Thursday, February 26, 2009
Yesterday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted three persons of crimes against humanity, including mutilation, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, and forced enlistment of child soldiers. The Special Court was modeled on the Nuremburg Tribunal to try persons accused of atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's 11-year civil war, which ended in 2002. The three convicted rebel leaders were Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao. Five other persons have already been convicted. About a half-million people were victims of atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's civil war. Illicit diamond sales fueled the conflict, as depicted in the movie, Blood Diamond. The Special Court decided to focus its resources and attention on bringing the highest level commanders to justice. According to the Special Court's Chief Prosecutor, Stephen Rapp, the convictions show that these kinds of crimes will not be tolerated. Some have criticized this strategy, however, because it means that many more persons guilty of the violence were left unpunished. The conviction of these three defendants concludes the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.