Ex-Sierra Leonean Rebels Sent to Rwandan Prison

By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – Eight men found guilty by the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been transferred from Sierra Leone to a prison in Rwanda to serve their sentences.

The prisoners were sent from the SCSL detention facilities in Freetown, Sierra Leone to Rwanda because there are currently no prisons in Sierra Leone that meet international standards.

“Amid tight security, the eight men were flown by helicopter from the Special Court compound to Lungi International Airport, where they boarded a U.N.-chartered plane for Kigali, Rwanda,” said the Court in a statement.

According to spokesman Peter Andersen, they “left shortly after 0400 GMT.”

Of the men transferred, three were from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) who were convicted in February on charges of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery, and use of child soldiers among others.  For the first time in history, these men were convicted of forced marriage and attacks against peacekeepers.

Last week, SCSL upheld former RUF Interim Leader Issa Hassan Sesay’s sentence of 52 years, RUF Commander Morris Kallon’s sentence of 40 years, and former RUF Chief of Security Augustine Gbao’s sentence of 25 years.  Three former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), Alex Tamba Brima, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Borbor Kanu and two former leaders of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF), Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa complete the list of prisoners.

The eight prisoners have been transferred to Mpanga Prison in Rwanda where they will be held in the part of the prison originally built to house prisoners convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).  Their incarceration at this facility was facilitated by an agreement made between SCSL and the Rwandan government.

Time served while held by the SCSL will be given to the prisoners as credit toward their sentences.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s trial, the last remaining defendant for the SCSL, is being held in The Hague, where it was moved for security reasons.  He is accused of controlling the RUF.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Sierra Leone Ex-rebels Leave to be Jailed in Rwanda: Court – 31 October 2009

Cocorioko – Special Court Prisoners Sent to Rwanda to Serve Their Sentences – 31 October 2009

Reuters – Sierra Leone Court Sends Convicts to Rwandan Prison – 31 October 2009

UN News Centre – Sierra Leone: Eight Men Found Guilty of War Crimes Transferred to Rwanda – 31 October 2009

UN Looking Into Guinea Violence

By Kylie M Tsudama
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

CONAKRY, Guinea – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has launched an international inquiry into the violence against Guinean protestors last month.

On September 28, gunmen opened fire on a stadium full of anti-government protestors killing 157 and wounding more than a thousand others.

Earlier this week the UN Security Council condemned the violence because Russia was opposed and Moscow was uncomfortable getting involved with the domestic politics of an individual country.  According to the UN, the inquiry will “investigate those incidents with a view to determining the accountability of those involved.”

Algerian diplomat and jurist Mohamed Bedjaoui will chair the inquiry.  Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, leader of Guinea’s military government, has said that he will cooperate with the UN’s efforts.

The inquiry team will be filled out with Burundi’s Francoise Ngendahyo Kayirwamirwa and Mauritius’ Pramila Patten.  Kayirwamirwa has previously served on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Patten is a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Prior to traveling to Geneva and Guinea, the commission members will travel to New York City to meet with the Secretary General, said spokeswoman Michele Montas.

Guinea’s military junta warned that any sanctions imposed on the country might cause chaos in the country, warning that the international community was pushing the country into a situation “that could degenerate.”

The African Union, the United States, and the European Union have joined in imposing fresh sanctions on the junta.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is attempting to mediate the situation and Guinean leadership has agreed to give ECOWAS priority.  Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore will be the mediator.

“The president (Dadis Camara) has said that he is putting the fate of Guinea in the hands of mediator Compaore,” said his spokesman.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has said that he is also investigating.

For more information, please see:

AFP – Guinea Junta Warns Sanctions May Cause Chaos – 30 October 2009

Al Jazeera – AU Imposes Sanctions on Guinea – 30 October 2009

All Africa – Ban Announces Members of Commission to Look Into Bloody Guinean Crackdown – 30 October 2009

AP – Guinea Protestors Freed After Being Forced to Eat – 30 October 2009

UN News Centre – UN Chief Ban Launches Inquiry Into Guinea Violence – 30 October 2009

Xinhua – UN Announces Establishment of Int’l Commission to Probe Guinea Incidents – 30 October 2009