Seven tenths of a percent of America is behind bars. That doesn’t sound like much, right? Well, that is actually more than 2 million people. And get this: prisoners in China are only .118 percent of the total population, while Brazil locks up only .183 percent of its citizens. The data comes from the International Centre for Prison Studies via the BBC’s in depth report on prison life. Here is the full chart:
|Total Prison Pop.||% of the total population||Jail occupancy level %||Women Prisoners %|
*the zero was missing when we initially posted this
Taylor's spiritual adviser, the Indian evangelist Kilari Anand Paul, said Taylor told him in a phone call from jail on Saturday that State Security Service agents came with two vehicles to his villa in southeastern Nigeria the night of March 28.
Taylor said they escorted him north, then released him "in the middle of nowhere," according to Paul, who spoke from his home in Houston. "He said, `Where are you guys going?' And they said they received instructions to leave him and they left."
The transfer of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor to The Hague will likely occur in the next few weeks. The irony of the move is that tribunals like that in Sierra Leone were intended to bring international justice closer to the people affected. The court for the former Yugoslavia, based in The Hague, often received brickbats for being too distant from the Balkans to effectively enlighten the populations and facilitate reconciliation. Now, it seems, those arguments have quickly yielded to fears that Taylor's presence in the neighborhood could shatter the fragile peace.
I think it's the right calculation. My time in the Balkans led me to appreciate the value of just getting bad actors out of the picture. One-way tickets to The Hague cleared out plenty of political obstructionists in Bosnia and helped make possible today's (admittedly fragile) peace. Doing justice at home is the ideal, but justice at a distance beats violence at home any day.
Charles Taylor, having laid waste to Liberia, has been trying to set the record straight about who persuaded him to surrender his Presidency and go into exile in Nigeria. “I will say that 99% of [the credit] goes to Dr. K. A. Paul alone,” he wrote on August 16th, in a letter to the Times. Since Taylor was on the verge of losing a civil war, and three African heads of state went to Liberia to usher him out of the country—and since President Bush made his exit a precondition of American peacekeeping help—this is no small nod to Dr. K. A. Paul.
That's former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor surrounded by serious-looking UN peacekeepers. It almost makes me believe in the UN again. Almost.
The remarkable story of Taylor's arrest took another interesting turn today when it was reported that the tribunal in Sierra Leone has asked the International Criminal Court in the Hague to host the trial (the ICC seems all but certain to say yes, though a UN Security Council resolution may be required). It's apparent that the governments in Sierra Leone and Liberia are nervous about the potentially destabilizing impact of a trial, and outsourcing justice to the Hague is a nice compromise.
t's unclear whether the Bush administration knew beforehand that the ICC would get a call. Top Bush folks, and UN Ambassador John Bolton in particular, have been hesitant to legitimize the ICC. In this case, the fact that the ICC will be merely hosting the trial -- not conducting it -- should save face all around.
Darn it! A week after Liberia asked for him to be handed over a tribunal in Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor goes missing in Nigeria. Who didn't see this coming? In a press release last week, Human Rights Watch certainly did: "...credible sources in the past week have told Human Rights Watch that little or no security exists around Taylor’s compound in Calabar, Nigeria, prompting fears that he might escape before he can be brought to justice."
Nigerian security guards assigned to Taylor have reportedly been arrested, but there's no word on whether they're actually looking for him.
There's really no doubt that this is Nigeria's fault -- either negligence, incompetence, or complicity.
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