Chucky Taylor (r) with Benjamin Yeates (l)
photo courtesy of Johnny Dwyer and Lynn Henderson)
During the reign of Liberian President Charles Taylor (1997 – 2003), torture and other crimes against humanity became the norm. Many of these atrocities were carried out by the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), which was an elite, personalized military force led by Taylor’s son, Charles “Chucky” Taylor Jr. aka Roy Belfast (his legal name). A U.S. citizen, Chucky used his citizenship status and patronage to abuse his role as commander of the ATU. Acting with complete impunity, the ATU quickly gained a reputation for its brutality and use of a variety of torture methods that Chucky Taylor either supervised or carried out himself.
In 2006, Chucky Taylor was arrested in Florida for attempting to enter the United States under a falsified passport. After being detained for some months, criminal charges were filed against him for torture and conspiracy to commit torture.
In pursuit of filing a civil suit, CJA began investigating in 2006, and represented an individual who was personally tortured by Chucky Taylor. CJA later went on to support the U.S. federal government’s efforts to prosecute him under the U.S. extraterritorial torture statute, which makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen, or an individual present in the U.S., to participate in torture abroad, regardless of the nationality of the the victim.
On January 9, 2009, Chucky Taylor was sentenced to 97 years in prison; a term he is currently serving in in Florida. He remains the only person ever to be prosecuted and convicted under the U.S. extraterritorial torture statute.