Charles Taylor asks to leave UK jail

Ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor has asked to serve the rest of his war crimes sentence in Rwanda, claiming that being detained in the UK denies him the right to a family life.

Taylor’s wife and children have been unable to visit him in County Durham, lawyer John Jones QC said.

He was convicted of aiding rebels who committed atrocities in Sierra Leone.

The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone trial was held at The Hague on the agreement he was jailed elsewhere.

For the UK taxpayer it would be much, much cheaper if he were to serve his sentence in Rwanda’

The overseas venue for the court case was chosen in case the trial sparked renewed unrest in West Africa.

An act of parliament was passed to allow for Taylor to serve his sentence in the UK, at the cost of the British government, following his conviction.

Taylor was sentenced in 2012 and arrived in the UK last October, having unsuccessfully challenged the decision to be detained there.

Human rights
Legal papers have now been lodged with the court claiming that serving his sentence in the UK breaches his human rights.

The former leader, 66, says it would be more ‘humane’ for him, and his wife and 15 children, if he was to return to Africa to complete his sentence.

His lawyer told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: ‘In the eight months that he has been in the UK he has not received a single visit from his wife and children.

‘He has minor children. When he was in The Hague on trial, he had regular visits, they came, they saw him, they went back.’

Many victims of Sierra Leone’s civil war had limbs hacked off by rebels

Mr Jones added: ‘What we are saying is the UK has a duty to ensure family life, not just for him but for his family. It’s a clear duty under international law and English domestic law.’

The UK would save money if Taylor was transferred, he claimed.

‘He is not suing the British Government, he is not seeking damages from the UK and, on the contrary, for the UK taxpayer it would be much, much cheaper if he were to serve his sentence in Rwanda with all the other prisoners from the special court,’ said Mr Jones.

Mr Jones said visas had not been granted to members of his family as immigration officials were ‘not satisfied that they are going to return to Liberia after their visit to see him, which is ridiculous’.

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