The Senegalese judge, Justice El Hadji Malick Sow, served as an alternate judge for Trial Chamber II of the Special Court of Sierra Leone that tried the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor. For the five years that the trial lasted, Justice Sow sat on the bench with three other “main” judges who presided over the trial in rotation. As alternate judge, Justice Sow’s job was to step in and act as a “main” judge whenever any of the three main judges was unable to sit. He says during the five years, he “worked harder than anybody else because I took it very seriously, for me it was a very important trial because I was the only judge from the West African sub-region, and as such, I couldn’t come back home, face my people, and tell them lies about what I didn’t see or cannot justify.”
Britain’s former high commissioner to Sierra Leone, Peter Penfold, confesses that “resolving conflicts diplomatically elsewhere has become more difficult as a result of the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s antics”. In his new book, “Atrocities, Diamonds and Diplomacy: The Inside Story of the Conflict in Sierra Leone”, reviewed here by our correspondent, Lansana Gberie, Penfold criticises the Special Court for killing the incentive that will make actors in future conflicts stop fighting.
Sierra Leone goes to the polls on 17 November. Incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma is seeking a second term. Our correspondent, Lansana Gberie, interviewed him on the security situation in the country ahead of the elections; his relationship with the key opposition leader, Julius Maada Bio; and on his signature policy of infrastructural development as part of his Agenda for Change programme. Here are excerpts.
For Julius Maada Bio, the controversial opposition leader and presidential aspirant in November’s elections in Sierra Leone, the issues are clear. He wants to ensure that democracy becomes firmly rooted in Sierra Leone and economic development is vigorously pursued in the country. He talked to Stephen Williams about his vision.
On 16 May, the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL) gave Charles Taylor the opportunity to speak in court before sentencing was imposed on 30 May. Here is an abridged version of what he said:
As Charles Taylor’s trial ends, does the real test for international justice now begin? asks Colin Waugh, author of the new book, Charles Taylor and Liberia.
After a trial lasting three years and 10 months, the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was found guilty by the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 11 counts of “aiding and abetting” crimes committed in Sierra Leone by rebel forces between 1996 and 2002. But as the Court acquitted him of the most serious charges of “joint criminal enterprise”, “command and control”, “instigating” and “ordering” the crimes, how is it possible that he was found guilty on all 11 counts in the indictment, and not only on some of them? Did superpower politics have a say in the verdict?
The mixed reception to the conviction of Charles Taylor clearly illustrates that, contrary to what many were thinking, the outcome has left many questions still unanswered. Desmond Davies reports.
On 6 February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – recently given a second term in office – abruptly withdrew his executive representative from Sierra Leone following a request by the government of President Ernest Bai Koroma. Michael von der Schulenburg, a respected German diplomat, had been in the post since 2008, first as acting executive representative, and then, since January 2009, as head of the UN mission in Sierra Leone called UNIPSIL. From Freetown, Lansana Gberie explains why Schulenburg, though popular with the people, had to leave.
With Nigerian oil production once again on the move we reveal how Big Oil has left the Niger Delta in the lurch.
How Africa can own its natural resources. It is now generally accepted that Africa is the richest continent in the world by natural resources but the poorest by bank balance. This “great conundrum” has been made possible by a skewed world economic and political order that ensures that African resources are exploited for a song by multinational companies which leave very little back in Africa for the development of the continent, so little that there is never enough to run the African economies without foreign aid. This month we probe the hows and whys of the great African puzzle of abundant resources in the midst of poverty, and how the continent can rewrite the world economic order by employing a revolutionary way in owning its resources. This lead piece, in our multi-part cover story, is written by our editor, Baffour Ankomah.
New evidence shows that Britain accepted liability for slavery back in 1806. How will this affect the reparations movement?
Preview of the 2012 Africa Nations Cup including this year's players to watch, tournament venues and group stage analysis.