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July 2004
8/2/2004 8:55 AM

JULY 29: Prosecution Witness Testifies Rebels Burnt 73 Civilians, Amputated Over 100

Prosecution witness TF1-253, the tenth witness for the prosecution to appear before the Special Court for Sierra Leone, testified on Wednesday that a group of rebels headed by Mr. Johnson set ablaze 73 local civilians and amputated an additional 100 people in the Port Loko district.

The witness stated how he and his two brothers were captured by the rebels and were accused of being members of the Gbettes, a pro-government force. Witness TF1-253 stated that the rebels then hit his head with a machete and shot his brother in the stomach before amputating both of his legs.

He then went on to describe how he witnessed the rebel forces force civilians into a dwelling house and set it on fire. He also saw another dwelling already ablaze with approximately 73 charred residents inside. The prosecution witness also testified to discovering 100 amputated hands in the Maforkie chiefdom, Port Loko district.

The trial at the Special Court continues with witnesses for the prosecution until late November.

Compiled from The Concord Times, Freetown, 29 July 2004.


JULY 29 COURT DECISION: CDF Decision on Prosecution Request for Leave to Call Additional Witnesses

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 29 July 2004 

SCSL-04-14-T-167 - Norman, Fofana, Kondewa - Decision on prosecution request for leave to call additional witnesses (PDF 10 pages)


JULY 29 COURT DECISION: RUF Decision on Prosecution Request for Leave to Call Additional Witnesses

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 29 July 2004 

SCSL-04-15-T-221 - Sesay, Kallon, Gbao - Decision on prosecution request for leave to call additional witnesses (PDF 12 pages)


JULY 28 COURT DECISION: Decision on Application for Leave to Appeal Against Refusal of Bail

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 28 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-T-220 - Sesay - Decision on application for leave to appeal against refusal of bail  (PDF 6 pages)


JULY 28 COURT DECISION: Decision on the Motion Seeking the Disclosure of Documentation on the Recruitment of Child Soldiers

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 28 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-T-219 - Sesay - Decision on confidential motion seeking disclosure of documentation relating to the motion on the recruitment of child soldiers (PDF 3 pages)


JULY 27 COURT DECISION: Decision on Application for the Postponement of Testimony

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 27 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-T-218 - Sesay - Ruling on the oral application for the postponement of the testimony of Witness TF1-060 (PDF 3 pages)


JULY 27: Federal Court Case Reviewing Taylor's Asylum

Justice Stephen Adah presided over proceedings in the Federal High Court in Abuja, where two Nigerians are challenging the political asylum of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Taylor was granted political asylum in Nigeria last August.

Commencing hearings in the case yesterday, Justice Adah considered three applications brought by Messrs. Emmanuel Egbunam and David Anyaele. The applications included a motion to hear both the substantive matter together with the Federal Government’s objection challenging the jurisdiction, as well as requests to use affidavits filed earlier in the case. The Federal Government opposed the motion to hear both its jurisdictional challenge and the substantive matter together, stating it would require the resolution of contradictions in the affidavits and thereby cause unwanted delays.

Justice Adah called for the Federal Government's preliminary objection, that the two Nigerians have no locus standi, to be heard separately in an accelerated hearing. Justice Adah then adjourned the court until 15 September 2004.

In related news, the Federal High Court, on 25 July 2004 ordered several bodies that may have been involved in the process of granting of political asylum to Charles Taylor to appear before the Court. These include the Federal Commissioner, the National Refugee's Commission and two other agencies. The Court requested the defendants to produce a memorandum entitled, "Political Asylum for Mr. Charles Taylor: International, Legal, diplomatic and Political Issues Involved," from 1 August 2003. In addition, the court requested that all parties produce any documents pertaining to the eligibility of Taylor for political asylum or refugee status and documents pertaining to the “grounds upon which this decision was made.”

Compiled from This Day, Copyright Leaders and Company Ltd. 2000, 26 July 2004 and the Vanguard, Copyright Vanguard Media Ltd. 1998- 2004, 27 July 2004.


JULY 26 COURT DECISION: Decision on the Application for the Exclusion of Testimony

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 26 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-T-212 - Gbao - Ruling on the oral application for the exclusion of part of the testimony of witness TF1-199 (PDF 6 pages)


JULY 23: Executive Order Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting the Importation of Certain Goods From Liberia

Effective 23 July 2004, President Bush issued an Executive Order "Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting the Importation of Certain Goods From Liberia." The Executive Order freezes the assets of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, and twenty-eight other people close to him, including his family and top aides.

Compiled from PRESS RELEASE, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Washington D.C., 23 July 2004 and Court Case Against Charles Taylor Resumes in Nigeria, Carrie Giardino, Abidjan 26 July 2004, 17:13 UTC.


JULY 23 COURT DECISION: Decision on the Application for the Exclusion of Additional Witness Statements

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 23 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-T-211 - Sesay, Kallon, Gbao - Ruling on oral application for the exclusion of "additional" statement for witness TF1-060 (PDF 8 pages)


JULY 22: Human Rights Monitioring Course Call for Applications

HREA distance education course
Distance Learning Programme, HREA

HREA is issuing a final call for applications for the distance learning course "Human Rights Monitoring", which will be offered from September-December 2004. Course instructor is Dr. Krassimir Kanev.

The course addresses approaches to identifying human rights violations, information-gathering, interviewing, monitoring some basic human rights and freedoms in the context of closed institutions, camps for refugees or IDPs, trial observations etc. It deals with preparation of reports, advocacy, interventions with international monitoring mechanisms, local authorities and other follow-up.


E-mail will be the main medium for the course, although participants will need to have periodic access to the Web. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. Please note that the registration deadline for this course is 1 September 2004.


A more detailed course description, course outline, information about the course instructor, evaluations of the 2002 course and application forms.



JULY 21: Last Convoys Leave for Sierra Leone as Assisted Repatriation Ends

The last convoys back to Sierra Leone left neighbouring Liberia and Guinea today, ending a huge UNHCR operation that has helped some 178,000 Sierra Leonean refugees to go home.

On Wednesday, a final convoy of 329 Sierra Leonean refugees left Guinea for home while from Liberia, a last convoy of 286 crossed the Mano River bridge into Sierra Leone.

The UN refugee agency's repatriation programme to Sierra Leone had been scheduled to end on June 30, but was extended to late July to accommodate thousands of refugees rushing to repatriate at the last minute.

UNHCR had been informing Sierra Leonean refugees in neighbouring countries about the June 30 cut-off date over the last year, holding mass information campaigns about conditions at home and their options for return.

The pace of returns to Sierra Leone picked up markedly in the months leading up to the deadline. Wednesday's returnees joined some 25,000 others who have gone back to Sierra Leone this year.

An estimated 120,000 people fled to Liberia and another 370,000 to Guinea over the course of the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone that ended in 2000. Since starting its voluntary repatriation programme in 2001, UNHCR has helped some 178,000 Sierra Leonean refugees to go home. Another 92,000 have returned on their own.

"It is enormously encouraging to see such large numbers of refugees have returned home to Sierra Leone with a keen determination to rebuild their lives after living for nearly a decade in refugee camps in surrounding countries," said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers.

"There are many challenges ahead for the returnees as they reintegrate back into their communities, particularly for those refugees who suffered appalling mutilation during the war," he added.

Returnees coming back on UNHCR convoys first stopped at way stations in Sierra Leone to receive food rations, relief items and agricultural tools to help them start up in their home areas.

In the longer-term, UNHCR and its partners, together with the Sierra Leonean government, will implement various community projects to promote reintegration through to the end of 2005. These small-scale projects include skills training, the construction of local health clinics and wells, and the upgrading of schools.

An estimated 15,000 Sierra Leonean refugees have opted to stay and integrate locally in their host countries. UNHCR will help with integration through community-based projects in countries with larger numbers of these refugees.

The refugee agency's offices in Sierra Leone will remain open to assist the return of some 55,000 Liberian refugees who are expected to go home when the voluntary repatriation programme starts in October this year.

Published in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees News Stories 21 July 2004 Copyright UNHCR 2001-2004.


JULY 16: Special Court for Sierra Leone Holds Talks in Liberia about Charles Taylor

A delegation from the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has completed a mission to neighbouring Liberia, holding talks with Government leaders there and conducting a public information campaign about its work.

SCSL Registrar Robin Vincent, who headed the delegation, met the Chairman of the country's National Transitional Government, Gyude Bryant, in the capital, Monrovia, to discuss the situation surrounding former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

A spokesperson for the UN said Mr. Bryant offered his full support in bringing Mr. Taylor to justice in Freetown, where the SCSL is located.

Currently in exile in Nigeria, Mr. Taylor faces a 17-count indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the 14-year conflict in Sierra Leone.

The charges include terrorizing the civilian population, unlawful killings, sexual violence, physical violence, forced conscription of child soldiers, abductions, forced labour, looting and burning, and attacks on UN peacekeeping personnel.

The SCSL, set up in 2002 under an agreement between Sierra Leone and the UN, was mandated to try those responsible for the worst atrocities in the country after 30 November 1996.

Published in UN Wire, 16 July 2004, Copyright National Journal Group, 2004.


JULY 16 COURT DECISION: Decision on Disclosure of Witness Statements

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 16 July 2004

SCSL-04-14-T-152 - Norman, Fofana, Kondewa - Decision on disclosure of witness statements and cross-examination (PDF 10 pages)


JULY 15: Robin Vincent Visits Liberia 

Robin Vincent, the Registrar of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, is nearing the end of a two-day trip in Liberia. The purpose of his trip was to discuss the extradition of former president Charles Taylor and to assure residents that the Special Court is not targeting any other Liberians for prosecution.

 In a press conference yesterday, Vincent said Taylor would only be charged with crimes he committed in Sierra Leone and not for any crimes he committed in Liberia.


Vincent explained that the primary objective for his visit to the country was to conduct an appeal to the Liberian interim government to pressure Nigeria into extraditing Taylor and not to pressure Liberians or their government into adopting a similar court. He also stated that he was there to encourage Sierra Leonean refugees to return to their native country. The Registrar reasserted the Special Court’s position that it will not accept a trial in absentia for Taylor and made additional appeals for Taylor to be turned over.


Despite Liberia's transitional government leader Gyude Bryant's claims that he is not dedicated to supporting a Special Court for Liberia, he, and civil society, support Taylor facing charges at the Special Court in Sierra Leone.


Other court officials from various organs of the Court, including Simone Monasebian, Eric Witte, Binta Mansaray Magherita Capellino and Allison Cooper, accompanied Robin Vincent to Liberia. They stated they would try to visit Nigeria as soon as they received official permission from the Nigerian government.

Compiled from Concord Times, Freetown, "Special Court Registrar Storms Liberia", 15 July 2004 and The Inquirer, Monrovia, "Special Court Has No Jurisdiction Over Liberia", 15 July 2004.



JULY 15 COURT DECISION: Decision on Defence Motion

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 15 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-T-200 - Sesay - Decision on Defence motion (PDF 7 pages)


JULY 14: Two Nigerians Allowed to Serve Papers to Taylor in Dailies

The Federal High Court in Abuja ruled yesterday that two businessmen, who had been victims of amputation during Sierra Leone’s civil war, could serve court papers to Charles Taylor through the daily press. 

The two, who had filed the civil case against Taylor in an effort to ensure his extradition to the Special Court in Sierra Leone and demand a judicial review of his asylum, had problems serving the papers previously due to claims by the federal government of Nigeria that the tactics attempted to secure their delivery were unconstitutional. Since then, the representative of Emmanuel Egbuna and David Anyaele, has been attempting to find acceptable alternative avenues to serve the papers.

Justice Jonah Adah of the Federal High Court gave the plaintiffs leave to publish the papers in the Nigerian dailies, ThisDay and The Guardian. Upon taking these efforts Justice Adah stated he would consider them served upon Taylor. The hearing was then adjourned until July 26 to allow time for the two plaintiffs to publish the papers inthe two dailies and thereafter deposit them at the courthouse. It was not clear whether the two Nigerians intend to serve the papers in this manner.

Olusegun Obasanjo, the President of Nigeria, and Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, are both defendants in the case. The civil suit is an effort to force the government of Nigeria to rescind the asylum that was granted to Taylor last August in exchange for not interfering with the peace process in Liberia, and extradite Taylor to face seventeen counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, has been accused of backing rebel leaders of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone. The RUF committed mass atrocities during Sierra Leone's civil war including, among other atrocities, the amputation of civilians, mass rape, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of child soldiers in the conflict.

Compiled from The Vanguard, Lagos,  "2 Amputated Nigerians Get Court's Leave to Serve Papers On Charles Taylor" 14 June 2004, Copyright Vanguard Media Ltd. 1998-2004. 


JULY 14: Two Witnesses for the Prosecution Testify

Witnesses for the prosecution told how Revolutionary United Front rebel forces in the Special Court hearings of three RUF indictees, Issah Sesay, Moris Kallon and Augustine Gbao, ordered mass amputations of civilians and instituted terror. 

The prosecution witness (TF 1074) testified on 12 July 2004 and stated that RUF leaders entered his village of Yomandu ordering his men to arrest civilians. The witness for the prosecution was one of the civilians arrested and stated that RUF leaders had ordered the amputation of seven civilian in his presence and then inscribed in his chest “RUF/AFRC.”


A second prosecution witness (TF1-196) of the Malama Village, Bombali district, told the Special Court how a RUF rebel commando had amputated her hands after she refused to commit a sexual act. She testified that the rebel leader “Mosquito” had ordered mass killings and abductions of civilians in her area. The witness also stated the RUF had employed the use of child soldiers and the threatened of bodily harm to civilians that did not cooperate with them.


Members of the prosecution team of the Special Court were responsible for obtaining statements from the witnesses prior to trial.

Compiled from the Concord Times, Freetown, “Witness Revealed to Special Court How She Was Amputated” 14 July 2004 and “Witness Told Special Court How RUF Ordered Mass Amputation” 13 July 2004.


JULY 13: West Africa needs UN Help to Prevent Instability, Security Council Says

After a fact-finding trip to seven West African countries last month, United Nations Security Council members are recommending strengthening of institutions working for regional stability, such as the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In a report on their findings, the 14 Council members on the mission – Russia did not participate – welcome the initiative of UNOWA and ECOWAS “to identify ways of preventing coups d’état and other unconstitutional means of seizing or holding power, as well as to mitigate those abuses that are usually the root causes of attempted coups d’état.”

They also urge donors to respond generously to humanitarian appeals for the region and call for additional resources to UNOWA, which already has reached its full staffing level of seven professional staff members, to help with implementing coherent solutions to conflicts and other regional problems.

Recruitment of child soldiers continues, the report says, hailing the efforts of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners to strengthen the Child Protection Unit of ECOWAS.

Many of the people the mission met “underlined the need to create jobs and economic opportunity in West Africa as an essential element of lasting peace,” it says.

“Without them, countries could easily slip back into conflict, particularly after United Nations peacekeeping operations have left,” the report says. “The mission stressed the need for countries of the region, working with their international partners, to do their utmost to create a more favourable investment climate.”

The Security Council members point out that for the region to achieve the economic growth needed to cut prevailing youth unemployment, countries must fight corruption and promote governmental accountability to attract investment.

The mission was in the region from 22 to 28 June, with stops in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.

Council members reviewed peacekeeping operations in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but they stressed that due attention must be paid to “those countries of the region that are currently stable and that show strong commitment to good governance, protection of human rights and good-neighbourly relations.”

Published in UN Wire, 13 July 2004, Copyright National Journal Group, 2004.


JULY 9: Annan asks donors to help rebuild Sierra Leone's Security Sector

As the United Nations peacekeeping mission reduces its forces in post-conflict Sierra Leone, the West African country urgently needs aid from the international donor community in providing its security sector with needed equipment and must promote harmony between its police and troops, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says.

The Sierra Leonean National Security Council Coordinating Group should "join the United Nations in appealing to Member States to provide urgently the much-needed assistance" for the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), he says in his most recent report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

Since long-lasting peace and stability cannot be guaranteed without collaboration between the security forces, he calls on the Government to implement its earlier action plan to address major security sector gaps and solve the problem of harmonizing relations "through the continued sensitization of their personnel and through disciplinary measures."

Mr. Annan commends the leadership of the two security agencies for deciding to investigate recent incidents and prevent their recurrence.

On socio-economic matters, he notes public sector strikes over the late payment of salaries even as the prices of basic commodities rise and the rainy season approaches.

"The high poverty level combined with widespread unemployment and the marginalization of certain segments of society, in particular young people, could affect stability in the country," Mr. Annan says.

With the restoration of Government control over diamond mining, official exports have been valued at $50 million this year, compared with $29 million in the same period last year, he says, and the Government expects an increase in licensed diamond mining throughout the country.

The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is scheduled for release in September 2004, while the Special Court, established through an agreement with the United Nations, has secured funds until the end of this year and is finalizing its 2005 budget, he says.

Meanwhile, the Court's Registrar "has started negotiations with several countries on the possibility of entering into bilateral agreements on the enforcement of sentences and the relocation of witnesses," he says.

Published in UN Wire, 9 July 2004, Copyright National Journal Group, 2004.


JULY 9: Liberian Assembly States "Lack of Jurisdiction" on Issue of Taylor's Extradition

Members of the National Legislative Assembly (NTLA) of Liberia decided that Charles Taylor’s extradition is not a matter that should be handled domestically and should instead be left to the international community to decide. The NTLA  is dominated by representatives of Taylor's former government and the two rebel movements that opposed it before last year's peace settlement.

The vote arose from a petition the NTLA received from Liberia Democracy Watch and other local human rights groups. The petition urged the head of Liberia's transitional power sharing government, Gyude Bryant, to appeal to the government of Nigeria and President Olusegun Obsanjo for the extradition of Taylor to the Special Court in Sierra Leone.

Eighteen members of the assembly voted on Tuesday, July 5 to dismiss the petition citing a “lack of jurisdiction.” Eight members of the NTLA voted in favor of the petition while six members abstained from voting on the issue.  

In total, there are seventy-six members of the NTLA. Under the mandate of the assembly, two-thirds of its members must participate in the voting process and approval of a decision requires fifty-one percent of the participants.

Originally, the assembly had the required two-thirds membership to discuss the issue of the petition, but many members left when the issue of Taylor’s extradition arose. This resulted in thirty-two members of the assembly participating in the vote.


Upon introduction of the issue, assembly member Joseph Nagbe stated that the former Liberian president should be turned over to face charges in Sierra Leone. In his support of the petition, Nagbe stressed that the history of impunity must be avoided at all costs.


Other Assemblymen, Stanley Kpaklain and Cllr. Eddingtom Varmah, voiced their opposition to the issue on the grounds of jurisdiction. Varmah also stated that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement does not give permission for the NTLA to make judgments in such cases. 

Compiled from The NEWS, Monrovia, "Assembly Leaves Taylor's Issue With Int'l Community, Cites 'Lack of Jurisdiction'”, 9 July 2004 and UN Integrated Regional Information Networks "Liberia: Parliament Rejects Petition for Taylor to Be Tried in Sierra Leone", Copyright UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004 , 7 July 2004. 


JULY 9 PRESS RELEASE: Trial in Absentia?

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Press and Public Affairs Office
PRESS RELEASE, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 9 July 2004

After the judges’ decision yesterday, Samuel Hinga Norman declared he would “prefer to be locked in [his] cell” and said to “let the trial go on" without him if he was not able to represent himself on his own terms. Going ahead with the trial in his absence, while not ideal, is not in conflict with international human rights standards.

The European Court of Human Rights has addressed this issue several times and has determined that if the defendant has received a summons to appear and has not been denied the assistance of a lawyer, conviction in absentia is not a violation of the right to a fair trial under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. See, for example, Case of Medenica v. Switzerland, no. 20491/92, 7 June 2001, (paragraphs 58-59). Likewise, the Human Rights Committee has long expressed the view that a trial in absentia is compatible with human rights covenants when the accused is summoned in a timely manner and informed of the proceedings against him. Mbenge v. Zaire, Communication 16/79 (8 September 1977).

In the international criminal court context, the ICTR faced a similar situation not long ago in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. There the defendant boycotted his trial because he felt the ICTR was too closely tied to the “anti-Hutu regime of Kigali” and was therefore unable to render fair and impartial justice. Barayagwiza instructed his counsel (who were ordered to appear in court) not to act on his behalf. Defense counsel felt there was no point in attending the trial if it was unable to actively participate in the proceedings and therefore moved to withdraw. In its Decision on the Defense Counsel Motion to Withdraw rendered on 2 November 2000, the Trial Chamber noted that when a defendant is aware of his trial “but has chosen not to be present, despite being informed by the Chamber that he may join the proceedings at any time . . . neither the Statute nor human rights law prohibits going ahead with the trial in his absence” (para. 6). The Court cited Maleki v. Italy in which the Human Rights Committee reiterated that a trial in absentia is compatible with Article 14(3) (d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when the accused is summoned in a timely fashion and informed of the proceedings against him. In that case the accused was convicted in absentia and duly represented by a court-appointed attorney.

With regards to the awkward position in which the defense found itself, the Trial Chamber held that counsel had an obligation not just to the client but also to the Tribunal “to ensure that the Accused received a fair trial” (para. 21). The Chamber noted that in several jurisdictions a lawyer is not obliged to comply with client instructions to take no action in court and that “the accused does not lose the benefit of the right to legal assistance merely on account of not being present at the trial” (para. 23). The Trial Chamber held that the defendant’s boycott of the proceedings was an effort to obstruct justice and therefore Counsel was not under an ethical obligation to follow their client’s instructions. The request to withdraw was denied.

Here, should the defendant follow through on his threat and refuse to appear in court, the Trial Chamber could allow standby counsel to defend him in his absence. In their role as standby counsel the defense would not face the ethical dilemma the lawyers in Barayagwiza faced of whether to follow their client's instructions not to act on his behalf. (Appointment of existing defense counsel as standby counsel was, in fact, the course of action recommended in a concurring opinion by Judge Asoko de Z. Gunawardana in the Barayagwiza Decision for precisely that reason). In this way the Trial Chamber could guarantee a fair trial despite Hinga Norman’s efforts to the contrary.


JULY 9 COURT DECISION: Decision on Defence Motion for Disclosure

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 9 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-T-189 - Sesay - Decision on defence motion for disclosure pursuant to Rules 66 and 68 of the Rules


JULY 8 COURT DECISION: Decision on Production of Statements, Summaries and Materials

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 8 July 2004

SCSL-04-14-T-146 - Norman, Fofana, Kondewa - Decision on motion to compel the production of exculpatory witness statements, witness summaries and materials pursuant to Rule 68 (PDF 12 pages)


JULY 8: Campaign for Good Governance Releases New Opinion Poll Report on TRC and Special Court

The Campaign for Good Governance has released an opinion poll report on the TRC and Special Court. Approximately 1,280 people were interviewed throughout the fourteen districts. The report (PDF, 14 pages) is available on the Campaign for Good Governance's website.


JULY 7: U.N. May Seek Liberian Assistance in the Extradition of Taylor

In a recent BBC News interview, United Nations Ambassador, Jones Parry alluded to international institutions possibly putting pressure on the Liberian government for assistance in the extradition of former president Charles Taylor in the future.


During his recent tour with a fourteen-member delegation of the Security Council of West Africa, the Ambassador stated that he discussed the issue with government authorities in Monrovia and that Liberian president Gyude Bryant seemed open to the possibility of providing the assistance necessary to bring Taylor to justice.


Parry further commented that the United Nations does not intend to force the Nigerian government into compliance with the extradition. Instead, they will attempt to pressure Liberia to appease Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo’s stance that the Nigerian government must receive a request from Liberia before they will release Taylor.


Parry, the delegation head, also expressed fears that any action involving Liberia may damage the county’s transition to peace. Taylor fled Liberia for Nigeria on August 11. Since then, the Nigerian government has protected Taylor from the extradition requests of the Special Court for Sierra Leone for the former president to face seventeen charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Nigerian government officials have frequently said that they would give up Taylor as soon as they receive the request from Liberia. With a fragile 10-month-old peace process underway in Liberia the issue pivots on when the appropriate time for Taylor’s extradition would be. Thus far, the Liberian government has made no such requests. 


As the first trials begin for former Revolutionary United Front leaders Mr. Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao, their paymaster, Charles Taylor, remains immune from arrest in Nigeria. In a complex case that involves both national and international law, it may take the action of the Liberian government to detain and bring the highest-profile indictee to the Special Court. 

Compiled from the Vanguard, Nigeria, by Ikechukwu Eze With Agency report, “UN may Seek Liberian Govt Help Over Taylor's Trial", Copyright Vanguard Media Ltd. 1998-2004, 8 June 2004. 


JULY 7: United States and Nigeria are Negotiating for Taylor's Arrest

Mr. John Campbell, United States Ambassador to Nigeria, stated that the two nations have begun negotiations over the possibility of extradition of former Liberian President Charles Taylor to face trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.


The Ambassador stated that Taylor must be held accountable for the crimes he committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war and that Nigeria has a duty to uphold justice by complying with the extradition requests of the Special Court. Campbell stated that ongoing negotiations with the United States would ensure Nigeria’s compliance.


Ambassador Campbell went on to praise Nigeria’s role in removing Taylor from Liberia and thus, ending that nation’s “bloodshed.” He also stated that the current dialogue has not arisen from the local lawsuit brought upon by two Nigerian businessmen or any other suits whose efforts are to expel Taylor, but stressed that negotiations arose out of an international duty to bring Taylor to justice.

Compiled from This Day, Nigeria, by Olusegun Adeniyi,“US, Nigeria Negotiate Taylor's Arrest'He must be held accountable for his crimes',”  Copyright Leaders and Company Ltd. 2000, 3 July 2004 .


JULY 7 COURT DECISION: Decision on Application to Withdraw Counsel

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 7 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-PT-182 - Gbao - Decision on application to withdraw counsel (PDF 5 pages)


JULY 6: Top Rebels Go On Trial At U.N.-Backed Sierra Leone Court

The U.N.-sponsored war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone began hearing its first cases yesterday against rebel leaders accused of atrocities such as systematic killings, rapes and enslavement of child soldiers during their 10-year fight for control of the diamond-rich country.

"What took place in Sierra Leone marks the limits of our language to communicate, and falls outside the realm of expression," chief prosecutor David Crane said in opening statements.  "This is a tale of horror, beyond the gothic into the realm of Dante's Inferno."

The three accused are former Revolutionary United Front commanders Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustin Gbao (Clarence Roy-Macaulay, Associated Press/Yahoo! News, July 5).  RUF founder Foday Sankoh, known as "Pa" to many of his drugged child fighters, died of natural causes in U.N. custody last year, and top military commander Sam Bockarie was killed in Liberia after he was indicted by the tribunal.

"Throughout this war crimes trial ... the phantoms of the deceased indictees Foday Sankoh and Samuel Bockarie will be ever present in this hall of justice," Crane said (Integrated Regional Information Networks, July 5).

He made frequent references to former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was also indicted and has been living in exile in Nigeria since he was ousted from power last year.

Taylor's base in Gbarnga, Liberia, was the site of a planning session in February 1991 after which some 250 RUF fighters launched their invasion of Sierra Leone from Liberia, Crane said.  The warring parties were seeking greater influence and control of Sierra Leone's natural resources, he said.

"Among their goals, the diamond fields of eastern Sierra Leone; and their motive — power, riches and control in furtherance of a joint criminal enterprise that extended from West Africa north into the Mediterranean region and the Middle East," Crane said.

"Blood diamonds are the common thread that bound them together," he continued.  "The rule of the gun was supreme" (Roy-Macaulay, AP/Yahoo! News).

Gbao, the RUF's security chief, and battlefield commander Sesay were seen grinning as the prosecution outlined its case against them, IRIN reports.

"The RUF physically mutilated men, women and children, including amputations of hands, feet, breasts, buttocks, lips, ears, noses, genitalia and carving RUF on their bodies," Crane said.

He promised to call one witness from the northeastern town of Koidu who saw 25 men and women "roasting to death" in a house, and was then forced with his children to watch his wife being raped.

Crane also cited forced marriage and the recruitment of child soldiers in his case against the trio of rebel leaders, marking the first time a war crimes tribunal has included these charges (IRIN).

One amputee called the opening of the trial "the day I have been waiting for.  I am now satisfied that someone is behind held accountable for what the rebels did to me."

Yet for many Sierra Leoneans, the absence of key leaders has reduced the trial's significance (BBC Online, July 5).

Published in UN Wire, 6 July 2004, Copyright National Journal Group, 2004.


JULY 5 COURT DECISION: Decision on Prosecution Motion

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT DECISIONS, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 5 July 2004

SCSL-04-15-PT-180 - Sesay, Kallon, Gbao - Decision on prosecution motion for modification of protective measures for witnesses (PDF 17 pages)


JULY 5 COURT JOURNAL: Prosecution's Opening Statements at RUF Trial

Special Court for Sierra Leone
COURT JOURNAL, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 5 July 2004

Prosecution opening statement at the RUF trial, delivered by Prosecutor David M. Crane.  In Full (PDF 16 pages)

Prosecution opening statement at the RUF trial, delivered by Abdul Tejan-Cole.  In Full (PDF 17 pages)


JULY 2: Federal Government Tells Court Legal Actions by Nigerians Unconstitutional

 The Federal Government of Nigeria stated yesterday that the attempted extradition of former President Charles Taylor to face charges in Sierra Leone based on a case brought forward by two Nigerians is unconstitutional.

 The Federal Government stated it would not extradite Taylor for any reason and that the charges brought forth by the plaintiffs did not show that Taylor had violated their fundamental human rights.


The Federal Government of Nigeria stated yesterday that the attempted extradition of former President Charles Taylor to face charges in Sierra Leone based on a case brought forward by two Nigerians is unconstitutional.


The Federal Government stated it would not extradite Taylor for any reason and that the charges brought forth by the plaintiffs did not show that Taylor had violated their fundamental human rights.


The Nigerian businessmen filing the claim, Emmanuel Egbuna and David Anyaele, petitioned the court to challenge the refugee status granted to Taylor in August 2003. The two, both amputated in Sierra Leone during its civil war, are also pushing for Taylor’s conviction in the violation of their human rights. In their petition they claim that Taylor’s asylum status precluded his special court trial and that Nigeria’s action of granting of asylum to Taylor is a violation of international war crimes treaties. 

The presiding Judge of the Federal Court, Justice Stephen Adah, issued a Writ of Summons, arising out of case filed by two Nigerian businessmen. Justice Adah has asked the Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, to collect court processes for service on Taylor and produce him for proceedings.

The Governor Donald Duke refused to produce Taylor and was represented in court yesterday by the State Solicitor General, Mr. E.T. Ebuta, who argued that section 308 of the Constitution barred the Governor from being served court processes, thus making it unconstitutional for him to collect the processes and to serve to Taylor.

 The presiding judge of the court agreed with the constitutionality arguments of the Solicitor General and rescinded their earlier ruling to serve all the court processes.

In response, the representative for the two Nigerians, Mr. Fagbohunlu, argued in favor of serving all court processes instead through the Office of the National Commission for Refugees. The Federal Government denied the request yesterday on the grounds that if the office would be used to serve Taylor, the Office of the National Commission for Refugees must be formally informed before one could make such a request to the court.

Compiled from The Vanguard, Nigeria, "Legal action against Taylor by Nigerians Unconstitutional  * FG tells court," Copyright Vanguard Media Ltd. 1998-2004, 2 July 2004. 



JULY 1 PRESS RELEASE: The Prosecutor Launches 'Accountability Now Club' at Fourah Bay College

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Press and Public Affairs Office
PRESS RELEASE, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1 July 2004

Special Court Prosecutor David M. Crane formally launched a student group Wednesday that was set up to promote the concept of accountability in Sierra Leone.

"The Special Court is here to bring to justice those who bear the greatest responsibility for Sierra Leone's national tragedy," the Prosecutor told about 150 gathered students. "The Court is only one part of the solution to this country's problems. By standing up for the rule of law and accountability, you are taking an important step for your country's future."

Accountability Now Clubs are student-based programs supported by the Special Court's Outreach section. Their main objective is to promote understanding among students and their communities of the Special Court and to examine broader justice-related issues, including the rule of law, human rights, good governance, and accountability. The clubs will exist after the Special Court is gone, and they represent an important part of the Court's legacy programme.

Leaders of the ANC at Fourah Bay College reported that the new organisation already has over 100 members. The Outreach section of the Special Court is working to establish ANCs at all major tertiary institutions in Sierra Leone.


JULY 1 PRESS RELEASE: Trials of Three Former RUF Leaders Begin on Monday

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Press and Public Affairs Office
PRESS RELEASE, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1 July 2004

Please be advised that the trial of Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao, who are alleged to have held leadership positions in the Revolutionary United Front, begins at the Special Court for Sierra Leone on Monday July 5.

The three are awaiting trial in the Special Court's Detention Facility on an 18 count indictment which includes terrorizing the civilian population, unlawful killings, sexual violence, physical violence, use of child soldiers, abductions and forced labour, looting and burning and attacks on peacekeepers.

The 18th charge of forced marriage (an "other inhumane act") was added to the indictment on 17 May 2004. This will be the first time that it will be prosecuted before an international criminal court as a crime against humanity.

Seating will be restricted in the public gallery. Members of the press are advised to be on site by 9am. An overflow area in the temporary courthouse will be available for those who do not gain access to the Courtroom 1.

For more information on the trial see UN Wire,Trials of three alleged rebel RUF leaders begin Monday in Sierra Leone, 1 July 2004.



JULY 1: UNHCR Repatriation Program Draws to a Close

On July 1, 2004 the UNCHR’s repatriation program came to a close. Over 260,000 refugees returned to Sierra Leone and were repatriated under the United Nations Refugee agency’s 40 million dollar operation which ran over two years.


Sierra Leoneans fled by the hundreds of thousands during the conflict in the West African region. Since the end of the civil war, around 5,000 to 6,000 refugees have chosen not to return to their native country. Many became acclimated in the country to which they fled, restarting their lives and settling within communities. Many other refugees have not returned to Sierra Leone out of fear of renewed hostilities erupting.


Roughly 100,000 native Sierra Leoneans have migrated back to their homeland without UNCHR repatriation or official approval.


Those refugees who did participate in the UNCHR program of repatriation received a package of food and personal items to assist them with resettlement. The package consisted of enough goods to assist the newly repatriated refugee for several months.

Even with the repatriation assistance many face a daunting landscape in a country that has an unemployment rate of 70 percent, devastated farming communities, and a population that survives on less than a dollar a day.