It was in Liberia that Mr. Taylor campaigned for president using the slogan “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him anyway,” in a telling acknowledgment of the psychological damage a pointless war can inflict on a country. It is in Liberia that, almost a decade after Mr. Taylor was driven from the country, men and women today are trying to turn former child soldiers into functional people.
Amnesty International has issued a press release calling for additional prosecutions, reparations and more attention to war crimes in Liberia.There are dizzyingly complex reasons Mr. Taylor was tried for what he did in Sierra Leone, instead of Liberia, many of them involving the effort to keep the hard-won peace that now exists between factions in Liberia. I know this. I just hope that when history books recount this first head of state to be convicted by an international court since Nuremberg, they remember Liberia.
By the way, Janice Cooper, a physician was featured by PBS Newshour in a report last year. She returned to Liberia as project lead for a mental health initiative supported by the Atlanta-based Carter Center and Liberia Ministry’s of Health and Social Welfare,
Cooper recently paid one of her weekly visits to Monrovia Central Prison, where the mental health program has launched a groundbreaking initiative to support prisoners. The prison was so overcrowded and dirty it was singled out by Amnesty International [see report] for human rights violations. Cooper and her staff have converted a cinder block building there into a small, modest mental health facility where prisoners can now attend psychotherapy sessions and meet with family members.Read the article to learn more about why mental health is such an urgent need in this struggling nation. Let's hope bringing Charles Taylor to justice will help heal a few more scars.