Charles McArthur Emmanuel aka Chuckie Taylor was born in 1977 in Massachusetts. He is the son of Bernice Yolanda Emmanuel and Charles Taylor. His father returned to Liberia and her mother married Roy Belfast in 1983. Out of fear that Taylor would try to take her son, Bernice Emmanuel moved with him and Roy Belfast to Orlando, Florida. There, the couple changed his name to Roy McArthur Belfast Jr.
His father, Charles Taylor was President of Liberia between 1997 and 2003. He established the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU, also known as the Demon Forces), after winning the Liberian presidential election in 1997 and appointed his son to head the unit.
Under Chuckie Taylor’s direction, the ATU began recruiting men to fill its ranks, and installed them at a former training camp known as Gbatala Base.
In or about April 1999, to on or about 18 July 2003, while in Liberia, Chuckie Taylor, knowingly conspired with others to commit torture, with the specific intent to inflict severe physical pain and suffering upon other persons, within the conspirators’ custody and physical control. This was done to strengthen the power and authority of his father, Charles Taylor’s presidency, and to intimidate, neutralize, punish, weaken and eliminate actual and perceived opponents of and threats to his father’s administration, by means of torture.
Chuckie Taylor was accused of torture and crime of violence and possession of firearms.
Chuckie Taylor allegedly ordered members of the ATU to transport prisoners to the ATU base at Gbatala where they were placed in pits in the ground covered with iron bars and barbed wire. Various persons were tortured by receiving molten plastic on their skin, by burning their feet, genitals, and other flesh using molten candle wax or a lit cigarette and were severely and repeatedly beated including by striking them repeatedly with firearms and other objects. Taylor also aided and abetted others to sodomize and use electric shock on genitals and other body parts of one of the victims and to cut fingers and genitals of another victim with a knife. Furthermore, in or about April, 1999, Chuckie Taylor allegedly assembled Gbatala prisoners and ordered the immediate execution of one of them, specifying that soldiers should cut his neck instead of shooting him.
Chuckie Taylor was taken into U.S. custody on 30 March 2006 after attempting to enter the United States from Trinidad at Miami International Airport, a day after his father was surrendered to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Chuckie Taylor was taken into US custody on 30 March 2006 after attempting to enter the United States from Trinidad at Miami International Airport, a day after his father was surrendered to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
He was initially charged with using a United States passport obtained through lying about his father’s identity. In September 2006, he pleaded guilty to the violation and was scheduled to be sentenced on 7 December 2006. However, one day prior to the sentencing, he was indicted on torture charges (8 counts). He pleaded not guilty to the allegations.
On 7 May 2007, Chuckie Taylor’s defence lawyers filed a motion to dismiss his indictment based on what they claimed was the unconstitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 2340A, both on its face and as applied to the allegations in the Indictment. The Motion was denied with the court stating that Congress certainly had the authority to pass the Torture Act. As to Chuckie Taylor’s argument on the issue of the constitutionality of the extraterritorial reach of the Torture Act, the court stated that no tenet of international law prohibits Congress from punishing the wrongful conduct of citizens, even if some of that conduct occurs abroad.
On 30 October 2008, a jury convicted Chuckie Taylor on six counts of committing acts of torture and conspiracy to commit torture in Liberia and one of possession of a firearm while committing a violent crime.
On 9 January 2009, U.S. District Judge, Cecilia Altonaga sentenced Taylor to 97 years in prison.
Chuckie Taylor appealed his convictions and sentence stating that the Torture Act impermissibly exceeds the bounds of authority, both in its definition of torture and its proscription against conspiracies to commit torture. He also challenged his convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which criminalizes the use or possession of a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. He said that this provision cannot apply extraterritorially to his actions in Liberia. Finally, he claimed that an accumulation of procedural errors made his trial fundamentally unfair, and that the district court erred in sentencing him.
On 15 July 2010, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida upheld this conviction. The Appeals Court concluded that the United States validly adopted the Torture Act pursuant to the President’s Article II treaty-making authority, and it was well within Congress’s power under the Necessary and Proper Clause to criminalize both torture, as defined by the Torture Act, and conspiracy to commit torture. Furthermore, the court held that both the Torture Act and the firearm statute apply to extraterritorial conduct, and that their application in this case was proper. Finally, it concluded that Chuckie Taylor’s trial and the resulting convictions were not rendered fundamentally unfair by any evidentiary or other procedural errors, and that his sentence is without error. It thus affirmed the convictions and sentence in all respects.
Chuckie Taylor is the first individual to be successfully prosecuted under the U.S. federal extraterritorial torture statute, 18 USC § 2340A. The Statute is as follows:
(a) Offense. Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction. There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if:
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy. A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
The extraterritorial torture statute was passed in 1994 to implement US obligations as a state party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.