August 23, 2016 By John Baimba Sesay in Beijing, China
Envoys of Sierra Leone and South Sudan to China on Monday, 22 August, 2016 met and had information and experience sharing session on both country’s wars, post-war challenges, process of truth, reconciliation and healing, hybrid courts and international justice tribunals and legislation for truth commission.
The meeting came following a request from South Sudan’s Ambassador to China, Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, to Ambassador Alimamy P. Koroma “to share and learn from the experiences” of Sierra Leone’s peace process.
Ambassador Koroma highlighted a number of institutions that played major role in facilitating an end to Sierra Leone’s civil war, not least civil society and religious groups and the international community, including the UN and regional bodies.
With a non partisan approach, he said religious bodies and civil society groups largely helped in the process, and encouraged his South Sudanese counterpart to ensure a strengthened civil society in his country.
The post-war rebuilding efforts included investigating causes of the war and ensuring justice for victims of the war, with both leading to the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Special Court respectively.
On the creation of the Special Court, Ambassador Koroma said it was as the result of a request to the United Nations in 2000 by the then Government of Sierra Leone for “a Special Court” to try those “who bear the greatest responsibility” for the decade long civil war in Sierra Leone.
Though the court’s establishment was a government decision, he said, there was little or nothing government could say or do in terms of proceedings.
A Truth and Reconciliation approach, he further said, could be a better approach to addressing post-war challenges, since, in his view, it gives opportunity to victims to speak out and share experiences.“It also gives an opportunity for perpetrators to apologise and victims would see their sufferings being acknowledged,” Ambassador Koroma said.
South Sudan’s Ambassador, Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, whilst speaking, also shared his country’s war experience and ongoing peace efforts.
He spoke of the existence of civil society groups and how they have been major players in the peace process.
As country, he said, they have agreed for a TRC model as in the case with Sierra Leone and Liberia, but that there had been calls for a hybrid court from regional bodies.
Issues bordering on post-war reconstruction efforts, disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation processes; role of neighbouring countries, opening-up of political space for a participatory approach and involvement of civil militia groups in the conflicts of both countries, were extensively discussed by both envoys.
Both envoys have agreed to further discussions by way of follow-up meetings.
Attending the session were officials from the Sierra Leone Embassy, including Minister Counselor/Head of Chancery Unisa Sahid Kamara, Counselor and First Secretary.
Dr. Michael Milli Hussein was accompanied by his deputy Raphael Nhial Kulang, Head of Economic, Trade and Investments Section Monday Semaya K. Kumba, Defense Attaché Brig. Gen Bior Kuir Deng Bior and First Secretary Peter Cafenol Oryomo.