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Sierra Leone: Statements/Updates, 2
Sierra Leone: Statements/Updates, 2
Date distributed (ymd): 000518
Document reposted by APIC
Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +security/peace+
+US policy focus+
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
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.
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
- 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
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
"WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!"
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
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 http://www.hrw.org
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: http://www.hrw.org/press/2000/05/slback0515.htm
"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 http://www.hrw.org/about/projects/arms/index.htm
Information on violations of the peace accord in Sierra Leone is
available at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/sleone/.
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
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
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 (http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/sleone/index.htm), 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.