UNSC briefing on the Special Court for Sierra Leone strongly praises the Court and highlights findings from NPWJ impact and legacy survey

10 Oct, 2012 | Press Releases

Brussels, 10 October 2012

In a statement to the United Nations Security Council on the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 9 October 2012, Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and SCSL Prosecutor Brenda J Hollis highlighted the achievements of the Special Court and those of the Office of the Prosecutor. They also discussed some of the challenges faced, the responses to those challenges and certain challenges the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone may face while making reference to findings made by the Impact and Legacy Survey for the Special Court for Sierra Leone conducted by NPWJ and its partners.

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) applaud the work of the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL), and its achievements in reaching out to the people who suffered so much at the hands of those indicted and judged before it, allowing justice not only to be done, but to be seen to be done by the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“The issuing of the Charles Taylor judgment and sentence brings the mandate of the SCSL, as the principal accountability mechanism to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for the crimes committed during the conflict in Sierra Leone since November 1996, near to completion. As the Court winds down its activities, the importance of the SCSL’s impact and legacy in Sierra Leone and Liberia is of utmost significance.

“To this end, after the Taylor sentence was issued at the end of May, the Special Court commissioned a nationwide survey in Sierra Leone and Liberia, which was conducted on the impact and legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone by NPWJ and its partners. The purpose of the survey was to capture people’s understanding about the mandate and operations of the SCSL and establish its impact through its judicial proceedings, its legacy work and its outreach program.

“The survey, which was administered throughout Sierra Leone and Liberia to 2,841 people, highlights the wide and deep impact the Court has had on ending impunity, strengthening the rule of law, restoring peace and bringing victims a sense of redress. As was also highlighted by Justice Fisher in her address to the Security Council, the results show that 79.16% of people in Sierra Leone and Liberia believe that the SCSL has accomplished its mandate, which, according to them, is first and foremost to carry out prosecutions, as well as to bring justice, bring peace and establish the rule of law.

“The survey also found that 91% of people in Sierra Leone and 78% of people in Liberia believe that the SCSL has contributed to bringing peace in their countries. These important achievements were attributed to ‘the work of the Outreach section and to the vision established during the early stages of the Court of it being an institution embedded in and responsive to the expectations and needs of the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia’.

“It is now essential that lessons learned are taken on board to ensure that the SCSL leaves a meaningful and consolidated legacy for justice, reconciliation and the rule of law, for the government, the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as for future international criminal justice initiatives in the region”.

No Peace Without Justice and Sierra Leone
NPWJ has a long standing commitment to Sierra Leone, including a wide-ranging program in the country from 2000 to 2004 that was designed to contribute to the accountability process for violations of international criminal law. That program contributed to the establishment and functioning of the Special Court and to strengthening Sierra Leonean society’s ability to address violations of human rights and humanitarian law, with a particular focus on outreach and conflict mapping. In recent years, NPWJ has been working in Sierra Leone on ICC issues, including implementing legislation and holding seminars and round table discussions, and on FGM. NPWJ will continue with its involvement in Sierra Leone to facilitate the government and local stakeholders participating in and influencing the processes for maintaining the rule of law, peace and stability.

For further information, contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3912 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3915.