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CRC welcomes Charles Taylor conviction as deterrent to use of children in armed conflict

03 October 2013

Geneva, 3 October 2013 – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has welcomed the judgment by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to uphold the conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The chamber, in its ruling on 26 September, also upheld his 50-year sentence.

Charles Taylor is the first former Head of State to be convicted by an international tribunal since Nuremberg.

“Everyone, even a Head of State, is within the reach of the law,” said Committee Chairperson Kirsten Sandberg.

“It will, without any doubt, pave the way for further prosecutions, and act as a deterrent to others who aid and abet the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts and other crimes against children in the time of war.,” she added.

In April 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone found Charles Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes, a number of which were crimes against children committed by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF)/Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) during Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war.

The RUF/AFRC spread terror among the civilian population and committed crimes against children on an unprecedented scale. Thousands of children were abducted from their homes, mutilated and murdered. Many were used as child soldiers forced to commit atrocities themselves. Others were forced to work as diamond miners or as domestic labourers and to perform auxiliary duties. Girls were abducted and sexually enslaved through forced marriages, a crime recognised as a crime against humanity by the court.

In May 2012, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the conviction of Thomas Lubanga for the war crime of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 in the armed conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).