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The Special Court for Sierra Leone operated from 2002 – 2012. The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone has operated from 2012 – present.

Founding Documents

Jurisdiction

The Special Court has the power to prosecute persons who bear the greatest individual criminal responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996, including those leaders who, in conducting such crimes, have threatened the establishment of and implementation of the peace process in Sierra Leone.

It may also prosecute transgressions by peacekeepers or other related personnel pursuant to the Status Mission Agreement in force between the UN and the Government of Sierra Leone. In the event that the State who provided the peacekeeper or other related personnel is unable to unwilling to investigate or prosecute, the Court may seek authorization from the Security Council to exercise jurisdiction over these persons.

Crimes covered by the Statute include Crimes Against Humanity, Violations of the Geneva Conventions Article 3, other serious violations of international humanitarian law, and crimes under Sierra Leonean domestic law. These crimes include murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and sexual violence, and persecution on the basis of politics, race, ethnicity, or religion.

Status of Cases

  • On September 26, 20143, the Appeals Chamber upheld the 50-year sentence handed down to former Liberian President Charles Taylor. The court ruling on April 26, 2012 found Mr. Taylor guilty of five counts of crimes against humanity, five counts of war crimes and one count of other serious violations of international humanitarian law perpetrated by Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, who he supported. He was the first African head of state to be convicted for war crimes.
  • 22 suspects were indicted by the SCSL