The brutal regime of jailed ex-president Charles Taylor registered the largest rate of economic growth than the present government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a new group has claimed.
The Liberian Institute of Public Integrity or LIPI report, which was compiled by the talkative former Auditor General John Morlu, his ex-Press Officer Ernest Maximore, Aloysius Toe, the man brought to fame by Taylor; Dan Saryee, the man noted for the issuance of the controversial Legislative report cards, and Cllr. Jerome Verdier, former chairman of the defunct TRC, among others hailed the Taylor regime as the best performer in the history of Liberia.
"President Taylor regime registered the largest growth rate in the history of Liberia, growing at 106.28% in December 1997. From 1997 when Taylor assumed power to December 2002, which was his last full year in office, Taylor's economy grew on average of 39.76%, beating all Liberian Presidents," LIPI said.
"But as was the case with all previous governments," LIPI continues, " Taylor left for Bryant an economy that was characterized by "rampant" corruption, nepotism and patronage."
Morlu, Saryee, Verdier, Toe and others said Liberia's Gross Domestic Product or GNP witnessed a very strong growth from December 1997 to December 2002 with an average of 39.76% under Taylor, who headed a dreaded regime as compared to an average of 7.16% under current President Ellen Johnson-Sireaf for the period December 2006 to December 2013.
Under a particular section in the report, Morlu, Toe, Saryee, Verdier and others concluded that looking at Liberia's historical GDP Growth, "Charles Taylor wins the GDP myth."
According to them, Taylor's regime in 1997 recorded an annual growth of 106.28 percent, 29.70% in 1998, 22.90% in 1999, 25.70% in 2000, 22.10% in 2001 and 31.89% in 2002, a year before he was forced into exile.
The group quotes economic data published by Trading Economics, which shows that "the gross domestic product (GDP) in Liberia expanded 8.80 percent in 2012 from the previous year. The Central Bank of Liberia reports GDP Annual Growth Rate in Liberia.
Historically, from 1961 until 2012, Liberia GDP Annual Growth Rate averaged 2.79 percent, reaching an all-time high of 106.28 percent in December of 1997 and a record low of -51.03 percent in December of 1990."
LIPI has reproduced Liberia's GDP data from Trading Economics for reference. See the various tables:
Tubman presented to President William R. Tolbert an economy that had an average growth rate of 4.9% in the preceding 10 years prior to the death of President Tubman, peaking in 1966 at 7.7%. The growth rate in 1966 was recorded as the highest rate in the world. Inasmuch as Tubman left for President Tolbert such an impressive gross domestic product growth, he also left an undeveloped country characterized by massive level of corruption, nepotism and patronage.
Tolbert presented to President Samuel K. Doe a growing economy, an economy that registered an average growth rate of %2.56 percent under the regime of Tolbert. Except for 1973 and 1975, Tolbert maintained positive gross domestic product growth rates.
By 1979, the last full year of Tolbert regime, although the economy was on the decline, it was positive 3.26% at year-end, down from 4.82% the previous year. As was the case of Tubman, Tolbert handed over to President Doe an economy characterized by underdevelopment caused by "rampant" corruption, nepotism and patronage.
President Samuel Doe made a serious mess of the economy, showing a negative average growth rate of 4.40%. From the first year in office until the eve of the civil war in 1989, President Samuel Doe tanked the economy, reaching an astronomical decline in gross domestic product of negative 26.70%.
But the irony is in spite of his negative economic growth, Samuel Doe was regarded as a development-oriented President, who contributed significantly to the infrastructure development of Liberia, including the construction of public roads and highways, and public buildings than any of the Liberian presidents whose economy was considered "fastest growing."
Doe did not just leave an economy characterized by "rampant" corruption, nepotism, tribalism, and patronage, he left behind an economy that had completely imploded and sunk.
Between President Samuel Doe and President Charles Taylor, Liberia had several intervening political arrangements, including an interim government and a rotating council. At December 31, 1990, Liberia recorded the worst economic performance, reaching negative growth of 51.03%. By December 31, 1996, the economy has recovered and grew at 12.12%. Essentially, President Taylor also inherited a growing economy.
President Taylor regime registered the largest growth rate in the history of Liberia, growing at 106.28% in December 1997. From 1997 when Taylor assumed power to December 2002, which was his last full year in office, Taylor's economy grew on average of 39.76%, beating all Liberian Presidents. But as was the case with all previous governments, Taylor left for Bryant an economy that was characterized by "rampant" corruption, nepotism and patronage.
Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant inherited an economy that was in a complete free fall. By 2003, the war escalated and all economic activities seemed to have not only come to a complete stop, but also were in a precipitous decline, reaching negative 31.30%. In a matter of two years, Chairman Bryant turned the economic situation around, producing an average GDP growth of 3.95%.
As history has shown, Chairman Bryant left for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf an economy that was characterized by "rampant" corruption and extreme political patronage, much of the patronage being imposed by warring factions' distribution of government institutions through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra.
President Sirleaf inherited an economy that was also amongst the "fastest growing" economies in Africa, with a growth rate of 5.30%. Except for President Samuel Doe, who tanked the economy he inherited, Sirleaf has continued the growth started by Chairman Bryant. Including the projected 7.20% growth in 2013, the average growth rate under Sirleaf is 7.16%, only second to Charles Taylor's economy.
But if history and current performance are measures of future performance, then President Sirleaf is likely to leave behind a growing economy characterized by the historical problems of corruption, nepotism and political patronage. The institutionalization of corruption and the culture of impunity remain a cause for concern.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor stopped short of apologising for his role in the Sierra Leone civil war and instead chose to accuse prosecutors of paying and intimidating witnesses. Taylor is due to be sentenced on 30 May, with prosecutors demanding an 80-year prison term.
Speaking in The Hague-based court, Taylor argued that the court "did not have the full contextual picture" of his case when he was found guilty on 11 counts of crimes against humanity last month and insisted that he had only sought to bring about stability.
The court heard arguments ahead of sentencing, with his defense team saying the 80-year term being demanded by prosecutors is "manifestly disproportionate and excessive".
"I express my sadness and sympathy for crimes suffered by individuals and families in Sierra Leone," Taylor said.
"What I did to bring peace to Sierra Leone was done with honour," he said. "I was convinced that unless there was peace in Sierra Leone, Liberia would not be able to move forward."
Insisting he had pushed for peace instead of war, Taylor added: "I pushed the peace process hard, contrary to how I have been portrayed in this court."
In a speech that lasted about 30 minutes, Taylor accused prosecutors of paying and intimidating witnesses, as well as that money had played a "corrupting, influential, significant and dominant role" in his trial.
"Witnesses were paid, coerced and, in many cases, threatened with prosecution if they did not give statements," the former Liberian president said.
"Families were rewarded with thousands of dollars to cover costs of children's school fees, transportation, food, clothing, medical bills and given cash allowances for protected and non-protected witnesses in a country where income is less than a dollar a day," he further claimed.
Delivering his statement from a witness box, Taylor also repeatedly blamed his predicament on the United States, comparing some of the crimes for which he was convicted to some that the United States committed during the Iraq War, CNN reported.
Taylor knew his argument would resonate in certain circles. Many international courts have been criticised for focusing primarily on African affairs, regardless of whether they are backed by the UN or stand alone like the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
A select group of African lawyers, jurists and diplomats met recently in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, to discuss the International Criminal Court and what strategy Africa should adopt to deal with it as a continent.
Warning other African leaders that they could be the next to be convicted, Taylor said: "I never stood a chance. Only time will tell how many other African heads of state will be destroyed."
According to prosecutors, given the extreme nature of the crimes that were committed, there was no reason for leniency in sentencing.
"The purposely cruel and savage crimes committed included public executions and amputations of civilians, the display of decapitated heads at checkpoints, the killing and public disembowelment of a civilian whose intestines were then stretched across the road to make a checkpoint, public rapes of women and girls, and people burned alive in their homes," prosecutor Brenda Hollis said at a pre-hearing brief.
Defense attorney Courtenay Griffiths argued for a sentence reflecting Taylor's indirect, rather that direct, involvement in the events that took place.
He said Taylor's conviction has been "trumpeted... as sending an unequivocal message to world leaders that holding office confers no immunity" from being prosecuted for war crimes.
The difference he said was that, while many Western countries have funded militias that have committed atrocities, no Western leader has ever been indicted by a war crimes tribunal.
"If you are a small, weak nation, you may be subject to the full force of international law, whereas if you run a powerful nation you have nothing to fear," Griffiths added.
Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague have recommended that convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor be sentenced to a maximum term of 80 years in jail for crimes committed by rebel forces in Sierra Leone from 1996 to 2002.
This recommendation was made in a sentencing submission made to Trial Chamber judges yesterday. On April 26, three-judge panel found Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations on international humanitarian law committed in different parts of Sierra Leone during the conflict in that West African country. Judges further found that Taylor was guilty of planning attacks in three specific crime bases, including the diamond rich town of Kono and the country’s capital Freetown between late 1998 and early 1999.
Lawyers for Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president convicted of crimes against humanity, described the 80-year jail term demanded by prosecutors as "vindictive" on Friday, May, 11 2012.
Taylor's lawyers sent in their own filing to the judges on Friday, saying the prosecution had failed to prove Taylor had direct criminal involvement in the crimes.
"The prosecution vindictively argues that Mr. Taylor be given a ... sentence of 80 years on the basis that ... he 'planned the bloodiest chapter in the Sierra Leonean war'," the defence team wrote.
"It would be manifestly unfair to impose a sentence, which effectively puts all moral blame for all the atrocities committed in Sierra Leone solely on Mr. Taylor's shoulders, as the Prosecution suggests," the lawyers added.
In their sentencing submission, prosecutors noted that “[j]ustice requires that Mr. Taylor’s sentence should reflect the extraordinary suffering caused by Mr. Taylor’s knowing, willing and long enduring participation in the crimes committed inSierra Leone and recognize the critical role he played in a criminal campaign of atrocities which lasted years.”
Prosecutors have therefore recommended that Mr. Taylor be made to serve jail term according the gravity of the various counts on which he has been convicted. Below are specifics of the jail terms as recommended by the prosecution:
Count 1, Acts of Terrorism: 80 years
Count 2, Murder: 75 years
Count 3, Violence to life, etc, including murder:75 years
Count 4, Rape: 75 years
Count 5, Sexual Slavery: 75 years
Count 6, Outrages Upon personal Dignity: 75 years
Count 7, Cruel Treatment: 75 years
Count 8, Other Inhumane acts: 75 years
Count 9, Child soldiers: 75 years
Count 10, Enslavement: 75 years
Count 11, Pillage: 40 years
Mr. Taylor’s defense team will have another seven days to respond to the prosecution’s submission. The parties will make oral submissions on their sentencing briefs on May 16 and the judges will deliver their verdict on Mr. Taylor’s sentence on May 30, 2012.
Either or both the defense and prosecution will be entitled to appeal the Trial Chambers verdict before the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
An international court has delivered its verdict on Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor, finding him guilty of arming Sierra Leone's rebels who paid him in "blood diamonds". The three judges at a special United Nations court pronounced him guilty of aiding and abetting 11 counts of war crimes or crimes against humanity. But he was acquitted of criminal responsibility and "joint enterpise" on the same 11 charges. His sentence will not be delivered for several months.
The judge says a sentence hearing will be held on 16 May, with the sentence to be handed down on Wednesday 30 May 2012.
Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and red tie, Taylor listened attentively and made notes as judge Richard Lussick started reading a summary of the verdict – the first ever against a former head of state by a world court since the Second World War Nuremberg trial.
The reading is being screened at the Special Court for Sierra Leone's main headquarters in the west African country's capital Freetown, from where his case was moved in 2006 over security fears.
In Freetown, people slowly started gathering to hear the verdict being issued at the Leidschendam court outside The Hague. Judge Richard Lussick speaking at the opening of the judgement hearing for Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor. In a wing set aside for victims to watch the verdict, Al Hadji Jusu Jarka, former chairman of the Amputees Association, is the first seated. He has followed the trial from the start.
"We as victims expect that Taylor will be given 100 years or more in prison," he said, his prosthetic arms folded in his lap as he recounted how the rebels held him down on the root of a mango tree in the capital and cut off first the left, and then the right, just above the elbow.
Taylor, 64, is accused of helping Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels wage a terror campaign during a civil war that claimed 120,000 lives between 1991 and 2001.
The trial, which saw model Naomi Campbell testify she had received diamonds from the flamboyant Taylor, wrapped up in March 2011. If found guilty, Taylor could be sentenced in four to six weeks. Prosecutors alleged that the RUF paid Taylor with illegally mined so-called blood diamonds worth millions, stuffed into mayonnaise jars.
During the trial, prosecutor Brenda Hollis told the court: "Charles Taylor created, armed, supported and controlled the RUF in a 10-year campaign of terror against the civil population of Sierra Leone."
As president of neighbouring Liberia, he acted as "chief, father and godfather to his proxy rebel forces in Sierra Leone," prosecutors added.
The former warlord has pleaded not guilty to 11 counts, dismissing the allegations as "lies" and claiming to be the victim of a plot by "powerful countries."
During Taylor's trial which began proper on June 4, 2007, some 94 witnesses took the stand for the prosecution and 21 for the defence. Taylor himself testified for 81 hours.
Campbell and actress Mia Farrow gave headline-grabbing evidence in August 2010 about a gift of "dirty" diamonds Taylor gave to Campbell at a charity dinner hosted by then South African president Nelson Mandela in 1997.
Judges also heard gruesome testimony from victims of the Sierra Leone conflict, including a witness who said he pleaded with RUF rebels to cut off his remaining hand so they would spare his toddler son.
Others said Taylor's fighters strung human intestines across roads, removed foetuses from women's wombs and practised cannibalism, while children younger than 15 were enlisted to fight.
One witness said he was present when the Liberian leader ate human liver.
During his own testimony, which began in July 2009, Taylor called the trial a "sham" and denied allegations he ever ate human flesh.
Nigerian authorities arrested Taylor in March 2006 when he tried to flee from exile in Nigeria after stepping down as Liberian president three years earlier in a negotiated end to a civil war in his own country.
He was transferred to the SCSL in Freetown, but in June 2006 a UN Security Council resolution cleared the way for him to be transferred to The Hague, saying his presence in west Africa was an "impediment to stability and a threat to the peace."
The court, set up jointly by the Sierra Leone government and the United Nations, has already convicted eight Sierra Leoneans of war crimes and jailed them for between 15 and 52 years after trials in Freetown.
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory was recently made aware of a new scam doing the rounds via email. The email correspondence refers to a confirmation letter, which is attached in the email.
The confirmation letter is a misrepresentation of the Nelson Mandela Trust Foundation and queries a financial donation from the former Liberian president Charles Taylor "base on the trust to ensure the "trust / immunity of the funder of this forum EX President Nelson Mandela." (Spelling errors appear as quoted).
The email that accompanies the confirmation letter below reads as follows:
The fraudulent confirmation letter that accompanies the scam email
"Mr Rafael Radebl
PFA Confirmation issued on 21.03.2012 kindly confirm the same has been Issued from end .
Kindly also confirm that details provided as per attached confirmation that the same true as per record from Nelson Mandela Trust Foundation
Kindly also let me know procedure for Donation to be made from Mumbai India Can I make through RTGS I am Interest for donation to your Trust for helping to the Needy people .
Kindly revert if any Information is requir.
Thanks & Regards
Subhash Singh" (Spelling errors appear as quoted).
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory has confirmed that the confirmation letter and email is indeed a scam, a fraudulent attempt to gain funds and/or information from members of the public. The Centre of Memory urges anyone who receives such a mail to ignore it and delete it immediately.