30 January 2013

Liberia: Gov't Sued At Supreme Court

Photo: RNW
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor in court.

The family of jailed former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor on Monday, January 28, 2013 sued the Liberian Government at the Supreme Court of Liberia in demand of Mr. Taylor's benefits as the 21st President of Liberia. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of justice in the country.

According to the spokesman of the Taylor's family, Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson, the family sued the government to fast track the process in getting the former president's benefits and also to avoid the politicization of the matter. Senator Johnson made the disclosure on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 when he thanked members of the Liberian Senate for what he called their level of enthusiasm shown over the grievance expressed in Mr. Taylor's formal communication addressed to that august body.

He informed the Liberian Senate that the decision of the family must in no way be considered as disrespect to the Upper House, but rather it is intended to speed up the process through the due process of law.

Listen to him: "I want to take this time to inform this august body that, while the deliberation was taking place at the Liberian Senate, Taylor's family through our lawyers filed a lawsuit against the Liberian Government in this matter. We recognize the effort made by the Liberian Senate; we appreciate their efforts to even hear this matter. The Senate acted in good spirit for the fact that Mr.

Taylor's was accepted for deliberation and the reaction was good. But to speed up the process, because we did not want this to be political matter, we have taken advantage of the law and so we just want to tell you thank you members of the Liberian Senate for the manner in which you handled this case, we are now in court and by the Grace of God, we will win."

The spokesman of the Taylor's family added that Counselor, Syrennius Cephas is currently handling the matter along with other prosecution lawyers at the Supreme Court of Liberia.

In response, Members of the Senate Committee on Executive, through their Chairperson, Margibi County Senator Clarice Alpha Jah of the ruling Unity Party (UP), lauded the decision of the Taylor's family and said they will take all legal procedures regarding disposing the formal communication of Taylor to the Legislature within two weeks.

The Senate Committee on Executive was tasked by the plenary to fast track Mr. Taylor's complaint for benefits. The plenary is the highest decision making body of the Liberian Senate.

It can be recalled that on Tuesday, 15 January 2013, the Senate, in its first session of its second sitting, placed on its agenda, Mr. Taylor's communication in which he is demanding from the current government all of his benefits as 21st President of Liberia.

In former president Taylor's communication of demand for presidential benefits, he is requesting the GoL to annually release unto him as a former head of state of Liberia, US$25,000, since according to him, he honorably turned over office on 11 August 2003.

Former President Taylor, who used legal reliance as the basis of his demand in his communication, quoted Session 1.4 of the New Executive Law, Session 2.4 of the New Legislative Law and Session 13.4 of the New Judiciary Law respectively.

The former Liberian president's communication, which was read on the floor of the Plenary of the Senate, instructed his wife, Mrs. Victoria Taylor to make herself available to the Liberian government relative to further discussions regarding his presidential benefits.

"As former President of Liberia, I resigned honorably, and I must get my just benefit as a former of Liberia," said Mr. Taylor in his communication to the Senate.

"In as much I resigned honorably as a President, I must get my benefit as mandated by the laws of our country, "he amongst other things added in his communication.

Following the reading of the communication, the plenary of the Liberian Senate voted unanimously to hold hearing on Mr. Taylor's communication. But the Senate did not hold any hearing up to the time the family took the matter to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Taylor stepped down as President of Liberia in a ceremony in Monrovia on Monday 11 August 2003, stating that "God willing, I will be back." The former Liberian leader's resignation was in response to pressure from the United States, and advancing rebels troops then targeting the ousting of the former president.

He sought refuge in Nigeria, from where he was later arrested and flown to The Hague to face the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on 11-count charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On 26 April 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone sitting In The Hague convicted the Liberian president Taylor of aiding and abetting rebels who committed war crimes during Sierra Leone's bloody civil war in the 1990s, and subsequently sentenced him for 50 years, a ruling Taylor's lawyers have since filed an appeal against.

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