Members of the Security Council today welcomed the decision by a United Nations-backed court to uphold the conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war.
In a statement issued to the press, the Council said the ruling by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) is “an important step in bringing to justice those individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, regardless of their official status.”
Mr. Taylor was convicted in April 2012 on 11 counts for crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war and subsequently sentenced to 50 years in prison. The crimes included murder, rape and enlisting children into armed forces.
“The members of the Security Council congratulate the Special Court for Sierra Leone on the delivery of this final judgment concluding the appellate proceedings in the case against Charles Taylor and welcome the pending completion of the Special Court’s mandate,” the statement said.
The SCSL is an independent tribunal set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the country since 30 November 1996.
The Court will close its doors before the end of 2013, and will be immediately replaced by the Residual Special Court. A primary function of the Residual Special Court will be the continued protection and support of Special Court witnesses and individuals at risk on account of testimony. It will respond robustly and effectively to any reports of interference with, or harassment of, witnesses.
The 15-member Council said it will continue to offer strong support to the Residual Special Court as it commences its functioning in the coming weeks and called on Member States to contribute generously to it.