Letter to editor

A Reply to Peter Andersen of the Special Court

17 May 2006 at 18:24 | 443 views

Dear Editor,

Allow me space to respond to Peter Andersen’s email to your newspaper regarding Chief Samuel Hinga Norman’s health.

In the Spirit of international Law, and Code of practice in the international penal system, it worrying that, the Chief Press Officer has chosen to reply to a letter from Chief Hinga Norman’s family through the mass media.

Let me draw your attention to the fact that, few days ago, the Special Court has denied knowledge of the said letter, even though the UN’s Office in New York and other officials at the Special Court are reportedly in receipt of.

It is true that the officers of the special court by rule cannot talk about the medical condition of individual indictees, however it is well in place for the family of the indictees to be informed through the Special Court appointed Lawyers. So far, the Special Court has failed to do so. This is in direct breach of the procedures of the Special Court and other International Human Rights Courts: Failing to inform the lawyers when chief Hinga Norman was rushed to hospital is an example of this.

Mr Andersen further informed your press that, there is a likelihood of someone applying for Asylum, if sent for medical treatment to a country of his choice. Except where the individual is tried under local jurisdiction, but, where the court was set up under International Law and with the agreement of the UN Security Council, it is very unlikely. There has been no preceedent of this nature, and infact there are no safe havens for an international war crime indictee.

As Human Rights Campaigners, we would like Chief Hinga Norman to be given his full rights under international Law as an indictee who has not been found guilty as yet.

1) Right to better and quick medical attention
2) The right of his family to be informed of his health and any pending process in this regard.

We would also like to know from the Special Court whether:

1) They have received the letter,
2) If so, will they be replying to the letter?
3) If yes, how soon?
4) If not, why not?

Mr. Andersen and the Special Court need to realise the relevance of this issue to future stability of Sierra Leone should there be any problem leading to the death of Chief Hinga Norman out of their own negligence. Sierra Leoneans are enjoying Peace after 11 years of WAR, thanks to the UN and people like Him who brought us hope.

Mohamed Haji-Kella
International Human Rights Campaigner