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For Immediate Release

PHR Welcomes Confirmation of Charles Taylor’s Sentence

Former Liberian President Loses Appeal of 50-year Jail Term

Media Contact

Vesna Jaksic Lowe, MS

Media Relations Manager, New York
Tel: 917-679-0110

New York, NY - 09/26/2013

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today welcomed the confirmation of a 50-year sentence for former Liberia President Charles Taylor for his role in encouraging rebels in Sierra Leone to commit war crimes and planning some of the attacks during the country’s civil war.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague today rejected Taylor’s legal appeal, and affirmed his May 2012 sentence of 50 years in prison. He is the first former head of state to be jailed for war crimes since the Nazi leaders.

“The wheels of justice may sometimes turn slowly, but this case shows how crucial international human rights law is for holding the worst human rights abusers accountable,” said Susannah Sirkin, PHR’s director of international policy and partnerships, and senior advisor. “Far too many victims have suffered at the hands of these crimes, and this sentence sends a powerful signal that nobody is above law.”

PHR published a report in 2002 documenting sexual violence and other related crimes in Sierra Leone that occurred in the 1990s. The report estimated that more than 200,000 women and girls in the country had suffered such crimes. A PHR expert also conducted forensic investigations to exhume graves of victims of mass crimes for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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