By Michael Petrou - Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 0 Comments
Cindor Reeves, once the brother-in-law of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, and the man who risked his life to bring Taylor to justice, has been granted landed immigrant status in the Netherlands.
Reeves helped Taylor run guns and diamonds between Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s and 2000s. He has never denied this. Then, at great risk to himself and without asking for anything in return, he helped the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against Taylor. Taylor is currently serving a 50-year sentence for aiding and abetting war crimes, including murder, terror, and rape.
Reeves was initially put under witness protection in Holland and then Germany, but took his family to Canada on his own accord and in doing so lost the Special Court’s protection.
He lived here for six years and left in 2012, following a deportation order against him. Canada alleged he had been involved in crimes against humanity though it could not produce a shred of evidence that he had ever personally harmed anyone. Prosecutors at the Special Court were explicit that they would never had considered charging Reeves, regardless of the help he gave them. Reeves didn’t receive immunity because of the risks he took on the court’s behalf.
Reeves’ wife and children remain in Canada. This country granted them refugee status on the grounds that their relationship with Reeves would endanger their lives if they returned to Liberia, where Taylor still has allies. Canada didn’t extend this consideration to Reeves himself.
Reeves is 40 years old. He’s starting his life over for at least the fourth time. Canada, to its shame, denied him a chance to do so here. The Netherlands, to its credit, has shown more honour and morality than Ottawa.
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM - 0 Comments
A summary of the sentencing is here.
Maclean’s coverage of Taylor and the beginning of the trial can be read here.
Maclean’s coverage of Taylor’s former brother-in-law, Cindor Reeves, who helped build the case against Taylor and was then abandoned by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and by Canada, can be read here.
Maclean’s article about Bill Horace, an alleged war criminal and former Taylor commander, can be read here.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
Charles Taylor’s conviction at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone is a partial victory for justice and for the countries Taylor traumatized: Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The Court found Taylor, a former warlord and then president of Liberia, guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes — including terror, murder, and rape — because of his support for rebel groups in Sierra Leone, including the Revolutionary United Front, a marauding gang of psychopaths and child soldiers that he created to destabilize the country and ensure a flow of blood diamonds into Liberia.
The wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone were sordid almost beyond description. Children fought them. They involved cannibalism and sex slavery, mass rapes and voodoo. Little boys went into battle with sticks they pretended were guns and fluorescent wigs they thought would stave off bullets.
Detritus from the wars washed up in Canada. Maclean’s revealed that one of Charles Taylor’s former commanders named Bill Horace, implicated in multiple war crimes, was living freely in Canada. When old Nazi collaborators are found here, our government responds. It’s big news. Not so when an alleged African war criminal is discovered. The Maclean’s story was published and all-but ignored. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 9:26 PM - 0 Comments
Cindor Reeves, a man who risked his life to bring one of the most blood-soaked tyrants of the last 25 years to justice, has left Canada following a deportation order against him.
Reeves was once the brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, a Liberian warlord and then president of the country who is now on trial in The Hague, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Taylor is there in large part because Cindor Reeves helped the Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against him. Reeves did this at great personal risk, and without asking for anything in return. The Special Court put Reeves and his family in a witness protection program in Europe. Unhappy there, Reeves came to Canada and applied for refugee status. When he did so, Reeves lost the protection of the Special Court, which effectively abandoned him. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 6 Comments
Last month I wrote about the results of an access-to-information request to the Immigration and Refugee Board, which yielded some 4,000 pages on Cindor Reeves. Nothing in those documents changes my conclusion that the board, as well as the federal government, which intervened in the case through the minister of public safety, has shown gross incompetence and perhaps worse in handling this case.
I should point out, however, the the IRB responded to my access-to-information request quickly and thoroughly. This shouldn’t be worth noting, but given the terrible record of virtually every other government department I have dealt with on access-to-information, it is. Indeed access requests on Reeves made to other departments remain in limbo as I write this. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 4:50 PM - 0 Comments
Since beginning four years ago to dig into the story of Cindor Reeves — the man who helped bring former Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor to trial in The Hague, and whom Canada is now deporting — I have occasionally worried that there might be some missing piece of the puzzle that I didn’t have. Perhaps the government has information about Reeves that would explain its determination to send him back to Liberia, where he faces murder, other than incompetence, malice, and a perverted sense of justice. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Monday, June 13, 2011 at 2:29 PM - 6 Comments
Cindor Reeves, the Canadian refugee claimant who risked his life to help build the legal case against his brother-in-law, the former Liberian warlord and president Charles Taylor, has received a removal order from the Canada Border Services Agency and may shortly be deported. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 1:10 PM - 17 Comments
The tribunal officer assigned by the Immigration and Refugee Board to the case of Cindor Reeves, former brother-in-law of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, judged him to be a credible witness whose exclusion from refugee protection in Canada would be “morally questionable.”
A tribunal officer is an IRB employee whose role “is not to oppose, or to support, the refugee claim, but to help ensure that all relevant information is before the member to decide the claim.” In his written observations of the case, Richard Henderson argued against excluding Reeves from refugee protection because of his alleged involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity:
“A restrictive or narrow interpretation of the exclusion clauses is particularly warranted in this case, not just because, as I will suggest in the next section, Mr. Reeves would be in extreme danger should he return to Liberia, but also because it is precisely Mr. Reeves’ involuntary and minor involvement in the weapons for diamonds trade that allowed him to gather the kind of ‘high value’ intelligence that played a key role in ultimately bringing down Charles Taylor. To exclude him because of this involvement would seem to be both morally questionable, a sentiment expressed in the Maclean’s articles, and inconsistent with the intent of the exclusion clauses, i.e. they were surely not meant to exclude individuals who were, in effect, acting as double agent.”
Reeves’ refugee case is different than most because the Canadian government — through the minister for public safety — intervened to argue against his appeal for refugee protection. Continue…
By the editors - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 2:39 PM - 35 Comments
Once upon a time, governments consulted with those affected, commissioned reports and weighed their options
As might be expected, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a lot on his mind these days. We know this from recent postings to his Twitter account. Last week, for example, he wished everyone a “Happy Lunar New Year!” Before that he passed along Christmas greetings from “Rachel, Ben, Laureen and myself” and congratulated Ontario-born baseball player Joey Votto on being named National League MVP. Oh yes, he also rewrote the nation’s Internet policy. All in 140 characters.
Twitter is the popular social networking tool that allows users to send out short, frequent blasts of information. Celebrities, sports stars and anyone else who sees a need to provide continual updates on their latest thoughts and activities have flocked to Twitter. Add politicians to this list as well.
Harper has been tweeting since September 2008. Many of his cabinet ministers and parliamentary rivals tweet as well. As a marketing and networking tool, Twitter has become useful, perhaps even necessary, to the business of politics. But is this how Canadians expect their government to make policy? Is it possible to rule a country 140 characters at a time?
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 2:10 PM - 28 Comments
In the last three weeks, Cindor Reeves’ relatives in Liberia have been attacked by men looking for him and his wife. They abducted four children who are still missing. The following email is from his mother-in-law:
I don’t know if I will be alive before this message reach you. Last night some arm man came to my house,and toke my four ( 4) children away. They came and met some people in the house and wanted to know where C.R and [...] are,when they could’nt get good result then they ask for me and make a statement saying we will kill those ungratful people starting with that socall mother in law [...] .Atthat moment, I wos able to recongnize the voice of one.This follow came to the house as asympthizer, He repeated we will kill them know matter what. By the grace of God I was able run through the bathroom window with alappl and a T shirt,Leaving my children behind dont know their where about now.If Ishould survie it will be by the grace of God.You people force me to come back to Liberia saying Liberia was save for me now see what is happening to me? now where will I run to or find my kids
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 8:02 AM - 0 Comments
Colleagues in the Maclean’s Ottawa bureau can attest to the fact that during the almost four years that I have been writing about Cindor Reeves, I have often fumed and ranted about the fact that other Canadian media refused to follow this magazine’s lead on the story. I’m pleased that changed this week. Here’s the Vancouver Sun’s take.
In other developments, Rick Dykstra, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s parliamentary press secretary, tells the Toronto Star’s Tonda MacCharles that Reeves has not given the government permission to speak about his case. This is not true. Reeves may not have given the government permission to speak to the Toronto Star. But Reeves provided the government with written permission to talk to me about the case in 2009. After demanding such permission as a precondition to talking, the government still refused to say anything. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 3:29 PM - 17 Comments
The Globe’s editorial is based entirely on my articles and blog posts, although they don’t acknowledge as much. I admit I find this bothersome, but am pleased other media are now following the story.
The CBC’s interview with Reeves and with Alan White, former chief of investigations for the Special Court, meanwhile, is now available online.
By Michael Petrou - Monday, February 7, 2011 at 9:45 AM - 7 Comments
The CBC has picked up the Cindor Reeves story. I originally reported he would be on CBC Radio’s The Current today. That has been moved to tomorrow. I understand Alan White, previously of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, will be on the show as well. I have several blog posts on Reeves. This article provides most of the background.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 6:01 AM - 70 Comments
I’ve been trying to get a response from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on the impending deportation of Cindor Reeves since Monday. Reeves is the former brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, who brutalized Liberia and, through a proxy army, neighbouring Sierra Leone, for more than a decade. Reeves smuggled guns and diamonds for Taylor before secretly turning against him to cooperate with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is now trying Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague. Reeves asked for and received nothing for his work with the Special Court, which was crucial to building a case against Taylor. His life has been threatened multiple times since, and there is good reason to believe he will be murdered by Taylor loyalists if he is returned to Liberia.
Generally, when this government wants to avoid answering difficult questions, their response to media inquiries follows a predictable pattern. You, as a journalist will never actually talk to someone who will answer your questions. You pose your questions to one person; someone else emails you statements that have little relation to the questions you asked.
Given the injustice and hypocrisy this case entails, as well as the fact that a man’s life may soon end because of the Immigration and Refugee Board’s decision, I had expected something more. I shouldn’t have. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Friday, January 28, 2011 at 11:44 AM - 40 Comments
Cindor Reeves, a man largely responsible for bringing to justice one of the most blood-soaked tyrants in recent history, has had his refugee case rejected by Canada and may soon be deported to his native Liberia, where he runs a high risk of being murdered.
Reeves was the brother-in-law of Charles Taylor, who in 1989 launched a civil war in Liberia that killed more than 200,000 and left Taylor in charge of much of the country. Taylor was elected president during a brief lull in the fighting in 1997. Taylor also created a proxy army in neighbouring Sierra Leone that called itself the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF. The RUF’s child soldiers terrorized Sierra Leone for years. Taylor used them to obtain diamonds. He sent the RUF weapons; they sent him gems. Thousands died as a result.
It is for these crimes the Taylor is now on trial in The Hague. He’s there in large part because Cindor Reeves — of his own volition, without receiving anything, and at enormous risk to himself — helped the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against Taylor.
“I am willing to go on the record and confirm that CR provided invaluable information that led to the indictment of Charles Taylor and others who were ultimately convicted,” Alan White, chief of investigations for the court from 2002 to 2005, said in a 2009 email that was published in Maclean’s. He further explained Reeves’ help in a 2009 affidavit: “I could always rely on the information and support provided by Mr. Reeves. In his effort to bring peace and security to the region he endangered himself and his family, yet he did so willingly without asking anything in return but for protection for his family. The court owes Mr. Reeves a debt of gratitude for his support and service.”
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 2:00 PM - 2 Comments
Reeves risked his life to bring Charles Taylor to justice
Last month, Maclean’s wrote about Cindor Reeves, the brother-in-law of former Liberian warlord and president Charles Taylor. Taylor was forced into exile in 2003 and is now on trial in The Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Reeves is now a refugee claimant in Canada.
Originally, Reeves was Taylor’s ally—he helped him smuggle diamonds and weapons between Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s. But later he turned against Taylor and risked his life to bring him to justice, first by spying for MI6, the British foreign intelligence service, then by working with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which eventually indicted Taylor. Continue…
Canada spends millions on the court that's prosecuting Charles Taylor-but doesn't want to protect the man who risked his life to bring the tyrant to justice
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 10:16 PM - 1 Comment
From this week’s print magazine. The story, in a nutshell, is this:
Charles Taylor’s brother-in-law, Cindor Reeves, risked his life to help the Special Court for Sierra Leone build a case against Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president who controlled an army of murderous, drug-crazed child soldiers in next door Sierra Leone. Reeves is now a refugee claimant in Canada. Canada appears poised to kick him out.
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 5:00 PM - 11 Comments
Cindor Reeves helped bring Liberia’s brutal dictator, Charles Taylor, to justice. Now Canada may kick him out.
It was June 2002 when Cindor Reeves was first tipped off that his brother-in-law, the president of Liberia, had sent a team of assassins to murder him.
At 30 years of age, Reeves was already a seasoned gunrunner and diamond smuggler. His brother-in-law was Charles Taylor, who in 1989 had launched a long-running civil war with his rebel fighters in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia that killed more than 200,000 but left Taylor in charge of much of the country. (He was elected president during a brief lull in the fighting in 1997.) The Liberian war also spilled over its borders. Taylor had created a proxy army next door in Sierra Leone that called itself the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF. Since 1991, the RUF and its legions of drug-crazed child soldiers had terrorized Sierra Leone, killing and hacking off the limbs of tens of thousands of civilians, and enslaving thousands more to mine for diamonds. Continue…