LYON, France – INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said he welcomed the news about the speedy arrest of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was recaptured after having escaped custody in Nigeria just days before he was to be handed over to a Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal.
Immediately after the escape became known, INTERPOL threw the full weight of its network of National Central Bureaus, its secure global police communications system and other operational support services for police into the hunt for Taylor, the subject of a current INTERPOL Red Notice, which serves as an international wanted persons notice. Taylor was taken back into custody by Nigerian customs officers early on Wednesday morning, 29 March, at a crossing point into Cameroon.
Taylor had originally been granted asylum by Nigeria as part of a peace agreement which ended the Liberian civil war, but Nigeria recently agreed to return him to Liberia. After he was re-apprehended on 29 March, Nigerian authorities sent him to Liberia, from where he was immediately transferred to Sierra Leone.
INTERPOL issued the Red Notice for Taylor in 2003 at the request of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which had indicted him on charges of crimes against humanity, acts of terrorism, attacks against peacekeeping personnel and other offences.
After Taylor’s escape from custody, INTERPOL immediately contacted Nigerian authorities to ask for details of the incident and sent an urgent message to all of its 184 member countries, which included the text of the 2003 Red Notice, reminding the world’s police and border officials that Taylor was a fugitive from justice.
‘I found it disappointing and frustrating that Taylor was able to slip away just a few days after the government of Nigeria agreed to turn him over,’ Secretary General Noble said. ‘He could literally have ended up anywhere in the world, but INTERPOL’s Red Notice and 184-member-country network of National Central Bureaus would have made international travel difficult and highly risky for him.’
INTERPOL has a formal co-operation agreement with the Special Court for Sierra Leone which allows for the exchange of police information and the publication of Red Notices at the request of the tribunal.
The elements of the Charles Taylor Red Notice which can be made public are on the INTERPOL website, in the ‘Wanted’ section. The text of the co-operation agreement between INTERPOL and the Special Court for Sierra Leone as well as details of INTERPOL’s system of international wanted persons notices are on the website in the ‘Legal Materials’ section.