CARL supports litigations against human rights violations by ECOMOG forces

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June 27, 2018

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

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CARL Executive Director addressing journalists yesterday

The Executive Director of Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) has commended litigations filed this week by a combine team of local and international lawyers for crimes committed by Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) forces during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

Ibrahim Tommy told newsmen yesterday that the application was filed in the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone on June 22, under Section 28 of the 1991 constitution seeking redress for violations of the constitutional rights of Sierra Leoneans, adding that they rights group has made the call over the last decade.

“CARL unreservedly supports the litigation filed and expresses its firm view that the impunity gap that has continued for almost 20 years be finally ended. We commend the bravery and determination of the plaintiffs to seek justice and we are fully confident that justice will be done to them,” Tommy said.

The application, filed in the apex court by Karim Khan QC, Dato Shyamala and Ibrahim Sorie Yilla, is seeking redress for violations of constitutional rights of nine Sierra Leoneans that were allegedly abused by the ECOMOG forces between 1998- 1999.

The plaintiffs seek, among other reliefs, for the court to declare that all the acts of violations stated in the statements of case and affidavits of the plaintiffs amount to violation of their rights under the 1991 constitution, and that the government should compensate each litigant US$100 million while perpetrators should be brought to book.

“This is a truly remarkable effort to address the impunity gap that still exists for years of human rights violations during the war years in Sierra Leone. The plaintiffs, including rape and torture victims and mothers of civilians who were summarily executed, have waited for nearly 20 years to see the first genuine effort aimed at giving them a sense of closure,” Tommy stated.

The CARL boss said that they were calling for a full scale accountability process in relation to breaches of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed against the civilian population in that period.

He stated that the Special Court for Sierra Leone never instituted any investigation into crimes committed by Nigerian troops and ECOMOG forces, despite repeated promises.

Tommy suggested that if the court establishes that the specifically named Nigerian soldiers committed violations, the government of Sierra Leone should either join forces with their counterpart in Nigeria or ask that the perpetrators are extradited to Sierra Leone.

He noted that the ‘case was primarily against the government of Sierra Leone, which invited the Nigerian forces in Sierra Leone.

When quizzed as to why they are bringing the action now, Tommy noted that “this is not a new position, this is a call we have been making for the last decade to the GoSL  to look into crimes committed by not only ECOMOG forces but also other middle level Sierra Leoneans who committed similar crimes.”