Victim of the Civil War in Liberia.

UK Supreme Court hears appeal in case of Agnes Reeves Taylor

The UK Supreme Court is today and tomorrow hearing an appeal in the case of R v Agnes Reeves Taylor. Ms Taylor is charged with seven counts of torture and one count of conspiracy to commit torture, allegedly committed during the first Liberian Civil War in 1990. Redress is participating in the case as a third party intervener.

Ms Taylor, the ex-wife of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, is charged pursuant to section 134(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The Supreme Court is examining a preliminary legal issue in the case, summarised by the Court as follows:

“What is the correct interpretation of the term ‘person acting in an official capacity’ in section 134(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988? In particular, does it include someone who acts otherwise than in a private and individual capacity for or on behalf of an organisation or body which exercises or purports to exercise the functions of government over the civilian population in the territory which it controls and in which the relevant conduct occurs?”

Further reporting from the hearing is currently restricted, due to the ongoing criminal proceedings.

S134(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 allows the UK to assert universal jurisdiction for the criminal prosecution of torture, including as committed by foreign nationals outside the UK. The legislation implements the UK’s international law obligations under the UN Convention against Torture, and reflects the definition of torture contained in Article 1 of the Convention.

Redress has been granted permission by the Supreme Court to participate in the proceedings as an intervener. It is represented pro bono by Sudhanshu Swaroop QC and John Bethell of 20 Essex Street Chambers, and by Hogan Lovells (Alex Sciannaca, Peter Hood, William Foubister and Lucy Kelly).

The appeal continues tomorrow.

For more information, please contact Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’ Head of Communications, on 020 7793 1777 or 07857110076 (out of hours) and [email protected].

Notes to editors

  1. About REDRESS

REDRESS is an international human rights organisation that represents victims of torture to obtain justice and reparation. REDRESS also uses the law to combat impunity for governments and individuals who perpetrate torture, and to develop and promote compliance with international standards.

  1. Case summary and reporting restrictions

The Supreme Court’s case summary and reporting restrictions are available on the Supreme Court’s website here.

Photo credit: UN Photo by Eric Kanalstein.