Order Code RL31062
Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Sierra Leone: Transition to Peace
Updated May 15, 2002
Analyst in African Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Sierra Leone: Transition to Peace
On May 14, 2002, Sierra Leoneans voted in the first national elections to be held
since 1996, following an extensive, United Nations (U.N.)-assisted poll preparation
process. The election followed the successful completion of a U.N.-sponsored
national disarmament process in January 2002, when government, U.N., and RUF
officials formally declared an end to Sierra Leone’s decade-old conflict. Initial poll
results indicated that President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the incumbent, would win the
election, but he reportedly garnered less than 20 % of the military vote. A special
court of mixed international and national legal jurisdiction is being created to try
those held most responsible for war crimes and human rights abuses committed
during the conflict. It is expected to try former RUF leader Foday Sankoh.
Beginning in 1991, successive governments of Sierra Leone, a small West
African country with significant mineral resources but a poorly developed economy,
were besieged by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a guerrilla
group-cum-political party that claims a radical-populist political agenda. The conflict
originated, in part, from the growth of systemic government corruption in the decades
after independence in 1961, leading to a severe deterioration of state governing
capacity. It was also driven by contention over the control of state and natural
resources, particularly diamonds. Regional insecurity and external interference in the
conflict – notably by the Liberian government, with which the RUF reportedly traded
diamonds for arms and other assistance – also contributed to its persistence. During
the war, the RUF and other factions forcibly recruited children as fighters and used
extreme violence against civilians, in some cases to control diamond resources.
The end of the conflict resulted from the revitalization of the 1999 Lomé Peace
Accord, which had broken down. RUF leadership changes and a cease-fire agreement
in 2000 were followed by conflict resolution meetings between government, RUF,
and U.N. officials. A renewed program of disarmament and reintegration resulted,
and implementation of portions of the 1999 Lomé Peace Accords resumed. The
accords, negotiated with the active support of the Clinton Administration, were
signed in July 1999 in Lomé, Togo. Their viability was called into doubt soon after
the signing. Severe human rights abuses and other accord violations by the RUF and
other factions mounted, culminating, during the first half of 2000, in hostage taking
and armed attacks on U.N. peacekeepers. The U.N. Peacekeeping Operation in Sierra
Leone (UNAMSIL) was established by the U.N. Security Council in late 1999. Its
size, the strength of its mandate, and the duration and focus of its mission have been
augmented several times. It was recently tasked with providing electoral support.
The United States has funded the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Sierra
Leone since the start of the conflict. In the mid- to late-1990s, it funded security
assistance in support of the elected government of Sierra Leone. U.S. policy has
emphasized political support for conflict resolution mediation, continued U.N.
multi-sectoral assistance to the government and people of Sierra Leone, and the
imposition of U.N. trade, travel, and other sanctions on the RUF and its domestic and
international allies, particularly the Liberian government.
Recent Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
The RUF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
RUF-Liberia Ties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Foday Sankoh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
RUF Political Agenda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Late 1990s: Developments in the Sierra Leone Conflict . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
AFRC/RUF Junta, ECOMOG, and UNOMSIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
International Opposition to AFRC/RUF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
The July 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Lomé: Contrasting Views . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Post-Lomé Developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
UNAMSIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
UNAMSIL Deployment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
May 2000 U.N. Hostage Crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Operation Khukry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Lomé Accord Questioned . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
West Side Boys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
RUF Leadership Changes and Improved Peace Prospects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Resumes . . 11
Slow Progress and a Fragile Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Progress Toward Peace in 2001 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
DDR Advances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
DDR Program Improvements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Threats to DDR Progress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Funding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Security Concerns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Civilian Disarmament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
New RUF Demands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
War Ends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Transition to Peace: Post-Conflict Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Elections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Early Election Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Electoral Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Progress Toward Elections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Voter Registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Party Registration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
RUF and Elections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
U.N. Electoral Role . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Non-Governmental Organization Electoral Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
The Special Court for Sierra Leone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Court Funding and Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
The Special Court: Contrasting Views . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Truth and Reconciliation Commission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Related Reconciliation Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Military Reform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Military Restructuring and British Training Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Human Welfare and Socio-Economic Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Human Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Resettlement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Refugees and the Internally Displaced . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Transition from Relief to Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Police Deployment, Reintegration, and Dispute Resolution . . . . . . . . 30
Diamonds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Economic Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
U.S. Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Bush Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Clinton Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Congressional Role . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
107th Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
U.S. Assistance to Sierra Leone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Appendix: Acronyms Used in This Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
List of Figures
Figure 1. Sierra Leone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Figure 2. Sierra Leone: District-Level Map with Key Diamond Areas . . . . . . . . 45
List of Tables
Table 1. Gross National Income and Foreign Aid Per Capita: Recent Trends . . 31
Table 2. Inflation and Gross Domestic Product: Recent Trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Sierra Leone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Table 4. U.S. Assistance: Agency Programming Sectors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Table 5. UNAMSIL: U.S. Contributions, FY2000, FY2001 and FY2002 . . . . . 41
Table 6. Timetable for Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: May 2002 . . . 41
Table 7. Sierra Leone’s Political Parties and Leaders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Sierra Leone: Transition to Peace
On May 14, 2002, Sierra Leoneans
Figure 1. Sierra Leone
voted in the first national elections to be
held since 1996, following an extensive,
United Nations (U.N.)-assisted poll
preparation process. Election campaigning
was largely peaceful, although a clash
between opposing party supporters,
involving rock throwing and destruction of
party property, was reported. The election
followed the reportedly successful
completion of a U.N.-sponsored national
disarmament effort in January 2002, when
government and U.N. officials and leaders
of the former rebel group, the
Revolutionary United Front (RUF),
formally declared an end to Sierra Leone’s
decade-old conflict. Initial poll results
indicated that President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the incumbent, would win the election
by a large margin, but they also showed him garnering less than 20 % of the military
vote. The RUF Party (RUFP, the RUF’s political wing) was barred from nominating
as its presidential candidate its declared leader, Foday Sankoh; he is jailed and under
indictment for murder. The RUFP instead nominated its General Secretary, Pallo
The peace process that led to the end of the war began with RUF leadership
changes in August 2000 and a November 2000 cease-fire agreement. In December
2001, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began to assist
repatriated refugees to return to their homes in areas declared safe by the government.
Previously, the UNHCR had helped refugees repatriate to Sierra Leone and had
grouped them in designated safe areas but had not resettled them in their original
home villages, which were often still in insecure areas. In January 2002, the Sierra
Leone government and the U.N. finalized arrangements to create a special war crimes
tribunal of mixed international and national legal jurisdiction to try those held most
responsible for human rights abuses and other crimes of war. An associated Truth
and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) will also hear cases of conflict-related
violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in order to create a
historical record of such violations; address a history of impunity for human rights
offenders; promote healing and reconciliation; and prevent a repetition of such acts.
From 1991 until 2000, successive governments of Sierra Leone, a small West
African country with significant mineral resources but a poorly developed economy,
were besieged by a rebel group, the RUF.1 The conflict originated, in part, from the
growth of systemic government corruption, beginning in the late 1960s. By the late
1980s, the capacity of the state to govern and to provide basic public goods and
services had severely deteriorated, resulting in the effective disenfranchisement and
impoverishment of large segments of the population. In addition, a history of
political thuggery – in particular, a local rebellion following extensive violence
surrounding local elections in 1982 – set a precedent for armed political conflict in
Sierra Leone. Armed hostilities were also driven by contention over the control of
mineral wealth – especially diamonds – and state resources. The Sierra Leone war
was also perpetuated by armed conflicts in neighboring states and interference in
Sierra Leone by parties to these conflicts, particularly by former Liberian civil war
faction leader Charles Taylor, who in 1997 was elected President of Liberia.
During the conflict the RUF, using guerrilla warfare tactics, avoided defeat by
pro-government forces comprised of the Sierra Leone Army (SLA); ECOMOG, the
Monitoring Group of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),
a regional peacekeeping force; and local militias, now organized as the Civilian
Defense Forces (CDFs). In 1999 and 2000, the RUF also initiated hostilities against
U.N. peacekeeping and monitoring personnel and British soldiers retraining the SLA.
The configuration of the sides in the conflict shifted periodically. Relations between
SLA units and the RUF, ranging from mutual non-interference to trading and outright
collaboration, were reported, leading to the coining of the term “sobel,” i.e., “soldierrebel.” Access to economic resources was a the primary motivation for such ties.
The RUF, which has formally transformed itself into a conventional political
party called the RUFP, is infamous for having used violent terror tactics to control
the population. It forcibly recruited children as fighters and systemically raped,
mutilated, and murdered civilians perceived to be sympathetic to the government.
The chopping off of civilians’ limbs and the scarification and drugging of forced
recruits were hallmarks of such violence. Other factions occasionally used similar
tactics. The military strength of the RUF fighting force, now largely demobilized,
was difficult to determine during the conflict; estimates of its size fluctuated. Various
estimates described a core force of 5,000 to 7,000 – or more – experienced, trained
fighters. At certain periods during the war, as many as 28,000 personnel, reportedly
including forced laborers, mercenaries, and SLA deserters, were believed to have
This report is based on news accounts; documents of the United Nations, the United States,
and other national governments; and studies by academic, research, and private voluntary
organizations. Also, Sierra Leone Web [http://www.Sierra-Leone.org], run by former Sierra
Leone Peace Corps Volunteer Peter Andersen, presents a daily news digest of Sierra
Leonean news, and archives many key documents. In this report, sources of unique facts,
accounts, and direct quotations are cited; where multiple sources report similar facts or
events, no citation is generally given.
comprised the RUF. In mid-May 2001, the RUF stated that it had a total of 10,000
combatants under arms throughout the country. In early January 2002, following
disarmament, the U.N. reported that 16,620 RUF fighters had been demobilized.
Some observers believe that not all RUF members have disarmed. Some elements of
the group have reportedly crossed into Liberia to cache arms and assist the forces of
Liberian President Charles Taylor to counter a burgeoning armed insurgency by
opponents of his regime.
RUF-Liberia Ties. The origin and operational capacity of the RUF have been
closely tied to the politics of Liberia. At its inception and throughout the 1990s, the
RUF was led by Foday Saybana Sankoh, a former photographer and cashiered Sierra
Leone Army (SLA) corporal who had been imprisoned for participating in a coup
against the Sierra Leone government in 1971. Sankoh and Taylor are both reported
to have received military training in Libya in the late 1980s. Sankoh and his
associates are said to have assisted Taylor’s armed civil war faction, the National
Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) at the start of its insurgency. In early 1991, Sankoh
and a small cadre of Sierra Leonean dissidents and economic refugees who supported
him were reportedly supplied by Taylor with arms and a small force of Burkinabe
mercenaries and Liberian fighters. The group then launched incursions into Sierra
Leone’s border areas. Taylor is alleged to have supported the RUF for several related
! To counter a threat to the NPFL posed by the backing of the Sierra Leonean
government, then led by Joseph Momoh, for a rival Liberian rebel faction
called ULIMO, which was comprised of Liberian ethnic Krahn and Mandingo
refugees who had fled NPFL attacks. It initially operated out of Sierra
! To retaliate against the Momoh government’s support for ECOMOG, the
Monitoring Group of the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS), a regional military force that had intervened to halt the Liberian
! Because the RUF’s destabilization of eastern Sierra Leone allowed the NPFL
to gain control of commerce in the diamond-rich border region.
Taylor is also believed to have held a personal grudge against the Momoh
government, which reportedly jailed him in the late 1980s and later refused to allow
Liberian exiled dissidents associated with Taylor to operate out of Sierra Leone.
Close ties between Taylor and the RUF continued after the end of the Liberian
civil war and Taylor’s 1997 election as President of Liberia. The RUF acted as a
source of funds and regional control for Taylor. The RUF reportedly obtained arms,
logistical support, and supplies from Liberia by trading illegally-mined Sierra
Leonean diamonds with the Taylor government.2 Taylor’s critics, including the U.S.
See, among other sources, CRS Report RL30751, Diamonds and Conflict: Policy
Proposals and Background; CRS Report RL30933, Liberia: Country Background and U.S.
Policy; United Nations, Report of the Panel of Experts Pursuant to Security Council
Resolution 1343 (2001), Paragraph 19, Concerning Liberia, S/2001/1015, October 26,
government, repeatedly denounced such ties. They also charged that the Liberian
government continued to trade in Sierra Leonean diamonds following the imposition
of U.N. sanctions banning such trade.
A U.N. sanctions monitoring panel reported in late 2000 that it had found
“unequivocal and overwhelming evidence that Liberia has been supporting the RUF
at all levels, in providing training, weapons and related materiel, logistical support,
a staging ground for attacks, and a safe haven for retreat and cooperation.”3 The panel
also described patterns of trade in diamonds between the RUF and Liberia and
documented the shipment of weapons to the rebels through Liberia and other
countries in the region. It described evidence establishing that the RUF had been
trained alongside Liberian security forces and asserted that arms for the RUF had
passed through other countries in the region. Subsequent sanctions panels have
continued to document Liberian government sanctions violations, most recently in
April 2002, although they have also reported a sharp decrease in the Liberian-Sierra
Leonean diamond trade in late 2001 and early 2002.
Liberia is currently under U.N. Security Council sanctions as a result of its
support for the RUF.4 The sanctions demand that the Liberian government:
! Cease its financial and military support for the RUF in Sierra Leone, and for
other armed rebel groups in the region;
! Expel all RUF members and prohibit all RUF activities in Liberia;
! Freeze all financial resources in Liberia that benefit the RUF;
! Cease all imports of Sierra Leonean rough diamonds not controlled through
the Sierra Leone government’s Certificate of Origin export control system;
! Ground all Liberian aircraft until the Liberian government is able to update
and verify the ownership and registration status of all aircraft in its national
The resolutions also prohibit the import of all rough diamonds from Liberia,
whether or not such diamonds originate in Liberia; prohibit travel to or through any
U.N. member state of senior members of the Liberian government, or of their
families or associates; and prohibit the international sale or supply to Liberia of arms
and related materiel of all types, and the provision of technical training related to the
provision, manufacture, or maintenance of such materiel. The United States has
2001, and the panels’s prior report (S/2000/1195, December 20, 2000); United Nations,
“Sierra Leone parties still mining diamonds illegally, Security Council says,” UN News,
December 13, 2001; Douglas Farah, “Al Qaeda Cash Tied to Diamond Trade,” Washington
Post, November 2, 2001, A1; “S. Leone Rebels Said Bypassing ‘Blood Diamond’ Ban,”
Reuters, March 28, 2001; and Norimitsu Onishi. “Africa Diamond Hub Defies Smuggling
Rules,” New York Times, January 2, 2001.
U.N., “Report by the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to Security Council Resolution
1306 (2000), Paragraph 19, in Relation to Sierra Leone,” S/2000/1195, December 2000.
See U.N. Security Council resolutions S/RES/1408, May 6, 2002; S/RES/1395, February
27, 2002; and S/RES/1343, March 7, 2001.
supported the U.N. sanctions regime by implementing unilateral sanctions against
International criticism and pressure on Taylor to end all ties with the RUF have
persisted, despite vigorous and repeated assertions by President Taylor and Liberian
diplomats that they have not traded in diamonds and no longer support the RUF.
Liberian government comments on the RUF have been nuanced and opaque. In late
2001, for instance, Liberian Foreign Minister Monie Captan, said a 2001 U.N.
sanctions monitoring report was based on “misinformation” and “half truths.” In
January 2001, Mr. Taylor stated that the Liberian government
has never denied our knowledge of RUF. However, we have always rejected and
continue to reject any claims that this contact is commercial or economic in
nature. Quite to the contrary, our relationship with RUF and our corresponding
security concerns are... an expected response to successive Sierra Leonean
Governments’ active support and arming of Liberian dissident groups resident
in Sierra Leone... [who] have stated and demonstrated that their objective is to
overthrow the Liberian Government by force of arms.5
The RUF-Taylor relationship appears increasingly to have become one based
on economic exchange, rather than a political allegiance, although Taylor appears to
have closer ties with some RUF elements than others. News accounts indicate that
in late 2000 and in 2001, RUF fighters entered northern Liberia and southern Guinea,
which the Liberian government has for several years accused of sponsoring various
anti-Taylor rebel groups, to assist Liberia in countering an armed opposition group.
The group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), seeks to
overthrow Taylor. A number of RUF fighters are reported to be supporting Taylor’s
efforts in return for promises of compensation, possibly including opportunities to
loot – an economic activity that has been associated with conflict in the Mano River
region throughout the 1990s.
Foday Sankoh. Until August 2000, when the RUF elected Issa Sesay as an
interim leader, the RUF was headed by Sankoh. Sankoh was sentenced to death for
treason in 1998 in Sierra Leone, after being repatriated from Nigeria, where he had
been placed under arrest by Nigerian authorities while visiting. The sentence was
later commuted under a 1999 peace deal.
He was taken into Sierra Leonean government custody after a May 2000 public
demonstration in Freetown against RUF atrocities, which Sankoh’s bodyguards fired
upon, killing 21. In the fracas that followed, Sankoh hid within his compound but
was apprehended a week later by members of the public and handed over to the SLA.
Sankoh was detained by the Sierra Leone government under the wartime state of
emergency that prevailed until March 1,2002, when it was lifted to allow for
elections to take place. On March 4, he was formally charged by the government with
70 criminal offenses, including murder, along with 49 other RUF members. The
action allowed the government to continue to legally detain him. Sankoh has declared
that he is innocent of the charges, although he has not formally entered a plea. His
U.N., “Letter dated 24 January 2001 from the Permanent Representative of Liberia to the
United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General,” S/2001/78, January 24, 2001.
trial was reportedly adjourned because the government could find a lawyer to
represent him. In addition to the March 4 charges, Sankoh is expected to be tried for
wartime human rights abuses by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (see below).
International officials familiar with the Sierra Leone crisis have declared Sankoh a
discredited figure in the peace process, and the government has declared him
ineligible to run as a presidential candidate.
RUF Political Agenda. The RUF’s political agenda reflects a loose set of
radical-populist ideas and purports to provide a means for empowering the
disenfranchised in a historical context of state corruption and violence. It was rarely
articulated in much detail during most of the 1990s.6 Its public political statements
consisted primarily of condemnations of the government, anti-British statements, and
warnings to the population that they should not support the government. Its message,
as illustrated prior to the 1996 elections and during the 1997 and 1999 invasions of
Freetown, was clear: voting or otherwise supporting the government could result in
severe physical punishment, including mutilation or death. The RUF’s unclear
political agenda, together with persistent RUF attacks on civilians and the group’s
systematic violation of multiple peace accords, caused many analysts to dismiss the
group as essentially a criminal element motivated primarily by the desire to control
diamonds and other resources.
In early 2000, the group published an Internet web site in apparent anticipation
of its planned transformation into a political party, the RUF Party (RUFP), as per the
Lomé Peace Accord (see below)7. The site calls for an end to oppression, corruption,
and social injustice, and “radical social transformation” leading to free education,
medical care, and self sufficiency; and “arms ... power ... and wealth to the people.”
Recent RUFP activities have focused on secure funding and office facilities for its
political party activities prior to May elections. Nigeria has also reportedly sponsored
the training of party organizers. The RUF/RUFP has frequently leveled accusations
against the government charging, for instance, that it is subservient to British
government and business interests, and has focused much attention on its bid to seek
the freedom of Sankoh.
Late 1990s: Developments in the
Sierra Leone Conflict
AFRC/RUF Junta, ECOMOG, and UNOMSIL
In late May 1997, a military coup calling itself the Armed Forces Revolutionary
Council (AFRC), led by Major Johnny Paul Koroma, ousted the Kabbah government,
elected in March 1996 elections during the country’s first multiparty national election
The movement’s early organizers were reportedly influenced by The Green Book of Libya’s
Muammar al-Qadhafi. The RUF produced a 1995 manifesto called Footpaths to Democracy:
Toward a New Sierra Leone. See the Sierra Leone Web site on the Internet at
in over a decade. The action derailed a November 1996 peace agreement, the Abidjan
Accord. The AFRC subsequently invited the RUF to share political power. RUF
fighters entered the capital, and chaos reigned for several months. Many human rights
violations, looting, and related acts by AFRC/RUF forces were reported, and the
international community strongly criticized the junta, labeling it illegitimate.
International Opposition to AFRC/RUF. In October 1997, the U.N.
Security Council imposed an oil and arms embargo on the AFRC/RUF and
authorized ECOMOG to use force to implement the sanctions. In January 1998,
ECOMOG, responding to an attack by AFRC/RUF forces, drove the rebel regime out
of Freetown, the capital, and reinstated the Kabbah government in March 1998. The
Security Council then ended its embargo on the Sierra Leone government – but
maintained it for non-governmental forces. It also strengthened the office of the U.N.
Special Envoy by expanding it to include military liaison and security advisory
functions and personnel. In July 1998, the Security Council established the United
Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) to monitor the conflict and
advise on disarmament efforts and military restructuring. Unarmed UNOMSIL teams,
under ECOMOG protection, documented many human rights atrocities and abuses
against civilians by parties to the conflict. Fighting continued throughout the year.
In January 1999, the RUF again entered and captured Freetown, before being
expelled by ECOMOG, then the Kabbah government’s main source of defense and
security. Before departing, the rebels looted and burned much of Freetown and
attacked civilians, leaving hundreds of dead and injured, in an action they dubbed
“Operation No Living Thing.”
The July 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement
Despite the government’s recapture of Freetown, the military situation remained
stalemated, with the rebel alliance holding much of the countryside. In May 1999,
President Kabbah began negotiations with the RUF. A peace deal, preceded by a
cease-fire and a decrease in the number of RUF attacks, was struck in Lomé, Togo
on July 7, 1999. The agreement (“Lomé” hereafter) provided for the termination of
hostilities, the RUF’s transformation into a conventional political party, and the
formation of a government of national unity.8 Among other provisions, Lomé granted
amnesty to all combatants, stipulated a disarmament process, and created a powersharing arrangement that gave the RUF several cabinet posts. The United States
actively supported the peace negotiations and the resulting accord. Rev. Jesse
Jackson, then the Clinton Administration’s Special Envoy for Democracy in Africa,
helped mediate the pre-accord cease-fire. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
traveled to Freetown in October 1999, where she met with President Kabbah, and
later with ex-rebel leaders, whom she reportedly urged forcefully to heed the terms
Lomé: Contrasting Views. Critics of Lomé condemned it as an act of
appeasement to a brutal, armed criminal group that had broken all earlier peace
agreements, systematically committed massive human rights violations, and had no
Text of accord available online: [http://www.Sierra-Leone.org/lomeaccord.html].
plan to share in or reform governance. Critics said that RUF’s violent actions were
being rewarded with political power, and that the RUF would merely wait for
ECOMOG to withdraw and then stage another coup. They criticized Lomé provisos
allowing the RUF to hold top political offices without being elected, and the blanket
amnesty that it afforded to RUF forces, noting that they had long been accused of
diverse, devastating criminal actions.
Lomé defenders argued that many years of military tactics had failed to end the
insurgency, that halting the extended conflict and extensive human rights abuses was
paramount, and that negotiation was therefore necessary. They noted that Lomé gave
the RUF largely symbolic governmental posts; provided for substantial political
reform and a variety of checks and balances to ensure transparent governance; and
broadened participation in government. They also noted that Lomé allowed the
government, if necessary, to “seek the assistance and cooperation of other
governments and their instruments of law enforcement to detect and facilitate the
prosecution of violations” of the accord, including human rights violations under
international human rights laws. The Special Court for Sierra Leone (see below) has
been interpreted as an instantiation of this provision.
In the months after Lomé was signed, many of its provisions were violated.
Rebels attacked population centers, inflicting extreme human rights abuses. In
August 1999, UNOMSIL and ECOMOG personnel were taken hostage by AFRC
elements, and UNOMSIL personnel were detained by the RUF.
To assist the parties to implement Lomé, the U.N. Security Council in October
1999 terminated UNOMSIL and replaced it with the U.N. Mission in Sierra Leone,
UNAMSIL. Since its formation, UNAMSIL’s mandate and authority have been
augmented several times. Its core mandate “integrates military and civilian aspects
and envisages the deployment, in successive phases, into RUF-controlled areas of
UNAMSIL troops, [U.N.] civil affairs, civilian police and human rights personnel,
representatives of humanitarian agencies, and government personnel and assets to
establish and consolidate State authority and basic services in these areas.”9 On
March 30, 2001, the Security Council increased UNAMSIL’s maximum military
component to 17,500. As of late December 31, 2001, the total number of
UNAMSIL’s military, observer, and police personnel stood at 17,420. The budget of
UNAMSIL from July 2001 to June 2002 totaled $699.2 million. For the mandate
period ending on March 30, 2002, estimated U.N. costs totaled $137.5 million, while
estimated U.S. costs totaled $37.93 million.10 There are no plans for U.S. troops to
U.N., Ninth Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra
Leone, S/2001/228, March 14, 2001.
Information from U.N. and U.S. Department of State briefing, January 10, 2002. See also
join UNAMSIL, but West African forces have been trained with U.S. assistance, in
an effort dubbed Operation Focus Relief, for possible peacekeeping duties in Sierra
Leone. Two OFR-trained Nigerian units have been deployed to Sierra Leone as part
UNAMSIL Deployment. In October and November 2000, before the full
deployment of UNAMSIL, security conditions deteriorated rapidly. RUF and AFRC
elements fought against each other several heavy battles, the RUF captured large
areas, and ECOMOG engaged in several armed confrontations with RUF fighters.
Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of RUF, AFRC/ex-SLA and
CDF fighters, provided for under Lomé, progressed slowly and not at all in many
In late 1999, ECOMOG troops began to redeploy to their home countries, as
UNAMSIL gradually assumed peacekeeping responsibilities. In January 2000,
UNAMSIL troops were detained, attacked, and disarmed in several confrontations
with RUF fighters, who also seized U.N. weapons and equipment. Some items were
later returned. The RUF continued to attack rural towns, maintained roadblocks
prohibited by Lomé, and repeatedly impeded the operation of UNAMSIL. By midApril 2000, ECOMOG had substantially reduced its presence, having handed over
peacekeeping duties to UNAMSIL, to which Nigeria agreed to contribute troops.
More than 9,500 UNAMSIL personnel were deployed by mid-May. DDR progress
was limited and was increasingly obstructed by RUF fighters. Many of the
institutions and processes provided for by Lomé, e.g., the Commissions for Human
Rights, National Elections, and the Consolidation of Peace, were initiated. RUF
participation was negligible, however, despite ongoing statements of support by RUF
leaders. By April, the U.N. claimed that nearly half of the country’s estimated 45,000
former combatants had turned in their weapons. But with increasing frequency, RUF
fighters confronted and disarmed U.N. peacekeepers, and RUF forces maintained
control over most diamond-mining areas. The conflict continued.
May 2000 U.N. Hostage Crisis. On May 1, 2000, a series of events began
that culminated in armed hostilities between UNAMSIL and the RUF, and mass
hostage-taking of U.N. personnel by the RUF. At a DDR camp, RUF fighters
demanded that UNAMSIL hand over disarmed RUF fighters and a UNAMSIL
observer. UNAMSIL personnel refused and denied the RUF entry into the camp.
RUF forces responded by detaining seven UNAMSIL personnel, entering and
destroying part of the camp, and looting the nearby town. The same day, another
DDR camp was surrounded by RUF fighters. The RUF subsequently besieged U.N.
facilities throughout the country. It systematically disarmed and took many U.N.
troops hostage. On May 6, panic beset the residents of Freetown, after the U.N.
erroneously reported a RUF advance on Freetown. By May 8 the RUF reportedly held
CRS Issue Brief IB90103, United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress.
See “Operation Focus Relief [OFR],” United States European Command
[http://www.eucom.mil/directorates/ecpa/operations/ofr.htm] and CRS Report RS20659,
U.S. Military Training of West African Forces for Peacekeeping. OFR is further discussed
about 500 U.N. personnel, although UNAMSIL personnel successfully fought or
resisted detention in several cases. The RUF continued to violently confront, ambush,
and take hostage U.N. units sent to halt the increasing violence.
At least nine U.N. personnel died as a result of the upsurge in RUF violence, but
the majority of the U.N. hostages were released between mid-May and late June.12
Most were transported to and released in Liberia. Their release was consistently
reported as having resulted from negotiations between the RUF and Charles Taylor
of Liberia. His mediation assistance had been requested by a May 8, 2000 Mano
River Union summit and the U.N. Some analysts have attributed the releases to close
RUF-Taylor ties rather than to skillful diplomacy on Taylor’s part. In late June, 21
more U.N. peacekeepers were abducted and later released in Liberia. Days later,
other U.N. operations were attacked by the RUF.
Operation Khukry. In mid-July 2000, UNAMSIL successfully carried out
“Operation Khukry,”an armed rescue of 233 UNAMSIL personnel held hostage in
the eastern town of Kailahun. The operation was seen as helping to restore a measure
of confidence in UNAMSIL’s ability to enforce its mandate. However, in September,
long-standing discord between the Indian UNAMSIL commander, Major-General
Vijay Jetley, and Nigerian deputy UNAMSIL officials erupted in public. At issue
were allegations of Nigerian commercial collaboration with the RUF in diamond
dealing and leadership conflicts over operational matters. These became public after
a confidential memorandum authored by Jetley was leaked to the press.13 The
controversy, along with Jetley’s stated frustration over lack of resources for
UNAMSIL, reportedly motivated him to give up his post. The phased withdrawal of
Indian troop contingents followed. Subsequently Jordan, a key troop contributor,
implemented a long-held threat to withdraw from UNAMSIL. It contended that rich
western nations had failed to make significant troop contributions to UNAMSIL,
thereby unfairly placing on developing countries the burden of carrying out the often
dangerous UNAMSIL mission. In November 2000, Kenyan Lieutenant General
Daniel Ishmael Opande arrived in Sierra Leone to replace the departed Jetley.
Lomé Accord Questioned. The events of May and June 2000 caused the
viability and status of the Lomé Accord – the formal framework for peace – to come
into question. In a June 2000 speech, President Kabbah reportedly stated that the
actions of the RUF had flagrantly violated the Accord and amounted to a revocation
by the RUF of its Lomé commitments. He stated that the government reserves the
right not to be bound by all of the Accord’s provisions.
West Side Boys. In late August 2000, eleven members of the Royal Irish
Regiment, part of a team of about 400 British military troops then training the SLA,
U.N., Fifth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone,
S/2000/751, July 31, 2000. At least a total of 59 UNAMSIL personnel – 55 military
personnel, 2 military observers, and 2 others – had died in the course of the operation as of
December 31, 2001. See U.N., UNAMSIL Facts and Figures, available on the U.N. web site
A copy of the Jetley memo, “Report on the Crisis in Sierra Leone,” is available on Sierra
Leone web site [http://www.Sierra-Leone.org/jetley0500.html].
were abducted while on patrol by a rogue force of ex-SLA soldiers and bandits
known as the West Side Boys, a group known for its extensive and violent criminal
history. Negotiations ensued with the group, resulting in the release of five hostages,
but later broke down. On September 10, responding to a breakdown in
communication and violent threats from the West Side Boys, British forces carried
out an armed rescue operation of the captives.
RUF Leadership Changes and Improved Peace Prospects
In late August 2000, chief RUF field commander Issa Sesay was elected by the
RUF as its leader, replacing Sankoh. His selection followed a meeting in Liberia of
West African leaders. In order to salvage Lomé, they convinced the RUF to replace
Sankoh.14 The leadership change raised the possibility that the Lomé Accord could
be resurrected or that a new peace deal could be struck. In mid-November 2000, a
30-day cease-fire between the RUF and the government was signed in Abuja, Nigeria
under the auspices of ECOWAS. It required a renewed UNAMSIL-monitored
cease-fire; renewed efforts to restore state authority by allowing the free movement
of persons, goods and relief agencies, throughout Sierra Leone and UNAMSIL
deployment to all areas under its mandate, including the diamond areas. It required
the RUF to return all U.N. weapons and equipment it had seized and to resume the
disarmament and demobilization process. It also called for an accelerated
restructuring and retraining of an inclusive national military, and required the Civil
Defense Force to be disarmed and demobilized. A series of RUF and UNAMSIL
leadership meetings followed the cease-fire period; further meetings followed
between local officials of these parties and with CDF and civilian organizations.
Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Resumes.
The November Abuja cease-fire agreement provided the basis for a resumption of
disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR), which had been disrupted by
the events of May and June 2000. In December 2000, the National Commission on
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration considered a revised operational
plan for the DDR program. It provided for an enlarged role for UNAMSIL, and
echoed the recommendations of a team that had reviewed the role of the U.N. in
DDR activities in September 2000. New tasks included:
(a) Disarmament: liaison with fighting forces and commanders; provision of
adequate security; identification and establishment of reception/ disarmament
centres; collection and disabling of weapons and ammunition; screening of
ex-combatants’ eligibility to enrol in the disarmament, demobilization and
reintegration programme; registration and transportation of ex-combatants from
the disarmament sites to the demobilization centres, as well as transportation of
disabled weapons and ammunition; inventory, storage and destruction of
(b) Demobilization: provision of adequate security at the camps; issuance of
identification cards; transfer of child ex-combatants to interim centres; formal
Some RUF statements at the time of the leadership change asserted that Sesay’s election
was an interim measure that would be valid only until Sankoh’s release from prison – an
outcome that has been continually advocated by the RUF/RUFP.
discharge of ex-combatants from the camps; field coordination of demobilization
centre activities... [and occasional] transportation for ex-combatants to the
To support DDR activities and the anticipated resumption of full-scale
reintegration activities, in government-controlled areas, U.N. agencies initiated
community-based projects designed to aid the resettlement of ex-combatants,
returning refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs). These included the
rehabilitation of basic housing, educational, health and sanitation facilities, and roads
and bridges. Security conditions in RUF-controlled areas continued to hamper
full-scale resettlement and reintegration programming. The U.N. Development
Program (UNDP) undertook a range of efforts to strengthen the National
Commission for Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.
Slow Progress and a Fragile Process. Despite many positive signs,
progress toward peace remained mixed. Some RUF elements reportedly opposed the
renewed peace process under Sesay’s leadership and were said to be unwilling to
demobilize or to give up territory, particularly in diamond-rich areas.16 More
worrisome were a series of armed incursions into southwestern and southeastern
Guinea – allegedly undertaken by RUF fighters – from Sierra Leonean territory and
from Liberia. These attacks began in September 2000 and continued periodically in
early 2001. The Guinean government attributed the raids to domestic opponents and
to RUF units targeting Sierra Leonean refugee communities and nearby towns in
Guinea. In the first quarter of 2001, Guinea responded aggressively, reportedly
defeating many of its attackers. On multiple occasions in 2000 and 2001, it attacked
RUF strongholds inside Sierra Leone, in some cases with mortars and helicopter gun
ships. Such attacks often coincided with armed strikes by the pro-government CDF
on RUF positions in eastern Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leonean and Guinean
governments have reportedly agreed to coordinate their military strategies.
Progress Toward Peace in 2001
The Abuja agreement, military pressure on the RUF, widespread sentiment
among Sierra Leoneans in favor of peace, and U.N. sanctions against the Liberian
government, long a sponsor of the RUF, appear to have caused the RUF to cooperate
in the implementation of the U.N.-sponsored Disarmament, Demobilization, and
Reintegration (DDR) program in Sierra Leone throughout 2001. Progress, though
slow-paced and subject to frequent temporary setbacks, appeared to result from a
shared U.N. and the Sierra Leone government policy approach that simultaneously
emphasized strong military deterrence and continuing political dialogue between the
U.N., Eighth Report of the Secretary-general on the United Nations Mission in Sierra
Leone, S/2000/1199, December 15, 2000, pp. 5, 6.
Press accounts have periodically reported disagreements within the RUF leadership. In the
past, such allegations have raised the possibility that the national leadership might not be
able to implement its decisions locally or exert organizational control over field
commanders. Challenges to the leadership have also come from certain RUF factions. For
instance, Sam Bockarie, an RUF commander until recently exiled in Liberia, has
periodically threatened to return to Sierra Leone, possibly to challenge the RUF leadership.
parties to the conflict. Some progress may have occurred as a result of events in
Liberia. In 2000 and 2001, small groups of RUF fighters reportedly crossed into
Liberia to assist the Liberian government to suppress a growing rebellion then
centered in Lofa County in northern Liberia.
DDR Advances. Full-fledged DDR did not begin until late May 2001, after
the RUF, the government and UNAMSIL had held several meetings focusing on new
disarmament modalities and timetables, responsibilities of the parties, monitoring
mechanisms, and related issues. As DDR efforts began anew in early 2001, the
government faced problems in tracking the status and whereabouts of thousands of
ex-combatants who had earlier entered into the DDR process but not completed it,
especially after the breakdown of security in mid-2000.
After mid-May 2001, the DDR program began to be implemented rapidly.
About 2,100 RUF and 4,300 CDF fighters reportedly disarmed between May 18 and
July, and the RUF released hundreds of child soldiers and other abductees held by the
RUF. Local tensions between local RUF and CDF were resolved in some areas. The
RUF reopened key roads and returned limited numbers of vehicles and other items
seized from the U.N. during the May crisis. It also agreed to assist the U.N. in
locating and exhuming the remains of UNAMSIL personnel killed during the
violence. In areas where disarmament had proceeded, it was followed by U.N. and
newly trained SLA deployments, and government began to extend its authority into
formerly RUF-controlled areas.
DDR Program Improvements. In mid-2001, the U.N. saw a need for better
linking of DDR programs and for better long-term civilian reintegration assistance,
including strengthening of linkages between various multilaterally and bilaterally
funded community reintegration programs. The World Food Program (WFP)
resumed food deliveries to ex-combatants in DDR camps and pre-positioned food
stocks in preparation for full-scale resumption of DDR.
Some CDF and RUF commanders and ex-combatants expressed a lack of
understanding about the DDR program. In response, UNAMSIL sought to increase
sensitization and public awareness efforts “to avoid any unrealistic expectations and
disappointments that could, as has happened before, lead to disturbances and
instability.”17 The U.N. feared the reformation of disenfranchised groups that might
again destabilize the country and region and emphasized the need to create
income-earning opportunities for ex-combatants as part of broad efforts to revive the
The government planned, pending the receipt of adequate financial resources,
to provide each ex-combatant who registered at a regional reintegration center with
a reinsertion package, worth about $200, consisting of food supplies, materials, and
cash to assist with shelter, food, and health care needs. In March 2002, the U.N.
reported that all disarmed combatants had received initial reinsertion payments. The
government also established a short-term reintegration program for ex-combatants
U.N., Tenth Report of the Secretary-general on the United Nations Mission in Sierra
Leone, S/2001/627, June 25, 2001, p. 5.
following their demobilization encompassing vocational training, agriculture,
apprenticeships, public works, child reintegration, and dependent support. The
National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration set up
regional reintegration offices. A camp for the mustering and screening of possible
recruits for the newly retrained Sierra Leone Army was established. Many weapons
collected from disarmed ex-combatants were converted into agricultural and other
UNICEF, the lead agency for DDR with respect to child soldiers, continued to
support emergency care, family tracing and reunification, and rehabilitation and
reintegration activities. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) augmented
the provision of basic relief services. DDR programming also involved extending
micro-credit to the dependents of ex-combatants and planning for the ex-combatants’
training in agriculture, vocational training, and small enterprise development; formal
education and public works began.
Threats to DDR Progress
Funding. An on-going challenge for the government and UNAMSIL has been
to ensure that adequate resources are available for reintegration and resettlement of
IDPs, returning refugees, and ex-combatants. A donors’ conference for Sierra Leone
was held in June 2001. It focused on assistance needed for DDR programming
supported by the World Bank-managed Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Sierra Leone. No
donors made pledges during the conference. Many, however, expressed support for
reported DDR progress and the presentation of the Sierra Leone government
delegation, which included a top RUF representative. As of September 2001, pledges
amounting to $13.9 million had been received, but the amount fell short of estimated
The Sierra Leone consolidated U.N. appeal for 2001 remained underfunded, at
about 40% by mid-year. In early February 2002, a donor conference was held to
consider funding of the consolidated U.N. appeal for 2002 and to mobilize funds for
resettlement and reintegration activities. In late March 2002, the United States
contributed $1.9 million to fund ex-combatant reinsertion payments. Other U.S.
funding (see below) supports related efforts, such as the USAID Youth Reintegration
Training and Education for Peace programs in Sierra Leone. The World Food
Program (WFP) warned in early March 2002 that its regional emergency programs
in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone would run out of food by June unless new
pledges for humanitarian aid were received.18 According to a March 2002 U.N.
report, the government-managed reintegration program lacks $13.48 million for
budgeted 2002 activities.
Security Concerns. Progress toward peace was threatened by the arrest of
the SLA chief of army training in early June 2001, after an arms cache was
discovered at his home. In May, June, and July, the Guinean army attacked RUF
positions in Sierra Leone, as did the CDF – in violation of the cease-fire. In response,
the RUF temporarily suspended disarmament in mid-July 2001 in demand for the
Africa News Service, “US Contributes $1.9 Million to DDR,” March 27, 2002.
release of their jailed leaders. The process remained fragile, and distrust among some
armed elements was said to persist.19 Many CDF fighters reportedly turned over old
weapons and turned in proportionally fewer weapons than RUF fighters, who were
said to be turning over newer weapons at a ratio of one gun per fighter. In late July,
the RUF prevented a large convoy of government police officers from deploying in
the rebel-held city of Makeni in northern Bombali District, as per earlier agreements.
To facilitate disarmament in Kono, in July, a moratorium on diamond mining
in the district was agreed to by the Joint Committee on DDR, made up of
representatives of UNAMSIL, the government, and the RUF.20 The agreement could
not be enforced. Illegal mining activities continued, but disarmament progressed, and
further efforts to suspend mining continued over the succeeding months. In August,
as a peace process confidence-building measure prior to a meeting over several
contested DDR issues, the government freed 41 jailed RUF leaders.21 They included
Pallo Bangura, the RUF’s acting secretary-general and a former energy minister in
the Lomé coalition government before May 2000, and Daniel Kallon, RUFP
By September 2001, disarmament had been completed in four districts,
including diamond-rich Kono district, although clashes there between RUF and some
CDF elements. The latter was reportedly operating outside the national CDF
command structure, hindered the initial stages of local disarmament. These were
investigated and mediated, where possible, by UNAMSIL. The Joint Committee on
DDR continued to meet regularly to map out subsequent DDR activities,
implementation of which was reportedly aided by the government’s release on
August 9 of the 41 RUF detainees. Little additional U.N. equipment seized by the
RUF was returned. The RUF in Makeni temporarily threatened to stop disarmament
over dissatisfaction related to the locale for weapons handover and allegations that
CDF fighters were not being disarmed. In late September, ex-combatants in Freetown
rioted over delays in the payment of their DDR reinsertion packages, underlining the
urgent need to fund reintegration activities. Reinsertion package payment began in
Civilian Disarmament. In October and November 2001, the Joint Committee
on DDR agreed to initiate the collection of civilian-held shotguns and small arms.
These had been excluded from the UNAMSIL-monitored disarmament program. This
voluntary disarmament program, undertaken by the Sierra Leone police force, began
in November 2001 and was expected to have been completed by March 2002. In
Kono, disarmed CDF and RUF ex-fighters clashed over mining claims in late
September 2001. In newly disarmed areas, for which long-term reintegration funds
were not yet available, the UNDP and Britain funded short-term bridging projects in
which ex-combatants repaired roads and rehabilitated public buildings.
Associated Press, “UN Finds Bodies Of 10 Killed By Sierra Leone Rebels,” July 30, 2001.
Associated Press, “Sierra Leone Rebels, Govt Sign Pact To Resume Disarming,” July 17,
2001, inter alia.
The RUF later asserted that only 17 of its members were released, not 41, and that the
released prisoners were only a fraction of the 121 RUF members that the group claimed
were being held by the government and that some of those released were not RUF members.
New RUF Demands. In early November 2001 – by which time 29,000 exfighters had, since May 18, given up their weapons – the government released more
RUF detainees prior to a meeting with the RUF on DDR issues. However, shortly
afterward, in mid-November just prior to the start of disarmament in the diamondrich, volatile town of Tongo Field, RUF leader Issa Sesay ordered his forces to halt
disarmament. The RUF sought to demonstrate its disagreement with the decision by
the National Consultative Conference to create a new national electoral system (see
below) and again sought the release of Foday Sankoh. During a December U.N.RUF meeting on the delay, Sesay presented new demands. He called for the creation
of a trust fund to aid the RUF in transforming itself into a political party and the
revival of the Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources, headed by
Sankoh under the Lomé Peace Agreement prior to May 2000. Other RUF demands
included confirmation of the RUF’s registration for presidential and parliamentary
elections and guarantees for their security once they disarmed. The delays caused the
extension to January 5 of the disarmament program, which was to have ended
War Ends. By mid-December 2001, disarmament of combatants was
completed in 10 of Sierra Leone’s 12 districts. The total number of ex-combatants
disarmed exceeded prior projections. This depleted the already scarce resources
available for DDR and strained logistical provisions for reintegration. UNAMSIL,
which reached its maximum authorization of 17,500 personnel, deployed to all 12
districts, and the government continued to extend its authority into formerly RUFcontrolled areas.
On January 12, 2002, after the official end of the disarmament process January
4, 11 RUF commanders turned in their weapons in the eastern town of Kailahun.
UNAMSIL commander Daniel Opande, along with the government and RUF leaders,
declared the conflict over. News accounts, however, reported that some excombatants were continuing to turn in weapons after the deadline. The process was
officially ended after a January 17 meeting in Freetown of the Joint Committee on
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. The next day, a symbolic weapons
burning ceremony was held to mark the end of the war and the disarmament of a total
of 46,500 combatants. Following the end of disarmament, UNAMSIL planned to
conduct a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the exercise. A March
2002 U.N. report on UNAMSIL noted that many U.N. weapons and equipment
seized by the RUF remained unaccounted for.
Transition to Peace: Post-Conflict Issues
As the end of disarmament drew near, increasing attention focused on the
creation of processes and institutions designed to lay the basis for long-term stability.
These include the implementation of national elections; the creation of a Special
Court for Sierra Leone, as well as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and
military reform and retraining.
Overview. Many observers see the May 14, 2002 elections as the best hope for
a durable peace in Sierra Leone and as the foundation of post-conflict reconstruction
of political, economic, and institutional life. Widespread disenfranchisement was a
key grievance cited by the RUF during the war, and the elections will allow the RUF
to complete its on-going transformation from an armed rebel movement into a
conventional political opposition party. The May 14 poll is also important because
elections have been repeatedly postponed. The current government’s term has been
twice extended by parliament under war-time emergency constitutional provisions,
leading some government opponents to question its legitimacy. In addition, certain
Lomé provisions are theoretically contingent upon the holding of elections. The
electoral process is currently under way. In early April 2002, campaigning began
following the close of the party and candidate registration processes.
Early Election Results. Voter turnout on May 14 was reported to be high.
Initial reported returns indicated that Kabbah was winning the vote with over 70 %
of votes counted overall. By contrast, military personnel – who cast their ballots prior
to the public’s vote – were said to have voted heavily in favor of former AFRC junta
leader Johnny Paul Koroma. He was said to have received over 70% of the military
vote, while Kabbah had garnered around 18%. If no candidate wins 55% of the
presidential vote, a run-off between the top two candidates will follow. In
simultaneous parliamentary elections, parties must receive 12.5% or more of the vote
to receive seats in the legislature. Minor and scattered irregularities were reported
during polling, possibly including under-age and double voting. The preceding
campaign was peaceful, apart from one major incident, in which ruling Sierra Leone
People’s Party (SLPP) supporters clashed with those of the RUFP. The incident
turned into a small riot, in which RUFP offices were attacked and RUFP members
attacked by crowds; it was broken up by UNAMSIL troops.
Background. Presidential elections were constitutionally mandated to be held
by February 2001 and parliamentary elections by May 2001. The constitution,
however, contains provisions that allow the parliament to extend the normal
presidential and parliamentary terms of 5 years by 6-month increments in times of
war. In January 2001, President Kabbah, citing the state of emergency and the poor
security situation, formally asked for such extensions. The parliament granted these
in mid-February and in March extended the state of emergency. It set out successful
demobilization and a satisfactory security environment as conditions for elections.
For elections documentation, see Information Relating to the May 2002 Elections in Sierra
The electoral postponement was widely expected. But government critics
asserted that in the absence of elections, the Kabbah government was losing
legitimacy, particularly given its failure to end the war and begin socio-economic
reconstruction. Opposition parties and the RUF called for the creation of an interim
government prior to the end of the government’s mandate in September and prior to
elections. In March 2001, a planned march in Freetown against the stay of elections
was refused a permit. Its organizers were arrested after a raid on the group’s
premises. Police claimed that they could not provide adequate security for the march
and alleged that the organizers were RUF associates. In the same month, the
National Electoral Commission (NEC) proposed an electoral schedule targeting late
October 2001 for candidate nominations and late December as an election deadline
– contingent upon a peaceful atmosphere. Some critics asserted that the poll date was
too soon, noting that progress toward peace remained fragile, and the RUF remained
armed. In the wake of calls for an interim government, Kabbah reshuffled his cabinet
in March 2001, adding figures from outside the ruling party.
In May 2001 the government stated its willingness to address some RUF
political concerns. These included the release of detained RUF leaders, some of
whom had died in custody; the transformation of RUF into a viable political party;
and the provision of land or building facilities to the party in the capital and
provinces, in order to enable the RUF to meet legal criteria related to the
establishment of national political parties. Also in May 2001, a U.N. team reviewed
with the NEC, UNAMSIL, and other actors the nature and timing of likely U.N.
electoral assistance, including the coordination and mobilization of electoral support
by international donors. In mid-June, the NEC requested U.N. technical and logistical
electoral assistance, including the dispatch of an electoral process observation team
and transport, communication, and security assistance. The U.N. also anticipated
providing civic education and anticipated a process of electoral monitoring
throughout the country involving diverse actors and international organizations, such
as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and ECOWAS.
In reports to the Security Council in June and September 2001,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan laid out key preconditions for free and fair elections.
These included the completion of DDR; the transformation of RUF into a political
party; nationwide restoration of civil authority and freedom of movement; the full
deployment of UNAMSIL and the Sierra Leone army to provide nationwide security;
and measures to accommodate the civic participation of internally displaced persons
and repatriating refugees.
In early September 2001, the government announced a new date for
parliamentary and presidential elections: May 14, 2002. In mid-September, the
parliament extended for six months the state of emergency and the term of president
Kabbah, despite repeated calls opposition calls for an interim government. The
government asserted that the constitution provides only for an extension of an
incumbent government; an interim government, in this view, would be
Electoral Reform. The May poll took place under a new electoral system.
Under the old system, parliamentary seats were divided among constituencies of
equal population. Parties nominated a national slate of party candidates, citizens
voted for their favored parties, and winning parties were allocated legislative seats
based upon their proportion of the national vote. In November 2001, a National
Consultative Conference that included representatives of the government, 23 political
parties, and civil society groups met in Freetown and endorsed a National Electoral
Commission electoral reform proposal known as the “District Block” system. Under
the system, each district, regardless of population size, holds a given number of
parliamentary seats. Electoral constituencies consist of Sierra Leone’s 12
administrative and two special electoral districts. Candidates for parliament are
selected from district-level party candidate lists, and voters elect their representative
from these lists. Candidates win based upon the percentage of votes their party
received in a given district. The national electorate as one single constituency directly
elects the president, choosing from among party-nominated candidates. Under the
system, 68 seats will be popularly elected, while the country’s 149 paramount chiefs
will elect 12 parliamentary representatives to the 80-seat parliament on May 5.
The system replaces the former electoral system, which would have required a
new national census and redrawn constituency boundaries. Such an undertaking was
seen as unfeasible by Conference delegates, given the short time remaining prior to
the scheduled May election date, a lack of resources, and a large displaced
population. The Sierra Leone’s parliament approved the new electoral system in
December 2001, but it remained controversial. The RUFP and other opposition
parties criticized it on the basis that it does not reflect population distributions;
constituencies with low populations would have the same power as densely
populated areas. The RUF halted disarmament in protest of the decision (see above)
but later assented to them. A mid-December 2001 opinion poll found that the new
electoral system is not well understood by the public. It also found that substantial
public skepticism exists about the objectivity of the NEC, which some see as
unreceptive to public input or as favoring the incumbent government. Only 48% of
poll respondents trusted the NEC to run free and fair elections, and 57% favored a
postponement of the May election date.
Progress Toward Elections. By late March 2002, 19 political parties had
fully registered to participate in the elections, but only 14 were said by Chief
Electoral Commissioner Walter Nicol to be fully functional. As of April 9, 2002,
candidates running for president included Pallo Bangura (RUFP); Ernest Bai Koroma
(APC); Raymond Bamidele Thompson (CUPP); Dr. Raymond Kamara (GAP);
Zainab Hawa Bangura (MOP); Johnny Paul Koroma (PLP); President Ahmad Tejan
Kabbah (SLPP); Dr. John Karefa-Smart (UNPP); and Andrew Duramani Turay
(YPP).23 According to NEC plans, 5,400 polling stations in about 3,000 locations
were being set up. The large number of stations was expected to strain the
organizational and financial resources of the NEC and national police. According to
the U.N., the NEC has estimated the cost of the elections at about $11.6 million. It
has proposed that the government would contribute $3.5 million of the total, while
the balance would be funded by donor governments. By mid-December 2001, the
government had funded $495,000 of this amount, and donor countries and
international organizations had pledged additional funding, but the total pledged left
Sierra Leone News, “April 9 ,” Sierra Leone Web.
an unfunded balance of $2.28 million. In an attempt to make up for the shortfall, the
UNDP created an Elections Trust Fund and funded it with $250,000 in seed money.
Voter Registration. Voter registration has been another contentious issue. A
key issue was the question of where and how refugees and internally displaced
persons (IDPs) would be registered to vote and where they would vote – in their
current place of residence, or in their home district. If the latter was required, it was
unclear how so many IDPs would be resettled in time for the voter registration. Many
refugees remain outside the country, and many repatriated refugees and IDPs remain
dislocated outside their normal districts of residence. The National Electoral
Commission (NEC) reportedly announced that refugees returning to Sierra Leone
before mid-April could register and vote by showing a UNHCR card as proof of
identity. General voter registration also faced problems. The process was delayed by
two weeks, following technical problems. The delay reportedly contributed to an
initially low registration turnout, the process was extended by three days, following
a surge in registrations. Over 2 million voters reportedly registered. Voter lists have
been publicly exhibited; objections or irregularities could be registered at district
regional offices. Although the NEC described the exercise as successful, the voter
registration process and associated expenses received substantial criticism in the
Sierra Leonean press.
Party Registration. Party registration was also point of contention. By the
beginning of January 2002, only seven parties had reportedly met registration
requirements, such as the acquisition of offices in all of Sierra Leone’s regions.24 The
slow party registration process may have been due to pre-election hedging and
alliance-building by opposition parties in the face of an SLPP-dominated political
landscape. Some reportedly considering merging, and party switches and defections
were reported.25 Questions over the regulations governing party registration and
subsequent campaigning were also raised. In early February, Attorney General
Minister of Justice Solomon Berewa reportedly asserted that the Electoral Act passed
by parliament required that campaigning begin after the nomination period for
parliamentarians and presidential candidates had ended in March. In a press
interview, however, NEC chairman Walter Nicol stated that the NEC, which
regulates campaigning, was allowing political parties to organize political rallies.
Political parties reportedly had not been campaigning for fear that the ruling party
might employ the state of emergency, which will reportedly be lifted shortly, to crack
down on its critics.26 As of late March 2002, 19 political parties had fully registered
Panafrican News Agency, “Sierra Leonean Electoral Commission Sensitises Voters,”
January 2, 2002.
See appendix, Sierra Leone’s Political Parties and Leaders, below. See also Mohamed
Kakay, “No Presidential Candidate For PDP!”,Standard Times (Sierra Leone), February 6,
2002; Standard Times, “Elections 2002...Mass Defection Awaits APC,” December 12, 2001;
Concord Times, “Will Grand Alliance Make It?,” January 23, 2002; and Mohamed Kakay,
“House Approves 8 Candidates For Parties,” Standard Times (Sierra Leone), February 6,
Sulaiman Momodu and Osman Benk Sankoh, “Electoral Commission Boss Okays
Campaigning,” Concord Times (Sierra Leone), February 6, 2002
to participate in the presidential and parliamentary elections, but only 14 were said
by Chief Electoral Commissioner Walter Nicol to be fully functional.27
RUF and Elections. In late November 2001, in order to assist in the
continuing transformation of the RUF into the RUF Party (RUFP), as per the Lomé
Accord, several RUF officials underwent Nigerian government-sponsored electoral
training in Abuja, Nigeria. The Sierra Leone government has helped the RUFP to
obtain political party offices in Freetown and in the provinces; all political parties
are required to maintain offices in each of four electoral regions. The RUF reportedly
experienced problems in obtaining facilities in some locales because landlords were
unwilling to rent facilities to the former rebels.
The status of former paramount RUF leader Foday Sankoh has been a volatile
election issue, as it was during the DDR process. The RUF temporarily halted DDR
several times, in part due to Sankoh’s continued imprisonment under the wartime
state of emergency. Sankoh had been detained after a May 2000 public
demonstration in Freetown against RUF atrocities, which Sankoh’s bodyguards fired
upon, killing 21. After the state of emergency was lifted in March 2002 to allow for
elections to take place, Sankoh was formally charged with 70 criminal offenses,
including murder, allowing the government to continue to legally detain him. The
RUFP had long maintained that Sankoh would run as its presidential candidate. The
government, however, barred Sankoh from running, citing a range of Sierra Leonean
electoral laws. As a detainee, Sankoh could not legally register to vote or meet other
requirements to register as a candidate. The RUFP protested the ban on Sankoh’s
candidacy and subsequently missed the presidential candidate registration deadline
but was given an extension. t later named RUFP Secretary General Pallo Bangura
as its candidate for president. Peter Borbor Vandy, a former government minister
under the defunct Lomé government of national unity, will run as the RUFP vice
U.N. Electoral Role.28 In order to ensure the NEC’s ability to to organize
and conduct a free, fair, and transparent electoral process that meets minimum
international standards, the U.N. assisted the NEC with technical and logistical
assistance and providing security support for the electoral process. The December
2001 U.N. Secretary-General’s report on UNAMSIL (S/2001/1195) outlines U.N.
electoral to Sierra Leone; the measures in the report were approved by Security
Council Resolution 1389 (2002).
In order to ensure the NEC’s ability to organize and conduct a free, fair, and
transparent electoral process that meets minimum international standards, the U.N.
provided the NEC with technical and logistical assistance and security support. A
UNAMSIL electoral unit monitored developments and assisted with the electoral
process. To provide election security, UNAMSIL military sectors were realigned to
match electoral district boundaries, where feasible. The Sierra Leone police were
designated the primary responding agency in case of election-related violence or
Sierra Leone News Archives, March 2002, Sierra Leone Web.
For background on the U.N. electoral role, see
public disorder. UNAMSIL was charged with providing backup support. UNAMSIL
also assisted with the transportation of election workers and materials; storage and
distribution of election materials before the election; and transport of ballot papers
after the election. The mission supported a program of public information
dissemination consisting of NEC electoral and civic education, news, public affairs,
and entertainment broadcasts on Radio UNAMSIL; production and distribution of
written informational materials; public outreach meetings with local communities,
youth groups, women’s organizations, ex-combatants and journalists; and educational
entertainment. During the election campaigning stage, UNAMSIL used its assets to
broaden candidates’ access to media. Radio UNAMSIL provided parties with a forum
to explain and publicize their political programs.
Non-Governmental Organization Electoral Support. The U.S. National
Democratic Institute, a democracy-fostering non-governmental organization (NGO),
and a Sierra Leonean non-profit partner, the Forum for Democratic Initiative, have
established a resource center in Freetown to provide training, printing, educational,
and media facilities for all registered political parties and candidates in preparation
for elections. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the
Commonwealth are providing to the NEC technical support on management, legal,
operational, and budgeting issues, and voter registration.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone
In October 2000, as permitted under Lomé, the U.N. proposed a Special Court
for Sierra Leone following consultations with the Sierra Leonean government and
civil society groups.29 The court will “prosecute persons who bear the greatest
responsibility for the commission of crimes against humanity, war crimes and other
serious violations of international humanitarian law, as well as crimes under relevant
Sierra Leonean law committed within the territory of Sierra Leone,” i.e., certain
political and military leaders.30 Between twelve and twenty-five defendants are
expected to be tried. The court can impose sentences of imprisonment but not death.
In August 2001, after an reaching an agreement in principle on the establishment
of the Special Court and applicable statutes, the government requested that the
temporal jurisdiction of the Court be extended to cover the period since March 1991,
when the conflict started. The draft statute and court agreement had provided for a
temporal jurisdiction that began in November 1996. This date, which marks the date
of an earlier, aborted peace agreement, was reportedly accepted by the government
in the final agreements establishing the court, which were signed in January 2002,
following the visit in the same month of a U.N. court planning mission to Sierra
Leone. The planning mission, led by the U.N. Office of Legal Affairs, finalized
arrangements for the establishment of the Special Court. It assessed the needs of the
Prosecutor’s Office and the Court Registry, the status of investigations and evidence,
The original proposal was modified subsequently, following discussions between the
Secretary-General and the U.N. Security Council. See U.N., “Report of the
Secretary-General on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone,” S/2000/915,
October 4, 2000, [http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/reports/2000/915e.pdf].
Ibid., page 1.
and the government’s capacity to host the court and provide court and prison
premises and personnel.31 It also examined the proposed relationship between the
Special Court and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (see below).
The size and budget of the proposed court were scaled down in response to
organizational design and cost concerns expressed by Security Council members.
The original proposal called for two trial chambers and a scheme for alternate judges;
the final agreement establishing the court provides for one trials chamber and one
appeals chamber. To ensure objectivity and avoid possible charges of bias or
retribution, the Court’s judges, prosecutors, and much of its staff are being appointed
by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. David M. Crane, an American Department
of Defense lawyer, was named to the post of prosecutor for the Special Court. Robin
Vincent, a British legal administrator, has been appointed registrar for the court. The
Court is scheduled to begin setting up operations in the near future and is expected
to be fully functional by October 2002.
Court Funding and Operation. A March 2001 U.N. funding appeal for the
Court did not elicit adequate operational funding. In mid-June 2001, following a
meeting between the U.N. Secretariat and a group of possible contributing states, the
Court’s proposed budget was reduced from $144.6 million to $57 million for the
court’s first 3 years of operation. As of July 6, the U.N. Secretariat had received
pledges of $15 million for the first year of operation and $20.4 million for the
subsequent 2 years. Annan indicated in a July 13 letter to the Security Council that
these pledged contributions were sufficient to establish the court and begin
operations once payments are deposited with the U.N. On July 24, Reuters reported
that the U.N. Security Council had approved the establishment of the court.
As of early December 2001, the U.N. had received donor contributions of $14.8
million for the first year of the Court’s operation and pledges of $13 million and $7.4
million for the following two years, leaving a budget shortfall of $1.4 million for the
first year and $19.6 million for the two following years. The United States
contributed $5 million for the court’s establishment and first year of operation and
may offer up to a total of $15 million for the Court’s operation.32 The total funding
received and the Secretary General’s belief that further required funds would be
forthcoming caused the Secretary General to authorize final procedures to establish
The Special Court: Contrasting Views. Some observers have questioned
the size and scope of the court, both as originally proposed and in its later scaleddown form, and what they see as a high ratio of costs per defendant, given the limited
number of defendants likely to be tried before the court. They liken the establishment
of the Sierra Leonean court to the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for
The mission’s findings (U.N. document S/2002/246) are online; see the U.N. web site at
Scott Timmreck, “U.S. Contributes $5 Million to Startup of Sierra Leone Court (Pledges
$15 Million over Three Years),” Washington File, U.S. State Department, August 1, 2001;
Washington File, “U.S. Strongly Supports Peace in Sierra Leone (Statement by State Dept.
Acting Spokeswoman Lynn Cassel),” U.S. State Department, January 18, 2002.
Rwanda (ICTR), which they see as having had a very modest outcome, in terms of
the limited numbers of defendants tried, compared to the cost of creating and
maintaining it. They also fear that creating the court will do little to bolster national
judicial capacity in Sierra Leone, which they see as crucial to rebuilding a stable and
functioning state. They see the delivery of justice as fundamentally a function of
national governments, not international bodies, and are broadly opposed to the
possible further development of U.N.-administered juridical bodies and mandates in
judicial affairs.33 Others worry that limiting the territorial jurisdiction of the court to
crimes committed in Sierra Leone may allow defendants to escape justice by exiting
Sierra Leone and will do nothing to judicially sanction alleged external supporters
of the RUF. Chief among such persons is Charles Taylor, who many view as
responsible for abetting past atrocities attributed to the RUF. Some also question the
limited temporal and personal jurisdiction of the court, asserting that these provisions
will effectively result in impunity for many rank and file violators of human rights.
Proponents of the court stress that it is a tribunal of mixed Sierra Leonean and
international legal jurisdiction and of limited duration; they do not view it as
functionally or institutionally equivalent or broadly comparable to the ICTR. They
note that the size and budget of the proposed court, as originally proposed, has been
scaled down dramatically. They also observe that Sierra Leonean jurists will be
intimately involved in the court’s legal process, which will employ Sierra Leonean
law where applicable to the prosecution of defendants. They also see the court as a
concrete means of ending impunity for human rights violations in Sierra Leone,
speeding national reconciliation, and demonstrating international political will and
institutional support for the enforcement of the rule of law in Sierra Leone. Some
observers and members of the RUF fear that the court will focus its prosecutorial
attention on the RUF, despite U.N. assertions that the process “is not going to be a
witch hunt.”34 War crimes and crimes against humanity have reportedly been
committed by all parties to the conflict, including the RUF forces; the AFRC junta;
government forces, including the SLA and the CDF; and international peacekeeping
forces. The RUF has demanded assurances that the Court and the TRC be impartial
and hear the cases of all those accused of atrocities during the period in question, not
only RUF members.
According to Amnesty International, the functional relationship between the
Special Court and the TRC has not been sufficiently defined. Outstanding issues in
late 2001, according to Amnesty, included:
the timing and sequencing of both institutions, including whether they will
operate concurrently or consecutively; sharing of information between the
Special Court and the TRC; the rights of witnesses, including the right to silence
if the answer to the question would incriminate them; the handling by the TRC
of information which could potentially be incriminatory; the implication for the
Many such concerns parallel those of critics of proposals to create an international
criminal court. See CRS Report RL30020, The International Criminal Court Treaty:
Description, Policy Issues, and Congressional Concerns.
Luis Ramirez, “UN to Establish Special International Court for Sierra Leone,”
VOANews.com, January 16, 2002.
work of the Special Court if individual perpetrators for human rights abuses are
named by the TRC; contact by the TRC with individuals under indictment by the
Special Court; and the implications of the different temporal jurisdictions of the
Special Court (from 30 November 1996, currently open-ended) and the TRC (23
March 1991 to 7 July 1999).35
The January 2002 Special Court planning mission report addresses many of
Truth and Reconciliation Commission36
The Lomé peace agreement provided for the creation of a Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The parliament established the TRC by passing
the Truth and Reconciliation Act 2000 in February 2000. According to the Act, the
purpose of the TRC is
to create an impartial historical record of violations and abuses of human rights
and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone,
from the beginning of the Conflict in 1991 to the signing of the Lomé Peace
Agreement; to address impunity, to respond to the needs of the victims, to
promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations
and abuses suffered.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is expected to include traditional
structures and methods of reconciliation as well as conventional, formal hearings. In
early 2001, a research project on traditional forms of conflict resolution and
reconciliation was initiated, as was a public awareness campaign that included
broadcasts by Radio UNAMSIL. It is projected to operate for 15 months and require
a budget totaling just under $10 million, which the U.N. anticipates will be funded
by the government and by donors. It is expected to begin operations by mid-2002;
public “Sensitization Drives”began in August 2001. Four national and three
international members of the TRC have been selected and their names forwarded to
President Kabbah for approval. The UNHCR and UNAMSIL have assisted in the
design of TRC protocols to protect victims, witnesses, and perpetrators, with a
particular focus on children in these categories; to collect and show evidence; and to
define the relationship between the TRC and the Special Court. An interim Executive
Secretary of the Commission has been appointed and a TRC Secretariat has
reportedly initiated TRC activities. In late February 2002, UNHCR launched a donor
appeal for the funding of the TRC.
Related Reconciliation Issues. As part of DDR, and as more communities
have begun receiving demobilized ex-combatants, UNAMSIL has organized
face-to-face reconciliation sessions between RUF officials and paramount chiefs and
has promoted public works programs that enable ex-combatants to help rebuild local
communities. UNAMSIL, together with the government’s Ministry of Justice and
Attorney-General, has been working on restoring local courts in some parts of the
Amnesty International, “Sierra Leone: Renewed Commitment Needed To End
Impunity,”AFR 51/007/2001, September 24, 2001, page 14.
For further background, see [http://www.sierra-leone.org/trc.html ].
country and has been undertaking a public education campaign on the purpose and
objectives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. According to Amnesty
International, the Sierra Leonean judicial system is devastated and requires the
following in order to become fully functional:
improvement to the remuneration and conditions of service of the judiciary in
order to encourage competent and experienced legal practitioners to take up
judicial appointments; the provision of appropriate administrative and
information technology support systems in order to facilitate efficient
management of cases; the provision of basic law libraries with national statutes,
collections of decisions of the higher courts, regional and international human
rights instruments ratified by Sierra Leone, and basic legal text books; and
extensive refurbishment and equipping of court buildings.37
Military Restructuring and British Training Assistance. Article XVII
of the Lomé Accord provides for a restructured and Sierra Leone armed forces,
inclusive of volunteer ex-combatants of the RUF, CDF, and the SLA. Following the
breakdown of the Lomé process in May 2000, Britain undertook a military
intervention and later began a program of training for the SLA, which in April 2002
was renamed the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
During the 1990s, Britain, the former colonial ruler of Sierra Leone, provided
periodic military and logistical assistance to the government of Sierra Leone and to
ECOMOG and, in some instances, undertook military operations to protect British
interests and to rescue abducted citizens in the country. Britain has also contributed
troops to UNAMSIL. In early 1999, the UK provided limited training assistance for
the Sierra Leone Army following the reinstatement of the Kabbah government.
In response to the May 2000 U.N. hostage crisis, Britain deployed a substantial
number of troops to protect British interests. Although the UK government
announced that its troops would not enter into direct combat, its show of force
effectively augmented the security of the Kabbah government and UNAMSIL. A
British aircraft carrier and several other warships and more than 800 British troops
were reportedly dispatched to Sierra Leone in mid-May 2000. Freetown’s Lungi
airport was secured by UK paratroopers and British troops reportedly patrolled
defensive lines near the capital, engaging firefights on several occasions, and
provided air transport to U.N. troops. After the height of the May crisis, a phased
withdrawal of the bulk of UK forces began, ending in mid-June. On May 19, 2000,
a British military official announced the dispatch of a 90-person British Military
Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) to supplement existing British training
assistance to the SLA.38 Britain also reportedly supplied arms to the SLA; this action
caused controversy after some weapons reportedly ended up in the hands of child
Ibid., page 18.
Alex Duval Smith, “Britain Pledges ‘Open-Ended’ Military Support for Sierra Leone,” The
Independent (London), May 20, 2000.
The BMATT training began in June 2000 and included trainers from a number
of Commonwealth countries; it was later expanded by several hundred additional
trainers. British officers also took on an enlarged advisory role in SLA operational
matters; similar UK advisory support was provided to UNAMSIL. In November
2000, a UK naval amphibious force made a widely publicized landing near Freetown
designed, in part, to demonstrate British military commitment to Sierra Leone. The
deployment came as some RUF elements were reported to be threatening a renewed
offensive, possibly to bolster the RUF negotiating position during then-current peace
negotiations, and in the wake of the announced withdrawal of Jordanian and Indian
UNAMSIL units. Over 6,500 SLA soldiers had completed British training by late
January 2001, when UK Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon announced an additional
Short Term Training Team (STTT) military training assistance package. In
September 2001, a British-led International Military Advisory and Training Team
(IMATT) was deployed to provide continued training and other advisory assistance.
Britain announced that a total of 8,500 SLA trainees had completed training by that
Human Welfare and Socio-Economic Recovery
During the conflict, thousands of Sierra Leonean civilians were the victims of
severe, extensive human abuses carried out by combatants from nearly all parties to
the conflict, but particularly, according to many observers, by the RUF and the
AFRC-RUF regime. Abuses included murder; torture; the amputation of limbs and
other bodily mutilation; rape and sexual violence; abduction; forced labor,
concubinage, and military service; forced residential dislocation; the destruction and
theft of homes and property; and severe infringements of civil liberties. Both adults
and children were the victims of such abuses.39 Under the wartime state of
emergency, lifted on March 1, 2001, government political detainees were held
incommunicado, without charge, without access to legal advice, and in some cases,
at secret locations.40
The human rights situation improved considerably beginning in the second half
of 2000, with notable exceptions. These included human rights abuses associated
with cross-border RUF attacks into Guinea from Sierra Leone and retaliatory attacks
by the Guinean army in late 2000 and 2001 and violence in diamond mining zones
in 2001. The U.N. has launched an investigation into reported allegations of sexual
exploitation of women and girls by U.N. personnel; the U.N. investigation was
on-going in early 2002.
Abuses have been extensively documented by Human Rights Watch; Amnesty
International; Physicians for Human Rights; other human rights organizations; the U.N.; and
U.N. Security Council, “Eighth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations
Mission in Sierra Leone,” S/2000/1199, December 15, 2000.
The U.N. has undertaken a range of human rights training programs for
UNAMSIL forces, the newly trained military, the police, prison officials, and the
public at large. It also assisted in the establishment of a national Human Rights
Commission and established local human rights offices in many districts. The
UNHCR has sponsored ongoing programs to ensure the protection of children and
other vulnerable populations, including ex-combatant youth, unaccompanied minors
and orphans, and single-family households and to trace and reunite families of lost
children. Disarmament has reportedly improved the human rights situation
considerably. The extension of government authority has, however, revealed new
evidence of wartime atrocities, including mass graves, sites of torture and execution,
and personal accounts of abuses.
Refugees and the Internally Displaced. In late 2000 and into early 2001,
as Sierra Leonean refugees in neighboring Guinea fled that country following
cross-border attacks by Liberian-sponsored armed elements beginning in September
2000, humanitarian conditions in Sierra Leone deteriorated. The unanticipated new
arrivals from Guinea placed demands on humanitarian assistance organizations
already operating at full capacity. The U.N. reported a rise in criminal activities in the
Freetown area, which which was attributed to the influx of new arrivals, internally
displaced persons (IDPs), and ex-combatants with little access to basic resources.
Humanitarian access to much RUF-controlled areas remained limited.
Throughout 2001, as UNAMSIL expanded its areas of deployment, and as DDR
proceeded, humanitarian assistance organizations were able to expand their service
areas. Refugees continued to repatriate to Sierra Leone from Guinea, though over
200,000 remained in Guinea, Liberia, and other sub-regional host countries as of
mid-March 2002. U.N.-assisted, phased resettlement of IDPs was underway in late
2001/early 2002; some IDPs were also resettling independently. In early 2002, the
U.N. estimated that approximately 260,000 IDPs and refugee returnees were likely
to require assistance.
From mid-2001 onward, Sierra Leone received periodic influxes of Liberian
refugees and Sierra Leonean returnees fleeing growing conflict in northern Liberia.
The in-flow of these refugees increased in late 2001/early 2002; more than 11,000
Liberians and about 7,400 Sierra Leoneans had been registered by immigration
authorities as of early March 2002. Many were being transported inland because of
insecurity in the border areas.
Transition from Relief to Recovery
Socio-economic recovery was given a large boost as DDR programming
increased during 2001. DDR-related assistance included the extension to
ex-combatants and their dependents of micro-credit, training in agriculture,
vocational training, and small enterprise development, as well as the extension of
formal education and ex-combatant participation in public works projects. As of
March 2002, 17,951 ex-combatants had been integrated into various short-term
reintegration projects. Implementing agencies have attempted to integrate
ex-combatant reintegration programming with that targeted toward civilians. A
special program of assistance was directed toward mid-level field commanders of the
armed groups in order to provide an incentive for them to maintain support for the
Socio-economic recovery was given a large boost as DDR programming
increased during 2001. DDR-related assistance included the extension to
ex-combatants and their dependents of micro-credit, and programs of training in
agriculture, vocational skills, and small enterprise development. Some began to work
on public works projects; a few were able to enter into programs of formal education.
As of March 2002, 17,951 ex-combatants had been integrated into various short-term
reintegration projects. Implementing agencies have attempted to integrate
ex-combatant reintegration programming with that targeted toward civilians. A
special program of assistance was directed toward mid-level field commanders of
former armed groups in order to provide an incentive for them to maintain support
for the DDR process.
An on-going challenge for the government and UNAMSIL has been to ensure
that adequate resources are available for reintegration and resettlement of IDPs,
returning refugees, and ex-combatants. The Sierra Leone Consolidated U.N. Appeal
for 2001 remained underfunded, at about 40%, by mid-year. In early February 2002,
a donor conference was held to consider funding of the Consolidated U.N. Appeal
for 2002 and to mobilize funds for additional resettlement and reintegration
activities. In late March 2002, the United States contributed $1.9 million to fund
ex-combatant reinsertion payments. Other U.S. funding supports related efforts, such
as the USAID Youth Reintegration Training and Education for Peace programs in
Sierra Leone. The World Food Program (WFP) warned in early March 2002 that its
regional emergency programs in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone would run out of
food by June unless new pledges for humanitarian aid were received. According to
a March 2002 U.N. report, the government-managed reintegration program lacks
$13.48 million for budgeted 2002 activities.
In mid-2001, the government established a National Recovery Committee
(NRC) to coordinate the re-establishment of state authority and to plan for
humanitarian assistance projects and rehabilitation of physical infrastructure and
government services. The NRC coordinates the delivery of rebuilding resources and
the roles in rehabilitation activities of donor governments, the Sierra Leone
government, U.N. agencies, and non-governmental organizations. In late 2001, the
NRC began a nationwide assessment in key districts. By March 2002 it had
formulated country-wide district recovery plans and a national interim recovery
strategy focused on transitioning from relief activities to socio-economic recovery.
Many projects for rehabilitating health, education, and local administration structures
and providing productive skills and human rights training were on-going in early
2002. Increasing security, freedom of movement, resettlement, and an increase in
donor-financed imports allowed commerce, agricultural production, and other
economic activity to increase considerably, according to the U.N.
Key goals relating to the extension of state authority include the return of
recognized paramount chiefs and local officials, police deployment, and the opening
of schools and local courts. As the restoration of civil administration and public
services proceeds, the government is facing significant capacity and resource
limitations caused by physical infrastructure destruction, and lack of trained staff,
accommodation, administrative and communications equipment, and transport
facilities. These deficiencies seriously impeded the work of returning officials.
Despite many constraints, recovery appears to be progressing well. By mid-March
2002, paramount chiefs and their officials had returned to all districts, apart from the
eastern district of Kailahun, a diamond-rich, RUF stronghold.
Police Deployment, Reintegration, and Dispute Resolution. Particular
attention is being given to the nationwide deployment of civilian police. Police had
deployed to all districts, though often in small numbers. Related activities include
the training of new police recruits, general instruction in investigatory techniques,
human rights law, and construction or rehabilitation of police stations. Assistance and
technical advice is being provided by UNAMSIL Civilian Police (CIVPOL) and
other advisers. Special police training related to the May 2002 election, focusing on
security for voter registration, public campaigning, vote casting and counting, and the
installation of elected candidates, was being provided. Dispute resolution is another
focal point of civil administration reestablishment. Housing committees are being set
up in many districts to settle disputes related to the illegal wartime occupation of
homes and land, a major source of communal tension that has interfered with
community rebuilding. Similar committees and meetings between former RUF
members and local chiefs are being held to resolve disputes over property ownership,
collection of market fees, and the disposition of RUF-appointed caretaker chiefs.
Diamonds. Diamonds were a key source of corruption and conflict in Sierra
Leone, both during and prior to the war. The regulation of diamond mining is
therefore a sensitive issue related to the restoration of authority. The government has
begun implementing a new policy to control artisanal diamond mining. District
mining committees, with local community participation, are issuing mining permits
and, in coordination with police, attempting to control the movement of people in and
to diamond-rich districts. The state is also examining diamond sector production and
marketing reform proposals aimed at providing a more effective regulatory regime
in order to ensure long-term economic and political stability; the proposals are based
on a January 2002 report funded by the British Department for International
Development. The new regime is expected to supplement a U.N. Security
Council-mandated Sierra Leone government diamond export certification program.
Sierra Leone has significant mineral resources and agricultural potential, but the
country’s economy – which was underdeveloped and beset by corruption before the
start of the civil conflict – contracted dramatically during the war, which destroyed
much its physical and institutional infrastructure. The mainstays of the economy are
agriculture and mining, which contributed an average of about 47% and 14%,
respectively, of yearly gross domestic product (GDP) during the 1990s.
Industrial mining of bauxite and rutile (titanium dioxide, used in paint pigments)
largely came to a halt after the mid-1990s. Diamond mining is primarily an artisanal
activity, and such production continued during the war, but the small industrial
diamond mining industry ceased to operate. Mining and industry together contributed
an average of 23.5% of GDP in the 1990s, while services made up about 25% of
GDP in the same period. The government has begun negotiations with mining
concession licensees to reinitiate the industrial mining of underground diamond
deposits. Diamond exports and resulting state revenues have increased under the
U.N. Security Council-mandated government certificate of origin scheme. It ensures
that Sierra Leonean diamond exports are not funding rebel groups and have been
exported according to government taxation and export regulations.
About two thirds of Sierra Leones’s people are subsistence farmers and
small-scale traders, but food production and commerce have been severely disrupted
due to widespread insecurity. Very limited production of cocoa and coffee took place
in the 1990s. Per capita incomes plummeted during the last two decades. This decline
was marginally ameliorated by fluctuating foreign aid, but high inflation and
shortages of basic consumer goods and of foreign exchange plagued the economy in
the 1990s. Sierra Leone has routinely ranked at the bottom of the UNDP Human
Table 1. Gross National Income and Foreign Aid Per Capita:
GNI per capita
Aid per capita
Sources: World Bank, World Development Indicators database, 2001; Government of Sierra Leone,
Country Presentation for Sierra Leone, Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed
Countries, May 2001.
*1980 and 1990 figures based on Gross Domestic Product, not GNI.
According to the government, key factors that caused economic decline in the
1990s included “poor governance; inappropriate social and economic policies; and
weak international prices for the country’s main exports”; the latter include
diamonds, rutile, bauxite, cocoa, coffee, and fish.41 Other factors included low levels
of education and of technology use and availability, lack of skilled labor, low and
declining productivity, a small manufacturing sector and domestic market, gender
discrimination, and a high population growth rate. Inflation and economic growth
figures have recently improved.
Government of Sierra Leone, Country Presentation for Sierra Leone, Third United Nations
Conference on Least Developed Countries, May 2001.
Table 2. Inflation and Gross Domestic Product: Recent Trends
(In annual percentiles* and millions of current dollars**)
GDP growth rate*
Sources: World Bank, World Development Indicators; Government of Sierra Leone, Country
Presentation; World Bank, “World Bank and IMF Support US$950 million In Debt Service Relief
For Sierra Leone Under Enhanced HIPC Initiative,” March 19, 2002.
Economic Policy. Sierra Leone adopted a Structural Adjustment Program
(SAP) in 1990. It sought to liberalize trade and the exchange of hard currency;
deregulate prices and eliminate subsidies, notably on food and fuel; reform and
strengthen institutional policy and regulatory capacities, and fiscal management;
streamline the civil service; and divest state-owned firms. The conflict undermined
implementation of the SAP goals significantly. Following the official end of the
conflict, the government stated that it will seek to implement a similar policy agenda,
albeit in the context of a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).42 Several SAP
project loans remain active. Many aspects of Sierra Leone’s SAP goals were
achieved, according to the government. These included a gradual decrease in the
growth rate of inflation, a decline in state budget deficits, wider availability of rice
and fuel, and improvements in fiscal management. The government, however, asserts
that liberalization of the import sector led to job losses, as did civil service
retrenchments. According to the World Bank, Sierra Leone has
made strong structural reforms in recent years, including tax policy and
administration reforms that support private sector redevelopment and fiscal
stability, improved public expenditure management and control, exchange and
trade liberalization to strengthen competitiveness, financial sector modernization
and regulatory reforms, improvements in governance, and more effective
delivery of social services.43
In October 2001, Paris Club creditors extended external debt relief to Sierra
Leone on Naples terms, reducing its debt to Club members from $180 million to $45
PRSPs reflect a policy approach advocated by the World Bank and International Monetary
Fund (IMF) that has largely replaced the SAP model. SAPs had been criticized as creating
interim economic adjustments that negatively affected the poor and created other negative
interim outcomes. See World Bank, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers,
World Bank, “World Bank and IMF Support US$950 million in Debt Service Relief for
Sierra Leone Under Enhanced HIPC Initiative,” March 19, 2002.
million.44 In September 2001, the IMF approved in principle $164 million in credits
for the government’s 2001-2004 economic program under the IMF’s Poverty
Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), of which Sierra Leone had drawn about $59
million by March 2002. After a review of the government’s PRGF performance, the
IMF on March 12, 2002 announced the additional release of about $12 million in
credits.45 On March 19, 2002, the World Bank International Development
Association and the IMF announced a $950 million comprehensive debt reduction
package for Sierra Leone under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
(HIPC) Initiative. At the end of 2000, the net present value of Sierra Leone external
debt had been equal to 707% of GDP, and external debt service represented 48% of
the value of exports and about 70% of state revenues.46 The two institutions will
provide some debt-service relief immediately, but the full program of assistance is
conditioned upon Sierra Leone’s implementation of a range of policy measures
related to transparency, accountability, and poverty reduction and other goals
contained in the country’s Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP) and
in other policy agreements. Assistance from other creditors will begin after these
goals are met.47
U.S. policy toward the Sierra Leone conflict appears to have been influenced,
on the one hand, by a reluctance to become directly involved in a country where few
key U.S. economic or strategic interests are at stake and, on the other, by American
humanitarian concerns, support for conflict resolution and democracy-building, the
observation of human rights, and the maintenance of regional stability. Some have
argued that Sierra Leone, along with many other parts of the developing world, is
The Paris Club is an informal group of creditor governments that meet to reach
consensus-based common positions on the extension of debt relief to highly indebted
countries. “Naples terms,” named after the 1995 G-7 summit in Naples, Italy, allow for the
reduction of a maximum of 67% of eligible countries’ official debt, including previously
rescheduled concessional debt. Naples terms allow a reduction in overall debt stock; a
reduction of interest rates; or the increased repayment periods. See Jon Schaffer, “Debt
Relief for the Poorest Nations: A New Framework,” Economic Perspectives, U.S.
Information Agency, 1: 11, August 1996, inter alia.
IMF, IMF Approves In Principle US$169 Million Three-Year PRGF Arrangement for
Sierra Leone, September 20, 2001; IMF, IMF Completes Review Under Sierra Leone’s
PRGF Arrangement and Approves US$12 Million Disbursement, March 12, 2002.
U.N. Security Council, “Eleventh report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations
Mission in Sierra Leone, S/2001/857, September 7, 2001.
World Bank, “World Bank and IMF Support US$950...” On debt reduction, HIPC, and
development, see CRS Report RL30449, “Debt and Developing in Poor Countries:
Rethinking Policy Responses”; CRS Report RL30214, “Debt Reduction: Initiatives for the
Most Heavily Indebted Poor Countri es ; Wor l d Bank, HIPC,
[http://www.worldbank.org/hipc/]; and IMF, Debt Relief Under the Heavily Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) Initiative, [http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/hipc.htm].
more closely tied to U.S. security interests than many policy analysts believed was
the case prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11. They point to anecdotal
evidence that ties illicit trading in Sierra Leonean “conflict diamonds” to the funding
of terrorist groups such as the Al Qaeda network and Hamas.48
Bush Administration. In a December 2001 statement to the U.N. Security
Council, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations James B.
Cunningham described U.S. policy in West Africa as being based on three principles:
support for governments in the region that pursue policies of non-aggression
externally and good governance internally; support for action in the Security
Council to deter and contain those regimes in West Africa which engage in
aggression against their neighbors and oppress their own peoples; and assistance
and support to strengthen regional organizations, such as ECOWAS, that aim to
reduce trade barriers, combat transnational threats and resolve conflicts.49
Bush Administration policy toward Sierra Leone appears to emphasize broad
continuity with previous U.S. policy toward that country, particularly on policies to
stem the flow of conflict diamonds, to halt alleged assistance by the Liberian
government to the RUF, to promote regional stability, and to provide humanitarian
and economic growth assistance. The United States has pursued these goals through
policy actions that it has advocated in the U.N. Security Council and through bilateral
assistance and indirect economic support through the World Bank and IMF.
In a January 25, 2001 statement to the U.N. Security Council during a review
of the December 2000 Panel of Experts Report on Sierra Leone Diamonds and Arms,
Ambassador Cunningham (then Acting U.S. Representative to the U.N.) expressed
Bush Administration support for U.N. efforts to halt the flow of conflict diamonds
and illicit arms, which he said were essential in ending the fighting and
destabilization in Sierra Leone and its neighbors. He also expressed support for
ECOWAS efforts to end the conflict.50
In March 2001, the Bush Administration sponsored U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1343, which demands that Liberia end its support for the RUF and expel
all RUF members from its territory; the resolution also bans the export of diamonds
from Liberia and the travel of top Liberian officials outside of Liberia, among other
measures. In response to the passage of Resolution 1343, President Bush issued
Executive Order 13213 on May 22, 2001. It further enhances U.S. prohibitions on the
importation into the United States of rough diamonds from Liberia, as required by
See, for instance, testimony at a February 13, 2002 hearing entitled “Illicit Diamonds,
Conflict and Terrorism: The Role of U.S. Agencies in Fighting the Conflict Diamond
Trade,” held by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on
Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia on
USUN Press Release # 194 (01), December 18, 2001.
See USUN Press Release # 11 (01), January 25, 2001; and Judy Aita,”U.S. Pressing for
Sanctions Against Liberia for Aid to RUF (Illicit diamond trade fuels Sierra Leone conflict,
report says),” Washington File, January 25, 2001.
Executive Order 13194, issued in January 2001 by then-president Clinton. The Bush
Administration is also pursuing a variety of other efforts to halt the international trade
in conflict diamonds. The Administration has also maintained U.S. assistance to
Sierra Leone in support of humanitarian welfare, institutional reform and rebuilding,
and the strengthening of democratic processes, and has supported the peacekeeping
mission of UNAMSIL, in part through Operation Focus Relief (see below).
Also in March 2001, the United States expressed concern over the
regionally-destabilizing violence in southern Guinea, a zone where Guinea, Liberia,
and Sierra Leone converge. Ambassador Cunningham attributed this violence to the
RUF, assisted by the Liberian government. He urged the U.N. High Commission for
Refugees (UNHCR) to evacuate refugees and IDPs from the volatile border zone and
expressed U.S. opposition to the creation of “safe corridors” for refugees through
RUF-held territory or to the repatriation of refugees to Sierra Leone, pending the
establishment of a durable peace and a stable security environment in Sierra Leone.
U.S. efforts to ameliorate the humanitarian disaster that followed the attacks included
$3.5 million in emergency funding to the UNHCR to support the relocation of
refugees displaced from camps in the affected border areas and $1.25 million in
World Food Program funding for assistance related to the crisis, in addition to $54
million in U.S. support for the UNHCR’s Global Appeal for Africa.51
On May 14, 2001, Ambassador Cunningham told the Security Council that the
United States hoped to “see results on the ground – practical concrete results – in
areas of humanitarian assistance and human rights” and re-emphasized U.S. support
for the regional conflict resolution efforts of ECOWAS. He stated U.S. opposition
to lifting sanctions on the Liberian government, which he said was attempting to play
the role of “both arsonist and firefighter in Sierra Leone.” He said it was both
supporting the RUF and fomenting regional instability while demanding the
“protections and privileges” of a victim of aggression by armed opponents of the
RUF and the Liberian government.52 In May and June 2001, the Ambassador
expressed U.S. support for the strengthening of UNAMSIL, especially in relation to
to extend the authority of the Government of Sierra Leone throughout the
national territory, conducting free and fair elections, and restoring to the people
of Sierra Leone their mineral wealth, to which they’re entitled. These are all
certainly critical to consolidate peace.53
His June statement also reiterated U.S. support for establishing the Special
Court for Sierra Leone and expressed U.S. regret that “this vital project has turned
into an extremely complex, time-consuming, expensive and inconclusive affair.” He
noted that although earlier reservations expressed by some donor countries over cost
considerations were legitimate, changes in plans for the anticipated court had resulted
in a “sustainable approach at a reasonable cost.” He noted, however, that such
reservations had been influenced by what he implied was the high cost-to-conviction
USUN Press Release # 35 (01), March 8, 2001.
USUN Press Release # 61 (01), May 14, 2001.
Ibid.; and USUN Press Release # 98 (01), June 28, 2001.
ratio of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which he said provided
examples of mistakes that the Sierra Leone court should avoid. He also stated that the
court should begin its work by prosecuting former RUF leader Foday Sankoh. He
said that such action would not be in conflict with the pursuit of peace in Sierra
Leone, which “must go together” with the pursuit of justice. Some observers had
cautioned that a prosecution of Sankoh might cause the RUF to again abandon the
peace process. He also stated that while the United States remained concerned about
a lack of resources for DDR and encouraged donor countries to fully fund DDR
activities, the United States opposed the use of assessed funding for this purpose,
asserting that “DDR is not, in the end, the responsibility of the Security Council.”54
In late March 2002, the United States contributed $1.9 million to the Trust Fund that
will help fund reinsertion payments for ex-combatants and related reintegration
In a December 2001 Security Council meeting on an October 2001 U.N.
fact-finding mission West Africa, Ambassador Cunningham said that the United
States supported an internationally supported “cross-border, regional approach” to
ending conflict in the region, building democracy, and achieving socio-economic
stability and growth. He said this included U.S. support for naming of a U.N. Special
Representative for West Africa. He cautioned, however, that achieving such goals
remained primarily the responsibility of states in the region, to which he attributed
a decrease in tensions between Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, despite a recent
deterioration of security in Lofa County and elsewhere in Liberia. He also warned
that expanded U.N. initiatives in the region should not duplicate pre-existing U.N.
efforts in the region. He also noted that key developments in the Sierra Leone peace
process – the completion of DDR and the start of the election process – were under
The Ambassador also stated that the maintenance of U.N. sanctions on the
government of President Taylor of Liberia was directly tied to the continued success
of UNAMSIL’s peacekeeping operations. He accused the Liberian government of
continuing to “provide sanctuary to armed rebels of the RUF, whose presence in
Liberia is a threat to the peace in Sierra Leone and prospects for elections,” and of
“violating this Council’s embargo on importation of arms and the ban on exports of
diamonds.”55 On February 7, 2002, Ambassador Sichan Siv, U.S. Representative on
the U.N. Economic and Social Council, stated to the Security Council that “while we
continue to support efforts to facilitate the return of Sierra Leonean refugees who
have expressed a firm desire to repatriate, we recognize that for many the time is not
yet right for repatriation.” He also noted continuing U.S. concern about ongoing
instability in northern Liberia, which he said had caused the displacement of
thousands of Liberians and several thousand Sierra Leonean refugees.56
Clinton Administration. In 1999, Clinton Administration officials described
the U.S. policy goals as supporting ECOMOG and the Kabbah government,
USUN Press Release # 98.
USUN Press Release # 194 (01), December 18, 2001.
USUN Press Release # 14 (02), February 7, 2002.
encouraging dialogue leading to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, ending outside
support for the rebels, and providing humanitarian assistance. They maintained that
these objectives complemented the U.S. national interest of promoting stability,
democracy, and human rights in Africa. They noted that the Clinton Administration
undertook active diplomatic efforts to effect a cease-fire, provided humanitarian
assistance to civilians, and attempted to cut off RUF support from abroad by applying
pressure on alleged “external actors” such as Liberia and Burkina Faso.57 During the
negotiations in Lomé, U.S. special envoy Jesse Jackson reportedly urged Sierra
Leone’s President to agree to the terms of the accord.
In October 1999, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made Sierra Leone the
second stop of a six-nation tour of Africa. She met with President Kabbah and held
separate talks with Foday Sankoh and Johnny Paul Koroma. An official who attended
the closed meeting said that Albright admonished the two former rebel leaders that
the world was “repulsed” by the atrocities their followers had committed and
exhorted them to abide by the terms of the Lomé accord.58 The Secretary also visited
a refugee camp and spoke with civilian victims of violence. In a September 1999
speech, National Security Advisor Samuel Berger noted that the United States had
provided more than $100 million to ECOMOG over the past 10 years.59 The
Administration also listed Sierra Leone among countries to be considered for debt
forgiveness, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has extended export credit
The Clinton Administration supported U.S. assistance to UNOMSIL and its
successor, UNAMSIL. It also initiated Operation Focus Relief (OFR), a $90 million
U.S. military training program; President Clinton officially announced OFR during
his August 2000 visit to Africa. OFR sought to provide equipment and light infantry
training to a total of seven battalions from Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal, all members
of the Economic Community of West African States, for deployment to Sierra Leone
as part of UNAMSIL. The first two Nigerian battalions vetted and selected for
military instruction graduated from the program in December 2000, and have been
deployed to Sierra Leone. The program was conceived as a direct response to an
ECOWAS offer of 3,000 troops to bolster UNAMSIL, for which ECOWAS
requested troop equipping and deployment assistance, following the U.N. hostage
crisis in May 2000. OFR is part of a broad U.S. strategy of building sub-regional
Steven Mufson, “U.S. Backs Role for Rebels in W. Africa; Sierra Leone Amnesty
Pushed,”The Washington Post, October 18, 1999, A13. At a September 15 press conference,
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice argued that, even though the
United States deplored RUF’s “brutal tactics,” the accord was the best way to avoid further
Karl Vick, “Sierra Leone’s Unjust peace; At Sobering Stop, Albright Defends Amnesty
for Rebels,” The Washington Post, October 19, 1999, A12.
Transcript of Remarks by Samuel Berger at Africare Dinner. U.S. Newswire Corp.
September 28, 1999.
capacity for the conduct of peaceful operations.60 The United States also expressed
strong support for the British-sponsored retraining of the Sierra Leone Army.
Under the Clinton Administration, the Office of Transition Initiatives of the
U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) began a program of
assistance for the Sierra Leone government. It aimed, in part, to develop a
government diamond export certification system to halt the export of “conflict
diamonds” produced by the RUF and increase state diamond revenues.61 The Clinton
Administration supported passage by the U.N. Security Council of U.N. Resolution
1306, which imposed sanctions on the government of Liberia’s Charles Taylor and
was meant to curtail Liberian support of the RUF and halt the conflict diamond trade.
In late January 2001, then-President Clinton issued Executive Order 13194,
“Prohibiting the Importation of Rough Diamonds From Sierra Leone.” The effect of
the action was to implement U.N. Resolution 1306, prevent the RUF from profiting
from the sale of diamonds in the United States, and support the legitimate trade in
diamonds. The executive order augmented an October 2000 Clinton proclamation
that denied entry into the United States of persons who assist or profit from the
armed activities of the RUF. The restrictions apply to President Charles Taylor,
senior members of the Liberian government, and their supporters and families. It was
intended to explicitly sanction the Liberian government for its failure to end its
trafficking in arms and illicit diamonds with the RUF.
Congress has closely monitored the Sierra Leone conflict and related events. In
1998, the House held hearings on Sierra Leone, and both House and Senate passed
resolutions condemning human rights abuses in the country. Resolutions (H.Res. 62,
S.Res. 54) expressing concern over continuing efforts to overthrow Sierra Leone’s
elected government were approved by both chambers in the 106th Congress, and, in
a January 1999 letter to President Clinton, a bipartisan group of seven legislators
urged more active U.S. involvement in resolving the crisis. On March 23, 1999, the
House International Relations Committee held additional hearings to review the
situation in Sierra Leone.62 On October 11, 2000, the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs held a hearing entitled “United States
Policy in Sierra Leone,” during which Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Susan Rice assessed the conflict, reviewed U.S. policy goals and accomplishments.
She examined on-going U.S. strategies to support the elected democratic government
of Sierra Leone, curtail the ability of the RUF to wage war, and promote
See Jim Fisher-Thompson, “U.S. Aid to West African Force for Sierra Leone on Track.”
Washington File, International Information Programs, Department of State, March 27, 2001;
and “Operation Focus Relief: West African Train and Equip Program and Support to the
Sierra Leone Army [sic] Funding to Date.” Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense.”
March 9, 2001, inter alia.
OTI Sierra Leone activities: [http://www.usaid.gov/hum_response/oti/country/sleone/].
U.S. Congress, House of Representatives. Committee on International Relations,
Subcommittee on Africa, Sierra Leone: Prospects for Peace and Stability, Hearing, 106th
Congress, 1st session, Serial no. 106-26, March 23, 1999.
accountability for human rights abuses and other crimes against humanity63. The
106th Congress also held several Sierra-Leone-focused hearings on the topic of
conflict diamonds. The Subcommittee on Africa of the House Committee on
International Relations held a May 9, 2000 hearing entitled “Africa’s Diamonds:
Precious, Perilous Too?.” On September 13, 2000, the Trade Subcommittee of the
House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing entitled “Trade in African
Diamonds,” during which subcommittee members highlighted several key concerns
relating to possible commerce-related legislation on conflict diamonds.
107th Congress. During the 107th Congress, two Sierra-Leone-related
hearings have been held. On July 11, 2001, the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations held a nomination hearing for the Bush Administration’s
Ambassador-designate for Sierra Leone, Peter R. Chaveas. On July 12, 2001, the
Subcommittee on Africa of the House Committee on International Relations held a
hearing entitled “African Crisis Response Initiative: A Security Building Block,”
which, in part, addressed Operation Focus Relief in the context of a Bush
Administration policy review of a related peacekeeping training program started
under the Clinton Administration, the African Crisis Response Initiative.64 Several
conflict diamond-related hearings have been held, and a number of related bills
Section 776 of S. 1401 (Biden), introduced September 4, 2001, would authorize
appropriations of $5 million FY2002 and in FY2003, respectively, in the form of
U.S. voluntary contributions to assist the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The
measure expresses the sense of Congress that individuals most responsible for war
crimes committed in Sierra Leone should be held accountable for their actions,
regardless of where those individuals may reside, and that the United States should
support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone, including through
assistance in the collection of relevant human rights data. It also proposes that
Congress consider funding rewards to be paid to individuals furnishing information
relating to the indictment of persons subject to prosecution for serious violations of
international humanitarian law in Sierra Leone. The measure was placed on the
Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders, Calendar number 149.
U.S. Assistance to Sierra Leone
According to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) the
U.S. government had, as of April 2001, provided over $300 million in humanitarian
assistance to Sierra Leone since the beginning of the conflict over a decade ago. U.S.
government agencies implementing assistance programs include USAID’s Office of
U.S. Congress, United States Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on
African Affairs, United States Policy In Sierra Leone, Hearing , 106th Congress, 2nd
session, S. Hrg. 106-882, October 11, 2000.
See “African Crisis Response Initiative: A Security Building Block.” July 12, 2001.
See CRS Electronic Briefing Book, Trade entry “Conflict and Trade in Diamonds,”
[http://www.congress.gov/brbk/html/ebtra123.html]; and CRS Report RL30751, Diamonds
and Conflict: Policy Proposals and Background.
U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA); Office of Food for Peace (FFP); the
Africa Bureau (AFR); the State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and
Migration (PRM); and the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (FAS/USDA). USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) plans to
exit Sierra Leone in March 2002; the USAID Africa Bureau mission in Conakry,
Guinea will take responsibility for remaining program activities.
In FY2000, State/PRM provided $7 million in FY2000 to several international
organizations in support of refugee repatriation and reintegration, health care,
education, and gender based violence programs in Sierra Leone, and $10.8 million
for Sierra Leonean refugee programs in Guinea and Liberia. In FY2001, State/PRM
provided $22.2 million for Sierra Leonean refugee programming in such areas as
agriculture, education, health, nutrition, refugee relocation and repatriation through
a variety of U.N. and other international organizations and non-governmental
organizations. As of mid-January 2002, State/PRM had provided $7.9 million in
funding for similar programming and anticipated obligating a total for FY2002
similar to that spent in FY2001. Total U.S. government funding for humanitarian
assistance for in FY2000 amounted to $48.9 million, and $75.15 million for FY2001;
of mid-January 2002, it totaled $21 million for FY2002.66 Operation Focus Relief
costs, as of mid-May 2001, totaled about $87.35 million. The Administration’s
FY2003 USAID request totals $3.87 million.
Table 3. U.S. Assistance to Sierra Leone
(Actual obligations unless noted, $ millions; figures are rounded)
(as of 1/14/02)
Source: USAID/OFDA, “Mano River Countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone)-Complex
Emergency Situation Report #2 (FY2002),” January 14, 2002; and USAID/OFDA, “Sierra
Leone-Complex Emergency Situation Report #1(FY2001),” April 20, 2001.
a. Does not include $950,000 in Development Fund for Africa programing implemented by OTI on
behalf of USAID/AFR.
See OFDA, “Mano River Countries (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) - Complex
Emergency Situation Report #2 (FY2002),” Bureau for Humanitarian Response-USAID,
January 14, 2002; and OFDA, “Sierra Leone - Complex Emergency Situation Report
#1(FY2001),” Bureau For Humanitarian Response-USAID, April 20, 2001; and USAID
Budget Justification to the Congress, Annex I Africa.
Table 4. U.S. Assistance: Agency Programming Sectors
Agriculture; health; nutrition; shelter and resettlement;
water/sanitation; transport assistance.
Emergency food assistance to vulnerable groups.
Civil society strengthening; ex-combatant education and training;
policy development support on problem of “conflict diamonds”;
electoral process support
Social reintegration, reconciliation, and human rights education;
electoral and related political processes support. Aids Leahy War
Victims Fund and the Displaced Children’s and Orphan’s Fund.
Refugee repatriation and reintegration; health care; education;
and assistance to victims of gender based violence.
Administers Public Law 480 (P.L. 480) Title II Food for Peace
and Section 416(b) (excess commodities) Programs
Table 5. UNAMSIL: U.S. Contributions,
FY2000, FY2001 and FY2002
Source: State Department, “Summary: Contributions for International
Peacekeeping Activities,” February 19, 2002; and State Department,
“Account Tables-Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities,”
FY2003 International Affairs (Function 150) Budget Request, Summary and
Highlights of Accounts by Appropriations Subcommittees, February 4, 2002.
Table 6. Timetable for Parliamentary and
Presidential Elections: May 2002
NEC Staff Vacancies Filled
All Districts Disarmed According to UNAMSIL
District Block Representation System Approved by Parliament
Nov 12-Dec 15
Identify Registration Centers (5,400) & Photo Centers (600)
Recruitment of Registration Centre Staff (11,000)
Training of Trainers
Training of Registration Officers and Camera Trainers
Training of Assistant Registrars/ Laminators
Training of Assistant Registrars/ Laminators
Deployment of 11,000 Registration Staff
Jan 24-Feb 7
Voter Registration (Including Refugees and IDPs)
*Registration extended by 3 days.
Compilation of Provisional Voters’ Register
Transport, scan forms & print 5400 voters’ registers
Feb 28-March 2
Distribute Provisional Voters’ Register to Exhibition Centers
Exhibition of Provisional Voters’ Register
Filing Objections to Provisional Voter’s Register
Publish Hearing Dates for Registering Objections
Conduct Hearings on Objections
Update Provisional Voters’ Register
March 22-April 1
Printing of Final Voters, Register
Nomination of Candidates
April 9– May 5
Printing of Ballot Papers
April 10– May 6
Train Polling Station Staff
Publish Polling Stations List
Paramount Chief Parliamentary Elections
May 6 – 13
Deliver Elections Materials to Polling Stations
May 8 or 10
Election Day (Parliamentary & Presidential )
*If necessary, a run-off presidential election will follow.
Sources: CIA, “Sierra Leone,” World Factbook 2001I; Inter-Parliamentary Union, “Sierra
Leone,”Parline Database; and news accounts.
Table 7. Sierra Leone’s Political Parties and Leaders
(% by party)
All People’s Congress (APC)
Alhaji Sat Koroma, interim
Citizens United for Peace and
Alfred Musa Conteh,
Coalition for Progress Party
Adu Aiah Koroma.
George E. L. Palmer.
Democratic Party (DP)
Henry Balo, acting
Grand Alliance Party (GAP)
Dr. Raymond Kamara
National Alliance Democratic
Mohamed Yahya Sillah,
National Democratic Alliance
Amadu M. B. Jalloh,
National People’s Party (NPP)
National Republican Party
Stephen Sahr Mambu.
National Unity Movement
National Unity Party (NUP)
John Benjamine, interim
Peace and Liberation Party
People’s Democratic Alliance
Cpl. (Rtd) Abdul Rahman
Kamara, interim chairman.
People’s Democratic Party
People’s National Convention
Edward John Kargbo.
People’s Progressive Party
Abass Chernok Bundu,
Revolutionary United Front
Foday Saybana Sankoh,
Andrew Victor Lungay.
Sierra Leone People’s Party
Alhaji Ahmad Tejan
John Karefa-Smart in
exile; Raymond Kamara,
Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Young People’s Party (YPP)
Sources: CIA, “Sierra Leone,” World Factbook 2001; Inter-Parliamentary Union, “Sierra
Leone,”Parline Database; and news accounts. As of April 2002, fourteen parties had
registered in order to contest the May 2002 election.
Appendix: Acronyms Used in This Report
Africa Bureau, agency of USAID.
Armed Forces Revolutionary Council.
Civilian Defense Forces; pro-government alliance of civil militias in
Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration; also DDRR
(disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement).
ECOWAS Monitoring Group; a regional peacekeeping force.
Economic Community of West African States.
Foreign Agricultural Service; U.S. Department of Agriculture agency.
Office of Food for Peace, agency of USAID.
Gross Domestic Product.
Gross National Income (similar to GNP).
Gross National Product.
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
National Patriotic Front of Liberia; former rebel faction of President
Charles Taylor of Liberia.
Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, agency of USAID.
Operation Focus Relief.
Office of Transition Initiatives, agency of USAID.
Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration; State Department
Revolutionary United Front, rebel group in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone Army; as of April 1, 2002 renamed the Republic of
Sierra Leone Armed Forces.
United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone.
United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone.
U.S. Agency for International Development.
U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA.
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