I’m going to withhold comment on Chucky Taylor’s “apology” that aired this past Saturday on Al Jerome’s TMZ Liberia show. Primarily, because it appears that Taylor is not done apologizing. Because he is incarcerated Taylor could only spend a limited the amount of time on the phone, which—if you listen to the interview—he spent much of discussing his current theory on the prosecution that resulted in his conviction for torture and related crimes. He was sentenced to 97 years in 2009.
Why is the story of Chucky Taylor relevant to Liberia and the United States? A few reasons:
- Taylor was the first and—to date—the only person to be charged and convicted under what is called the Extraterritorial Torture Statute. His conviction has profound implications for how human rights violators can be brought to justice and denied haven.
- Taylor is the only individual involved in the 14-year Liberian civil war to go to trial for any crimes related to the conflict. Keep in mind: nearly 250,000 people lost their lives, more than a million were displaced and an entire generation was subjected to the horrors of war. Perpetrators currently hold places within Liberia’s government, police and security forces; Chucky Taylor is the only one serving a sentence because of the crimes he committed.
- Taylor was also held liable for $22 million in damages to his victims in an alien torts civil claim because of the crimes committed by him and his men.
My book American Warlord, which comes out next Spring on Knopf, looks into Taylor’s personal story as a collision course with history. He was the American-born son of Liberia’s most powerful warlord, a position that held particular resonance in a nation created on behalf of freed African-American slaves. His coming of age and fall from power mirrored the collapse of Liberia and the destruction of its relationship to the United States. Taylor’s conviction in 2008 stands alone as an act of justice in the darkest chapter of Liberia’s history. (His father was convicted of crimes against humanity related to the war in Sierra Leone.)
I’ll follow-up with more once Taylor has concluded his “apology.”