The Globe and Mail | Conviction of Charles Taylor deals blow to traditional impunity of dictators
International criminal court finds former Liberian president guilty of war crimes in Sierra Leone, but decision ignores victims inside Liberia itself.
What it means for Africa
The conviction of Mr. Taylor reinforces a disturbing trend: the vast majority of international-court prosecutions have targeted African warlords and political leaders.
The trend has made it easy for African leaders to complain of bias against them. The legitimacy of the international courts will continue to be cast in doubt if they never prosecute any Western leaders or key Western allies in Asia or the Middle East.
The growing number of African defendants in the international courts, especially high-ranking politicians and heads of state, will at least put pressure on African autocrats to consider the personal risks of their human-rights abuses. But it could also encourage some to cling stubbornly to power, fearing jail if they step down.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and Kenyan deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta are among the prominent African leaders to be indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in recent years.