Taylor’s case: impunity can be beaten

Posted: June 12, 2012 in Politics/Current issues

Finally, the victims of Charles Taylor, “the butcher of Liberia”, can get a measure of satisfaction that one of Africa’s most ruthless warlords and dictators will probably die in jail.

This was after the international criminal court handed him a 50-year jail sentence. At sixty four years, the sentence virtually condemns the former head of state to rot in jail.  Taylor becomes the first African head of state to be jailed for international crimes, many of them genocidal in nature.  And as citizens and victims of the Sierra Leone war celebrated that justice has finally been done, a lot of questions and lessons should be learnt for Africa and the world in general, that impunity can indeed be beaten.  The sentence is a major victory against the forces of political  impunity that have continued to straddle our African continent, a continent that inspires both hope and utter despair in the same breath.

The sentence also comes in a wake of four Kenyan suspects; Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang are facing allegations of crimes against humanity at the same international criminal court. The four are suspected to be major players in orchestrating the 2007-2008 post election violence that rocked the country after the last general elections.

Back to the sentence given to Charles Taylor, Africa is a rich continent, rich in culture, talent, entrepreneurship among others things. Our continents boast of sportsmen and women, entrepreneurs and students who continue to excel internationally. Unfortunately, it is the same continent that continues to give the world the most cold-blooded dictators. The likes of Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, Samuel Doe, the self styled emperor of the central African empire Jean Bedel Bokassa, Muamar Gadafi, Thomas Lubanga, Joseph Kony…..the list is infinite.

These former African leaders have become synonymous with torture and assassinations, genocide, cannibalism and other heartless crimes that make the world cringe with their sheer level of brutality.

As Taylor starts his term behind bars, the message is clear, that impunity has become very expensive and no man or woman is too big for the world to deal with. It is a reminder that when we fail or are unable to clamp down on gross human rights abuses by the political class, which has always left innocent citizens of their respective countries poor, some without limbs and ending up to be beggars, we have only ourselves to blame when the international community steps in to do the job for us, Africa.

As western countries continue to develop, Africa still remains lagging behind all in the name of these political classes who are hungry for power and always putting their interests first. The sentence should be seen to be a chilling warning to these African leaders, elected and imposed; that justice has now gone global and no matter how long it takes it will catch up with you.

But as a young African youth, I can say with a certain that there is now hope those who believe and practice political impunity will from the day Taylor was sentenced be looking over their shoulders.

Nixon Kanali, Nairobi Kenya



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