International Prisoner Transfer

Justice written statement – made on 10th October 2013.

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Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

On 26 April 2012, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) convicted Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, including, murder, forced labour and slavery, recruiting child soldiers and rape. On 30 May 2012, the SCSL sentenced him to 50 years’ imprisonment. On 26 September 2013, the SCSL dismissed former President Taylor’s appeal against that conviction and confirmed the sentence. Following a request from the President of the SCSL to the United Kingdom, former President Taylor will now be transferred to a prison in the UK to serve that sentence.

The United Kingdom’s offer to enforce any sentence imposed on former President Taylor by the SCSL was crucial to ensuring that he could be transferred to The Hague to stand trial for his crimes.

The International Tribunals (Sierra Leone) Act 2007, which allows for SCSL sentences to be enforced here, was passed with wide cross-party support in June 2007. During the passage of the Bill it was made clear, and accepted by the House, that former President Taylor could serve his sentence in the UK should it be required, and that Her Majesty’s Government would meet the associated costs.

International justice is central to foreign policy. It is essential for securing the rights of individuals and states, and for securing peace and reconciliation. The conviction of Charles Taylor is a landmark moment for international justice. It clearly demonstrates that those who commit atrocities will be held to account and that no matter their position they will not enjoy impunity.