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Sierra Leone: Special Court machinery to be in place by late summer -- UN report

Sierra Leone: Special Court machinery to be in place by late summer -- UN report

The machinery of an envisaged Special Court for Sierra Leone should be in place by the third quarter of this year to enable the tribunal to function in accordance with its Statute, according to a new United Nations report released today in New York.

The report was prepared by a UN team that visited the country in January to discuss with the Government of Sierra Leone the practical arrangements for the establishment and operation of the Court. The Planning Mission, which was led by Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Ralph Zacklin, outlines a number of issues that will need to be dealt with before the tribunal can begin functioning. Among the minimum requirements that will need to be in place are a courtroom and associated support space, staffing for the prosecutor’s office and registry, and security measures.

In describing the logistical arrangements and appointments of key officials to take place in the next two-and-a-half months, the Mission says that the start-up phase of the operational plan should be completed by 31 May.

“Adherence to this schedule would mean that by the third quarter of 2002, the judges will have been appointed, the Offices of the Prosecutor and the Registry will be functioning in their temporary premises in Freetown and the construction of the permanent premises will be substantially under way,” the report notes. “The first indictments and trials could be envisaged by the end of the first year of operation, which is well within the parameters of the practice of international criminal tribunals.”

The report also notes a recommendation by an expert group that the relationship of the Special Court to Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be guided by the complementary roles each body performs, the independent nature of both institutions and the establishment of an agreed set of separate priorities.

The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the Planning Mission’s report in its consultations Tuesday.