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Security Council OKs Sierra Leone Tribunal - 2002-03-20

The United Nations Security Council Wednesday green-lighted the establishment of a Special Court in Sierra Leone aimed at bringing war criminals to justice.

Assistant Secretary-General Ralph Zacklin says the Special Court will prosecute violations of both international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed since the end of 1996. Accordingly, it will combine both Sierra Leonean and international prosecutors, judges, and staff.

Mr. Zacklin was quick to point out the differences between the new Special Court in Sierra Leone, and those established by the United Nations in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

He said, "The members of the Security Council made it very clear that they did not want another ICTY or ICTR for various reasons, including budgetary reasons, but also because, I think, that the other tribunals are perceived in some ways as overly bureaucratic and sometimes too slow."

Mr. Zacklin says the court in Sierra Leone will operate at roughly one-fifth the yearly operating budgets of the Yugoslavian and Rwandan tribunals.

He says he hopes the court will be up and running by the third quarter of this year, and that it will begin its first proceedings by the end of this year. He named Foday Sankoh, leader of the Revolutionary United Front, as a potential indictee.