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Sierra Leone: UN begins sensitization programme about truth commission

Sierra Leone: UN begins sensitization programme about truth commission

The United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) today launched an initiative to sensitize people in the northern part of the country about the role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the nation's peace process.

Known as the Community Sensitization Programme, the effort was inaugurated at a ceremony in the northern town of Makeni by UNAMSIL chief Oluyemi Adeniji. The Programme is co-hosted by the UN mission's human rights component and a Sierra Leone human rights organization, Northern Region Working Group.

In his address, Ambassador Adeniji noted that the Commission - a provision of the Lome Peace Agreement - would allow the people of Sierra Leone to recognize the necessity for reconciliation and encourage perpetrators of crimes to apologize to their victims. He also said the Commission would take into account the culture and traditions of the different Sierra Leonean communities.

Rodolfo Mattarollo, the Chief of UNAMSIL's Human Rights Section, said the Commission would promote the reconciliation process, the healing of victims of human rights abuses, and a break in the cycle of impunity. "The TRC would gather a historical record and provide a balanced account of the Sierra Leonean conflict," he said. "It would allow perpetrators to apologize to victims and victims to forgive perpetrators. It would also encourage victims to give information in confidence and perpetrators to take responsibility for crimes committed. This is what we are working towards."

Gibril Massaquoi, spokesman for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) said that the rebel army would accept and support the Commission because it was one of the most important provisions enshrined in the Lome Peace Agreement.

The launching ceremony was also witnessed by the Bishop of the Makeni Dioceses, Bishop Biguzzi, Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Council of Churches (CCSL), Alimany Koroma, and other human rights organizations such as the Sierra Leone Forum of Conscience and National Forum for Human Rights.