Civil society groups today launch a project to provide daily news and expert analysis of the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
The groups have inaugurated a website, www.CharlesTaylorTrial.org , aimed at providing West Africans - including the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone - with detailed reporting on the trial. Taylor is being tried at The Hague in the Netherlands, for fear that holding proceedings in West Africa could destabilise the region.
"CharlesTaylorTrial.org will be an important source of information on the trial, especially for people in West Africa," said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, one of the sponsors of the site. "It is critical that those who were most directly affected by Taylor's actions can follow developments in the courtroom."
The Open Society Institute and the International Senior Lawyers Project are the co-sponsors of the site.
Taylor is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes arising out of his involvement in the conflict in Sierra Leone. Charges relate to killings, mutilations, rape, other forms of sexual violence, sexual slavery, recruiting and using child soldiers, abduction and using forced labour.
"It is the first time a former head of state or government has been prosecuted in an international criminal court for crimes committed in Africa against Africans," Amnesty International noted in a statement.
It was "vitally important" that the landmark trial was communicated to victims and to the peoples of Sierra Leone and Liberia, Amnesty added. But many people knew neither that the trial was beginning nor why it had been moved to Europe.