Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, has been found guilty of 11 charges of aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone. But is this justice, punishing the leader who ordered these crimes to occur, or should the men who carried out the actual crimes also be held liable for what they have done?
Taylor should face these criminal prosecutions because of his role in supporting the rebels who committed atrocities in order to obtain blood diamonds, just as other famous leaders have been brought to justice for their crimes against humanity. This is vital. Without removing the president who is enabling these acts to take place, it would not be possible to stop the horror.
However the issue is whether this should be the end point. There are thousands of rebel citizens who have followed orders or even gone further and abused their power by being overly violent, or through raping and killing the women and children of the towns and cities that are destroyed.
Should they be brought to justice? And, if so, how? It would be difficult first to arrest all of them, let alone charge them for their crimes. Further, it would be difficult to distinguish between those who did not have control over their actions due to fear of violence to them or their family should they not comply.
There are still problems to answer and many more dictators to overthrow and create a new democratic government, but while the entire situation remains a major problem that is harming the world, the sentencing of Charles Taylor is a step in the right direction.