Prosecuting War Crimes in Sierra Leone - War criminals: Watch out

Dealing with atrocities is very much on the international agenda. The creation of a court to deal with war crimes in Sierra Leone, developments on the international criminal court and in Cambodia all suggest steady progress.

The World Today Updated 26 October 2020 Published 1 February 2001 5 minute READ

Michelle Sieff

Consultant with Africa AIDS Initiative, New York

In the twilight of the Clinton administration, American officials acted to hold accountable those responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. On the eve of the millennium, Clinton signed the Rome treaty establishing a permanent international criminal court. In the first days of the new year the Cambodian National Assembly decided to set up a tribunal, with help from the United Nations, to prosecute leaders of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s.

Washington was instrumental in finding a formula acceptable to both the Cambodian government and the international community. And finally, the latter half of last year saw American officials scurrying to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes in Sierra Leone, a conflict which has now spread to Guinea and teeters on the brink of all-out regional war.

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