The hope of Liberia’s former President Charles Taylor to be transferred to a third country over COVID-19 has been dashed after the Residual Special Court of Sierra Leone rejected his application.
“Request for a transfer to an unnamed ‘safe third country’ demonstrates a woeful lack of grasp of the reality the world community faces from the threat of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Justice Teresa Doherty in her 26 page ruling submitted to the International Criminal Court in Hague on Friday.
As a Designate Duty Judge, she argued that the coronavirus contraction risk of Taylor, currently serving a 50 year jail term in HMP Frankland Prison in the UK over war crimes, was low; emphasizing that Taylor's detention complies with relevant health and human rights standards.
Essa Faal, the representative of the Defence Counsel had presented Taylor's COVID-19 arguments, suggesting that given the spread of the disease in UK prisons and Taylor’s age and health condition, he should be transferred to a safer third country.
“Mr Taylor has not been provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks and has no statistics on whether that prison facility has sufficient hand washing areas and isolation rooms for all its 900 inmates,” the Defence argued.
However, Justice Doherty ruled out claims that the HMS Frankland was overcrowded and therefore it’s a risk to Mr Taylor’s health, adding that those suggestions were not consistent with what authorities at the prison stated.
Moreover, she argued that the Defense failed to define the country where they considers a ‘third’ or a ‘safe’ country nor clarify which countries are ‘first’ or ‘second’ countries for the purposes of his application.