Legal Battle Begins @ ECOWAS Court: Charles Taylor vs GOL

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The 11th External Court Session of the Community Court of ECOWAS has begun hearing in the case between Charles Taylor and the Government of Liberia (GOL), as it relates to the former President’s pension benefit.

   Hearings in what legal scholars have described as a landmark case, whose final verdict, either way, would become a precedent in the Liberian jurisprudence/law, began on Friday, April 1, 2022.

   Ex-President Taylor is being represented by Counselors Demo Falana, SAN, Funmi Falana and James L. Supuwood, ESQ, while the Government of Liberia (GOL) is represented by Cllr. Nyenati Tuan, Cllr. Lafayette Gould and Atty. Samora P.Z. Wolokolie.

   In October 2021, ex-President Taylor filed a suit before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice alleging the violation of his right to property by the refusal of the Government of Liberia (GOL) to pay his pension and retirement benefits since his “resignation” on August 11, 2003.

   In the suit, ex-President Taylor said the action of the government constitutes a violation of his human rights, particularly the right to freedom from discrimination, equal protection of the law, right to dignity, fair hearing and property, as guaranteed under Articles 2,3, 4, 7 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

   According to him, as the 22nd President of Liberia, he is entitled to pension and other benefits as specified in the country’s Act to the retirement pension of the President and Vice President of Liberia, which was promulgated by Liberia’s parliament in 2003.

   However, lawyers representing the Government of Liberia (GOL) have argued that ex-President Taylor did not retire honorably as a President of the Republic of Liberia, and is not living a private life as a former President as required by law; as such, he is unqualified to benefit pension and other immunities as former President.

Government of Liberia’s legal representation

   The reliance on which the government lawyers have structured their argument is the Act of the Legislature of July 6, 1978, Titled, “An Act To provide for Retirement Pension of the President of the Republic of Liberia, Vice President of Liberia, The Speaker of the House of Representatives of Liberia, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia”, which states, “A former President who honorably retired to private life and who is in any way gainfully employed by the government shall receive from the government a pension equal to fifty percent (50%) of the salary of the President. In addition, a former President shall be provided a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his life…”

   Legal pundits following the case are saying that the first legal argument in the case is fascinating, but what matters is the final verdict by the court.

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