"Even the most powerful are accountable under international law," commented the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on today's verdict by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
The Court found former Liberian president Charles Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes, crimes against humanity and other grave breaches of human rights rule of law.
The verdict is significant because it marks the first time a former head of state has been held criminally accountable by an international judicial body for human rights violations. The verdict sends a message to leaders that the rule of law and international human rights can triumph over abuse of power.
The trial lasted for 4 years and included allegations of conscripting child soldiers and rape.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone is a different body from the International Criminal Court, which is also located in The Hague. The Special Court was established specifically to address atrocities committed in Sierra Leone during the 1990's whereas the ICC has a wider mandate to render justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide as between member states.