Refuge for Cindor Reeves - Macleans.ca

Refuge for Cindor Reeves

Why the brother-in-law of a former Liberian president was granted immigration status in the Netherlands

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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.