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The Decision of the Special Court for Sierra Leone to Conduct the Charles Taylor Trial in The Hague

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On 29 March 2006 former Liberian President Charles Taylor was surrendered to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he was charged of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during the Sierra Leonean conflict since 1996. The same day, invoking concerns about stability and security in the West African sub-region if the trial were to be held in Freetown, the President of the Special Court submitted a request to the Government of the Netherlands and to the International Criminal Court to facilitate that the trial be conducted in e Hague. Accordingly, on 20 June 2006, Mr. Taylor was transferred to the premises of the International Criminal Court where the trial commenced almost one year later.

The change of venue of the Taylor trial from Freetown to Europe has several implications, which the present contribution aims to discuss, given that the Special Court is the first international(ized) criminal tribunal faced with such a relocation. This paper firstly reviews the necessary procedural steps taken for the transfer; then, it focuses on the compatibility of this change in location with the spirit and purposes of the Statute of the Special Court; finally, it considers the matter in relation to the fundamental aspects of transparency and of the due process guarantees of the accused.

Affiliations: 1: Candidate in International Law at the University of Milan

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