- On August 9, 2000, the UN Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone sent a letter on behalf of President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to the United Nations Security Council, requesting assistance on the establishment of a special court for Sierra Leone to address serious crimes against civilians and peacekeepers during the civil war.
- On August 14, 2000 the UN adopted UNSCR 1315 requesting the Secretary General begin negotiations with the Sierra Leonean government to establish the court.
- On January 16, 2001, the Special Court Agreement was signed by the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone.
- The Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone were adopted on March 16, 2002.
- On April 25, 2002, the Government of Sierra Leone ratified the Special Court Agreement Ratification Act (2002), which established the court in the domestic legal framework of Sierra Leone.
- The Special Court Statute was annexed to the Ratification Act, signed April 25, 2002.
- The Rules Rules Governing the Detention of Persons Awaiting Trial or Appeal before the Special Court for Sierra Leone or otherwise Detained under the Authority of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, were adopted on March 7, 2003.
- In anticipation of the completion of the judicial activities of the Special Court, the UN and the Government of Sierra Leone signed an agreement establishing a small residual court to carry out the remaining work of the court. The Residual mechanism was ratified on February 1, 2012.
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
- 2 suspects were acquitted
- 1 convict, Alex Brima, died on June 9, 2016, while serving a 50 year sentence
- 8 convicts are currently serving sentences
- Proceedings against Johnny Paul Koroma are ongoing in the Residual mechanism. He has not been apprehended by the court, and is believed to be dead
- 3 suspects died before their cases were concluded