Ghana, Taylor's arrest, and the Liberian peace process

(A Statement Issued By Liberian Comtemporees United and Strong)

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 8, 2003

The Liberian Contemporees would like to register its disappointment with President Kufuor's Government for its failure to arrest Charles Taylor upon receiving official notification of his indictment by the United Nations-backed War Crimes Court for Sierra Leone. This wanton disregard for rule of law is inexcusable and unpardonable. What a setback for peace, democracy and the rule of law in Africa?

Ghana and its citizens have been the recipients of much international goodwill from which they have benefited tremendously. It is widely believed this West African nation adheres to the rule of law and is a symbol of stability in a troubled region. However, many are dismayed by President Kufuor's radical departure from this privileged position. His Administration has knowingly aided and abetted an indicted war criminal -a breach of International Law. This action by the Ghanaian Government has aroused the ire of law-abiding people everywhere, which is sure to have far-reaching consequences for Ghana and its people.

By virtue of its decision not to arrest Charles Taylor, but rather transport him to Liberia aboard a Ghanaian aircraft after being informed of his indictment, the Government of Ghana has condoned lawlessness and the bankrupt policies that have kept Africa backwards and impoverished. Further, President Kufuor's Administration has lost its credibility as an honest broker in the Liberian peace process.

Therefore, the ongoing Peace Conference in Akosombo must be halted immediately, and Ghana must be kicked out off the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL).

As a member of the United Nations, Ghana is obliged to honour the decision of all UN-backed Courts. And it is quite aware that Charles Taylor's indictment by the Court in Sierra Leone is neither a statement of guilt, nor punishment for crimes he might or might not have committed; rather, it is an opportunity for him in a civilized manner to confront his accusers. Why then must the Constitutional Government of Ghana deliberately obstruct the legal process? Can Africa survive in the absence of rule of law?

Charles Taylor may not be guilty of committing any crime; however, there has been accusations brought against him that must be adjudicated for proper vindication. Now that the Kufuor Administration has assisted this indicted war criminal in temporarily eluding justice, we hope it is prepared to accept responsibility for rape, torture, illegal imprisonment, murder and other acts of violence, including the further destruction of Liberia that might ensue as a result of this decision.

The Ghanaian Foreign Minister described as "embarrassing" the attempt to have Charles Taylor arrested in his country. Is it less embarrassing seeing Liberian women resort to prostitution as the only means of feeding their babies, or weeping mothers cuddling infants that have died of starvation? Undoubtedly, the Foreign Minister's line of reasoning is a contributing factor to Africa's brain drain and proliferation of wars and warlords across the Continent. Seemingly, the leaders of Africa are more concerned about protecting one another's image rather than defending the rule of law.

To save further embarrassment, the Kufuor Government must admit it has failed the law-abiding citizens of Ghana as well as the peoples of Africa in general. There is absolutely no excuse for protecting the criminal who has robbed thousands of children their future and destabilized the entire West African region. Charles Taylor has destroyed the dreams of many and denied thousands more their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Knowing this, how can anyone allow him to continue as a free man?

The Ghanaian Government's handling of the Charles Taylor incident has compelled the Liberian Contemporees to yet again call upon the United States to appoint a special representative who will guide Liberians toward lasting peace. This is the best and only way forward. Fourteen long years of regional intervention in the Liberian crisis has been an utter failure. The Kufuor Administration's refusal to honor the indictment handed down by the UN-backed War Crimes Court is further evidence of why Charles Taylor has succeeded in disrupting the lives of more than 250 million people and bringing at least 3 nations down to their knees.

Upon grasping the extent of the human misery caused by Charles Taylor, Ruud Lubbers, head of the UNHCR did not hesitate to advance the idea of a new political arrangement for Liberia that would save lives. The former Prime Minister of Sweden even called on Charles Taylor to step aside for the sake of peace. On the contrary, the glaring contrast to Mr. Lubbers' position has been the apathy of West African leaders in general. Not one leader in the region, who for the past decade has witnessed the undue suffering of women, children and the elderly, has had the courage to at least question the policies of Charles Taylor's regime. For many Liberians, Ghana's refusal to arrest and extradite Charles Taylor to Sierra Leone to face justice comes as no surprise.

Director Of Communications