Did Agnes Reeves Taylor File A Wrongful Lawsuit Against Massa Washington?

Posted June 20, 2022

By Patrick Nimely-Sie Tuon.

With two successive administrations failing to decisively address wartime atrocities, Liberia war crimes perpetrators and their allies are becoming emboldened as impunity continues to grow rapidly in Liberia, more than twenty years since the senseless violence ended abruptly.

With the Sirleaf-Boakai regime providing them with the initial cover, many of the perpetrators have accumulated wealth and political power. And the George Weah-Jewel Howard regime has cemented these perpetrators’ impunity with an impenetrable shield of protection from being held accountable for their unimaginable crimes committed against the people of Liberia.

Now millionaires, with political powers right in their hands, are turning to the courts by filing or threatening to file frivolous lawsuits against human rights activists with corrupted lawyers and judges willing to legitimize their devilish clams.

Former warlord Prince Johnson a long-time senator from Nimba County has openly threatened human rights activists with death, while George Boley, another warlord, now a member of the house of representatives, from Grand Gedeh County, went on to file a lawsuit against a fellow lawmaker who blamed George Boley’s rebels for the deaths of his family members.

Here comes Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor, wife of former warlord Charles Taylor, now a convicted war crimes criminal, who filed her lawsuit against the former Commissioner of Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Ms. Massa Amelia Washington.

The merit of Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor’s lawsuit against Miss Massa Washington, which was quickly filed, and the verdict announced, is seriously being questioned and debated, especially, with the issue of jurisdiction of the judge and lawyer involved.

Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor was accused and charged with eleven counts of torture and a conspiracy to commit torture by the UK authorities under UK law. The case ended inconclusively with the charges dropped on a technicality during a pre-trial hearing without declaring Madam Taylor innocent of the crimes of which she is being accused. But two Liberian lawyers, one acting as a judge and the other acting as a lawyer for the plaintiff, used Liberia’s civil laws to award Madam Taylor US$1.5m for damages to restore her “good name.”

Assuming the case had ended up exonerating Madam Taylor of the charges as it is being alleged by her, why didn’t she stay in England and sue the English authorities to restore her purported “good name?”

But instead, she sued Miss Washington in Liberia based on an article written by Miss Washington using information coming from the pre-trial hearing and Madam Taylor’s own words from a video press conference. It was the English authorities who accused, arrested her, and charged her with these crimes.

While a civil suit can come out of a criminal suit, the plaintiff for the civil suit must first be exonerated and declared innocent of criminal charges. However, the Liberian judge and lawyer treated this internationally-driven crime of torture like some petite crime without considering the seriousness of torture under international human rights law.

Torture is one of the most serious human rights violations under international law for human rights laws. It falls among a group of peremptory norms or Jus Cogens. Which prosecution is ‘compelling” if violated, that cannot be circumvented because there is no justification to commit?

Torture, as a peremptory norm, binds all people of the civilized world together. For which a torture violation against one is a torture violation against all human beings in the world. Just discussing and planning torture, even without committing the crime of torture itself, is good enough to have you charged for it.

Liberia is a signatory to The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Under this convention, Liberia should investigate, prosecute, and punish anyone accused of torture or extradite that person to another country that can prosecute if Liberia cannot.

Torture is an “abominable act, a disregard, and disrespect to the dignity of a person and violation of one’s human rights.” The best place to be is not to be accused of torture. It is a case that has no statute of limitations. The charges were dismissed, but not the accusations.

In fact, in the UK court ruling. It stated, “there is prima facie evidence that Madam Agnes Reeves Taylor, held a high rank in the NPFL, and carried out, wither personally or by given orders or by acquiescing in the acts of torture which took place in or on the border of Nimba County.”

In addition, when Madam Taylor filed for asylum in Britain in 2007, she was denied by the British Home Office, because the Home Office said it had serious reasons to consider that, Madam Taylor, had amongst other things, committed a crime against peace, a war crime, and a crime against humanity.

While Madam Reeves Taylor has every right to defend herself in a court of law, however, such defense must be based on the law to advance public interest to send a message of deterrent against defamation of character.

But instead, Madam Taylor’s lawsuit lacks any societal benefit and has re-enforced an already negative perception of how corrupted the Liberian judiciary is. How did they measure the damage?

Madam Reeves had been in Liberia for a brief period. What did she do in Liberia to acquire such a stellar reputation that was damaged and worth such a price tag of US$1.5m?

The last title Madam Taylor answered to in Liberia was “Mother of The Revolution,” during the early days of the so-called revolution presided over by her jailed husband Charles Taylor, which in fact was a killing spree of murders and rapes, massacres, and other unspeakable crimes.

The fact that the case against her ended on a technicality without going to trial, the accusations are still there and could be re-filed eight out of ten times.

Can the judge and lawyer that were part of the kangaroo court in Liberia that settled this case say, with certainty, that there is no further investigation into these accusations going on right now? Any torture that cannot be justified enjoys universe jurisdiction and has no statute of limitations.

About the Author

Patrick Nimely-Sie Tuon is General Coordinator, Liberia Human Rights Campaign in the United States. He can be reached at


Phone (770) 896.5873
Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA