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As Taylor Case Winds Down, Africa-Only Focus Clouds ICC's Future

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 2 -- The prosecutor of Charles Taylor came Monday to New York to brag about this case, a full year before he expects a verdict. Charles Rapp, previously with the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, said he expects a motion to dismiss but predicted it will be rejected by the judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

   Inner City Press asked about defense arguments that prospective defense witnesses are afraid of being put on the UN's travel ban and asset freeze lists. Rapp was dismissive of this as well, saying that those already on the lists can, upon notice, travel to testify. But what about those not on the list, who think that any open testimony in support of Taylor's defense would land them on the list? Rapp did not answer this. Video here, from Minute 10:57.

  Inner City Press asked about the impact of the conviction, in Federal court in Miami, of Taylor's son for torture. Rapp said this helps give assurance that Liberia will remain "Taylor-free," as he put it. He noted that there were two witnesses in the U.S. torture trial who brought "Sierra Leone" facts to the case otherwise about torture in Liberia itself, including a Sierra Leonean rebel who had fled to Liberia.

Charles Taylor in flak jacket and UN custody, 2006

  Broader, Inner City Press asked Rapp to respond to the criticism, most recently by the African Union's Jean Ping, that international criminal justice is disproportionately targeted at Africa, and excludes, in the four examples Ping gave, Gaza, Georgia, Colombia and Iraq.  Rapp first defended his court, pointing out that other than Taylor, the other defendants were tried in Africa.  Then he went broader, arguing both that since more African nations than others joined the International Criminal Court, the result was to be expected, and that the ICC's first three cases were "on invitation" by the Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Video here, from Minute 20:25.

  But ICC prosecutor Jose Moreno Ocampo has bragged that he invited the African leaders to refer these cases to him.  To respond to an African critique by saying, African nations joined, brings up the possibility of countries deciding to unjoin. Moreno Ocampo has said he is looking at Colombia, but he's also said he's impressed with Colombian justice. Now ICC indictee Bosco Ntaganda has appeared at a press confernce with Congolese officials, and appears on the verge of being integrated into the Congolese Army. Where is Moreno Ocampo? As he reportedly bungles the Congo's Lubanga case, his eyes are on Sudan. 

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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