Sierra Leone War Crimes Tribunal : operational concerns

The ICJ congratulates the United Nations Security Council for unanimously adopting Resolution 1315 (2000), which calls for an independent special court to try perpetrators of international law crimes in Sierra Leone.

The ICJ understands that the court will try perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of international humanitarian law. It notes the UN expressly excluded these international crimes from amnesty under the Lomé Peace Accord of 7 July 1999.

«The appointment of judicial officers, whether local or international, must be independent and impartial. In negotiating the agreement, the UN Secretary-General should ensure that the court must prosecute all crimes irrespective of when they were committed (before or after the Lomé Peace Accord) and by whom in accordance with individual responsibility of all alleged perpetrators -not just a few figureheads.», stated the ICJ.

The ICJ calls on the UN Secretary General to ensure that due process and international human rights standards prevail, namely: the right to presumption of innocence; the right to defense; the right to appeal; the right not to be subject to cruel, unusual and degrading punishment, including the death penalty; and the right to reparation. All victims and their families; detained persons; witnesses; judges, lawyers and prosecutors; and investigators should be afforded protection.

The resolution envisages a court established with UN assistance. The Secretary General should ensure that in case of conflict between domestic and international law, the latter must prevail.

States must support the speedy establishment of the court, and ensure that alleged perpetrators within their territory be sought, arrested and extradited in accordance with international standards.

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