Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor (born 28 January 1948) is a Liberian former politician and convicted war criminal who served as the 22nd president of Liberia from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003 as a result of the Second Liberian Civil War and growing international pressure.
Taylor was born in Arthington, a town near the capital of Monrovia, Liberia, on 28 January 1948, to Nelson and Yassa Zoe (Louise) Taylor. He attended The Newman School in his early years. He took the name "Ghankay" later on, possibly to please and gain favor with indigenous Liberians.His mother was a member of the Gola ethnic group, part of the 95% of the people who are indigenous to Liberia. According to most reports, his father was an Americo-Liberian who worked as a teacher, sharecropper, lawyer and judge.
In 1977, Taylor earned a degree at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts, United States.
Born in Arthington, Montserrado County, Liberia, Taylor earned a degree at Bentley College in the United States before returning to Liberia to work in the government of Samuel Doe. After being removed for embezzlement and imprisoned by President Doe, Taylor would escape prison in 1989. He eventually arrived in Libya, where he was trained as a guerrilla fighter. He returned to Liberia in 1989 as the head of a Libyan-backed rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, to overthrow the Doe government, initiating the First Liberian Civil War (1989–1996). Following Doe's execution, Taylor gained control of a large portion of the country and became one of the most prominent warlords in Africa.Following a peace deal that ended the war, Taylor was elected president in the 1997 general election.
During his term of office, Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002). Domestically, opposition to his government grew, culminating in the outbreak of the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003). By 2003, Taylor had lost control of much of the countryside and was formally indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. That year, he resigned, as a result of growing international pressure; he went into exile in Nigeria. In 2006, the newly elected President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, formally requested his extradition. He was detained by UN authorities in Sierra Leone and then at the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden in The Hague, awaiting trial by the Special Court. He was found guilty in April 2012 of all eleven charges levied by the Special Court, including terror, murder and rape.
In May 2012, Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Reading the sentencing statement, Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said: "The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes in recorded human history."
In 1997, Taylor married Jewel Taylor, with whom he has one son. She filed for divorce in 2005, citing her husband's exile in Nigeria and the difficulty of visiting him due to a UN travel ban on her.The divorce was granted in 2006. Jewel Taylor currently serves as the Vice President of Liberia.
Phillip Taylor, Taylor's son with Jewel, remained in Liberia following his father's extradition to the SCSL. He was arrested by Liberian police officials on 5 March 2011 and charged with attempted murder in connection with an assault on the son of an immigration officer who had assisted in Charles Taylor's extradition;the mother of the victim claimed that Phillip Taylor had sworn vengeance against the immigration officer. He was arrested at Buchanan in Grand Bassa County,allegedly while attempting to cross the border into the Ivory Coast.
Taylor has three children with his second wife Victoria Addison Taylor; the youngest, Charlize, was born in March 2010.In 2014, Victoria was denied a visa to visit her husband while he serves his sentence in the United Kingdom.
Taylor also has another son, a U.S. citizen named Charles McArther Emmanuel, born to his college girlfriend. Emmanuel was arrested in 2006 after entering the United States and was charged with three counts, including participation in torture while serving in the Anti-Terrorist Unit in Liberia during his father's presidency. The law that prosecuted Taylor was put in place in 1994, before "extraordinary rendition" in an attempt to prevent U.S. citizens from committing acts of torture overseas. To date, this is the only prosecuted case.In October 2008, Emmanuel was convicted on all three counts and sentenced to 97 years in prison.
Charles Taylor is also said to have been the husband or partner to Agnes Reeves Taylor. Agnes and Charles met when Taylor was head of the General Services Agency in the mid 1980s during the regime of former President Samuel Kanyon Doe. According to Trial international, Charles Taylor and Agnes Reeves Taylor married in Ghana in 1986.However, according to allafrica.com, the two were never legally married. She is reported to have left Liberia in 1992 before the end of the civil war and settled in the United Kingdom where she was a lecturer at Coventry University. On 2 June 2017, she was arrested in London by the Metropolitan Police and charged with torture on the grounds of her suspected involvement with the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NFPL) rebel group, which was led by her ex-husband, during the First Liberian Civil War, from 1989 to 1996. On 6 December 2019 the Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey) in London decided to dismiss the charges against Agnes Reeves Taylor. The Court's decision came after the UK Supreme Court confirmed, in a historic judgment on 13 November 2019, that members of non-state armed groups may be prosecuted for crimes of torture under section 134(1) of the UK Criminal Justice Act 1988, thus legally paving the way for the case against Agnes Reeves Taylor to proceed to trial.However, after rendering its judgment, the UK Supreme Court sent the case back to the Central Criminal Court to consider further evidence from the prosecution's expert and apply the legal standard confirmed by the Supreme Court to the facts of the case. In order for a member of a non-state armed group to be prosecuted for torture, the group must have been exercising "governmental functions". The Central Criminal Court ruled that the evidence presented by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to prove that the NPFL had the requisite authority over the relevant territory at the time the crimes in question were committed. Therefore, the court dismissed the case.
Date of Birth: 28th January, 1948
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: Arthington