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

Well, your Honour, first overthrowing a lawful government may be a violation of international law by the State, but this case is dealing with individual criminal responsibility. Not all assistance to a rebel movement is illegal, because there are certain requirements for aiding and abetting to be met. Not all rebel movements, or movements that seek the overthrow of a government, target civilians as part of their military strategy, which the RUF and the AFRC in fact did and this Trial Chamber found. So giving assistance to a rebel movement, to an insurgency in another country, is not a violation of international criminal law, it's not aiding and abetting, unless that assistance first facilitates crimes against civilians. I'm not talking about whether it facilitates the rebellion. That's not a subject of international criminal law. Does it facilitate crimes against civilians, rapes, child soldiers, amputations, killings? If it does, when the person gave the assistance, did they know that their assistance was going not just to help them win the war, but assist in the commission of these crimes? And, finally, does the Trial Chamber determine that this is a substantial contribution? As I mentioned earlier, not all military assistance assists crimes, because it's normally against the interests of even an insurgency to target civilians. You lose their support. It's an unusual circumstance, thank goodness. I certainly don't think it's the only time in the world, but it's unusual that a movement exists like the RUF where their very strategy was, as the Trial Chamber found, inextricably linked to the commission of the crimes. They needed terror. They used terror. That's how they recruited their soldiers, the children. They used women in every location that they were to rape as slaves. So that's an unusual factor. When you know that and you give assistance to that kind of rebel movement, or even if you give assistance to a government that's doing that, then you should be held criminally responsible. And let me make one thing clear. The Defence raised the issue, "Well, maybe some big States give assistance to such crimes." It doesn't matter how powerful the State is. Our position is clear that the law should be applied equally. If any State is providing assistance, knowing that this crime is going to result in more civilians being murdered, more women being raped, people burned alive and heads put on sticks, and they do that knowingly, it's not an excuse to say, "Well, I had another motive. My motive was to fight terrorism," or anything like that. Killing civilians is not allowed under international criminal law and it is aiding and abetting if you knowingly provide assistance to a group that's doing that. Thank you.

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