There have been so many happenings and new research relating to child soldiers to report on recently, that there hasn’t been a free moment to post the additional testimony regarding child soldiers usage at the Charles Taylor Trial on May 20th.
Moses Blah, former vice-president for Charles Taylor, testified briefly about child soldiers on May 14th (see this post for his earlier testimony), but during the following week – on May 20th – Defense brought the topic up again.
Here is the relevant testimony (full transcript is here at charlestaylortrial.org):
Def; Lets move to another topic. Can we have a talk about SBUs please
Def: The war caused the displacement of thousands of people within lIberia. One consequence was, literally, young people started following the fighters around?
Def: And in due course, it was necessary to involve them?
Def; And they willingly joined the NPFL?
Def: Did you have a SBU attached to you?
Def: Up to now?
Def: So you still have them
Def: I had one SBU who is still with me. His name is Tamahali. In his case, I saw him and he had been trained, i said he was a small boy and so should not fight so he should come and stay with me. Whe NPFL was dissolved, i told him that he should stay with me and go to school.
Judge: How old was this boy when he came to you?
Def; Did he then undergo military training?
Wit: He had done so before i saw him.
Def: At the time that you had a SBU, did you have any moral concerns about that?
Wit: Yes, this is why i took him away from combat to come and stay with me. He was too small and thats why i took him not to fight.
Def: Through out the war, did you ever express concerns about SBUs?
Wit: This is another difficult thing. What power did i ever have to say that? I could be fined or taken to the tribunal for breaking a unit. Some were forced to join the revolution, some joined voluntarily, some are working for the UN now
Def: How many boys did you have in your SBU?
Wit: I only had that little boy.
Def: Were you ever a commander of an SBU
Wit: Never. What i meant is that i had a boy from the SBU, but i didn’t command any SBU.
Def: As Inspector Gen, did you not consider it appropriate to raise your voice about the use of SBUs?
Wit: That would have costed my life. What power will i have on the commanders. I knew it was against the Geneva Conventions to use SBUs but how would i have said it?
Def: So you were aware of the Geneva Conventions?
Wit: I knew of it when i was a little boy
Def: Did you not consider it right to tell your colleagues about the use of these SBUs?
Wit: I did many things like addressing rape, but question like this would have put me in danger.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone adjourned on Thursday May 22, 2008 to allow the Judges to attend a Plenary Meeting of the Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The trial will resume on June 2, 2008.