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

Now, I want to just refer you very briefly to an expert report actually put into evidence by the Prosecution and to read you a passage from that report. This, your Honours, is the Prosecutor's exhibit 31. This is Dr Ellis's report. To be fair to the witness I think if it could be placed in front of him. I will read out the section to him.

This, Father Chema, is a report by a gentleman called Dr Stephen Ellis who gave evidence last week. He was an expert for the Prosecution. He addressed - one of the issues he addressed in his report was that of the use of child soldiers and I wanted to read you a passage from that report to ask you for your comments.

Madam Court Manager, the relevant part is actually on page 15, your Honours page 15, of the report, the last four digits of the ERN number, for the purposes of the transcript, are 6618.

I think you should be able to follow me, Father Chema, if I read it to you. I will just check that we are looking at the right part. If it could be moved down a little, Madam Court Manager. Yes, perfect, thank you. I will read from the last sentence on that page that begins with the word "However":

"However, although the NPFL made use of various other forms of coercion in order to recruit fighters, porters and forced labourers, it did not rely on the abduction of children and adolescents for use of fighters on anything approaching the scale of the RUF."

Father, I don't want your comments on that. I am simply reading that to you so you understand the context of this particular comment:

"On this point it is useful to bear in mind that it is traditional in many rural areas of West Africa, including in Liberia and Sierra Leone, for adolescent boys to assume the character of warriors as part of their initiation into adulthood and that in some places a system of age sets includes the induction of cohorts of young men as fighters. Hence, while there does appear to have been some degree of imitation of the NPFL by the RUF, in regard to the recruitment of children and the organisation of Small Boy Units, it is not clear to what extent the use of child soldiers represents an innovation and to what extent it was simply the continuation of an historically embedded practice."

Now, father, the question I have for you, without in any way making comment by me implicitly on the rightness or wrongness of using child soldiers, you are aware that there was, as Mr Ellis states here, a historically embedded practice of using children in armies in this part of the world?

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