Sierra Leone: UN team meets with human rights groups on plans for special court

Sierra Leone: UN team meets with human rights groups on plans for special court

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The United Nations planning team for the Sierra Leone Special Court today continued its series of meetings with local professional groups and civil society organizations on the set up and operation of the tribunal, which will be formally established when the Government and UN sign an agreement next week.

This morning the planning team met with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in human rights issues, including Amnesty International, National Forum for Human Rights, Campaign for Good Governance and the Council of Churches.

Yesterday, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Ralph Zacklin, who is leading the team, said after a meeting with the country’s lawyers group that there was an “extremely vibrant and committed” Bar Association in Sierra Leone whose members were “waiting for this Special Court” to be established. They raised many “pertinent” questions about the Court, he added.

Some members of the team, led by Kenneth Fleming, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, also met yesterday with the Inspector General of the Sierra Leone Police, Keith Biddle, and the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for discussions on evidence collection and criminal investigation. In a visit to the police archives, the members of the team were able to briefly examine source material which may be considered as evidence in future war crimes trials.

Another group met with the Directors of Works, Lands and Prisons to continue discussions on identifying future premises for the Court, while a third group met with the High Court Registrar to be briefed on existing staff in the courts.