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Paul Rogers in landmark International Crime, Court of Appeal judgment on torture

Paul Rogers leading counsel for the Crown, successfully represented the prosecution in a landmark appeal – focused on the definition of who can be held responsible for the international crime of torture under section 134 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

This appeal followed events during the Liberian Civil War in 1990 between the NPFL rebels (National Patriotic Front of Liberia – led by Charles Taylor) and the government of Samuel Doe.


The Appellant had argued that the term “public official or person acting in an official capacity”, which defines the type of perpetrator caught under the Act only applied to those persons acting for entities that were either tolerated by or were acting under the authority of a state.

Paul Rogers of Outer Temple Chambers for the CPS argued that such interpretation would run contrary to the jus cogens nature of the prohibition against torture and, was not consistent with a human rights-oriented approach to the crime. Essentially, the Appellant’s interpretation would leave a protection gap for those victims of torture whose perpetrators were acting on behalf of an entity that was de facto in control of an area or territory such as a rebel armed group like the NPFL.


Accepting the prosecution arguments, the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Burnett of Maldon, giving the judgment of the court stated that the class of perpetrator covered by section 134 Criminal Justice Act 1988 included any person “who acts otherwise than in a private and individual capacity for and on behalf of an organisation or body which exercises or purports to exercise the functions of government over the civilian population in the territory which it controls and in which the relevant conduct occurs. Furthermore, it covers any such person whether acting in peace time or in a situation of armed conflict.”

Click here to read the judgment.

Paul Rogers has a proven track record in handling complex investigations, trials and appeals as lead counsel, at both the domestic and international level. He has many years experience leading cases at both the trial and appellate level, most significantly in the international field as a senior prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (UNICTY).

News 17 Jan, 2019


Paul Rogers

Call: 1989

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