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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Sierra Leone: Statements/Updates, 2

Sierra Leone: Statements/Updates, 2
Date distributed (ymd): 000518
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
Despite the capture of rebel leader Foday Sankoh, it is unclear whether prospects for de-escalating the immediate crisis in Sierra Leone have improved. The fundamental problems of implementing a sustainable peace remain. Without consistent engagement of the international community, with adequate support for peacemaking, attention to accountability of all parties, and effective action to implement arms embargoes on illegal arms transfers, any improvement will be momentary. Sierra Leone still raises the fundamental question whether or not the world will break away from the double standard of second-class treatment for African crises.

This posting contains statements by two Sierra Leonean groups, press releases by Human Rights Watch on the arms embargo and other issues, and pointers to other on-line sources on information with background and updates on the current crisis. Another posting sent out today contains two documents: a press release and letter from Friends of Sierra Leone and Friends of Liberia, and an update on the humanitarian situation by the U.S. Committee for Refugees.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

National Forum for Human Rights
29 Big Waterloo Street, P M B 1297, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Tel: 232 22 220396 Fax: 232 22 220406

Press Statement Friday, May 05, 2000
Violation of the Lome Peace Agreement

The National Forum for Human Rights (NFHR) view with great concern the Makeni, Magburaka, Kambia and Kailahun incidents of Monday and Tuesday May 1and 2, 2000, in which four UN Peacekeepers were killed, and over fifty UN military personnel and UNAMSIL workers abducted by members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). We believe that these actions are a violation of the Lome Peace Agreement to which RUF is a signatory, and fear that such actions might have serious humanitarian and human rights implications.

Article 15 of the Agreement guarantees peace monitors/keepers to have secured and unhindered access to every part of the country during Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. We are of the opinion that this unhindered access would invariably create favourable environment for humanitarian and human rights work.

We view with regret that the actions of RUF will have negative impact on the flow of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in the affected areas.

In light of the aforementioned situation:

  • We urge the RUF and its leadership to refrain from further impeding the peace process and allow the UN peacekeepers to deploy and effectively carry out their mandate.
  • We ask for the unconditional release of all abducted people with the RUF.
  • We urge the signatories to the Lome Peace Agreement, especially Corporal Foday Sankoh of the RUF to see reason and work towards the smooth implementation of the Lome Peace Agreement.
  • We also urge the moral guarantors to the Agreement and the international community to put pressure on all the stakeholders to the peace process in Sierra Leone to display sincerity and commitment to the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process.

Sheku B.S. Lahai Executive Secretary

Joseph Rahall Chairman

National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America

May 9, 2000

Contact: Jesmed Suma
Public Relations Officer
Tel: (202) 298-1426


NOSLINA - National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America - decries recent killing and abductions attributed to RUF

WASHINGTON, DC: The National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America, NOSLINA, views with abhorrence and utter disdain the recent killing and abduction of UNAMSIL personnel the RUF rebels are alleged to have committed in Sierra Leone. NOSLINA strongly condemns these horrendous acts and urges the RUF to take immediate steps to release the more than 500 UNAMSIL personnel believed to be in their custody.

"We are deeply distressed by the presumed loss of life of a fellowAfrican Kenyan at the hands of rebels in the crossfire last Tuesday, May 2. Even as Sierra Leoneans living in North America we have endured more than enough and we won't take it any more!" advances Kwame Fitzjohn, NOSLINA Acting Executive Director. "We will remain eternally grateful to the multinational force that has made this peace-keeping operation a reality, and -- while taking into consideration the implications -- we feel the time has come for them to intensify their operations."

NOSLINA, furthermore, vehemently disapproves of the RUF's continued illegal presence in the diamond mining fields of the Kono District and in other areas of the East and North regions of Sierra Leone. NOSLINA urges the various factions, in particular the RUF, to drastically step up their efforts to comply with the stipulations of the Lome Peace Accord, to which they are signatories.

NOSLINA lends its unconditional support to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call to improve UNAMSIL, including deploying a rapid reaction force capability; and the organization welcomes Nigeria's decision to return with troops in this time of crisis. NOSLINA, also, calls on the US and other Western powers to increase logistic support, technical services, and the wherewithal to help UNAMSIL become more effective.

"We are too many in the Diaspora to allow our nation to collapse in the manner we are witnessing at a distance. Generations to come will judge us harshly if we do. We can and must impact salvaging our land and people, for which we have the numbers and resources," makes clear Dr. Cecil Blake, NOSLINA Board Chair.

NOSLINA is a section 501 (c) 3 organization incorporated in the District of Columbia, committed to the preservation of peace, good governance, and the eradication of ignorance, disease, and human rights abuses in Sierra Leone.

Human Rights Watch

Arms Embargo on Sierra Leone Rebels Neglected

(New York, May 15, 2000) Human Rights Watch called today for a tightening of the United Nations arms embargo on Sierra Leonean rebels, and highlighted reports of weapons shipments to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels over the past year.

In a briefing paper released today, the New York-based international monitoring group identified persistent reports that the RUF has flouted a U.N. arms embargo that has been in place since 1997, reportedly with help from neighboring Liberia, which is also subject to an arms embargo, and Burkina Faso. (Available online at:

"The crisis in Sierra Leone can't be solved without addressing the question of weapons supply for the rebels," said Lisa Misol of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch. "With peace unraveling in Sierra Leone, rebels can be expected to activate their arms supply channels unless the U.N. takes firm steps to stop them."

Human Rights Watch called on the U.N. Security Council to authorize U.N. forces to monitor Sierra Leone's borders (especially the Liberian border), roads, and airstrips in rebel-controlled areas and to halt any weapons shipments they detect.

Human Rights Watch also urged the Security Council to order an official inquiry into illegal arms flows to the RUF rebels, including the role of the trade in diamonds from rebel-held areas in Sierra Leone, in order to identify the illicit channels of supply, expose embargo violators, and devise strategies to halt these flows. Such an effort should draw on prior U.N. experience, including a recent U.N. investigation that exposed sanctions-busting in Angola. (See

Human Rights Watch publications about the arms trade in Africa are available at Information on violations of the peace accord in Sierra Leone is available at

Fair Trial Urged for Rebel Leader Sankoh

(New York, May 17, 2000) Human Rights Watch urged today that the Sierra Leonean leader Foday Sankoh should receive a fair trial for his crimes.

Extensive evidence has been compiled, by Human Rights Watch and others, of crimes against humanity committed by soldiers and officers of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), of which Foday Sankoh is the leader. But that evidence should be carefully compiled and presented in a court of law. Sankoh should be informed of the specific charges against him as soon as possible, according to fair trial standards.

"Foday Sankoh must not be subjected to mob rule," said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "There is a good case against him, but it must be presented soberly and carefully, before impartial judges. Otherwise, the cycle of violence in Sierra Leone will only continue."

Takirambudde said that after years of civil war, the capacity of the Sierra Leonean justice system was in question, and the possibility of an international tribunal for Sankoh should be examined without delay.

The July 1999 Lome Accord included an amnesty for atrocities committed during the eight-year civil war. Takirambudde noted that the international community, including the United Nations, never recognized the amnesty and is not bound by its terms. Human Rights Watch has also documented many abuses committed by the RUF since July 1999 (, which are not covered by the amnesty.

"At the core of the crisis in Sierra Leone is the question of impunity," said Takirambudde. "If the international community can send investigative teams into Kosovo to document war crimes, it should be prepared to do the same for Sierra Leone. The perpetrators of abuse must be held accountable."

Additional Sources for Background and Updates

Partnership Africa Canada
The Heart of The Matter: Sierra Leone, Diamonds & Human Security>

Sierra Leone Web

Sierra Leone Web current news

Sierra Leone Web document archive (includes Lome Agreement)

Africa News Service

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and human and cultural rights.

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