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Trial Monitoring

The Defence Office at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (the 'Special Court' or the 'SCSI,'), a third generation international criminal tribunal, represents an attempt at a more streamlined and efficient form of justice. The SCSL has become known for several of its innovative institutional features. Perhaps one of the most notable of these features is the creation of a permanent Defence Office, specifically mandated to ensure the rights of suspects and accused persons tried at the Special Court. In many respects, the Defence Office at the SCSL represents a tremendous achievement.

Silencing Sexual Violence: Recent Development in the CDF Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

This exchange from Trial Chamber I of the Special Court for Sierra Leone does not exist outside the notes of court observers who were present at the public session when it transpired; it has since been expunged from the official court record. The details of this allegation - that the witness was forced to become the “wife” of one of the men on trial - will never be explored, tested or weighed as evidence against the accused.

Second Interim Report: Some Reflections on the Trial Phase at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

This report is the second in a series of interim analysis reports issued as part of a permanent international monitoring programme at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown. The international monitoring team comprises recent graduates, academics and lawyers who monitor the trials and conduct research on behalf of The War Crimes Studies Center for The University of California, Berkeley. The first of the analysis reports was issued by Sara Kendall and Michelle Staggs in April 2005.

Interim Report: the Special Court for Sierra Leone as a Model for Hybrid Justice

The eleven year conflict in Sierra Leone, West Africa was marked by brutal acts against the country’s population from multiple fronts: at least three factions engaged in atrocities against enemy combatants, suspected collaborators, and civilians. Among the conflict’s most notorious features were widespread amputations, mutilations, acts of sexual violence, mass killing, abduction and forced recruitment into armed groups, the use of child combatants, and the exploitation of Sierra Leone’s diamond reserves to finance the war effort.

Effective, Efficient, and Fair: an Inquiry into the Investigative Practices of the Office of the Prosecutor at the SCSL

This report began with a series of troubling insights into Prosecution investigative protocol at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (the Special Court or SCSL). During the summer 2007 trial session of the Prosecutor v. Sesay, Kallon, and Gbao, Trial Chamber I called a voir dire to determine the admissibility of post-arrest statements made by the first accused, Issa Sesay, during eleven days of custodial interviews in March and April of 2003.

Child Witnesses at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Children who engaged in combat during the conflict in Sierra Leone are uniquely situated to provide crucial evidence in the war crimes proceedings unfolding before the Special Court. This report explores the role of former child combatants as witnesses at the Special Court and the Court’s program to protect and support them. It begins with a discussion of general issues regarding child witnesses, such as the accuracy of their testimony, concerns about their developmental stage, and the risks of re-traumatization.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, RUF Trial, Update 102

Early this week, the Prosecution concluded its cross examination of the first accused, Issa Sesay. After Mr. Sesay stepped down, the Defense called its next two witnesses, both civilian women from Kailahun district testifying under protective measures. They were designated DIS-302 and DIS-301. Both women concluded their testimony before court adjourned on the 28th of June. This week’s proceedings brought the summer trial session to a close. As announced earlier this month, the Trial Chamber adjourned a full month earlier than originally anticipated.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, RUF Trial, Update 101

This week, Trial Chamber One concluded its voir dire inquiry into the post-arrest custodial interrogation of first accused, Issa Sesay. Defense called three witnesses and the Chamber heard brief closing submissions from each party. On Friday morning, the Bench ruled against the Prosecution—excluding Mr. Sesay’s statements as involuntary on the grounds that OTP investigators took them in breach of the fundamental rights of the accused. Immediately following the Trial Chamber’s oral decision, the main trial resumed, Mr.

Special Court for Sierra Leone, RUF Trial, Update 100

The Investigations Section of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) came into serious disrepute this week during a special voir dire hearing to determine the admissibility of post-arrest statements made in 2003 by first accused, Issa Sesay. The four investigators called by the Prosecution to testify in this “trial within a trial” denied any professional misconduct or procedural rights violations during Mr. Sesay’s arrest, detention, and interrogation.

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