Grotian Moment


Human Rights Watch Report Assessing the Taylor Trial

Sunday, July 29, 2012/Categories: Experts Debate the Issues: The Charles Taylor Trial

Human Rights Watch recently released a report entitled ?Even a ?Big Man? Must Face Justice?: Lessons from the Trial of Charles Taylor. A copy of that report is available here: HRW Report on Taylor Trial.

Below is the announcement from Human Rights Watch about the report:

As you know, on April 26, 2012, former Liberian President Charles Taylor became the first former head of state since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders after World War II to face a verdict before an international or hybrid international-national court on charges of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. It was a landmark moment for war victims in Sierra Leone and international efforts to ensure perpetrators of the gravest crimes are held to account. The report seeks to draw lessons from practice and impact of the Taylor trial, which was conducted by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, to promote the best possible future trials of highest-level suspects for the most serious crimes, including at the ICC. Notably, the Taylor trial progressed against a backdrop of concern over the viability of trying such individuals following the 2002-2006 trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The report examines the conduct of Taylor's trial, including issues related to efficiency, fairness, witnesses, and sources. It also examines the court's efforts to make its proceedings accessible to communities most affected by the crimes, and perceptions and initial impact of the trial in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The report is based on research in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Hague, London, and New York from September 2011 to June 2012. Our findings are that the trial was a largely well-run proceeding, benefitting from a high-quality defense, sound handling of witnesses, and dynamic outreach to communities affected by the crimes. At the same time, we identify areas in which practice should be improved for future trials of this nature to promote greater efficiency and impact. The authors welcome any feedback you may be able to provide, and can be contacted directly at Human Rights Watch below:

Elise Keppler Senior Counsel

Annie Gell Sandler Fellow

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