News and Views
Former Liberian leader Charles Taylor claims his right to a family life: Mass killer serving 50 years in UK jail takes Britain to court
An African warlord guilty of crimes against humanity is suing Britain for denying him his right to a family life.
Charles Taylor, who allegedly ate the hearts of his enemies, is serving 50 years in a Durham jail.
The UK agreed to imprison him after he was convicted at the Hague of a horrifying campaign of rape, murder and terrorism that cost tens of thousands of lives in Sierra Leone.
But yesterday the 66-year-old lodged legal papers claiming his detention in Britain denies his human rights.
He says his wife and 15 children – some of them criminals too – should not have to travel from Africa to visit him. Taylor also claims he fears being attacked in Frankland jail.
The former Liberian president fuelled a civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone to seize its ‘blood diamonds’, some of which he gave to Naomi Campbell when he met the supermodel at a dinner in honour of Nelson Mandela in 1997.
The British Government will be forced to spend tens of thousands of pounds contesting the case and flying Taylor to the Netherlands for his appeal.
Whitehall officials described his claim as the ‘ultimate perversion of the concept of human rights’. One said: ‘This is simply disgusting. He is a war criminal. He doesn’t get to choose where he serves his sentence. As for his right to a family life – what a sick joke.’
Tory MP Dominic Raab said: ‘It shows the corruption of human rights that such a brutal warlord convicted of crimes against humanity, including terrorism, rape and conscripting child soldiers, thinks he can claim jail violates his right to family life.
‘If he’s successful, it would turn British human rights laws into a laughing stock around the world.’
Taylor’s case will be heard by Judge Philip Waki at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, which has £1million funding from the Foreign Office.