Sierra Leone's Special Court: Will Justice Help Peace?

While the United States is fighting a rearguard action to limit the jurisdiction of the new International Criminal Court over American citizens, it is bankrolling a Special Court to deal with atrocities in Sierra Leone which is far from universally popular there.

The World Today Published 1 November 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 5 minute READ

Peter Penfold

Formerly British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone

The special court is expected to begin work shortly as part of the peace and reconciliation process. Established by the UN and the government of Sierra Leone, with strong backing from Washington, it aims to bring to justice those most guilty of the terrible atrocities which occurred during the bloody conflict. This hybrid court – using both local and international law – has not been tried before, and its performance will be monitored closely to see whether it provides a model for dealing with justice in other conflict areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq. But will justice help the peace process in Sierra Leone?

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