Ed Royce’s agreement to represent Liberia creates a problem concerning Ed Royce’s public and private lobbying careers. Ed Royce championed human rights during his life in public service. Today, Ed Royce is representing the Weah administration and tech giant Tencent Holdings of China. Tencent Holdings is the developer of WeChat.
As a public servant, Royce was a massive critic of communist Vietnam and China. He authored several bills targeting China; in 2007, he met with Vietnamese President Nguyen Triet amid severe human rights violations. It is well known that the Chinese security bureau (Xinjiang) used WeChat to identify, initiate surveillance and threaten critics of the Chinese government.
The 2020 United States Human Rights report on Liberia indicts the current administration of serious human rights violations including, “occasional reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.”
So, how will Ed Royce reconcile his public consciousness of chastising despot and human rights violators while working as a lobbyist for governments or companies entangled in human rights violations?
In 2006, Royce, Chris Smith, and Ambassador Susan Rice dogged and hounded Charles Taylor until Taylor’s arrest. Below is a reprint of Ed Royce’s Op-Ed piece that started the pursuit and led to the arrest of Charles Taylor.
ORIGINAL PUBLICATION: MAY 5, 2005 | By Ed Royce
Bring Charles Taylor to Justice
NEARLY two years after Charles Taylor fled Monrovia under pressure from advancing rebels and a force of Marines on ships off Liberia, he sits exiled in Nigeria, plotting to undermine an international effort to rebuild the country he did so much to destroy. Although Mr. Taylor has been indicted on charges of fueling a brutal war in neighboring Sierra Leone, a deal brokered by Nigeria and the United States has kept him beyond the reach of justice.
But when President Bush meets with President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria today, he has the chance to press him to bring Mr. Taylor before the body that indicted him, the Special Court for Sierra Leone. In so doing, Mr. Bush will not only help safeguard West Africa’s fragile stability but strengthen the rule of law and the role of a court that the United States has done so much to create and support.
After he terrorized his way to power in Liberia, Charles Taylor backed the brutal Revolutionary United Front, a rebel group that murdered, raped and mutilated tens of thousands in Sierra Leone in the 1990’s. But in return for agreeing to go into exile and to stay out of politics, Mr. Taylor was able to escape a 17-count Special Court indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity handed down against him in 2003; instead, he landed softly in Nigeria. The State Department said this was a temporary step intended to stop the killing in Liberia. This deal, bad then, is worse today.
What’s more, Mr. Taylor constantly violates the terms of the agreement. He is in regular telephone contact with former aides and is working with parties set to contest and, most likely, disrupt the Liberian elections scheduled for October. Last month, Jacques Klein, the United Nations special representative in Liberia, reported that Mr. Taylor was intruding in Liberian politics. When he left Liberia, he told followers, “God willing, I will be back.” He reaffirmed his intention on Nigerian television in spring of 2004.
Sierra Leone and Liberia, though stabilized, remain fragile. The United States has spent nearly $750 million rebuilding Liberia since Mr. Taylor left. Leaving him at large threatens to knock down what the United States has built up. Moreover, the United States has spent $22 million to create the Special Court, which will chip away at West Africa’s culture of impunity, foster the regional rule of law and, more broadly, provide a model for international justice besides the International Criminal Court. While the court has tried some of those responsible for Sierra Leone’s mayhem, its legacy will be determined by whether it tries Charles Taylor.