African News

Sierra Leone’s Special Court needs another $26.4 million

By  | 8 April 2010 at 00:16 | 357 views

The Registrar of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) on Thursday, April 1 told members of the diplomatic community in The Hague that the court needs another USD 26.4million (Twenty Six Million Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) to cover its operations from January 2010 to June 2011. And other additional funds are required to fund the enforcement of sentences in Rwanda.

The Registrar informed the diplomats that the current available funding will be exhausted by mid-April this year.
Mrs Binta Mansaray was briefing diplomats on the current state of the court and what is required for a successful conclusion of its operations.
Mrs Mansaray said the Special Court commenced in June 2004 and has successfully concluded and convicted nine persons from all the warring factions including the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Civil Defence Forces (CDF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) who are presently serving their sentences in Rwanda since October last year.

The court’s last trial, she disclosed is of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, which she indicated is in the defence phase and is being heard in The Hague due to regional security concerns.
Mansaray said a first instance judgement on the merits is expected by November this year with an Appeals judgement, if applicable expected by May/June 2011.

Dilating on the legacy of the court, the Registrar said the court’s jurisprudence includes the first convictions in history for sexual slavery and forced marriages as crimes against humanity and for attacks on Peacekeepers and recruitment and the use of child soldiers as violations of international humanitarian law.
She added that the court has contributed to the development of national peace and stability through its judicial activities. “The court’s transparent and independent judicial process serves as a model for rule of law. Furthermore, Sierra Leonean staff has developed professionally, both from formal on-the-job training and by working for an international standard”.

She furthered that the court currently employs an approximated staff of 240 of which two-thirds are Sierra Leoneans. This number will be downsized to 130 by June this number in accordance with the court’s completion strategy and to 80 by January next year. A skeleton staff will be retained for a short period for liquidation purposes after the completion of the Taylor trial.

In his address to members of the diplomatic community, the Director of the United Nations and International Financial Institutions Department, Rob Swartbol announced that the Netherlands government has increased its contribution for 2010 with USD 1million (One Million United States Dollars).
Mr. Swartbol said promoting the development of the international legal order is enshrined in the Dutch constitution as such, “it is a duty that forms one of the guiding principles of our foreign policy”.

The Netherlands, Mr. Swartbol added has been a staunch supporter of the fight against impunity and the establishment of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals as well as the permanent international criminal court.
He observed that the completion of the trial of Charles Taylor in a fair way sends out a clear signal to offenders of the most serious and grave international crimes worldwide that impunity is unacceptable and justice will be served.

The Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Brenda Hollis told the diplomats that she cannot give any specific date as to when the Taylor trial will end but said she was optimistic at the progress of the trial.

Mrs Hollis said the Special Court for Sierra Leone is a success story because of the support of the international community and the courageous victims and survivors who willingly came forward to explain their horrific ordeals and experiences.

Photo, from left to right: Mr. Robert Swartbol (Director of the UN and International Financial Institutions Department), Mrs Binta Mansaray (Registrar of the SCSL) and Ms Brenda Hollis (SCSL Prosecutor)