Wednesday, November 5, 2008

U.S. Citizen Found Guilty of Torture in Liberia

Charles McArthur Emmanuel, aka "Chuckie" Taylor Jr., son of infamous former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, and former head of that his father's Anti-Terrorism Unit, nicknamed the "Demon Forces," was convicted last Thursday by a Miami court in a first test of a 1994 U.S. law "that makes it a crime for US citizens to commit torture overseas." As the Guardian put it:
It was considered a test case of the principle that human rights abusers are accountable for crimes regardless of where they are brought to book....

During the trial, witnesses said Emmanuel, known as Chuckie in Liberia, stood by and laughed as soldiers forced prisoners to play "stone football", kicking large stones until their bare feet were bruised and bleeding. One witness described having flaming plastic melted onto his skin; another said soldiers cut his genitals.
According to the Times Online, the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement traveled around the world gathering evidence and witnesses to prosecute Emmanuel, hoping the case "would serve as a model for future prosecutors involving foreign torture allegations."

Model for future prosecutions? The case is said to demonstrate that no American can go abroad and commit atrocities. "Chuckie" was born in Boston, and was a U.S. citizen. He grew up in Orlando, Florida and moved to Monrovia, Liberia to be with his father in 1997, beginning his infamous career as his father's henchman. The senior Taylor is now being tried at The Hague, "charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for allegedly overseeing the murder, rape and mutilation of thousands of people during Sierra Leone's bloody 10-year civil war."

The election of African-American Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama as President of the United States is raising hopes -- rightly or wrongly -- that the U.S. will change its policies abroad, and not least on the issue of torture. A separate story out of Pakistan earlier today has British journalist Marium Evon Raidley expressing hope that the U.S. will change its torture policies, beginning with the closure of Guantanamo:
“I do not believe that the American people approve of the policies of the Bush administration,” she said, adding that the illegal custody of 36-year old Dr Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated neuroscientist, is a blatant violation of international law. She said that Dr Siddiqui is a Pakistani national and if there are any charges against her, she should have been tried in Afghanistan.

Ms Ridley revealed that at least 150 children were dumped into orphanages in Afghanistan. These were the children of those detained in torture cells in Afghanistan. She added that many women languishing in US torture cells in Afghanistan are regularly abused, both physically and sexually.

“No civilised and law-abiding nation can approve of such actions,” Ridley stated....

Dr Siddiqui’s whereabouts have been a source of much speculation since 2003. According to Amnesty International, Dr Siddiqui and her three children were apprehended in Karachi in March 2003, after the FBI issued an alert requesting information on her location earlier that month.
There are plenty of guilty U.S. officials who could follow "Chuckie" onto the dock of justice. Will Obama and the Democrats have the "stuff" to pursue such prosecutions, or will it be business as usual, dressed up with liberal prattling? It won't be long before we know.

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