The conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor amounts to only partial justice.

While many Sierra Leoneans are relieved to see Taylor finally convicted for his destructive role in their country’s brutal civil war, his wanton destabilization elsewhere in West Africa hardly figured in the criminal proceedings against him.

In Taylor’s home country of Liberia, the seven-year civil war that brought him to power in 1997 cost the lives of more than 250,000 Liberians. Thousands more were killed during the second Liberian civil war, which sent him into exile in 2003. As president, Taylor’s violent anti-terrorist unit, led by his son, Charles “Chucky” Emmanuel, brutally repressed his opponents. Meanwhile, Taylor and his clique enriched themselves at the expense of average Liberians, who lived in abject poverty.

In neighboring Ivory Coast and Guinea, Taylor’s armed forces committed horrendous abuses with impunity. And he has long been suspected of playing a role in the assassination of Thomas Sankara, the visionary leader of Burkina Faso.

But none of this led to his much-anticipated conviction on April 26. While criminal accountability is one of the few safeguards against permanent impunity and lawlessness, Taylor’s conviction on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone was insufficient.

To make the conviction more meaningful, the Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague should hand down a sentence that seeks restorative justice. Reparation and healing among all those affected by the criminal’s acts are key features of restorative justice, which also invites victims to participate in the justice process.

As they consider Taylor’s sentence, the judges on the Special Court should solicit input from his Sierra Leonean victims. And they ought to think creatively about how to make his sentence fit the nature of his crimes. Instead of letting him idly pass his days in prison, for example, Taylor could be trained to help manufacture prosthetic limbs, thereby allowing him to improve the lives of the estimated 10,000 Sierra Leonean amputees who were maimed during the war.

Part of his sentence might also include requiring him to read and respond to victims’ letters. In creating a space for those who didn’t make it to The Hague to tell their stories, Taylor would be confronted with the magnitude of his crimes.

What’s more, a renewed effort must be made to recover his vast hidden assets so that they can be used to repair the damage he caused.

By imposing a sentence of restorative justice, the Special Court would point to a more effective way of dealing with criminals. Punishment without communal healing serves no one’s interests.

Carina Ray is assistant professor of African history at Fordham University. Her publications include “Darfur and the Crisis of Governance in Sudan: A Critical Reader” and “Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex and the Contested Politics of Colonial Rule in Ghana.”