Last Thursday an international tribunal found ex-President Charles Taylor guilty on 11 counts of war crimes in Sierra Leone. It is, undoubtedly, a milestone for international justice as he is the first head of state since the Nuremberg Trials to be indicted for war crimes, and the first ever to be convicted. This verdict comes just weeks after Thomas Lubanga was found guilty by the International Criminal Court for his use of child soldiers in Congo.
“A very clear bell has rung across the world saying that dictators and thugs who kill their own people will be held responsible for that atrocity.” -David Crane, founding Prosecutor for the Special Court on Sierra Leone
One war criminal at a time, justice for mass atrocities will become the rule instead of the exception. There’s no short cut, but one by one, the world is establishing an expectation of justice. Hopefully the increased attention on Joseph Kony in Central Africa and Bosco Ntaganda in Congo will lead to additional convictions.
This article from the Christian Science Monitor explains the context of Charles Taylor’s prosecution and conviction.