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Sierra Leone Special Court Facing Challenges, Says Amnesty International - 2004-03-09


In Sierra Leone Wednesday, ceremonies will be held marking the official opening of the new court house for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The court was established by the United Nations and the Sierra Leone government. It will hold trials for those indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The human rights group Amnesty International says tomorrow’s dedication ceremonies should draw attention to the challenges facing the court. Tessa Kordeczka is a spokesperson for Amnesty. From Freetown, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about obstacles before the court.

She says the first challenge is the refusal by the Nigerian government to turn over former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who’s been indicted on war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr. Taylor was granted asylum in Nigeria, which Ms. Kordeczka says violates international law in light of the charges pending against him.

She also says the Special Court lacks the funding it needs and was promised by international donors. So far, thirteen people have been indicted by the court. Besides the former Liberian leader, they include former Sierra Leone military ruler Johnny Paul Koroma, whose whereabouts are unknown.

On another matter, Amnesty says, “Reparations are essential to help victims rebuild their lives. The Special Court should work with the government, civil society and the international community to adopt…measures to guarantee the victims’ right to restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.”

Click above links to download or listen to interview with Amnesty International.

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