Charles Taylor conviction gives some justice to victims

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There is no doubt that today’s verdict sends an important message to high-ranking state officials; no matter who you are or what position you hold, you will be brought to justice for crimes. This verdict can also be seen as a reminder for Taylor’s home country Liberia that those responsible for the crimes committed during Liberia’s conflict must be brought to justice. While today’s conviction brings some measure of justice to the people of Sierra Leone, Taylor and the others sentenced by the Special Court are just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of persons suspected of criminal responsibility for incidences of unlawful killings, rape and sexual violence, mutilations and the use of children in Sierra Leone’s armed conflict have never been investigated, much less prosecuted. Sadly, only a limited number of Sierra Leone’s thousands of victims who bear the terrible scars of the conflict have received reparations, despite the Lomé Peace Accord and the clear recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Reparations are integral to achieving justice for the victims and assisting them to rebuild their lives. As one survivor of a double amputation to the arms told Amnesty International, “There are no plans to make reparations for victims. We have been asking them for years throughout the court proceedings to find ways and means to compensate us but victims are still languishing in the streets and begging for a living.