SIERRA LEONE 1 & 2 MARCH 2005: NATIONAL VICTIMS COMMEMORATION CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY THE SPECIAL COURT


At the initiative of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the National Victims Commemoration Conference on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation takes place on 1 and 2 March 2005 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. On this occasion, No Peace Without Justice, which was actively involved in the process of the establishment of the Special Court and conducted a nationwide outreach and conflict mapping program to facilitate involvement of Sierra Leoneans in the accountability process, would like to address the following message to the organisers and participants of the Conference:

“No Peace Without Justice welcomes this event which, for the people of Sierra Leone, is a unique and welcomed step in addressing what happened during the conflict and, in particular, the situation of victims. This conference is also an important opportunity to assess to what extent the two accountability mechanisms for what happened during the conflict, the Special Court and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, have contributed towards an end to impunity for some of the worst crimes ever known and also to explore what other mechanisms or institutions could have been or would still be useful to achieve justice for all victims and their families for crimes committed in the ten-year internal conflict.

NPWJ believes that for the restoration of dignity to victims, for peace and in order to create the necessary conditions for Sierra Leone to re-establish itself as a full-fledged democracy governed by the rule of law, there must be accountability for the past. It is only by holding responsible those who violate those laws can there be deterrence for future would-be perpetrators. Amnesties and, likewise, immunity – whether de jure, like head of State immunity, or de facto, like the provision of shelter from prosecution – run foul of the principle of accountability, as recognised in the Statute of the Special Court itself.
Let us be clear: Charles Taylor must not be allowed to live out his days in comfort in Nigeria, but must be handed over to the Special Court to account for his actions in a court of law, with all the guarantees of a fair trial”.