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Security Council urges support for Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal

Security Council urges support for Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal

Amb. Johan Verbeke
The Security Council today called on the international community to maintain its financial support of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), saying the war crimes tribunal needs more help to complete its efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes during the country’s prolonged civil war.

In a statement read out by Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, the 15-member body reiterated its strong support for the UN-backed SCSL and the progress it has achieved so far.

Earlier this month the trial of the notorious former Liberian president Charles Taylor began in The Hague, while last week the SCSL issued its first verdicts, finding three former rebel leaders guilty of multiple counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“The Security Council particularly notes the contribution of the Special Court to strengthening stability in Sierra Leone and the subregion and bringing an end to impunity,” the statement said.

The second international war crimes tribunal established in Africa, the SCSL was mandated to try those bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian and Sierra Leonean law within Sierra Leone's borders after 30 November 1996.

Mr. Verbeke said the Council recognized the Court’s efforts to meet its completion strategy, particularly as it moves towards its final stage of work now that trials are under way and verdicts are beginning to be handed down.

“The Security Council emphasizes the vital need for further pledges of voluntary contributions in order to allow the Special Court to complete its mandate in a timely manner, and asks all United Nations Member States to consider making such pledges.”