Leading article: Criminal justice

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The Independent Online

It is not often that we hear something sensible from this Government on the subject of criminal justice. So all the more reason to welcome the announcement this week from the Foreign Secretary that the UK is prepared to detain Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, if he is found guilty of war crimes in The Hague. Not only does Margaret Beckett's decision break the impasse over the transfer of Taylor from Sierra Leone to the Netherlands, but it also demonstrates a genuine commitment from the British Government to helping Africa. And if the brutal leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda also eventually end up detained at Her Majesty's pleasure, so much the better.

There will, inevitably, be moans about the potential cost of detaining such butchers. But Britain gains from the existence of a more stable Africa. And who can put a value on the boost to our badly damaged international reputation?