Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Nigeria must hand over tyrant Taylor

24th February 2005

Following a European Parliament debate and a meeting with UN-convened Deputy Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal in Sierra Leone, Desmond De Silva QC, to discuss the case of war criminal Charles Taylor, Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman in the European Parliament, said:

"Charles Taylor was a warlord who ruled Liberia between 1997 and 2003. He was a dictator who sanctioned rape and executions during the civil war. He wreaked havoc in neighbouring Sierra Leone where tens of thousands of civilians were brutally slaughtered, among them child soldiers.

Taylor now lives in exile in Nigeria and has been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone but Nigeria is refusing to extradite him claiming he has sovereign immunity, despite the fact that sovereign immunity no longer applies to war criminals.

Dr Tannock continued: "Taylor benefits from an asylum deal but he has breached the terms of his asylum by interfering in Liberian politics ahead of the elections scheduled for October by financing parties sympathetic to him with money he obtained corruptly through the diamond trade when in power. He presumably hopes with a change of government he will be allowed back.

I appeal to President Obasanjo of Nigeria, who is currently Chairman of the African Union, to set an example and end Taylor's immunity and hand him over."

Nirj Deva MEP, Conservative Spokesman on Development in the European Parliament and Co-Coordinator of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, of which Nigeria is a prominent member, said:

"Africa has for too long been torn by civil strife, hunger, economic mismanagement and blatant corruption. It is now at last beginning to get its own house in order with regional blocks and Continental-wide supranational institutions committed to observing international human rights laws such as ECOWAS and the African Union. I therefore urge President Obasanjo to give up this war criminal and send out the signal that these kinds of tyrants will not be tolerated."
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