February 16, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Four war convicts of Sierra Leone’s ten year civil war have pleaded with citizens to accord them amnesty for atrocities committed during the ten years war, requesting that Government either grant them the privilege of serving the remainder of their respective jail terms at home so that they could return to their families at home.
The pleas of the four convicts including Issa Hassan Sesay and Morris Hassan Kallon both of the defunct Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Santigie Borbor Kanu and Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, both of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), was made on two separate videos recorded at their detention centre, in which they claimed that they no longer feel safe to continue to serve their sentences in Rwanda.
They said one of the convicts, Alex Tamba Brima alias Gullit, of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces, died whilst serving his jail term in Rwanda, due to poor medical care.
Speaking on behalf of the convicts, Theophilus Gbenda, claimed that the convicts are treated as stateless citizens in the Rwandan Prison, with their health conditions in bad shape.
He emphasised the need for the convicts to be brought back to Sierra Leone to continue their prison terms or accorded an absolute pardon, so as to be able to reintegrate back into society as peace ambassadors.
Speaking to this medium, Alice Pyne, former Communication Coordinator of RUF, explained that members of the RUFP have joined their former counterparts to appeal with the government and the people of Sierra Leone in order for the Special Court judges to temper justice with mercy.
She added that war crimes and atrocities against humanity were not only committed by the RUF and ARFC, but were also committed by all the factions involved in the civil war like, ECOMOG, civil militias, UNAMSIL etc.
She also stated that the convicts are supposed to be kept under established best international standards, but the indications appears completely opposite in terms of their general welfare.
In the videos circulating through social media via Facebook and WhatsApp, General Issa Hassan Sesay, who was the Interim Leader of the RUF as at the time of disarmament and demobilization, said he remains very much aware of the crimes committed and the role he personally played in restoring peace and sanity across the length and breadth of the country.
“My heart goes to all those who lost their lives during the war and their bereaved families. My heart goes to all those who got amputated or sustained life-long injuries; those who lost their properties and got displaced,” he said, adding that while he is not challenging the decision of the court to have sentenced him to long years in prison despite his critical role in bringing back peace to the nation, he is humbly appealing for forgiveness and an opportunity to return back to his country, to face the victims and/or their families and personally ask them to let bygones be bygones.
On his part, former Battle Front Commander of the RUF, Morris Kallon, acknowledged the fact that heinous crimes against humanity by all factions of the war including forces of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), known as ECOMOG and the civil populace, were committed during the war, but noted that such is always the case in a war situation.
He pledged to be an ambassador of peace to ensure that what the country went through during that volatile war period never repeats itself.
He expressed regret over what happened during the war and asked for forgiveness for not only him, but all those who one way or the other, were involved in acts of violence during the period under review.
Santigie Borbor Kanu commonly known as Brigadier 55, once a member of the Sierra Leone Army and a top operative of the AFRC at the time, begged for clemency, saying they themselves are victims of the war.
He decried the poor medical condition under which they are, stating that they are being treated as stateless citizens.
Buttressing, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara, also a high level ex – AFRC Commander, called on the people of Sierra Leone to accord them an everlasting forgiveness, saying what happened was never their making as young boys coming up in a volatile society.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), also called the Sierra Leone Tribunal, was a judicial body set up by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations to try persons deemed to bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of International Humanitarian Law and Sierra Leonean law committed during the country’s civil war.