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UN team, Sierra Leone officials begin talks on establishing special war crimes court

UN team, Sierra Leone officials begin talks on establishing special war crimes court

A United Nations planning team has begun a series of meetings in Sierra Leone on practical arrangements for the establishment and operation of a special court to try persons accused of war crimes.

UN team members reviewed the mission's programme with the Sierra Leonean governmental task force on the Special Court, led by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Solomon Berewa. They were also briefed by military personnel from the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and the Mission's Political Affairs and Human Rights Sections.

The team was also briefed by UNAMSIL's Public Information Section and visited proposed premises for the Special Court, the Pademba Road Prison and the High Court of Sierra Leone.

Led by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Ralph Zacklin, the 15-member team is focusing its work on locating premises for the Court, finding local personnel and services, and launching the investigative and prosecutorial process.

The delegation includes representatives from the UN Office of Legal Affairs, the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia and the Court Management Committee, which includes officials from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands and Lesotho.

On Wednesday, part of the team is scheduled to meet with representatives of the legal profession, including the Bar Association and the Chief Justice, while others are expected hold discussions with the Registrar of the High Court and Court management officers, as well as the Ministries of Lands and Works.