The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone found the the former Liberian president guilty of warcrimes. This was a landmark and historic verdict. “An international war crimes tribunal announced Thursday that it had found Taylor guilty of ‘sustained and significant’ support for the rebels who engaged in a long campaign of terror, murder, rape, sexual slavery and enlistment of child soldiers. However, he was found not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of ordering those abuses himself. Still, it was a milestone verdict in a case that has been seen as an important test of the international justice system. Taylor, 64, is the first former head of state to have a judgment brought against him by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II. The verdict followed a year of deliberations by the judges of the Special Court of Sierra Leone just outside The Hague. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 16; Taylor could be imprisoned for life. His trial lasted five years, during which the court heard a catalog of horrific acts committed by rebels whom Taylor helped arm in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The war ended in 2002 after more than a decade of fighting and more than 50,000 deaths. The rebels backed by Taylor became particularly known for hacking off the limbs of their perceived enemies and carving words onto their bodies.” (LAT http://lat.ms/IqejSp)
ECOWAS to Send Troops to Guinea-Bissau?
The Economic Community of West African States has been struggling to deal with a coup two weeks ago in Guinea-Bissau. It seems that the regional bloc is actively planning to send a military force, which might spark a wider regional conflict given the fact that the coup leaders will likely fight against an invading force. This could get ugly. “The ECOWAS source said a 638-strong regional force, which will include troops from regional military heavyweight Nigeria along with Ivory Coast, Senegal and Burkina Faso, would be deployed in Guinea-Bissau in the ‘next few days.’ He said the force would be charged with “protecting state institutions and political figures” in the country, suggesting that ECOWAS would seek to help in the reinstatement of a civilian government. Officials from ECOWAS, Nigeria, Senegal, and Ivory Coast did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A junta official was not immediately available to comment on Wednesday. ECOWAS has repeatedly condemned the military overthrow in Guinea-Bissau. An ECOWAS delegation went to the country last week in an ultimately futile bid to reach a deal with the junta’s leaders to restore constitutional order. (Reuters http://reut.rs/K7YJwa)
UN Opening New Refugee Camp in Kenya for Sudan and South Sudan Refugees
A sadly necessary event. “The United Nations will open a new refugee camp in northern Kenya to shelter a possible influx of Sudanese and South Sudanese fleeing escalating conflict between their two countries… The Kakuma camp in Kenya’s arid north near the South Sudanese border can host 100,000 refugees. Officials say its population currently stands at 94,000. ‘In the next two to three months, we are concerned the camp will be full,” Emmanuel Nyabera, the U.N. refugee agency’s spokesman in Kenya, told Reuters.
“We are receiving 100 refugees from South Sudan each and every day.’ Nyabera said the government and the local community had identified a site called Kalobeyey with capacity for 80,000 people, located some 25 km from Kakuma.”