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'New Wars': the Sierra Leone Case
Unformatted Document Text:  attempted to hold border guards accountable for shooting citizens attempting to cross from East to West (Teitel 2000). Transitional Justice in Sierra Leone The United Nations was a powerful voice in the post-conflict environment in Sierra Leone. In the end, it was agreed that transitional justice in Sierra Leone would be carried out via two principle methods: a truth commission an a special court. Article XXVI of the Lomé agreement stipulated that a truth and reconciliation commission be established within 90 days to “address impunity, break the cycle of violence, provide a clear forum for both the victims and perpetrators of human rights violations to tell their story, get a clear picture of the past in order to facilitate genuine healing and reconciliation.” 19 Sierra Leone’s parliament adopted legislation establishing the commission on February 22, 2000. The mandate called upon the commission to: create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone, from the beginning of the armed conflict in 1991 to the signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement; to address impunity; to respond to the needs of the victims; to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered. The commission was, to a large extent, funded and run by the international community. The final report was released to the President on October 10, 2004 and presented to the UN Security Council on October 27, 2004. The establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) comprised the second major component of transitional justice for Sierra Leone. The Lomé Peace Agreement controversially provided amnesty for combatants in the civil war. Under Article 9, the government was prevented from taking “official or judicial action” against any member of the RUF/SL, ex-AFRC, ex-SLA or CDF for their actions between March 1991 and the signing of the agreement. However, this clause excluded amnesty for crimes against humanity, genocide, and torture. The court itself was not established via a UN resolution, but through an agreement made between the UN and the government of Sierra Leone. This means that the court cannot require mandatory international cooperation. Article 1 provides that the court has the competence to try "persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.” 20 Ten individuals are currently indicted by the court and nine are in custody. Trials began in 2004 and remain underway. Charles Taylor was brought to The Hague in 2006 and is currently on trial facing eleven counts including crimes against humanity, violations of the Geneva Convention, and other serious violations of international law. He pled not guilty on all counts. Sierra Leone is one of several “test cases” where a truth commission and trials were both initiated, rather than one or the other. Unfortunately, this may have weakened the success of the truth commission as the public was not adequately informed about the relationship between the two. The fear that telling the truth would result in later 19 http://www.sierra-leone.org/lomeaccord.html 20 http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/sierraleone/sierleon0103-09.htm 24

Authors: Parker, Sara.
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attempted to hold border guards accountable for shooting citizens attempting to cross
from East to West (Teitel 2000).

Transitional Justice in Sierra Leone
The United Nations was a powerful voice in the post-conflict environment in Sierra
Leone. In the end, it was agreed that transitional justice in Sierra Leone would be carried
out via two principle methods: a truth commission an a special court. Article XXVI of
the Lomé agreement stipulated that a truth and reconciliation commission be established
within 90 days to “address impunity, break the cycle of violence, provide a clear forum
for both the victims and perpetrators of human rights violations to tell their story, get a
clear picture of the past in order to facilitate genuine healing and reconciliation.
Sierra Leone’s parliament adopted legislation establishing the commission on
February 22, 2000. The mandate called upon the commission to:
create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human
rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in
Sierra Leone, from the beginning of the armed conflict in 1991 to the
signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement; to address impunity; to respond to
the needs of the victims; to promote healing and reconciliation and to
prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered.
The commission was, to a large extent, funded and run by the international community.
The final report was released to the President on October 10, 2004 and presented to the
UN Security Council on October 27, 2004.
The establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) comprised the
second major component of transitional justice for Sierra Leone. The Lomé Peace
Agreement controversially provided amnesty for combatants in the civil war. Under
Article 9, the government was prevented from taking “official or judicial action” against
any member of the RUF/SL, ex-AFRC, ex-SLA or CDF for their actions between March
1991 and the signing of the agreement. However, this clause excluded amnesty for
crimes against humanity, genocide, and torture. The court itself was not established via a
UN resolution, but through an agreement made between the UN and the government of
Sierra Leone. This means that the court cannot require mandatory international
cooperation. Article 1 provides that the court has the competence to try "persons who
bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law
and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November
1996.”
Ten individuals are currently indicted by the court and nine are in custody.
Trials began in 2004 and remain underway. Charles Taylor was brought to The Hague in
2006 and is currently on trial facing eleven counts including crimes against humanity,
violations of the Geneva Convention, and other serious violations of international law.
He pled not guilty on all counts.
Sierra Leone is one of several “test cases” where a truth commission and trials
were both initiated, rather than one or the other. Unfortunately, this may have weakened
the success of the truth commission as the public was not adequately informed about the
relationship between the two. The fear that telling the truth would result in later
19
http://www.sierra-leone.org/lomeaccord.html
20
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/sierraleone/sierleon0103-09.htm
24


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