Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Nigeria: US Senate considers sanctions re: Taylor

There's a proposal in the US Senate that would cut foreign aid to Nigeria if it does not hand Charles Taylor over to the war crimes court in Sierra Leone. The proposal is in the Senate version of the foreign operations appropriations bill ... no word if it might be included in the House's version.

Last week, Congress allocated $2 million as "rewards for an indictee of the Special Court for Sierra Leone", undestood to mean a reward for the capture of Taylor. This was a one-line clause in the bill that authorized $87.5 billion for reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nigeria has not been pleased. They've beefed up Taylor's security and the presidential spokesperson, Femi Fane Kayode, called the move tantamount to "state-sponsored terrorism" because it might encourage people to go and capture Taylor.

Kayode is not off to think that people will see the money as a bounty on Taylor's head. Northbridge Services Group, a UK-based private military company, is under investigation for offering to arrest Liberia's Taylor and turn him over to the war crimes court in Sierra Leone. Here is the post on the story from back in August.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration had been aware that Congress was considering providing the money ... but he said the admin hadn't decided how to use the money.
... [He] noted that in most cases such rewards are provided for information about the whereabouts of a suspect, which in this case is readily available.
The UN special representative in Liberia, Jacques Klein, welcomes the offer of money, if it means Taylor stands trial. And I'm sure there are tons of Liberians/Africans who would welcome Taylor standing trial. However, the fear is that any effort to put Taylor on trial would cause Taylor loyalists to begin fighting again. The National Post has this quote:
"It's an incitement to terrorism, because any bloke in Nigeria who is money-hungry could take up that offer. Imagine the bloodshed," one of Mr. Taylor's few remaining loyalists told a local reporter. "We're prepared for the worst."
Now, about Nigeria's position. This Financial Post article has these pithy paragraphs.
Nigeria contributed the first two battalions of a west African peacekeeping force that has helped stabilise Monrovia, Liberia's capital, over the past few months. The action eased international pressure for a substantial US troop deployment and enabled Mr Taylor's departure into exile in August. Mr Bush wrote to Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's president, in the same month to thank him for his work on the crisis.

"If you take [Mr Taylor] out in any way, harass him or remove him from here, you jeopardise the peace process," said Femi Fani-Kayode, an adviser to Mr Obasanjo. "This is the light in which we would like the international community to view this situation."
Unless somebody comes up with some other idea soon, it looks like Taylor has gotten away with it all.