Charles Taylor Trial: Everything You Need to Know About War-Torn Liberia [+Video]


A special International Criminal Court in Sierra Leone has convicted former Liberian President and warlord Charles Taylor on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges, including rape, murder, and the use of child soldiers. Taylor was found to be responsible for aiding rebels who committed atrocities during a long civil war in Sierra Leone. 

A sentencing hearing will be held on May 16th, after which Taylor will be sentenced on the 30th.

This year marks a decade since the end of the civil war in Sierra Leone, and as Joseph Khailifa explains, many Sierra Leoneans are still trying to rebuild their lives in an impoverished country. 

The Taylor verdict marks a closure to a decade of terror and horror. More than 50,000 people were killed, more than 30,000 conscripted as child soldiers, and close to 500,000 civilians were displaced during the civil war. 

Taylor was head of the NPFL, the first group of rebels to invade Sierra Leone. Rebels frequently used rape as an instrument of war and chopped off the limbs of thousands of people.

In order to better understand the situation in Liberia, VICE travelled to West Africa and investigated the country and the toll that 14 years of civil war took on its people. VICE’s Shane Smith walks viewers through some history and describes the causes of the civil war. While the country was originally founded as a homeland for former slaves in 1821, the First Liberian Civil War broke out in 1989, when the U.S.-backed opposition, led by Charles Taylor, overthrew the government. 

In power, however, Taylor’s corrupt government found itself under attack by local warlords, leading to the outbreak of the Second Liberian Civil War ten years later.

What did VICE discover? Most of Liberia’s young people continue to live in abject poverty, former child soldiers are fending for themselves, and murderous warlords are trying to reclaim their country for themselves. 

Watch Part 1 below: