken by the government or any privileges, immunity, facility, or concession granted to ECOMOG, or any member thereof, apply in the territory only.

    Article III. Application of the convention privileges and immunities of ECOMOG. The convention shall apply to ECOMOG subject to the special provisions specified in this agreement.

    Notwithstanding the application of the convention, ECOMOG shall enjoy the most favourable of any privilege, immunity, facility or concession granted under the convention as may be applicable to the parties concerned and the subject matter under consideration.

    ECOMOG, as a subsidiary organ of ECOWAS, enjoys the status, privileges and immunities of ECOWAS in accordance with the convention and as provided for in the present agreement. The provision of Article III of the convention shall also apply to the property, funds and assets of participating states used in the territory in connection with the national contingents serving in ECOMOG operations as provided for in Article II of the present agreement.

    The government recognises the right of the ECOMOG operations in particular:

    (a) to import free of duty and taxes equipment, provisions supplies and other goods which are for the exclusive and official use of ECOMOG operations or for resale in the commissaries provided for hereafter.

    (b) to establish, maintain and operate commissaries at its headquarters, camps and posts for the benefit of the members of the ECOMOG operations, but not of service personnel.

    (c) to clear ex-customs and excise warehouse free of duty and taxes equipment, provisions, supplies and other goods which are for the exclusive use of the ECOMOG operations or for resale in the commissaries provided for above.

    (d) to re-export or otherwise dispose of such equipment free of duty and taxes, all provisions, supplies and other goods so imported or cleared ex-customs and excise warehouse.

    To ensure that such importation, clearance, transfer or exportation may be effected with the least possible delay, a mutually satisfactory procedure, including documentation, shall be agreed between ECOMOG and the government.

    The special representative, the force commander and such other senior officials as the special representative or the force commander may designate shall be entitled to diplomatic privileges, immunities and facilities in accordance with the provisions of the convention.

    Military personnel assigned to the military section of ECOMOG shall have the privileges and immunities specifically provided for in this agreement.

    Members of the ECOWAS assigned to the civilian section to serve with the ECOMOG operation remain officials of their respective organisations entitled to the privileges and immunities provided by the convention.

    Other persons assigned to the civilian section of ECOMOG, as well as civilian personnel assigned to the military section whose names are for the purpose notified to the government by any of the special representatives, shall be considered as experts on mission within the meaning of the convention.

    Service personnel of ECOMOG shall not enjoy diplomatic immunities and tax exceptions. The government agrees to inform the special representative or the force commander of any incident concerning a service personnel."

    Now, Mr Taylor, we're going through this document in order to establish what the status of ECOMOG was following you coming to power as President, okay?

  • Now, from the section we've just looked at, effectively ECOMOG forces in Liberia enjoyed diplomatic immunity?

  • Does that mean that they could go wherever they wanted to, whenever they wanted to, free of any kind restraint by your government?

  • No, it did not mean that. This type of diplomatic immunity - this is unlike an ambassador accredited by a nation. The type of immunity that is granted here is one that, for example, if in the line of duty an ECOMOG personnel carried out something that was improper their respective governments would deal with them.

    Now, not being able to go any and everywhere would simply mean that, for example, if there were a particular government ministry or agency or a government post, maybe civilian or otherwise, that posed no security threat to the country that we requested their presence, they could not go there. They would have to seek the permission of government to go there.

    The function here of the status of forces agreement is to define specifically what the military will do in view of the fact that before my being elected as President, they operated really, I can say, as an occupation - well, no, that's a little harsh. They were in full control and did not have any authority to report to except really the chairman of ECOWAS.

    Now this status gave them the opportunity to work with the Government of Liberia and that will mean under some instructions from the authority of ECOWAS because each President forms a part of the authority. So there's a little different kind of immunity here. If something happened we could not just arrest them, incarcerate them and try them. What we would do is that we would turn them over to their governments. But this is a different kind of immunity.

  • Now, let's have a look at Article IV. Not all of it, just certain aspects of it:

    "Recognising the sovereignty of Liberia members of ECOMOG shall refrain from any activity incompatible with the impartial and international nature of their duties or inconsistent with the spirit of the present arrangements. They shall respect the sovereignty of Liberia and observe all its local laws and regulations.

    Without limiting the generality of paragraph 1 above, members of ECOMOG shall: Refrain from any involvement in private civil disputes between citizens of Liberia or otherwise attempt to settle such private disputes."

    "Not engage in any commercial business within the territory.

    3. ECOMOG shall collaborate with the government in the implementation of its remaining mandate in line with the protocols to be entered into between ECOWAS and the government."

    And the government undertakes at 4 to respect the exclusively international nature of ECOMOG. Let's not bother with taxation and customs and fiscal regulations. Quickly look over the page at 8 and 9:

    "The special representative, the force commander and members of ECOMOG shall wherever so required have the right to enter into, reside in, and depart from the territory.

    "9. The Government of Liberia undertakes to facilitate the entry into and departure from the territory of the special representative, the force commander and members of ECOMOG. ECOMOG undertakes to keep the government informed of such movements. For that purpose, the special representative, the force commander, and members of ECOMOG shall be exempt from passport and visa regulations and immigration inspection and restrictions on entering into or departing from the territory. They shall also be exempted from any regulations governing the residence of aliens in the territory including registration, but shall not be considered as acquiring the right to permanent residence or domicile in Liberia."

    Can I pause there, Mr Taylor, to ask this: There's a provision in the Liberian constitution which allows anyone who enters, you've told us, to become a Liberian citizen, yes?

  • Yes, upon request, yes.

  • Did the same apply, for example, to ECOMOG forces despite this provision?

  • Yes. If a military personnel from Nigeria, Ghana or whatever while serving with ECOMOG decided that maybe upon the termination of their term of duty wanted citizenship of Liberia, yes, that would apply.

  • Okay. At 10, 11, 12 and 13 it deals with various administrative matters regarding the movement of that personnel which need not detain us. Let us just look quickly, please, at paragraph 14, uniform and arms:

    "Military members of ECOMOG operations shall wear while performing official duties the national military or police uniform of their respective states with standard ECOWAS accoutrements. The wearing of civilian dress by the above mentioned members of ECOMOG may be authorised by any of the special representatives or the force commander at other times. Military members of ECOMOG and such civilian personnel as may be designated by the force commander may possess and carry arms while on duty in accordance with their functions."

    Let's ignore permits and licences, please, but look quickly at paragraph 16:

    "The force commander shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the maintenance of discipline and good order amongst members of ECOMOG as well as service personnel. To this end, personnel designated by the force commander shall police the premises of ECOMOG operations and such areas where its members are deployed. Elsewhere such personnel shall be deployed only subject to arrangements with the government if necessary to maintain discipline and order."

    Then at 17 we see that they have the power of arrest over military members of ECOMOG and to take appropriate disciplinary action and it deals with arrangements for taking into custody. Can we go, please, over to page 47 and I'm looking at Article VI which deals with communications:

    "ECOMOG shall enjoy the facilities in respect of communications provided for in the convention only for the purpose of executing its task. Issues with respect to communications which may arise and which are not specifically provided for in this agreement shall be dealt with pursuant to the relevant provisions of the convention.

    Subject to the provisions of paragraph 1, ECOMOG shall have authority to install and operate radio sending and receiving stations as well as satellite systems to connect appropriate points within the territory with each other and with ECOWAS, UN and OAU officials in other countries and to exchange traffic with their communications networks.

    The telecommunications services shall be operated in accordance with the United Nations International Telecommunications Convention and regulations and the frequencies on which any such station may be operated shall be decided upon in cooperation with the government.

    ECOMOG shall enjoy, within the territory, the right to unrestricted communication by radio (including satellite, mobile and handheld radio) telephone, telegraph, facsimile or any other means and of establishing the necessary facilities for maintaining such communications within and between the premises of ECOMOG."

    We need not deal any further with that. Let's jump to travel and transport. Article VII:

    "ECOMOG and its members shall enjoy, together with its vehicles, vessels, aircraft and equipment freedom of movement throughout the territory. The special representative and the force commander shall inform the government of planned movements of personnel, stores or vehicles through airports, railways or roads used for general traffic within the territory. The government undertakes to supply ECOMOG, where necessary, with maps and other information that may be useful in facilitating its movements.

    Vehicles, including all military vehicles, vessels and aircrafts of ECOMOG shall not be subject to registration or licensing by the government."

    Let's go to 4:

    "ECOMOG may use roads, bridges, canals and other waters, port facilities and airfields without the payment of dues, tolls or charges, including wharfage charges other than charges for services rendered."

    Then quickly look at Article IX.

    "The Government of Liberia shall provide without cost to ECOMOG and in agreement with the special representative and the force commander, such areas for headquarters, camps or other premises as may be necessary for the conduct of the operational and administrative activities of ECOMOG and for the accommodation of its members."

    And 2:

    "The government undertakes to assist ECOMOG in obtaining and making available where applicable water, electricity and other facilities free of charge and in the case of interruption or threatened interruption of service, to give, as far as is within its powers, the same priority to the needs of the group as to essential government services."

    "Only the force commander or a duly authorised" - this is number 4 - "official of ECOMOG may consent to the entry of any government official or any other person not a member of the group to such premises."

    And we see at 7 the provision for the recruitment of local personnel. Over the page at Article XII, liaison:

    "The special representative, the force commander and the government shall take appropriate measures to ensure close and reciprocal liaison at every appropriate level."

    Then there are various miscellaneous provisions and we see that it's signed by Lansana Kouyate and by Monie Captan and it's dated 5 June 1998. But before we leave here, Mr Taylor, can we just go back to pages 11 and 12, please. Do you have them?

  • And we see that it's a list which relates to those individuals and organisations who participated and contributed to the ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. And we see first of all troop contributing countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, la Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Tanzania.

    Let's ignore the next one. Over the page, please. At 5, ECOMOG force commanders which will be helpful. We see that from August 1990 to September 1990 it was Lieutenant General Arnold Quainoo. He was succeeded by Lieutenant General Joshua Dogonyaro; then by Major General Rufus M Kupolati; then by Major General Ishaya Bakut; then by Adentunji I Olurin; then Brigadier General John N Shagiya; then Major General John Mark Inienger; then Major General Malu; and then Major General Timothy M Shelpidi. Now Malu, Shelpidi and Quianoo you've mentioned before, haven't you, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I have.

  • So, Mr Taylor, this agreement made in June of 1998, did that govern the status of ECOMOG forces in Liberia until they departed?

  • Yes, it did.

  • So the various legal privileges, et cetera, which they enjoyed, they enjoyed throughout that period?

  • And just for completeness sake, what was the situation prior to June 1998?

  • Well, it was very, very problematic. If you remember an issue that was stated before this Court where following the intervention in Sierra Leone on or about 14 February 1998 when two helicopters of the Sierra Leonean government flew into Spriggs Payne Airport and there was an issue as to jurisdiction. And they wanted to exercise jurisdiction. We said no, and we've testified here about the flying over my convoy and all that kind of stuff. So we had a lot of problems before then because they had not worked themselves out of the initial mode of peacekeeper and almost Lord of the land into the new role that had to be one of capacity building and one not still of peace enforcement. So we had a lot of difficulties before this time.

  • Let's look quickly, I'm helpfully reminded by Mr Anyah, at page 12 just so that we can look at a couple other names before we put this document to one side. Let's look, first of all, please, at category 8 on page 12. And we see under that Receiving a Citation in Recognition of His Contribution to Regional Peace, we see at number 11 Brigadier General Mujakperuo. Yes?

  • Again, another name which we've encountered before?

  • And then under number 9, Citation in Recognition of Your Contribution to Regional Peace as Special Representative to Liberia, we see one Mr James Victor Gbeho, who you had mentioned yesterday.

  • And also Ambassador Joshua Iroha.

  • Who was Ambassador Joshua Iroha?

  • Ambassador Iroha lastly served even as international investigator for the Defence in my case, but he was ambassador and worked very closely throughout the Liberian crisis of the years of the civil war. He had previously served as Nigerian ambassador to the European Union, a very career diplomat.

  • And, sadly, died recently?

  • Yes, while serving as international investigator for my team.

  • Then under 10, Citation in Recognition of Your Contribution to Regional Peace as ECOMOG Task Force Commander Sierra Leone, Brigadier General - that's Maxwell Khobe, yes?

  • Yes. I think we can leave this document now.

  • If I may just add here for you, counsel, there was a statement on page 47 under "communications", 2A, that I just want to draw the Court's attention to maybe what could be important in the future:

    "ECOMOG shall have authority to install and operate radio sending and receiving stations as well as satellite stations to connect appropriate points within the territory with each other and with ECOWAS, UN and OAU officials in other countries and to exchange traffic with their communication network."

    I think, counsel, this may be very helpful. This is referring to intelligence. And let's not forget about the time we're talking about. At this particular time in that region, the British are there with communication facilities, and a little later on, in 1998, we are aware of the Chinook incident. So the Americans and the British have assets, communication and other assets within that region, and so what is going on here, ECOMOG has contact and can receive and they share intelligence with these assets that are in those areas. I think it's important to mention here because some of these accusations that have been made, not only were they there, but even ECOMOG had the opportunity of connecting with these assets that were available to them not just in Liberia, Sierra Leone, but other countries, whether it was Guinea or whether it was Ivory Coast. So the point I'm trying to make here, that they had access to factual evidence. I think it may be very important before we go.

  • Now, that is extremely important, Mr Taylor. So - and help us, did you have knowledge of the extent of ECOMOG's intelligent-gathering capability in Liberia at the time? We're talking about 1998 here, a very critical year in terms of the indictment. What kind of intelligence-gathering capability did they have, to your knowledge?

  • They had a lot. They had a major intelligence unit, but even assisting them was the presence of these assets that I talked about that are being held by other countries. Because at this time ECOMOG is now moving into Sierra Leone, and so because ECOMOG is operating as an international force, even though it is ECOWAS's force but it is international, and then let's not forget another very important point, the deployment of ECOMOG in Liberia, while it is an ECOWAS venture, that deployment - and its actions in Liberia - are also covered under Chapter VII of the United Nations. So these large forces that are deployed around the world, whether it is the African Union force or ECOWAS force, they do not take place unless they take place under authorisation of Chapter VII of the United Nations. So by operating under Chapter VII, member states have a responsibility at least to assisting them carry out their duties.

    So even if ECOMOG forces internally to Liberia and Sierra Leone did not have certain capabilities, member states within the facilities having certain capabilities would provide them with those capabilities. So it really didn't matter how strong they were, they did have these, but they had the assistance of other countries, specifically these countries that had assets within the area.

  • So that - does that mean that, for example, ECOMOG commanders could avail themselves of satellite imagery provided by the United States of America or other western states?

  • Well, let me put it this way, because some of these intelligence agencies - I mean, I'll put it this way: If Britain or the United States, with assets in those areas, picked up something that it felt was essential to the operation of ECOMOG in carrying out its duties in Sierra Leone or Liberia, they would make it available.

  • Now, with that in mind, let's go over the page and perhaps in haste I overlooked something else in that regard. Let's go over the page to page 48 and complete paragraph B, which we - I ended at the words "ECOMOG including". Let's have a look at it toto:

    "For maintaining such communications within and between the premises of ECOMOG including the laying of cables and landlines and the repeater stations. The frequencies on which the radio will operate shall be decided upon in consultation with the government, it being understood that connections with the local systems of telegraphs, telex and telephones shall be made in consultation with the government; it being further understood that the use of local system of telegraphs, telex and telephones shall be at no cost to ECOMOG." Yes?

  • Does that mean, Mr Taylor, that the Government of Liberia would share frequencies with ECOMOG?

  • No. No. What would happen is that, when they talk about repeaters here, what a repeater station is, a repeater is a communications system set up that will operate on a fairly, fairly medium frequency that would provide long - a little longer range communication between groups. So you would have them operate on different frequencies and you have to assign frequencies because you do not want several people being assigned the same frequency. This is not like the two-way radio that we were talking about being used by military people like the RUF explained here. These repeaters come in different - from my understanding, 25 watts, 50, 150 watts. You click on - you have a handpiece and you click to activate the repeater and it sends out the message over a long period, I mean, area. But it does not go very, very far, so you may have a series of repeaters.

    But what is important about this I think that we ought to emphasise is that while it is true government gave those frequencies, government did not have access to listening in, because what would happen with these frequencies, for example, you can be given a frequency, you can put on a repeater, so we may think, no, for example, you may be on a particular number, but major countries, and like ECOMOG, they have a system that is installed to the repeater called a scrambler. So what you would do, you would know the frequency, but they will scramble the communication, intelligence, top agencies do this, even telephone calls are scrambled, that you would not listen to it if you - let's say if somebody was on the phone and you were listening to it, it would just sound like a lot of noise. You would get nothing from it.

    So the important point here to emphasise is that we gave the frequencies, they had them, but access to information is so controlled and scrambled that only those that are privileged to listening to them had, you know, the ability to do that.

  • Yes, Mr Taylor, that's what I was going to ask you about. So you as the President of Liberia or your security forces, would you have access to the ECOWAS radio frequencies?

  • No. No. We couldn't listen to them. We couldn't listen to them.

  • So did you have the capability then to monitor their radio traffic so that in order - bearing in mind the allegation you face, in order to facilitate, for example, the easy, uninterrupted movement of arms and ammunition to Sierra Leone? Do you understand?

  • Yes, I understand. No, no, no, no, we could not listen in to the communication. No, we couldn't.

  • Could you, for example, monitor when Alpha Jets might be deployed?

  • No, we couldn't. The only time we would know there is an Alpha Jet, we would hear it in the air. They are very, very noisy, but we would not know. All of their communication was - in fact, the word that is used was secured. That is, they are scrambled at a level where you can't listen to it, no.

  • Yes. Now, unless there is any other matter that you would like to draw our attention to in this document, Mr Taylor, I would like us to move on, please.

  • Could I ask then, please, Mr President, that the ECOWAS Journal, Volume 35, dated October 1998, containing a document on the status of ECOMOG in Liberia, be marked for identification MFI-237, please.

  • Yes, that's marked MFI-237.

  • Now, whilst dealing with the question of ECOMOG status in Liberia, was there equally a decision made as to ECOMOG's mandate in Sierra Leone, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes. Yes, an extension to that mandate was done by the Heads of State extending ECOMOG's mandate into Sierra Leone.

  • Right. And was that decision reported?

  • Oh, yes. Oh, yes. That decision was reported by - in fact, in the journals also. You know, though it required some clarifications later, but it was reported.

  • Yes. Let's have a look behind divider 5, please, in that same volume. Do you have it?

  • And we're only interested in the first document which begins at page 2. Let's go to page 2, please. What are we looking at, Mr Taylor?

  • We are looking at the new decision redefining ECOMOG's mandate in Sierra Leone.

  • And we see that, bearing in mind, as they say, Article 7, 8 and 9 of the revised treaty establishing the authority of Heads of State and also Article 8(2) of the revised treaty relating to the chairman of the authority of Heads of State and also the final communique emanating from the 21st authority of Heads of State and Government meeting, notably paragraph 32, which states that Heads of State and Government have unanimously elected Republic of Togo as the chair of ECOWAS for 1998 to 1999. And also bearing in mind the decision of August 1997 extending the scope of ECOMOG activity and mandate to cover Sierra Leone, and also the ECOWAS peace plan for Sierra Leone signed in Conakry on 23 October 1997 and the ceasefire signed in Lome on 18 May 1999; and the peace agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front signed in Lome on 7 July 199 - that should be 1999, shouldn't it?

  • It reads 1989, but it should be 1999. Lome is 1999, isn't it, Mr Taylor?

  • So we should correct that to 1999.

    And also considering the 21st session of the authority of Heads of State and Government had recommended that the Sierra Leonean crisis should be resolved through a combination of dialogue to foster national reconciliation and the strengthening of ECOMOG; and also the consultations held with his peers, the ECOWAS chairman initiated an organised internal dialogue between the leader of the Revolutionary United Front and his lieutenants; and considering that negotiations organised between the Sierra Leonean parties by the ECOWAS chairman led to the signing in Lome on 7 July 1999 of a peace agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone; that in order to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the above mentioned peace agreement, it will be necessary to immediately adapt the mandate of ECOMOG to reflect the new exigencies of peace and national reconciliation in Sierra Leone.

    And on the recommendation of the signatories to the peace agreement of 7 July 1999 between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone, and acting on behalf of the authority of Heads of State and Government, decides: Article I, the new ECOMOG mandate in Sierra Leone shall hereinafter be defined as follows: ECOMOG shall maintain peace and security of the Sierra Leonean state; ECOMOG shall provide protection for UNOMSIL and the personnel working in the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme.

    In this connection, ECOMOG shall monitor, verify and collate within the joint ceasefire monitoring commission to be created throughout the country and of which it shall be a member all reports of ceasefire violations received from the commission and, together with the other members, carry out the necessary investigations and take appropriate measures."

    Cause we pause there for a minute, Mr Taylor?

  • When it says monitor, verify and collate all reports of ceasefire violations, would the supply of arms to the RUF be considered a ceasefire violation?

  • So it was part of ECOMOG's job, was it, to monitor such things?

  • Oh, definitely. But even, counsel, if you look at A, this is a little - "A, ECOMOG shall maintain peace and security of the Sierra Leonean state." This marks the beginning of a very serious point in that whole Sierra Leonean crisis. In effect, what has happened here - and I can remember the discussions very well - what happens here, now, ECOMOG becomes the armed forces in everything of the state of Sierra Leone. In fact, they now run all security and maintenance of peace within the republic. Not as they had operated before as aiding. Now they are in full control of everything. I think this is - I remember this discussion. We were concerned about this level of mandate in view of the fact that President Kabbah was back in office and as the legitimate President. But this gave ECOMOG now a new type of mandate, and so they are responsible to monitor arms going in, arms coming out, security movement, everything now is under the forces commander's command.

  • Right. And 2B, "provide security throughout the country for the authorities and persons resident in Sierra Leone and for military observers of UNOMSIL, human rights monitors, humanitarian aide workers, and staff of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme. In conjunction with UNOMSIL, disarm all fighters of the Revolutionary United Front, the CDF, the ex-Sierra Leone armed forces, and paramilitary groups; establish roadblocks and checkpoints to check movement of arms and ammunition and assist in directing refugees and displaced persons."

    And that power could be exercised throughout Sierra Leone, could it, Mr Taylor?

  • Throughout, yes.

  • To establish roadblocks and checkpoints to check movement of arms and ammunition?

  • That is correct, borders, airports, seaports, everything.

  • And, Mr Taylor, just so that we're clear about this, you were involved in the discussions, were you, which led to the establishment of this mandate?

  • Yes. This is a decision of the Heads of State, yes.

  • "Man entry points, land, sea, and air, in order to prevent illegal movement of arms and ammunition into or out of the country."

    Is that right?

  • "Conduct confidence patrols to provide free movement of people and easy distribution of relief materials. Conduct, cordon and search operations to recover hidden arms. Provide protection and escort duties to VIPs including government officials, United Nations officials, and NGO personnel involved in humanitarian relief activities. Clearing of land mines and opening of all major roads to commercial activities and normal civilian traffic. Deployment of troops in all disarmament centres and arms collection sites to enhance disarmament and provide security to encamped ex-combatants. Restrict the ex-SLA to the barracks and supervise the return of arms and ammunition to armouries and magazines; establish safe corridors and location for the settlement of refugees and the distribution of humanitarian relief materials. Provide assistance in the screening of combatants. Provide security for the weapons and ammunition retrieved during disarmament and demobilisation as well as the arms depot. Assist in the destruction of recovered arms and ammunition. Conduct security patrols guarding of key points and vital points. Supervise the withdrawal of mercenaries from Sierra Leone in collaboration with the joint ceasefire monitoring commission."

    Can we have a look at that a little closer, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, as a consequence of this - and we see when we glance below that this is signed on 25 August 1999.

  • That is correct.

  • Now, as a consequence of that provision, supervise the withdrawal of mercenaries from Sierra Leone, did, for example, former members of the STF return to Liberia?

  • No, they did not. They did not. They remained there.

  • Did, for example, those Liberians recruited, as you told us, by Hinga Norman and ECOMOG for the CDF, did they return?

  • Some of them returned. Not identifiable. People were slipping into the country. But the real ones that were with the STF did not.

  • So what happened to the - those who were with the STF, as far as you're aware?

  • As far as I'm aware, most of these guys with the STF remained in Sierra Leone. Some of them even applied to join the new armed forces. In fact, they were considered as such even with the reorganisation of the Sierra Leonean armed forces. Some of them were given, to the best of our knowledge, compensation during the process of reorganising the Sierra Leonean army. In fact, I have seen documents where their commander was demanding some attention from the Sierra Leonean government because of their long-term services.

  • Who was their commander?

  • General Bropleh was demanding certain services for his men.

  • Mr Taylor, as you've told us, you were party to the decisions which led to this mandate being drawn up?

  • So you were aware then, as of August 1992 or shortly before that, that this was the nature of the power exercised by ECOMOG in Sierra Leone?

  • August 1999, yes. Don't forget now, counsel, this is right after Lome. This is right after Lome, and this is now putting into prospective what is supposed to happen, dissolving, in fact, the Sierra Leonean armed forces as it existed and even the group associated with President Kabbah - remember, there's a portion of the Sierra Leonean armed forces that are still loyal to Kabbah while he is even in exile. So this, really, now, by putting ECOMOG in control of the entire country, this will set into motion the process of disarming everyone, the Sierra Leonean armed forces, including that group, the STF, and everybody else.

  • So, Mr Taylor, knowing that ECOMOG had the power to establish roadblocks and checkpoints to check movement of arms and ammunition and that they had power to man entry ports, land sea, and air, in order to prevent illegal movement of arms and ammunition, why did you, as alleged, continue to make arms shipments to the RUF?

  • I don't know why that allegation was made, because that didn't happen. It was not possible. Not possible at all.

  • "Supervise technical assistance with regard to the demining, dismantling and destruction of all devices and similar weapons. The force commander shall report to the chairman of authority through the executive secretary on the implementation of the ECOMOG mandate. This decision shall be published by the executive secretariat in the official journal of the community." We see that it is signed by President Eyadema, yes?

  • Mr President, can I use the remaining time to ask that this ECOWAS journal dated August 1999 dealing with ECOMOG's mandate in Sierra Leone be marked for identification MFI-238, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-238, and I think we'll take the morning break now and we'll resume at 12 o'clock.

  • [Break taken at 11.30 a.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 12.00 p.m.]

  • Yes, Mr Taylor, before the short adjournment, we looked at the ECOWAS journal for August 1999 dealing with the ECOMOG mandate in Sierra Leone, yes?

  • Now, I'd like us to move on, please. Now, you recall, Mr Taylor, that there were difficulties between your government and the Guinean government following incursions across your mutual border?

  • Now, was any decision taken by ECOMOG with regard to that - ECOWAS, I mean?

  • Well, there was a discussion. ECOWAS met, but this is a little in front, I think it's around 2000 we're talking about now, where a decision was taken that encouraged the cooperation between our countries and the establishment of monitors at the borders and cooperation that was taken by the authorities to help calm the situation between Liberia and Guinea.

  • And which year do you say that was?

  • Well, that was coming towards the end of 2000, if I recall correctly, yes.

  • Could you please look behind divider 6 in the documents disclosed for week 34, please. Do you have it, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, item number 4 on this list, yes, do you see decision 4 December 2000 relating to the deployment of ECOMOG along the border areas of Guinea and Liberia?

  • Let's go over the page, please:

    "24th Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government. Decision relating to the deployment of ECOMOG along the border areas of Guinea and Liberia.

    The Authority of Heads of State and Government, mindful of Articles 7, 8 and 9 of the revised treaty establishing the Authority of Heads of State and Government and defining its composition and functions;

    Mindful also of Article 7 of the protocol relating to the mechanism for conflict prevention, management, resolution, peacekeeping and security establishing the ECOWAS ceasefire monitoring group;

    Mindful also of Articles 21 and 22 of the protocol relating to the composition and role of ECOMOG respectively;

    And of pledges made by member states to contribute troops that would constitute ECOMOG stand-by units;

    Deploring the deteriorating security situation along the border areas of Guinea and Liberia resulting in the massive loss of life and property as well as the displacement of thousands of people;

    Desiring to monitor the border areas between the two countries to arrest the armed incursions and re-establish peace and security in the area;

    On the recommendation of the fourth and fifth ministerial meetings of the mediation and Security Council held in Abuja on 4 October 2000 and in Bamako on 12 and 13 December 2000 respectively;

    On the proposal of the meeting of ECOWAS ministers of foreign affairs held in Bamako on 13 December 2000.

    Decides.

    Article 1. The ceasefire monitoring group (ECOMOG) shall be deployed as an interposition force along the border areas of Guinea and Liberia."

    We'll come back and deal with the implications of that in a minute but let's just complete the decisions.

    "Article 2. The ECOMOG interposition force shall be armed and may need to take measures to ensure the security and free movement of its personnel during the execution of its mandate.

    Article 3. The executive secretary shall convene a meeting of the defence and security commission to make appropriate proposals to the ministerial level of the mediation and Security Council on the force structure, strength, mandate and its rules of engagement taking into account the report of the reconnaissance team.

    Member states shall in accordance with Article 35 of the protocol release upon request ECOMOG stand-by units pledged.

    The United Nations is requested to provide all the necessary support that will make the force operational."

    And the decision shall be published in the official journal, and that is dated the 16th day of December 2000. Now, let's go back and look at this now, Mr Taylor. Firstly, was an ECOMOG force deployed on the border as a consequence of this decision?

  • What was termed then logistical, financial and other reasons we did not get the support for the deployment of this force. If we look at this period, ECOMOG is now concentrated in Sierra Leone, and so conducting reconnaissance, moving a new force requires money, logistical support and there was just no financing for that.

  • Now, where at Article 3 reference is made to a reconnaissance team, had there been deployed such a reconnaissance team along the border area?

  • Not deployed. A reconnaissance team visited the area, and I'm using deployment in the sense of stationed, they were not, okay, but they visited the general area both on the Guinean and on the Liberian side of the borders.

  • Very well. Yes, let's move on then, Mr Taylor.

  • But before we do so, Mr President, could I ask, please, that that ECOWAS journal, volume 38, dated December 2000, relating to the deployment of ECOMOG along the border areas of Guinea and Liberia, be marked for identification MFI-239, please.

  • Yes, that document is marked MFI-239.

  • Now, can I invite your Honours, please, to put to one side this volume dealing with week 34 and could I ask you to take up at this stage now, please, volume 35:

  • Now, Mr Taylor, again, we're engaged in tidying up one or two loose ends, okay?

  • Now, I want to take you now then, please, to the year 1999, yes?

  • Now, you've already assisted us by explaining the process of arms destruction that year, okay?

  • Which eventually culminates in August with the beginning of that destruction.

  • Which is concluded by October of 1999. And we've looked at documentation in that regard, yes?

  • I would like us now, please, just to deal with one or two other documents outlining that process, okay? Now, first of all, Mr Taylor, was the Liberian government desirous of retaining some of those arms for its own use?

  • Now, did you, in 1999, at the beginning of the year, communicate with the Secretary-General of the United Nations in those terms?

  • And what did you speak to the Secretary-General about in that letter?

  • Well, we wrote a letter to the Secretary-General mentioning that we were proposing the inspection of the arms and a process where the very good ones could be put up and laid aside for future armed forces and the very bad ones being destroyed. But we did not get our way with that. In fact, when the Secretary-General responded, it was more like that he would send a team down to look at it, but he did not concur - in fact, he could not have concurred alone with our proposition.

  • Okay. I'd like you, please, to look behind divider 1 in this volume. What are we looking at, Mr Taylor?

  • This is the January letter written in dealing with the arms and who maintains possession of the arms. This is generally the scope of this letter.

  • Right:

    "22 January 1999, Mr Secretary-General, I am pleased to present my compliments and to raise the matter of arms collected by ECOWAS and verified by UNOMIL during the disarmament process in Liberia prior to the holding of general and presidential elections in July 1997. These arms which are presently in the joint custody of the United Nations and ECOWAS are the properties of the sovereign Government of Liberia. The commitments of my government and the decisions of the United Nations and ECOWAS will continue to be respected by my government.

    The recent developments surrounding the present withdrawal of ECOMOG from Liberia raises concerns regarding the safeguarding of those arms. My government wishes to state that it will not accept the removal of these arms from the territory of Liberia and that the United Nations must ensure that the arms remain in its custody. The continued safekeeping of the arms by the United Nations will provide sufficient satisfaction to my government."

    Can I pause, Mr Taylor. Why were you concerned about the removal of the arms from the territory of Liberia?

  • We were getting, I will call it, intelligence from our people that two things were in process. That there was a plan underway to evacuate the containers containing the arms out of Liberia to either Sierra Leone or Nigeria and we were opposed to that.

  • They were the properties of the Liberian people, and so, if they needed to move them, they should have sought our - at least our acquiescence. And so, you know, you can't just come into a sovereign country and just take things out without anybody knowing. We, under most circumstances, would not have objected, but just to hear tomorrow, "What happened? The containers are gone." So we said no, because we were concerned, again, that those arms could either be resold, reused in other conflicts somewhere and so we wanted to make sure that the United Nations in the first instance and my government knew exactly what was happening to those arms.

  • "Excellency, I wish to assure the United Nations that despite speculations in some quarters, my government will make no attempt to take custody of these arms by force or engage in any unilateral course of action. It should be noted that the presence of ECOMOG in Liberia did not deter my government from taking custody of the arms, instead it was our respect for the commitments we have made and our recognition for the proper procedures of dealing with ECOWAS and United Nations regarding this matter.

    At the same time, I wish to bring to your attention that Liberia remains threatened by dissidents outside of the country and the withdrawal of ECOMOG leaves the country vulnerable to external aggression and the activities of Liberian dissidents. Additionally, the continued United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Liberia jeopardises and compromises the national security of Liberia and our democratically elected government. If we are ever subjected to external aggression, we will not hesitate to request the use of these arms from the United Nations.

    Finally, I wish to state that my government is amenable to the possible destruction of unserviceable arms, while the remaining arms could remain in the custody of the United Nations for the future utilisation by the Liberian army.

    Excellency, permit me to assure you that the Republic of Liberia shall remain disposed to giving the United Nations peace building office in Liberia its fullest cooperation."

    Now, Mr Taylor, why were you saying that serviceable arms could be retained for the future utilisation by the Liberian army?

  • Well, you know, as I think back, it was a very, very silly decision that I and my government took to permit the destruction of the good arms. It was very - it was a silly decision, okay, because let's - I mean, we were going to train a new army anyway, so you're going to have good arms, burn them, destroy them, then you go and train an armed force and take taxpayers money and buy arms to equip the army. Isn't that silly? I mean, it was a very, very, very bad decision. So we wanted to - it would have been good to retain them to avoid the process of having to take taxpayers money again to equip an army that had to be trained. It was a very - but we were under so much pressure, and I can see the sinister motive involved in this destruction, and we saw it immediately after we succumbed to that process.

  • So, Mr Taylor, if it was such a silly decision, why did you take it in the first place?

  • My dear counsel, the pressures - oh my God, the pressures that come from this international community when they want something done, you - the biggest of country falls sometimes under this. You don't rest. They are giving every - they give you every reason to do what they want. "Mr Taylor, Mr President, you know, we want to help this country, you want to put the war behind us, this will be a very good indication that the war is finished." What was said to me - I forgot the Biblical thing where you - something into plough shares and something in pruning hopes. I don't know the Biblical thing. We're going to have to find that. All kinds of things. "This will open doors for you. Assistance will come from the international community." Only to know that this was a trap and this caused this whole LURD invasion. That's what I mean by it was very silly, but the pressure brought us to accept this.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, just to divert slightly at this point, now, as I say, we're busy clearing up loose ends here.

  • But before I go to another loose end, can I ask, please, that that letter from President Taylor to the United Nations Secretary-General, dated 22 January 1999, relating to the destruction of arms collected in Liberia, be marked for identification MFI-240, please.

  • Now, a different topic, Mr Taylor. Now, in 1999, did your government produce a white paper on the Sierra Leone civil crisis?

  • Yes, we did produce a white paper, but let's probably put here into perspective the process and what led to this white paper. We're dealing with a very crucial year here. We know that 6 January of 1999, I think it's accepted that that's the Freetown invasion. Following that invasion in January, there were immediately some accusations because of Liberians that were supposed to have been killed or captured in Freetown at that time, and so the world is filled with rumours that Taylor sent people into Freetown.

    Following the three or four days of fighting, ECOWAS and the Committee of Five is into motion trying to get a ceasefire and the whole process back on track. I can remember I helped in putting together - in fact, I announced the first ceasefire by mid-January, that the RUF had agreed to a ceasefire, and that was also discussed with colleagues on the committee, but there were these continuous accusations.

    So by February, I can remember, we did an official paper outlining our own contribution to the peace process and what we were proposing as how we could help in getting these Liberians out of Sierra Leone because we had never argued with the fact that Liberians were involved in Sierra Leone, but what we had said was that we were not responsible and that they had been, in fact, co-opted by governments before then. So that paper - that's the whole set up for that paper that came out in February and formally announced by the Government of Liberia in February.

  • Now, what did you do with the white paper once it had been published, Mr Taylor?

  • Well, we published the white paper through the foreign ministry and then I officially wrote the Secretary-General of the United Nations later on in that month of February detailing not the entire paper but at least something like a precis of the important issues and steps that Liberia was taking in trying to help and restore peace to Sierra Leone and also detailing the fact that we were not involved in any sinister move in Sierra Leone.

  • And tell me, Mr Taylor, was a copy of the document made available to the United Nations at any stage?

  • Yes, yes, yes. In fact, the Special Representative Downes-Thomas was given a copy and he officially sent through that document to the United Nations in February about the initiatives and some of the actions that the Liberian government was undertaking to bring peace to Sierra Leone.

  • Now, how do you know that he sent it?

  • That particular code cable is a part of my archives that was delivered to my government at the time.

  • Can you have a look behind divider 3 in that bundle, please. Do you recognise this, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, we see it's one of those code cables from Felix Downes-Thomas to Prendergast at the UN dated 11 February 1999 and it's headed "Government of Liberia initiatives related to national and sub-regional stability.

    Category 1 - initiatives on Sierra Leone. President Taylor, on 10 February, called on the RUF leader Foday Sankoh to show more leadership skills in helping to end the Sierra Leonean conflict. He also welcomed President Kabbah's announcement of 7 February allowing Sankoh to hold talks with his commanders. He urged all sides in the conflict to use this opportunity to work for peace and condemned all acts of violence against civilians. His foreign minister, Monie Captan, who is currently on a diplomatic mission to the United States, emphasised his country's willingness to continue to search for peace in Sierra Leone and its determination to respect all relevant Security Council resolutions on Sierra Leone. The Government of Liberia has also reiterated its position vis-a-vis the allegations levelled against it in the attached white paper, which was made public during the week.

    Workshop on good governance. Last week the Government of Liberia held a week-long workshop on good governance with the aim of infusing transparency and accountability in all branches of government. The standard of debate - characterised by frankness and soul researching - that marked the just ended workshop was reminiscent of the national conference held in July last year. In several no-holds-barred discussions, participants diagnosed some of the current problems confronting Liberia and came up with recommendations that, if implemented, could go a long way towards improving the quality of life of the average Liberian. More than 300 participants deliberated for six days on issues that ranged from public security, bureaucratic transparency and accountability, the justice system and the rule of law, to economic and social rights, amongst others."

    Can I pause there, Mr Taylor. Did you attend that?

  • No, I did not attend this.

  • "The recommendations of the workshop including curbing presidential powers ..."

    Were you aware of that?

  • What powers in particular were you encouraging that might be curbed?

  • Well, I tell you, under the constitution of Liberia the President has tremendous powers. I was mostly concerned about certain powers of appointment I really wanted to go back. The President could appoint mayors until now - mayors of townships, of cities. The President could appoint superintendents of regions, and I was really thinking about a process that would lead to an eventually constitutional amendment to curb some of those powers.

  • "... making security forces accountable for their decisions, increasing the salaries of public servants as an incentive to greater productivity, and periodic audits and monitoring systems for public institutions. The workshop closed on a high note as participants learned from the good governance coordinator, Blamoh Nelson, that President Taylor was anxious to receive the workshop's recommendations and promised that they would be implemented to the fullest. It is to be hoped that the Government of Liberia would give serious attention to the recommendations of the good governance workshop, which would constitute a welcomed departure from how the results of the national conference were implemented. It is perhaps worth noting that Mr Blamoh Nelson, who chaired the workshop, is currently the Director of Cabinet at the Executive Mansion and has managed the affairs of state on occasions when President Taylor was out of the country."

    Now, your Honours should have behind this a rather - a large A4 document. Now, I apologise for the quality of the reproduction, but it's the best we could do and so I'm going to test everybody's eyesight whilst we try and go through this Government of Liberia white paper on the Sierra Leone civil crisis.

    Now, do you recognise this document, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, I do.

  • And as you see, it's published in The New National, Wednesday, 10 February 1999, yes?

  • Now, I will welcome assistance as we go along:

    "Liberia's response to allegations of her involvement in the Sierra Leone civil war and dismisses such accusations as an international conspiracy spearheaded by the United States and Britain in an attempt to internationally isolate, economically destroy, and politically destabilise the government of the Republic of Liberia. Presented by the Deputy of Minister of Information, Milton Teahjay, London, United Kingdom, 25 January 1999.

    Introduction

    The government of the Republic of Liberia has, over the past new months, come under intense international pressure, largely spearheaded by the governments of the United States and Britain, alleging, inter alia, that Liberia is fuelling the Sierra Leonean crisis by supplying arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Tejan Kabbah. Liberia has also been accused of secretly committing fighting forces on the side of the rebels and has allegedly granted safe haven to some top AFRC/RUF officials in Monrovia.

    The Liberian government has categorically and repeatedly denied any military involvement in Sierra Leone. Liberia has also rejected and described as ridiculous the notion that she will be involved in attempts to destabilise any of her neighbours, including Sierra Leone. The Liberian government has gone beyond mere denials and has proposed numerous options by which the allegations of her involvement could be disproved, including, among other things, the contribution of a joint United Nations-ECOMOG border patrol contingent to monitor troop movements and the setting up of an international body of inquiry by the United Nations Secretary-General to investigate these accusations.

    At the core of the onslaught against Liberia by the United States and Britain is the demonstrated failure and unquestionable inability of the two countries to evidentially prove their allegations against Liberia. Despite repeated challenges to authenticate their claims, the British and Americans have only relied on rumours, speculations and a massive disinformation campaign intended to internationally isolate, economic strangulate, and diplomatically destroy Liberia, and by so doing to successfully disintegrate ECOMOG, which has earned the success story of an African capacity to solve an African military problem in Liberia, culminating in the ushering in of a broad-based democratically elected government headed by Charles Taylor as President.

    Interestingly, the Americans and the British have depended only on the uncorroborated accounts of Sierra Leonean government officials, especially her Finance Minister James Jonah, a well connected veteran of the United Nations system who meticulously uses his connections in the world body to scapegoat Liberia by deliberately ignoring the irrefutable evidence of American and British complicity calculated to destabilise Sierra Leone by the use of private arms and individuals.

    Objectives of Document

    Fundamentally the purpose of this document is to carefully provide a detailed account of Liberia's efforts, nationally and internationally, to bring peace to the government and people of Sierra Leone and remove the existing notion that Liberia is providing arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels. Further, the document intends to undermine future efforts by western countries, especially Britain and the United States, aimed at playing one ECOWAS country against the other ... ECOWAS as a sub-regional economic and political organisation in substantially ... in its future capacity to cohesively deal with subsequent political and/or military problems in any member state.

    Also the document attempts to expose the manner in which international conspiracy of disinformation, lies and deceit, spearheaded by stronger powers, can destroy smaller and weaker countries, even in the face of the lack of material evidence of any kind to prove the allegations against the weaker and smaller nations.

    And finally, the document seeks to call the attention of some other reasonable members of the international community to the need to pressure the countries accusing Liberia to go beyond empty circumstantial and unsubstantiated speculations by providing material evidence in support of their allegations.

    Who is supplying arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels in Sierra Leone?

    As far as physical evidence available to the international community is concerned, it is Britain, the former colonial master of Sierra Leone, that is supplying arms to the forces of seeking the ouster of the Kabbah government through private British companies and individuals. Using plausible deniability, however, the British government has successfully disassociated itself from any involvement in the shipment of arms to the Sierra Leonean rebels. Specifically involved in the arms trade on behalf of the British government are two British firms owned and operated by retired British military generals, who, is it alleged, have strong connections with the British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Sky Air Cargo of London and Occidental Airlines, partly owned by a British pilot, are at the centre of supplying arms to the AFRC RUF rebels.

    It must be noted that Mr Cook's involvement in arms trade has a history. Last year Robin Cook quickly came to the defence of Sky Air Cargo when that company was implicated in arms trafficking to government forces for the restoration of President Kabbah. Mr Cook has always been the first in the British Government to put up defences for private arms dealers to the rebels in Sierra Leone whenever such practice becomes scandalous and publicly embarrassing.

    Is Liberia supporting the AFRC/RUF rebels?

    The Government of Liberia has consistently and categorically denied providing any form of support, military, political or otherwise, to the AFRC/RUF rebels fighting the government of President Tejan Kabbah. As a matter of fact, Liberia at many international forums has repeatedly declared that it recognises the Kabbah administration as the sole legitimate and constitutional political authority of the Republic of Sierra Leone and as such would do nothing to thwart and/or overthrow the democratic will of the Sierra Leonean people by subverting their choice of government.

    Additionally, except for colonial boundaries dividing Liberia and Sierra Leone, Liberia has consistently maintained that the people of the two countries are one and identical, politically and culturally. The traditional relationship between Liberians and Sierra Leoneans was so vividly manifested by Sierra Leone's acceptance of thousands of Liberian refugees during the Liberian conflict, reciprocated by Liberia's acceptance of thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees over the past months.

    Have the Americans and British provided any evidence that Liberia supports the AFRC/RUF rebels?

    The governments of the United States and Britain, despite international pressure demanding material evidence to substantiate their allegations against Liberia, have been unable to back their charges. For the United States and Britain, providing material evidence to prove an allegation has been effectively replaced by misinformation, propaganda and a war of words. They are attempting to reinvent the universal wheels of justice by replacing the provision of evidence to back allegations by the use of propaganda and disinformation. They believe that might makes right.

    Realistically, Liberia is being scapegoated by Britain and America, masking their involvement by using private British firms and secret American military advisers to fuel the war in Sierra Leone. Liberia has become blameworthy because the new political authority in Monrovia is not dancing to the dictates of Washington and London. This British and American desperation was so clearly manifested when they, in a rather ridiculous manner, erroneously accused Liberia of making territorial claims against Sierra Leonean territory.

    Furthermore, intelligence reports from diplomatic quarters speak of a covert plan afoot to destabilise the Government of Guinea and subsequently blame the same on Liberia. Evidently, Liberia is a classic victim of a well-coordinated ... contrived international conspiracy calculated to internationally and diplomatically isolate and economically stifle the country's national reconstruction programme, hoping that in the final analysis domestic political discontent will ensue, which could lead to civil unrest and thereby make the country ungovernable. The ultimate game plan of the British and Americans to install a puppet regime in Liberia that would look after the commercial interests of Britain and American companies operating in the sub-region should their plan succeed.

    Practical steps by Liberia to bring peace to Sierra Leone:

    1. In the ECOWAS sub-region Liberia is the immediate past beneficiary of collective sub-regional initiatives politically and militarily after seven years of brutal civil war. A peace plan brokered by ECOWAS and supported by all parties in the Liberian crisis used dialogue as the foundation for what later became a politically negotiated settlement of the Liberian problem. Drawing from the experience, Liberia has repeatedly and diplomatically encouraged President Tejan Kabbah to engage with the AFRC/RUF rebels in a political dialogue, since historically political problems have never been resolved by military means.

    2. In support of Liberia's proposal for dialogue between the Government of Sierra Leone and the AFRC/RUF, the Liberian government proposed, supported, and subsequently participated in, at least three regional summits attended by both Presidents Kabbah and Taylor. The first summit was held under the joint auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General Annan and ECOWAS Chairman, Nigeria Head of State General Abubakar in Abuja, Nigeria. At that summit both Presidents agreed to work together in finding a politically negotiated solution to the Sierra Leonean problem and signed a joint communique in respect of their collective disposition.

    3. Following the Abuja summit, and based on Liberia's urging for the second time, the governments of the United States, represented by President Clinton's envoy to Africa, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, convened a second meeting between President Taylor of Liberia and President Kabbah of Sierra Leone in Monrovia. The Monrovia Summit was fundamentally attended to achieve two goals: One, to build more confidence between the two leaders; two, to ensure that the focus on resolving the problem in Sierra Leone was not lost in the midst of other sub-regional distractions, as in the case of the Guinea-Bissau crisis. At the Monrovia Summit both Presidents signed another communique reaffirming their respective commitments to bringing peace to Sierra Leone.

    4. In continuation of Liberia's efforts towards resolving the problems in Sierra Leone a third summit was called in Conakry, Guinea, by President Lansana Conte within the framework and spirit of the Mano River Union protocols. At that meeting, President Taylor informed President Kabbah of Liberia's continued disposition to remain actively engaged diplomatically and politically until peace is restored to the brotherly people of Sierra Leone.

    5. On the military front, the Liberian border with Sierra Leone has been well fortified so as to prevent any situation where remaining AFRC/RUF rebels could contemplate the use of the Liberian side of the border to launch hit-and-run military operations into Sierra Leone. Because of this preventative measure, the Liberian side of the border has remained absolutely calm from any military activity.

    And finally, in an attempt to ensure international verification of Liberia's neutrality in the Sierra Leone crisis, the Liberian government has invited the United Nations, the OAU, and ECOWAS to send a joint observer mission at the border that would monitor the movement of forces from both the Liberian and Sierra Leonean sides of the border. To this date, such verification has yet to be put in place.

    Are there Liberians fighting in the Sierra Leone war?

    Unfortunately, yes. There are Liberians fighting on both sides of the military it divide: One group on the side of the government, and the other on the side of the AFRC rebels respectively. The involvement of mercenary Liberians in Sierra Leone appears to be the only concrete evidence being paraded by Sierra Leone in the international community as constituting proof of Liberia's involvement in the war without explaining how, why, when, and who invited them.

    Up to the present, the Government of Sierra Leone has managed to cleverly evade and deliberately avoid any public explanation as to how these mercenary Liberians got involved, why, and who enlisted them in the National Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Absurd as it appears, one wonders if it is normal practice for a sitting government to recruit the nationals of another country into the national security apparatus.

    During the early years of the RUF incursion in Sierra Leone in 1992, Liberia was already embroiled in a brutal civil war which resulted in massive social dislocation of her citizens into Sierra Leone as refugees. While in Sierra Leone, some of the Liberian refugees organised themselves and formed what came to be known as ULIMO, one of the factions in the just-ended Liberian conflict. It was claimed that these refugees had organised ULIMO as a counterbalance resistance movement to the then NPFL.

    But as the RUF made significant advances against government forces in the field, the constitutional government of President Momoh approved a strategic military engagement plan which, inter alia, envisaged a military partnership between generals in the Sierra Leone Armed Forces to help prosecute the war against the RUF, and in return the Momoh administration would give permission to ULIMO for the use of Sierra Leone territory for training and other military activities into Liberia. Interestingly, all this took place while Sierra Leone was ostensably, but pretentiously, participating in peacekeeping operations in Liberia within ECOMOG with the view of restoring peace there.

    In the midst of this military pact President Momoh was overthrown in a military coup by Captain Valentine Strasser, who inherited and gratefully embraced the strategic military engagement plan. Captain Strasser remained the ULIMO-Sierra Leone Army pact and used it for continuous prosecution of the war against the RUF. Captain Strasser after a few years also became victim when he was toppled by Maada Bio, who also inherited the situation, and finally following the election of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah he also took up the military mess which three of his prodecessors created - and which subsequently toppled his government - and joined forces with the RUF, thereby creating what is now referred to as the AFRC/RUF rebellion.

    Clearly, Liberians who are fighting in Sierra Leone are there on the account of the Government of Sierra Leone and not on orders of the Liberian government as is being misleadingly and mischievously floated around the world by the Government of Sierra Leone.

    Conclusions.

    The government of the Republic of Liberia reaffirms its respect for and commitment to respecting all international protocols and conventions to which she is a signatory regarding the conduct of rebellions between warring sovereign states.

    The Republic of Liberia recognises the sovereignty of the Republic of Sierra Leone as a member state of the OAU, ECOWAS and a Mano River Union and the right of its citizens to self-determination.

    The Liberian government reiterates that it has absolutely no military involvement in supplying arms to the AFRC/RUF rebels fighting the Government of Sierra Leone and has no intention to do so now or in the future.

    Liberia also calls on Britain and the United States to immediately stop fuelling the war in Sierra Leone through the use of private American and British firms and individuals.

    As a matter of national sovereignty and integrity, Liberia will not allow herself to be used as the beachhead to macromanage and regulate the politics and economies of the ECOWAS sub-region in the interest of western multinational corporations.

    Finally, the Government of Liberia will remain engaged diplomatically and politically in the search for lasting peace in Sierra Leone through dialogue and negotiations as the means of achieving a political settlement of the problem."

    Now, Mr Taylor, we see that this white paper is published in The New National newspaper. How wide was the coverage given to it in Liberia?

  • It was published widespread, but it was also published in all of the other papers.

  • Did you, for example, make a copy of it available to the Sierra Leonean government?

  • Not directly, no, but I'm sure the diplomatic mission - that's a part of their job - did pick it up.

  • Because, although a government document, was it a public document?

  • Now, before we get distracted, could I ask, please, Mr President, that that code cable dated 11 February 1999 from Felix Downes-Thomas, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, attaching the Government of Liberia's white paper on the Sierra Leonean civil crisis, be marked for identification please MFI-241.

  • That document is marked MFI-241.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, was there any response to that white paper from either the United Nations or the Sierra Leonean government?

  • Well, no and yes. Let me tell you what I mean by no. Following the publication of this white paper, what the Liberian government did was to use excerpts from this white paper and construct a position on what Liberia would do along with this white paper and what were some of our future plans. It is this programme that we conveyed to the UN that we got a response on. So that new document incorporated some of the ideas put forward here in this white paper. And so this is what I mean by no and yes because it's a part of it, but if I go directly to your question, did they respond to this document, in total, no.

  • Okay. Now, Mr Taylor, moving on. Earlier we looked at the letter you wrote to the Secretary-General on 22 January 1999, yes?

  • Did you receive a response to that letter?

  • Yes. Well, I received a response from the Secretary-General about the arms and what his suggestions would be regarding sending experts and different things.

  • Well, have a look behind divider 6 in this volume, please. Now, what we see here is another code cable, yes?

  • Attaching, when we go over the page, a response to your letter of 22 January.

  • And we see that it's from the Secretary-General, addressed to you:

    "Excellency, I have the honour to refer to your letter addressed to me dated 22 January 1999 concerning the disposal of the weapons surrendered to ECOMOG during the disarmament exercise of 1996 to '97 and to my preliminary response dated 22 February 1999.

    I am sure you will agree that this matter can be speedily resolved. We are currently assembling a team of small arms experts who can determine which weapons are serviceable and which are not and will dispatch them to Monrovia as soon as possible. The team will, of course, look forward to the full cooperation of your government. After conducting a technical assessment of the arms and ammunition, accompanied by representatives of your government and ECOMOG, the team will make its determination accordingly.

    I note and welcome your government's willingness to destroy any arms found to be unserviceable. The United Nations team will therefore be prepared to offer your government technical advice on the modalities for the destruction of such weapons. As regards any weapons or ammunition which may be found to be serviceable, we would assume that further consultation on their disposition between your government, ECOMOG and ourselves would be necessary.

    In order to expedite this process, we are sending the deputy chief military observer of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL), Colonel David Chepkwony, to Monrovia in order to make the preliminary contacts with your government. We would therefore be grateful for your government's cooperation with Colonel Chepkwony."

    So that was the response, Mr Taylor, yes?

  • Yes, to the ^ January/general, yes.

  • Can I ask, please, Mr President, that that letter from the Secretary-General, dated 5 March 1999, in response to letter from President Taylor, dated 22 January 1999, be marked for identification MFI-242, please.

  • Yes, that's marked MFI-242. Are you including in that document the covering outgoing cable?

  • I don't think we need to, Mr President.

  • All right. Just the letter then is marked MFI-242.

    Incidentally, I notice an anomaly in that document. The covering code cable is dated 1 March purporting to attach a letter dated 5 March.

  • I hadn't spotted that, but you're perfectly correct, Mr President, which is rather curious. But interestingly, there's a stamp to the right which, if you turn this paper sideways, you can just make out. It's stamped "received 5 March", it would appear, at 9.57.

  • Yes, I see. I think it's clear that the date of that code cable must be an error.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, we see that that response to your letter is dated 5 March, as we've now established. Now, from both your letter and the response, there appears to be this debate as to what to do with the serviceable weapons, yes?

  • Now, who was your defence minister at the time, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, was he involved in this ongoing discussion with regard to what use the serviceable weapons could be put to?

  • Yes. In fact, there was a committee. He was involved, along with the foreign minister.

  • And we see from that letter that what the Secretary-General Kofi Annan was suggesting was that there was a need for further consultation on the use of the serviceable weapons by the Government of Liberia.

  • Now, was there any further discussion with the United Nations regarding the use of those serviceable weapons?

  • Yes. We held discussions. That's just diplomatic language. There's a need for further discussions. It's simply - when you read between the lines to that, you are getting a clear signal that there's a decision or at least the intention - the strong intention on the part of the international community of those weapons - of all of those weapons being destroyed. That's just the diplomatic language for saying, "Well, I don't think you're going to have your way, but let's talk about it." That's how it comes.

  • Now, your Defence Minister Daniel Chea, what was his attitude towards the suggestion that there be further discussions?

  • I tell you, not just Daniel Chea, the legislature, the whole country, there were a lot of people that were concerned about this. Some senior members of the National Security Council were opposed to the total destruction of these weapons. They wanted the serviceable weapons to be kept. And so he was one of those, along with other top legislators, that didn't want to see this happen, so he was very much interested in keeping some of the serviceable weapons.

  • Was this a matter discussed with the special representative of the Secretary-General?

  • Yes. As a matter of fact, he was just about the point man that the Secretary-General had on the ground in dealing with these day-to-day operations. In fact, he was filing cables maybe two or three times a day. I can remember, because back in, I think, as early as January, February, he was filing cables dealing with the question of these arms. And, in fact, the internal debate that was going on in my government about this arms, he was on pins and needles, because he was in charge, really, of the discussions on the UN side.

  • Did he communicate the discontent felt within Liberia about the destruction of the serviceable weapons to the United Nations headquarters?

  • Well, the memo that he filed, we were provided copies of the memos that he filed because we wanted the UN to know how strongly we felt about it.

  • Have a look behind divider 7 in this bundle, please. Mr Taylor, have you seen this document before?

  • This is a memo from Downes-Thomas to Prendergast normally telling him about the weapons and the disposal of these weapons and the discussions that are ongoing. Because one of the things - just to lay the premise that we must consider in this time. Besides the disposal of these weapons there was also an argument of sovereignty, who could even be involved in the discussions of what would happen with these weapons and how. We felt that it was the sole prerogative of the Government of Liberia and it did not involve any other outside countries being involved. So there were two levels of discussions going on at that time.

  • Right. Now, we see that it's a code cable from Downes-Thomas to Prendergast at the United Nations dated 23 March 1999.

    "On the morning of 22 March, we met with Defence Minister Daniel Chea to present him with a copy of the terms of reference as expanded and revised in order to meet with concerns expressed by the Government of Liberia. Minister Chea said he was in agreement with the revised terms of reference. He also requested, and the Minister agreed, to provide personnel to unpack the containers and lay out the weapons and ammunition for inspection under the guidance of the experts.

    In the afternoon of the same day we met with Foreign Minister Monie Captan to present him with a copy of the revised terms of reference and to request his Ministry's assistance in issue visas to members of the team of inspectors upon their arrival in Monrovia. The Minister agreed to the request and advised that his Ministry be provided with a list of their names and passport numbers has early as possible.

    On the revised terms of reference the Minister took exception to the last point, which provides for further talks between UNOL, the Government of Liberia, and ECOWAS to determine the fate of weapons and ammunition deemed serviceable. The Minister questioned the validity of including an issue of a political nature in what was essentially the terms of reference of a technical team. He also urged that he saw no reason why ECOWAS should be involved in a matter that has direct implications on the national security of Liberia. However, after we reiterated the history of ECOWAS's involvement in the whole exercise and the United Nations difficulty in finding the basis for excluding ECOWAS from future consultations on the ultimate disposal of the serviceable weapons, the Minister stated that his government would not pose any obstacle to the envisaged weapons inspection exercise. He nonetheless pointed out that he would inform us of his government's final position on the terms of reference following consultations with his President. Today Minister Captan informed us that the government had agreed to the revised terms of reference."

    So eventually the issue was resolved not in your favour; it was decided to destroy the serviceable weapons as well, is that true?

  • Now, we're still on this tidying up exercise Mr Taylor.

    I can ask, please, that that code cable from Felix Downes-Thomas dated 23 March 1999 on the disposal of weapons be marked for identification MFI-243?

  • I see it's got some - it looks like handwriting on it. What is that, Mr Griffiths?

  • Mr Taylor, can you help us?

  • It looks like "internal not redacted", and then down at the bottom it looks like five sets of initials.

  • Can you assist us with that, Mr Taylor?

  • No. We got it from them, so this is probably their internal thing that did it. Those parts of a document that they don't want for public - what do you call it - they redact them before we get them.

  • Who is that, Mr Taylor?

  • I'm talking about the Special Representative's office. The part that is not for public consumption, that does not involve the government, they don't let it go.

  • I see. So you're saying the markings are probably from the Special Representative's office?

  • I see. And there's a second page to that, Mr Griffiths, which does not appear to be relevant. It's a routing slip. That's not to be taken as part of the document?

  • That's not to be part. I'm not interested in marking that for identification, Mr President. It's there for completeness rather than being necessary.

  • I see. All right. The document just described will be marked for identification MFI-243.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, we're still engaged in this same exercise. That issue regarding Liberians in Sierra Leone, you recall telling us that your government had considered provisions in your penal code regarding mercenarism. Do you remember telling us about that?

  • That is correct.

  • And also an invitation for such Liberians who may have been involved in the conflict in Sierra Leone to return home to Liberia. Do you remember telling us that?

  • Now, did you write to the Secretary-General regarding those proposals?

  • Yes, I did write to him, I would say late in February, but then before then we - the decision on the part of the Government of Liberia, a decision was taken, a public decision that was made available. I think we've already dealt with that decision in previous testimony, the official position that was disclosed by the Foreign Ministry. And late in February, I would say about the last week in February, if I recollect, I wrote the Secretary-General detailing what the official Liberian government position was as had been laid out by the Foreign Ministry about asking our people to come back and assuring them that they would not be prosecuted under the law of mercenarism. That was done in late February.

  • And did you get a response?

  • Yes, early March, I think, or thereabouts the Secretary-General responded to that.

  • Have a look behind divider 8, please. Now, behind divider 8 there's this covering letter dated 31 March which need not detain us. It's there for completeness. Behind that is a routing slip which again need thought detain us, but look behind there, Mr Taylor. To you see a letter dated 31 March 1999?

  • Yes, this is a reply to the late February letter, yes.

  • And it's a letter from the Secretary-General to you dated 31 March 1999?

  • "Excellency, I wish to thank you for your letter dated 21 February 1999. I have taken note with interest of the initiatives of the Government of Liberia outlined therein which are aimed at enhancing peace and security in Sierra Leone and the sub-region.

    I welcome the steps noted in your letter to encourage Liberians who are engaged in the conflict in Sierra Leone to return home. I also welcome your proposal on the convening of a ministerial meeting of the Mano River Union. This meeting and the proposed subsequent summit could contribute significantly towards the development and establishment of cooperative measures to build confidence amongst the organisation's member states and enhance sub-regional security. I believe that sub-regional cooperation in a range of spheres could be enhanced under the auspices of the Mano River Union and would like to note that the United Nations stands ready to assist efforts by the leaders of the organisation's member states to bring about its revitalisation.

    I have taken note of the renewed request made in your letter for the United Nations to consider the deployment of observers on the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone. As I informed you in my reply dated 25 June 1998 to your letter addressed to me dated 5 May 1998, I have shared with the Security Council my view that the deployment of ECOMOG troops at the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone could help to lay to rest allegations of the influx of arms or the provision of armed assistance to the rebel forces in Sierra Leone. I continue to believe, as noted in that letter, that verification on the basis of impartial observation that such allegations were groundless would improve the security climate throughout the entire sub-region and improve mutual confidence amongst its member countries.

    In this regard I would like to refer to Security Council resolution 1231 adopted on 11 March 1999 in which the Security Council expressed its grave concern at continued reports that support was being afforded to the rebels in Sierra Leone, including through the supply of arms and mercenaries, in particular from the territory of Liberia. A copy of the resolution is attached for your reference.

    In that context, the council requested me to continue to consider, in coordination with the countries of the Mano River Union and other member states of the Economic Community of West African States, the practicability and effectiveness of the deployment of United Nations monitors along with forces of the monitoring group ECOWAS along the Liberia-Sierra Leone border.

    Pursuant to the council's resolution, I am writing to the chairman and executive secretary of ECOWAS to seek their views concerning the possibility, practicability and effectiveness of the possible deployment of ECOMOG at the border and the subsequent deployment of United Nations personnel alongside them."

    Signed Kofi Annan. Now, could I ask, please, Mr President, that that letter from the United Nations Secretary-General, a response to a letter from President Taylor dated 31 March 1999, be marked for identification MFI-244, please.

  • Yes, marked MFI-244. Are you going to go on to another document?

  • I note the time though.

  • Yes, I think rather than reach that now, we'll go to lunch and we'll resume at 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.28 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Yes, please continue, Mr Griffiths.

  • May it please, your Honour:

  • Now, Mr Taylor, as I've indicated to you earlier, we are currently seeking to tidy up one or two loose ends, so my apologies if we are jumping from topic to topic. But dealing with another matter now: Upon your inauguration as President, what was the State of the Liberian Police Force?

  • Oh, terrible. Like the army, the police was involved in the war and so there was virtually no police force, even though we were trying to hang on to a few old personnel.

  • And thereafter what attempts, if any, were made to reorganise the police?

  • What we did was, under the United Nations programme in Liberia, we had arranged to begin an assistance programme of training for the police officers, and the United Nations was involved in the training programme.

  • I'm sorry. You go ahead?

  • They were involved in the training programme of Liberian police personnel at the Liberian National Police Academy.

  • And help us, what did the training comprise?

  • Basically police science, but it also involved dealing with human rights, the rule of law, international conventions, dealing with rights, laws of war, all of these were taught at the academy.

  • Okay. And when did that programme begin, to the best of your recollection, Mr Taylor?

  • That programme commenced, I would say, somewhere in middle to late '98. By the period we are in right now, that should have been the second, third or fourth training programme. And the special representative was very seriously involved with that programme. It commenced around 1998.

  • Right. In that regard, please, could you look behind divider 12 in that bundle for week 35, please. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • Now, we see this is another code cable. On this occasion it's from Downes-Thomas to Prendergast, and the topping is "UNOL's fourth police service training series with the Liberian National Police."

    "On Tuesday, 13 April, UNOL commenced its fourth series of training courses for the Liberian National Police at the national Police Training Academy in Monrovia. The current series of lectures and interactive workshops will cover the period 13 April to 15 May, 1999.

    The course is the second part of one which was conducted from October to December 1998 to meet the needs of newly recruited police officers. The current batch of trainees is made up of 110 recruits, both male and female.

    As you will see from the attached summary of the course content, UNOL has incorporated into this programme a number of guest lecturers and facilitators representing human rights, professional and non-governmental organisations."

    And when we go over the page, Mr Taylor, you will see the topics dealt with including: "What are human rights; what are the sources of international human rights law; who makes the rules; who monitors human rights; UDHR" --

    What's that?

  • I can't help. I am not too sure.

  • "Code of conduct for law enforcement officers; policing in democracies; what happens when police uphold, protect and defend human rights; what happens when police violate human rights; what is the mandate of law enforcement; investigations, general/criminal; arrest and detention; what is arbitrary arrest; treatment of detainees; torture; the use of force; use of firearms; civil disorder; states of emergency; humanitarian law".

    And then we see we below that:

    "Clarify any topics not understood above, especially arrest and detention; use of force; women in law enforcement; children and the law - juvenile justice". And we see, amongst others, "UNICEF, assisting with that; refugees and IDPs; UNHCR; non-nationals; pre-trial detention; human rights organisations; political history and human rights in Liberia; community policing; UN position on human rights".

    Now, Mr Taylor, frankly, was the police in Liberia in need of this kind of training?

  • Well, yes. Yes. I'd say they were in need of this kind of training. Following the war, police had been really trained. We had training professionals from the United States that had trained the whole police force. But because the police were also involved in combat and fighting and on different sides, some people had really, I guess, lost their concept of what they had learned. I was necessary, I would say, yes.

  • And help us. This was a United Nations sponsored exercise, was it?

  • Yes. Let's move on from that, please.

  • Mr Griffiths, before you move on, could I ask for clarification of the term "police signs" that Mr Taylor used at the beginning of his series of answers. That's page 101 line 18 of the LiveNote transcript.

  • Well, I may have pronounced it badly. I'm speaking to science. Police science, S-C-I-E-N-C-E. Police science.

  • Could I ask, please, Mr President, that that code cable from Felix Downes-Thomas to the United Nations headquarters regarding UNOL's fourth police training series with the Liberian National Police dated 14 April 1999 be marked for identification MFI-245, please.

  • That document is marked MFI-245.

  • Now jumping again, Mr Taylor, there came a time, did there not, when preparations were being made for the peace talks in Lome; is that correct?

  • And one of the necessary prerequisites for that was the transport of Foday Sankoh to Lome. Is that right?

  • And he was in custody at the time, yes?

  • Now, were you involved in the discussions regarding his transport, Mr Taylor?

  • Not directly, but I got to know - let's probably - I think for - to best put a handle on this, I would suggest, for the Court, let's look at the period and put it in some context. We are talking about the month of April of 1999. This whole month is dealing with the movement of RUF delegates to the Lome conference, air transport from them in from Sierra Leone, the provision of travel documents, assisted by the Liberian government, coming in, overflight rights and all this kind of stuff. This was what is going on in this period. Amongst this is this - is the removal of Foday Sankoh from Freetown to Lome, and that occurs around about the middle of April.

  • Of which year?

  • That's when there is an overflight - the negotiations for his removal are conducted in Freetown by the special representative at that time, coordinated with the special representative in Liberia Downes-Thomas and Adeniji. Liberia is involved to that we grant overflight rights for that particular operation. I know that he is on that particular flight, and I'm not sure a lot of other people know, but generally it's just the overflight right of Sankoh was removed about mid April, I would put it to.

  • Right. Okay. And were you kept abreast of these developments, Mr Taylor?

  • At least three persons: The foreign minister - my foreign minister, Monie Captan; the special representative of the Secretary-General was up to his head in this, kept government informed of what was going on. Cables were sent regarding these movements, the acquiescence of government, the agreements and all. We were fed with copies of these cables especially.

  • Okay. Now, just so that we can conclude this particular chapter, I would like us quickly to look at three documents, please. Firstly, can we look at the document behind divider 13. We can do this quite quickly, Mr Taylor. We see it's dated 16 April 1999 and it's a request for overflight clearance for a Beechcraft 200 en route Liberia to Lome on Saturday 16 April 1999. "I should be grateful for your help if you could follow it up from your end" and we see your end is Downes-Thomas, the special representative in Monrovia.

    "Although the arrangements are not yet final, it would seem that UNOMSIL may need to pick up some RUF delegates to the Lome consultations from Monrovia, requiring clearance for our helicopter and/or Beechcraft and Government of Liberia transit permission for these delegates. I shall phone you for further details. Best regards."

    Okay. And then we go over the page, we see the details of the flight. It's a Beechcraft King Air 200 aircraft, we see its registration number, its call sign, the number of crew, the dates required, estimated time of departure, estimated time of arrival in Abidjan, estimated time of departure from Abidjan and then estimated time of arrival in Lome. Okay?

  • And let's, to complete the picture, quickly look behind divider 14, please. This is another code cable into which Downes-Thomas is being copied and we see:

    "Foday Sankoh's trip to Lome. Further to my code cable and my fax message of 16 April 1999 on the overflight clearance, I wish to inform you that the trip in question will now take place tomorrow, 18 April 1999, at the personal request of President Eyadema to President Kabbah and me. The necessary flight clearance has now been obtained with the assistance of my colleague, representative Downes-Thomas, for which I am most grateful. Arrangements for the rest of the RUF delegation is in progress, again with UNOL/Government of Liberia cooperation and I will keep you informed."

    And the rest of that and the document to which it refers doesn't concern me, but it's there for completeness.

    Then finally, Mr Taylor, if we look behind divider 15, there is another code cable, this time dated 19 April 1999, headed "Arrival of Foday Sankoh in Lome":

    "Many congratulations to you and to Downes-Thomas and your staff for the successful preparations you have made for the Lome talks. We were thus able to report to the members of the international contact group today the contribution you are making to the conduct of the talks and, we hope, to their eventual success."

    Right. Now the point there being, Mr Taylor, throughout this episode you were being kept abreast, were you, of developments?

  • Definitely, yes.

  • And so the transport of these individuals via Monrovia and Liberia was something agreed at the highest levels with the United Nations, wasn't it?

  • It wasn't a personal favour being done by you to your pet rebel organisation next door, was it?

  • Now can I ask, please, Mr President, that these three documents be marked for identification together, the first being the code cable dated 16 April 1999 become MFI-246A, the code cable dated 17 April 1999 become MFI-246B and the code cable dated 19 April 1999 become MFI-246C and that they all bear the legend "Foday Sankoh journey to Lome".

  • Yes, those documents are marked accordingly.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, also in April of that year, as we know, there was an incursion, was there not, from Guinea?

  • Now, did you take the matter up with the Guinean government?

  • Yes. What we did was to, for the first time, dispatch a formal diplomatic note of complaint to the Guinean government via the New York office complaining about the incursion and putting them on what we would call official notice of our dissatisfaction with this continuation of the attacks out of Guinea.

  • Have a look behind divider 16, please. Yes, Mr Taylor?

  • We see that it's a letter --

  • Behind 16. Skip the first two pages, which is the routing slip, yes?

  • Do you see a letter dated 23 April 1999?

  • Now, we need to take this in stages. Go back one page, please, Mr Taylor. Yes?

  • Now, we see that this letter dated 23 April bears the address of the Liberian mission to the United Nations, yes?

  • And it's addressed to the Secretary-General, yes?

  • From Fatmatta R - who's that?

  • The charge at the mission in New York.

  • And it reads:

    "Mr Secretary-General, I present my compliments to you and upon instruction of my government have the honour to forward herewith a copy of a note dated 22 April 1999 which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guinea concerning the events of 21 April that occurred in Voinjama city, Lofa County, Liberia. A legible version of the note is attached."

    Over the page, please. Now we see the note which is attached:

    "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia presents its compliments to the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guinea and wishes to bring to the attention of the government of the Republic of Guinea the rather disturbing matter which bears on the safety, please and security of Liberia and our sub-region.

    Around 0400 hours on Wednesday 21 April 1999 a group of armed men launched an attack into Voinjama city in Lofa County, temporarily abducting and holding hostage personnel of the United Nations and representatives of a number of donor countries and organisations from their compounds in that city.

    The Government of Liberia is gravely concerned that confirmed reports have established that the incursion was carried out by these individuals from Guinean territory. It may be recalled that the Government of Liberia has repeatedly brought to the attention of the Government of Guinea persistent reports of ongoing military training on Guinean soil near the Liberian border by individuals whose purpose ostensibly is to destabilise Liberia and induce conflict and chaos.

    The Government of Liberia is particularly concerned and dismayed that despite these repeated warnings it would appear that the Government of Guinea did little to ensure that its territory would not be used to launch an incursion into a neighbouring state. Needless to say that this act of apparent acquiescence on the part of a neighbouring state contravenes the letter and spirit of relevant charters, agreements and protocols of the Mano River Union, the ECOWAS, OAU and the United Nations respectively.

    Owing to the vigilance of the Liberian security personnel, the situation in Voinjama has been brought under control. The government is informed that some members of the incursion forces retreated into Guinea as Liberian government security personnel consolidated control of Voinjama city while some dissident elements, wounded in the exchange of fire, are now receiving medical treatment in Nzerekore.

    Where is that is that town, Mr Taylor?

  • Nzerekore is just a few kilometres from the Liberian border.

  • "In view of the foregoing, the Government of Liberia wishes to lay the following on record:

    That a formal protest is hereby lodged with the government of the Republic of Guinea regarding the incident and requests an urgent investigation and response regarding the matter raised supra;

    That those elements of the incursion forces who are presently in Nzerekore receiving medical treatment, as well as others on Guinean soil, be turned over to the Liberian authorities for investigation, and that the Government of Guinea provides substantive guarantees that its territories will not be used to facilitate military activities against Liberia."

    Did they hand them over, Mr Taylor?

  • "That information on this protest to the Government of Guinea is being forwarded to ECOWAS, the OAU and the United Nations.

    The Government of Liberia takes very seriously its responsibility to safeguard and protect its territorial integrity as well as the lives of its citizens and foreign residents within its borders in the face of incidents like the one under reference. The Government of Liberia's determination to exercise its sovereign duty will stop short of nothing in ensuring that the peace and tranquility of Liberia go undisturbed."

    And the normal salutation there follows. Now, just to complete, if we go over the page we see the official copy of that letter on the Liberian government letterhead. It's the same document though, isn't it, Mr Taylor?

  • Yes, it is.

  • And reference was made in the initial code cable to the document MFA/1078 and that appears behind that document, yes?

  • And then right at the end there is a note verbale, yes?

  • Regarding the same incident?

  • Let's just have a quick look at that for completeness, please.

    "The office of the resident coordinator of the United Nations operational systems in Liberia presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and would like to register its serious concern regarding the abuse, including psychological trauma, suffered by UN personnel and the losses incurred by them during the recent outbreak of conflict in Voinjama, Upper Lofa.

    On 21 April, a group of senior UN officials and donor representatives was in Voinjama on a mission to assess future food relief needs when it was caught up in a conflict between government security forces and an unknown group of dissidents. After being robbed of personal effects by the rebel group, they then suffered further harassment at the hands of the government security forces who repelled the dissidents. The group further report that some of these men were obviously under the influence of alcohol or marijuana and that there was an apparent absence of discipline. The obvious dangers of their situation demanded evacuation by an UN helicopter on 22 April 1999.

    Reports made by mission members show that men identified as Liberian security forces by their uniforms, and in some cases by name and rank, looted the UN offices and stole 19 vehicles, three motorbikes and the team members' remaining personal effects. With the assistance of the Ministry of Defence, eleven vehicles, including trucks, have been retrieved, although some are in a deplorable condition and will require major repairs.

    This incident has raised much concern among the diplomatic and international community.

    Continued UN assistance in Upper Lofa will depend on genuine commitment and written assurances from the Government of Liberia that it will: Provide adequate security for UN personnel and their property; protect UN property; compensate for the loss of personal property; compensate for the loss of UN assets which have been looted or damaged.

    As you are aware, throughout the world the security of UN personnel and property is the responsibility of the host government.

    Although some UN staff remain in Upper Lofa, full resumption of UN actives will be impossible without the return or replacement of looted assets and full guarantees for the future safety of staff and property.

    Beyond satisfactorily settling the above issues, the UN seeks guarantees that its activities within Lofa county, such as road repairs, food distribution, and other programmes will be provided adequate security.

    Please find attached reports from UNHCR and World Food Programme written by mission members and a list of looted UN assets. We are compiling inventories of personal property stolen from staff.

    The UN resident coordinator stands ready to clarify any issues with you."

    You see that it's addressed to Monie Captan, copied to Daniel Chea.

    Now, Mr Taylor, the kind of ill discipline mentioned in that note verbale, was that endemic in the Liberian security forces?

  • Counsel, what are we talking about here? April 1999.

  • We dealt with this matter internally. You have this conflict in Liberia. I am elected to office in July. 1997 goes, 1998 goes. All of the weapons that we need for security are locked up with the very United Nations. What do they expect us to protect people with, our hands? Okay? We had been talking to these people. Our people are not trained. Train our army. They are not trained. It was just a very unfortunate situation, and we dealt with it on the ground in Liberia where we told them that it was improper. The behaviour of these people were just improper and uncalled for. But you are dealing with a situation where you come out of a war. The United Nations and other countries that are capable of assisting these little countries do nothing about it and expect you to do the impossible. Well, the word endemic, you could say yes, but we are still dealing with people that are not trained, that are not armed, that are not equipped to deal with these kind of matters. They refuse to help, okay, in any shape or form, and they expect us to do - it was just an unfortunate thing. And we told them that they had to accept responsibility for this.

    The people that were seized by these rebels were European Union ambassadors. What did the UN do about it? These individuals were handed over in Conakry - in Conakry - to the United Nations. The rebels came from Guinea. They did nothing about it. So we told them and they agreed finally - this is an official transmission, but by the time we got through - it took about a month or so - they understood that they had to accept some responsibility for this. Those individuals that were involved were disciplined, okay? And you can see some of the vehicles were returned and most of the personal property. But we told them this is what you expect when you have crisis in the country. At the end of the crisis and the international community, because they made this - like, one or two officials of that government refused to assist and to get people training. The only training programme we were beginning to get was the police training programme that we are talking about.

    And you are talking about Voinjama, and the Court has seen the distance of Voinjama and where Voinjama is. Voinjama is in the heart of rainforest way in Lofa County on the border. Rebels attack. We were - in fact, we just didn't have the means. I am not justifying the attitude of those military people that were there. They were totally wrong, but I told the UN they had to accept some responsibility, training was very important, and something to help to equip our people in the future to deal with these matters.

  • So the short answer to my question, Mr Taylor, is it that the use of marijuana and alcohol was a problem within the security services in Liberia?

  • No, it was not a problem with the security services in Liberia, no.

  • But were there instances of it?

  • Well, I tell you, all around the world sometimes before soldiers go to war they take a shot of whiskey, brandy, or something, in fact --

  • Mr Taylor, with respect --

  • -- the question is very simple. Was this kind of problem something associated with the behaviour of the security service in Liberia?

  • Have you any reason to doubt that this behaviour did take place by your security services in Voinjama on 21 April 1999?

  • No, I have no reason to doubt this explanation.

  • Very well. Okay. We are going to leave that now.

    Could I ask, please, Mr President, that the documents behind divider 16 be marked for identification in this way: That the letter to the UN Secretary-General dated 23 April 1999 be marked MFI-247A; that the appendix to that, which is the letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guinea from the Liberian foreign minister dated April 1999 be marked for identification MFI-247B; and that the note verbale regarding the treatment of UN personnel be marked for identification MFI-247C.

  • Yes, those documents just described are marked accordingly.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, I am still on that same issue, okay, but a different aspect of it. Now, so far as that Voinjama incident is concerned, help us. As far as you are aware, was it brought to the attention of the United Nations by Mr Downes-Thomas?

  • Oh, definitely. Definitely. He filed a full report, a coded report, to his boss detailing what had happened in Voinjama.

  • And did you see it?

  • Have a look behind divider 17, please. Do you have it?

  • Yes, I do.

  • Now, you see that this is dated 27 April 1999, so we are talking about six days after the incursion.

  • And it's the Voinjama incident/incidents, and it's from Felix Downes-Thomas.

    "I attach for your information copies of the following:

    A preliminary and partial report on the events of 21-22 April 1999 in Voinjama; a note from Liberia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to its counterpart in the Republic of Guinea."

    We've looked at that.

    "A related press release from the Liberian Ministry of Information. Please note that the author of the preliminary and partial report mentioned above, representative Ebrima O Camara, wishes that his report be considered as incomplete and that missing from it is the yet-to-come World Food Programme prospective."

    Over the page, please. And we see there a letter to Mr Kakonge. Who is he, Mr Taylor?

  • Mr Kakonge is the UN DP to Liberia, United Nations Development Program.

  • And we see that it provides:

    "I hasten to submit to you the report referred to above in order to assist you with your presentation to the government.

    I have explained why the report should be considered partial and incomplete in the text itself. The World Food Programme perspective is being prepared by the regional office in Abidjan and should be completed with minimum delay.

    For the purpose of your discussions with government, however, the list of vehicles commandeered and equipment looted and UN properties unaccounted for is accurate, through incomplete. It is also incomplete in terms of inclusion of properties belonging to NGOs.

    My concern is that if we await the compilation of a comprehensive list of properties, we would lose the momentum and freshness of the intolerable rape of the international community in Voinjama by the security forces of Liberia."

    Over the page, and we see that there is a list of individuals who travelled by air to Voinjama on Tuesday, 25 April, yes, Mr Taylor?

  • And we see those who travelled by road, those who travelled by air, including the Ambassador for the Netherlands, do you see that?

  • Yes. Yes, he was one of those that was picked up by the invading forces.

  • And the individuals were housed in four guesthouses?

  • And when we go over the page, we see the rest of the report. And for completeness, let's go through it:

    "They were divided between four guesthouses. The guesthouses are also the home bases for expatriate staff of respective agencies and NGOs. At the time of the outbreak of the armed confrontation, the following expatriate staff were on post in Voinjama."

    And they are named.

    "The fact that the mission was dispersed between four locations, coupled with the time of commencement of the fighting, 0415 on 21 April, gave rise to the differences in perspectives on, and experience of the fighting, according to where members of the mission were staying. It also explains why this report is considered a partial report that needs to be complemented by the report of the group of mission members who were accommodated at the World Food Programme guesthouse and by that of those who stayed at the IRC guesthouse.

    It should be noted by late afternoon of Wednesday 21 April, the mission members and World Food Programme staff who were accommodated at the World Food Programme guesthouse reached the UNHCR sub-office compound. The author of this report and two UNHCR staff of the Voinjama sub-office had reached the sub-office compound earlier that day. By the end of the working day of 21 April all members of the mission had regrouped in the UNHCR sub-office compound and accounted for except for" the Dutch ambassador, someone from the Norwegian embassy and someone from Abidjan?

    "The first shots were heard at 4.15 a.m. on Wednesday 21 April. It was a mixture of semi-automatic rifle fire and the flat report of shotguns and perhaps home-made guns. There was no sustained automatic fire, and there were no heavy explosions. The shooting remained sporadic for the next three hours, approximately. It remained distant and did not appear to be shifting away from the area around the centre of town.

    Shortly after the shooting commenced, the UNHCR local staff member and his family fled to the guesthouse. The staff member said that rebels had entered the town and were fighting the government forces. At daybreak, a few uniformed men were spotted along the road that runs uphill toward the army barracks from the UNHCR guesthouse. They appeared to be patrolling the area but not all of them were armed. Two of the men dressed in tie-dyed blue fatigues later on walked past the guesthouse to the UNHCR sub-office approximately 300 metres away and back to the barracks area.

    At approximately 10.30 a.m. a group of civilians escorted by three uniformed men were observed approaching the guesthouse along the road from the direction of the barracks. Among them the author recognised the head of the GTS Liberia operations." What's GTS, Mr Taylor?

  • No, that's GTZ.

  • It's a German NGO involving road construction.

  • "The author called out to the GTZ officer. The group approached the guesthouse and were led into the compound. When it was established that the group were being escorted to the UNHCR sub-office compound for safety, the author asked that everyone in the guesthouse join the group to be escorted to the sub-office compound.

    Of the three uniformed escorts, two were dressed in blue tie-dyed fatigues and one in regular military green fatigues. The latter appeared to be in command. The younger of the two in the tie-dyed fatigues no more than 18 years old was drawing on a large, crude joint of marijuana while we organised to leave. They became interested in a Land Cruiser station wagon, a Land Cruiser pick-up and a Yamaha 125 motorcycle that were parked in the guesthouse compound.

    The author was requested to hand over the keys of the Land Cruiser station wagon. He avoided doing so by explaining that the keys were kept in the office and they could be retrieved from there once we arrived. When someone inattentively started to load personal effects into the back of the pick-up, the uniformed men questioned the truthfulness of the authors's assertion that the keys to the cars were in the office. They became visibly incredulous and the young marijuana smoker became aggressive. It was explained that the key to the pick-up was unusually in the possession of the associate field officer, that he would drive it to the sub-office compound and return with the key to the Land Cruiser station wagon. This was initially rejected but subsequently accepted on condition that the author remain with the uniformed men until the pick-up returned with the keys. The head of the sub-office elected to remain with the author. All the other people left for the UNHCR sub-office compound.

    Some 20 minutes later, with the patience of the uniformed men running out, the pick-up returned. It was given to the men and it was explained that the keys to the second car could not be found. The men loaded the motorcycle in the pick-up and drove away. The author and head of sub-office then walked unescorted to the sub-office.

    The men had told the author that they were fighting to bring down the government of Charles Taylor. They said they were tired of fighting in Sierra Leone and one of them said he had lost a brother during the 18 September incident in Monrovia."

    What's the 18 September incident, Mr Taylor?

  • Okay. I see. The 18 September incident is the situation involving the fight with Roosevelt Johnson when he tried to take over in Monrovia. I see. Okay.

  • Now, we are going to come back to that little passage in a moment, but let's continue:

    "They said they would be in Monrovia within two days. The men had also said that they do not harm civilians and they respect the United Nations and NGOs.

    The compound became a save haven for upwards of 150 people by the evening hours of Wednesday 21 April. The group was composed of members of the joint food assessment mission, Voinjama based expatriate staff of WFP, UNHCR, NGOs, local staff of UN agencies and unknown persons in search of safety. It was later learned that many of the women and children were the families of soldiers and members of the different Liberian security units who had directed them to go there for safety. From its vantage point on top of the hill, the compound allowed for a better view of the surrounding area. By late afternoon (21 April) the fighting intensified. Machine gun fire could be heard, heavy explosions like mortar echoed from the hills and men could be seen, though not distinguishable, moving in a pattern. The weaker group was routed and was in full retreat towards the north. The government security forces had prevailed, and the rest of the evening and night was pierced by sporadic small arms fire.

    The chairman of the joint security visited the compound at approximately 19.30 hours to reassure everyone that the situation was under control. We took the opportunity to request for an escort to the airstrip the following morning, and then to Monrovia for the convoy of vehicles.

    During the course of the night and into the early hours of Thursday morning, three separate calls were made on the compound by the Liberian security forces. With each call they demanded and commandeered an UN or NGO vehicle. At 11.45 p.m. a group of men, claiming they were acting under instructions, told us to prepare to leave immediately for Vahun under their escort. The group declined. The group drove away with one of the vehicles in the compound. At 0200 on Thursday 22 April yet another call was made on the compound and another vehicle taken.

    The members of the security services who visited the compound were, without exception, visibly under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or some other substance. They were undisciplined and aggressive. There did not appear to be a single kind person among them.

    In planning for the evacuation by air, the group had foreseen two scenarios: Evacuation by helicopter and by Kilo-One, (UNHCR aircraft), from Tenebu airstrip (20 minutes by road from Voinjama city); evacuation by helicopter only from the football pitch near the army barracks. The group had planned for both, preferred the former, and was in the process of organising the departure of the vehicle convoy when information was received that evacuation would be staged only from the barracks and that the helicopter would arrive there after an hour and 20 minutes. This delay complicated the chaos in the sub-office compound. The commander of the join security left; the men they left behind to escort the convoy became engaged in extortion from Liberians in the convoy. They commandeered an IRC pick-up that was lined up for the convoy. The men were all armed; they were highly undisciplined, and some of them were clearly under an influence at 10.00 hours.

    A short ride to the barracks was uneventful even without escort. The football pitch was under guard when the convoy arrived. The helicopter landed and took off without incident. An escort was arranged for the convoy of cars that was leaving for Monrovia.

    Upon arrival in Monrovia it was learned that shortly after the helicopter took off from Voinjama, Liberian security forces entered and looted the UNHCR sub-office and the guesthouse of all its contents. These consisted of UNHCR property and personal effects of expatriate UNHCR staff.

    The previous day, the WFP sub-office and guesthouse were similarly looted by the Liberian security forces and all their contents taken. It was reported that the WFP warehouse holding 600 tons of food stocks was being systematically looted by the night of Thursday 22 April.

    The offices of NGOs in Voinjama were also reportedly looted. It should be noted that the looting of office premises, residences and warehouses, et cetera, commenced only after the government security forces had routed the enemy and that the looting was not done by the ordinary civilian citizens of Voinjama. The looting was done by government security forces.

    A total of 19 vehicles and three motorcycles were commandeered, hijacked from the UN agencies and NGOs in Voinjama, Kolahun and Vahun between 21 and 22 April. Most of them having been taken by government security forces rather than 'the enemy' they were fighting. The list of vehicles is in annex. Also included in the list are other UNHCR properties looted from the sub-office and guesthouse. The list for WFP and other agencies was not available at this writing.

    It remains extremely difficult for this author to determine whether the armed confrontation that broke out in Voinjama was: (a) an attempt at invasion by Liberian rebels from a neighbouring country; (b) a stage managed incident that was intended to send a strong signal to discredit or to warn; (c) a mutiny within the various units of the Liberian security forces.

    Suffice it to say that that even for a non-military pundit like the author the confrontation appeared so amateurish, disorganised and unstructured in its execution that the routing of the adversary after only ten hours of engagement relegated the seriousness of their intent. The three uniformed men referred to earlier in this report, with whom this author came into contact, gave the impression from their uniforms and from their pronouncements that they belonged to the government security forces but they had become so disgruntled as to be fighting to remove Charles Taylor from the presidency.

    There was a lot of gunfire coming from the direction of the army barracks on Wednesday throughout the day. The author noticed no bullet impacted walls on any of the buildings near the barracks football pitch while the helicopter was awaited.

    With regard to the speculation that the confrontation could have been stage managed, its possibility in actual fact was prompted only by the compulsion to rationally comprehend such an obviously bloody and senseless endeavour. Should it be true, however, it would constitute a most odious cynicism towards the peace and physical security of common men and woman in Liberia. Civilised judgment on this is unanimous.

    The behaviour of the various units of the Liberian security forces towards civilians, the expatriate and the United Nations community, et cetera, failed every standard of military discipline. In the eyes of most, they were more dangerous to them than the enemy they were fighting. Every unit of the security forces was involved in systematic looting of property and the commandeering of vehicles. This was how a GTZ driver was shot in the arm and seriously wounded because he refused to hand over his car keys to soldiers of the AFL.

    The bullying of innocent civilians at gunpoint, the confiscation of personal property, the all pervasive extortion, the commandeering of vehicles, complete with load sometimes; the looting frenzy that characteristically accompanies armed confrontations. These have been the distinguishing features of the Liberian security forces during the confrontation in Voinjama. They can be synthesised in two words: undisciplined, untrained.

    Most of the soldiers that this author had contact with were either drunk on alcohol or high on marijuana. In appearance they were sloppy, their language was rough and they were frightful. It was hard to imagine them in polished boots and dress uniform, ever.

    Increasingly this author has come to acknowledge the important role of the security forces in rural Liberia. The.

    The Liberian government expressed dismay that, despite these repeated warnings, it would appear that the Government of Guinea did little to ensure that its territory would not be used to launch an incursion into a neighbouring state?

    The Government of Liberia said this act of apparent acquiescence on the part of a neighbouring state contravenes the letter and spirit of the relevant charters, agreements and protocols of the Mano River Union, ECOWAS, OAU and UN respectively."

    Now, Mr Taylor, before we move on from this, I would like us to discuss a little further the implications of the report made by this individual. Hitherto you have accepted that there was a breakdown of law and order and control in Lofa County. Do you agree?

  • I agree, yes.

  • And, Mr Taylor, let us remind ourselves. Voinjama is in which county?

  • It's not a million miles away from the Sierra Leone border as well, is it?

  • And in fact, just not too far from Voinjama is where? Kailahun --

  • -- that province in Sierra Leone?

  • Let's just pause and put this together, shall we. This area of Liberia is quite critical in terms of what was going on in Sierra Leone, is it not?

  • That is correct.

  • And even in the year 1999, April, on the eve of Lome, that border with Sierra Leone is quite sensitive, isn't it?

  • And, Mr Taylor, if the author of this report is correct, in that very critical and sensitive area you have quite an ill-disciplined security force, yes?

  • Now, Mr Taylor, were you aware of the situation?

  • Yes. And for some context, who was there? We are talking about the people that are still there, we are talking about 1999, we are talking about ULIMO is still basically settled in this area. It is a lawless area, in fact.

  • No, Mr Taylor, let's forget the lawlessness of the area. We are talking about Liberian security forces, okay?

  • Now, help us. What had you done to address this issue of ill discipline amongst those forces?

  • Quite frankly, the only thing that we had tried to do were to get some of the old commanders to return to Lofa to try to contain these people and those that were calling themselves a security, to use them, and those that were the bad ones, to rub them out; that's number one. The second thing we were trying to do, we were trying to get a training programme. We're just talking about a year into this, and people are still lodging in areas that are part of former warring factions that are calling themselves Liberian security. They are not paid, and you have to get this picture: Lofa, Voinjama, Kolahun are still being occupied by the former ULIMO fighters. Because they are there, they are called Liberian security forces now. That's very important. I want to get this across of what is going on, okay? So we have to try to try to get former ULIMO commanders to go up into that area to try to control them and then begin to seek a programme of training for the new security forces.

  • So the security forces, are you telling us, who are in that part of Lofa, were former ULIMO combatants?

  • Yes. These are the same people that are digging up arms and selling it into Sierra Leone that we have heard about in this court. That's what I am telling trying to tell you, okay? These are former ULIMO-K fighters that are there, and everybody is grouped up in the bunch called Liberian security.

  • Now Mr Taylor, the author of the report makes quite clear in that last paragraph that what is needed is material support to restructure and train the security forces. Did you receive any such support?

  • You know in the same way that the British came in and retrained the Sierra Leonean army, did you ever receive any such support?

  • None whatsoever.

  • As identified as necessary by this author?

  • We never received any such support, and I agree with this author's assessment. We never received any.

  • And, Mr Taylor, that behaviour by the "Liberian security forces" in Lofa, was that with your consent or knowledge or acquiescence?

  • Oh, no. No. In fact, we - no, no, no. We disciplined those that we could identify. We returned United Nations property. No, this was not without our consent, acquiescence, none.

  • And tell me, Mr Taylor, from Voinjama how much effective control did you have over those forces in Lofa - I mean, from Monrovia?

  • Not very much. Not very much. They were not being paid. We had no money to pay them. People were just there. We didn't have very much control.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, if they weren't being paid, did this kind of - let's call it what it is - mercenary behaviour surprise you; looting property?

  • Did you have the money to pay them?

  • No, we did not have the money to pay them. This is why we were trying to get the international community to assist us in - in fact, I have mentioned before this Court. In fact, demobilisation never completely took place, as I mentioned before the Court once, as you see in Mozambique where you disarm, you demobilise, you try to find some money or something, give it to the ex-combatant, get them resettled. It never happened. We were in the process of trying to get this international community to help us, and that is why in that particular region most of the trouble that happened, whether it is this LURD - and as you mentioned and I was shaking my head - when I see this person here refer to the Monrovia incident I'm beginning to --

  • We'll come back to that. Don't worry about it. I'm coming back to that.

  • I am beginning to see what happened.

  • I am coming back to that. In fact, let's go back to it now, Mr Taylor. Now, Mr Taylor, after the Camp Johnson Road incident, let's just remind ourselves, certain of Roosevelt Johnson's followers took refuge in the United States embassy. Is that right?

  • And as you told us and as we dealt with earlier, some of those were airlifted to Sierra Leone, weren't they?

  • Now, bearing that in mind, let us go back to page 3, last paragraph:

    "The men had told the author that they were fighting to bring down the government of Charles Taylor. They said they were tired of fighting in Sierra Leone, and one of them said he had lost a brother during the 18 September incident in Monrovia."

    What does that suggest to you, Mr Taylor?

  • That these people were part - you know, I have read this before and it never occurred too to me. These people were part of that Roosevelt Johnson situation, just as Abu Kieta that sat here - these are the same people - these are the same people that tried to overthrow the government in September of 1998, okay, and failed, that are out, okay, and now here are the rest of them coming back in here as LURD. These are the same people. And when I first read this, it never occurred to me. And Abu Kieta, who was ULIMO-K that fought along with Roosevelt Johnson that was captured in Monrovia, who sat in this Court and said that I had sent him to Sierra Leone, that's the group. That's the group.

  • And you see, "... they were tired of fighting in Sierra Leone." What do you understand by that?

  • That means that these are some of the ULIMO-K people that had been used across the border, okay, that were now tired and wanted to come home and wanted to use force to come home. These are some of the same ex-combatants that I can put back to those that were recruited with the Kamajors. All of them are now saying that they are tired and they want to come back, and this is the method they used to get in.

  • Okay. Now, let's just see what else is behind this. Let's turn over to the next page. We see the list of vehicles stolen - we needn't delay too long over that - and the next page, various other items stolen; and then various other items on the next page; and then finally we come to, do we not, a press release issued by your government? Is that right, Mr Taylor?

  • "The government of Liberia's filed a formal protest to the Guinean government regarding the recent armed incursion into Voinjama, Lofa County, by an unidentified group from the Guinean territory. The government is also requesting the Guinean government to investigate and respond to the matter.

    The government of Liberia is also requesting the Guinean government to turn over to Liberian authorities for investigation elements of the incursion forces who are presently receiving medical treatment in Nzerekore as well as others on Guinean soil.

    The Liberian government has further requested the Guinean government to provide substantive guarantees that its territory will not be used to facilitate military activities against Liberia.

    According to an Information Ministry release issued this evening, the government's protest was contained in a diplomatic note from the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia to the Foreign Ministry of Guinea.

    'The government of Liberia takes very seriously its responsibility to safeguard and protect its territorial integrity as well as the lives of its citizens and foreign residents within its borders in the face of incidents like the one under reference', the protest note said.

    According to the protest note to the Guinean government, the Liberian government's determination to exercise its sovereign duty will stop short of nothing in ensuring that the peace and tranquility of Liberia go undisturbed.

    The government of Liberia has also expressed grave concern about the Voinjama armed incursion of April 21 during which a group of armed men, temporarily abducted and held hostage personnel of the United Nations and representatives of a number of donor countries and organisations from their compounds in Voinjama.

    Noting that confirmed reports have established that the incursions were carried out by individuals from Guinean territory, the government of Liberia recalled that it has repeatedly brought to the attention of the Guinean government persistent reports of ongoing military training on Guinean soil near the Liberian border by individuals whose purpose ostensibly is to destabilise Liberia and induce conflict and chaos.

  • I would say there is no fighting in Lofa County up to about the third quarter of 1998. If you're reminded, there was an initial incursion by a group calling themselves Mosquito Spray, and that was not in that area, but it was further up towards the Kolahun side. And then there was another incursion, this one that now occurs in Voinjama - this is now in 1999 - and there are other incursions that just never stopped, all starting and ending and continuing from Lofa.

  • And in this letter there is reference to there being an absence of administrative control in that area which had to be supplied by the security service. Do you agree with that?

  • Had you done anything, Mr Taylor, to address those issues?

  • To the best of my ability, yes. We've tried to send, like I say, some of the old commanders that we figured until we could get the proper means of really training them we will try to put in individuals that we felt could at least contain the situation.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, the reason I am pressing you on this is because of its direct relevance to the allegations being made against you, because you appreciate, don't you, that this is the part of Liberia through which arms and ammunition were said to be going to the RUF?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, if as suggested, Mr Taylor, there was this breakdown in administration and there was this absence of discipline in the security services, can you say, in all honesty, that arms and ammunition were not going over that border?

  • I cannot say with all honesty that arms were not going across that border.

  • But, Mr Taylor, there is another aspect to this. This is 1999 April?

  • We've had the Freetown invasion in January?

  • Thereafter, there have been major allegations of Liberian involvement in Sierra Leone?

  • The finger was being pointed directly at you and your government as being the hidden hand behind that conflict, particularly in 1999. That's right, isn't it?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, Mr Taylor, that being the case, why didn't you try and clean up your act, if I could put it that way, in Lofa County and Voinjama? Why didn't you? You see what I'm saying?

  • I see what you're saying. When you say clean up, what - for me, I'm innocent, I'm in Monrovia, I'm President of the country. We have a situation where the individuals in that particular area are former combatants of another faction that have come under government control. We are not in the position to pay army. There is no such thing as an AFL at the time. We have people that are virtually volunteering and carrying on security work within that particular area. You send one commander from the former ULIMO that you think can help to contain the people while you are begging the international community for assistance to begin to retrain and to train people.

    We did everything that we could to try to control the situation, but it was virtually impossible, especially in those non-former NPFL areas, to really control the situation. But we did the best that we could.

  • Mr Taylor, the reason why I am asking you is this: Any reasonable person would expect that in light of those kind of accusations and being concerned to put an end to these rumours, it would behove you as President to ensure that you have in that sensitive area critical forces you can depend upon to just put an end to the rumour. Do you understand the point I'm making?

  • I understand. I understand what you are saying.

  • Why didn't you ensure then that there was such a force in Lofa at the time?

  • Counsel, you know, for the Court, you know, it's like putting the cat in the pigeon cage. Look, what are we dealing with here? We are dealing with a conflict, you have ended, you have got people that are virtually not trained. You are talking about the forest region where you can put the best of commander in an area to command Voinjama. Voinjama is some 50, 60 miles almost from the Sierra Leonean border. You have got to go through Kolahun and Foya. There are people over there. You've got forest - that's the entire forest region of Liberia.

    We send a few people in that place to try to contain the situation, but it is a virtual impossible situation if a man is not a disciplined trained man.

    In fact, those former NPFL officers, I could remember we sent a gentleman called Christopher Vambos, a very, very good former NPFL general to command the area. He is stationed in Kolahun. These are long distances. It's an impossible situation when you are dealing with undisciplined people, especially these people that were in that area that we know now as we have listened had hidden weapons, had done different things. It was a very, very, very, very near impossible situation with people that are not trained. We sent officers, but they just could not contain it.

  • Mr Taylor, I'm sorry, I have to continue questioning you on this.

  • Now help me in this respect: Where did the disciplining and restructuring of the Armed Forces of Liberia - where did that come on your list of priorities as President?

  • Oh, that was very, very, very high on the list. Almost immediately we started talking about it. I am talking as early as 1997. We even put together a commission supported by certain NGOs to draw up a restructuring plan for the government for a new armed forces. It was all on the cards. We did not get the assistance to do that.

    And I have said to this Court why did we start the ATU? Why did we employ a former South African general to begin to train the ATU? It was to begin - first of all, we could have had almost a similar situation like this in Monrovia. Had it not been for the ATU that was trained to take care of embassies and government buildings, we would have had a similar situation like this. We had begun the process. That was very high on my list beginning 1997.

  • And was it possible to carry it out within your budgetary constraints?

  • No, no, no. We are talking about, what, a $30 million budget. We could not even pay civil servants. No, we could not have. We could not have.

  • So just give us an idea, Mr Taylor, how much control did you have of this region - this lawless region, as you describe it - from Monrovia?

  • If I put it on a scale from 1 to 10, I would put it to about a 5 in terms of actual control. I am not talking about sovereign control, we are not talking - yes, as President I have sovereign control of the country. Coming out of this war with the different factional groupings, in that part of the country I would put it to about a 5. I would put it to about a 5.

  • So 50 per cent control?

  • That's what I would say. If I may just add something here for the Court, under these conditions, any time you have these kinds of situations where you've got people not on salary, they are not being paid, you've got so-called security forces calling themselves security forces running around trying to help. Once you have this problem of lack of training, lack of payment, at least some incentive of control, you understand me, it's a very tough thing. This is why we kept pushing for the complete demobilisation of the combatants. That was never really done.

  • Mr Griffiths, sorry to ask, this 50 per cent control, is this throughout the presidency or is this only in 1999?

  • The question is very straightforward, Mr Taylor.

  • I would say beyond 1999 and going close to the end of my presidency because right after this 1999, your Honour, we are right back into a war. It's the same group that attacked in Lofa, that group is LURD. It continues and that's the LURD that continues all the way to Monrovia, okay.

    And the funny part about this, and the very serious part of it, is that who's LURD? LURD is the same ULIMO-K, the same ULIMO-J that were being used as so-called security in Lofa. They are the same LURD. That's the bad part of it. So I would say going all the way into close to the end of my presidency, because the war starts as of that time, LURD, and then it changes into MODEL.

  • Mr Taylor, I would like to examine that in a little bit more detail, please.

  • Because you will recall that we have on more than one occasion worked out a time line regarding control of that part of the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia, yes?

  • Beginning with the outbreak of ULIMO in 1992, yes?

  • Continuing up until you come to the presidency in 1997, yes?

  • From '95 there is this period of disarmament, yes?

  • Which concludes with the burning of the weapons in July 1999?