24/05/2005
Press Release
SC/8391


Security Council

5185th Meeting (AM)


PRESIDENT OF SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL;


ADDRESSES FUNDING SHORTFALL, SECURITY, STATUS OF AT-LARGE INDICTEES


The Special Court for Sierra Leone had received approximately $54.9 million in voluntary contributions against a four-year budget of $104 million and there was currently no assurance of funds beyond the end of 2005, Court President Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola said this morning in a briefing to the Security Council.


He said that, as a result of that shortfall, the Secretary-General had reverted to the Council, seeking a subvention under the United Nations programme budget for special political missions to supplement the voluntary contributions.† With the Councilís endorsement, he had requested the General Assembly to appropriate up to $40 million to the Special Court and the Assembly had authorized a commitment authority of $20 million for the period 31 July 2004 to 30 June 2005.† Its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was currently considering a further commitment authority of $13 million for the period 31 July to 31 December 2005.† The Registrar of the Special Court was pursuing additional voluntary contributions from MemberStates and other organizations, including the European Union.


He said the question of funding was raised in light of the reluctance of the United Nations at the Special Courtís inception to embark on another tribunal funded through assessed contributions, in addition to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).† Resolution 1315 (2000) determined that the Special Courtís operations would be financed through voluntary contributions of funds, equipment and services from States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.† That financial arrangement had been adopted in spite of the Secretary-Generalís concern that voluntary contributions would not provide assured and continuous funding and that a special court based on voluntary contributions would be neither viable nor sustainable.


Emphasizing that the international community could not afford to let the Special Court fail, he said failure would send a negative message to those struggling to combat the culture of impunity and undermine respect for human rights and international law, thus emboldening any who might plan to embark on a course of conduct that was in deliberate violation of international humanitarian law.† The Council was urged to continue to give its wholehearted and effective support to the Court particularly in the areas of adequate funding, the transfer of indictees who were still at large, and the maintenance of the necessary security until the end of the Courtís operations.


Regarding security, he said that 20 per cent of the Special Courtís budget was devoted to security arrangements.† Of that, substantial resources had to be allocated to the protection of witnesses during the trial and in the post-trial phase.† The presence of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) had been crucial in supporting the Courtís mandate, but in light of the Missionís withdrawal plan, new security arrangements for the Special Court would need to be in place by early November 2005.† No budgetary provision had been made for security post-UNAMSIL and the only viable option was to retain an international force on-site, preferably a military force, or a formed police unit from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).† To that end, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had initiated consultations with UNAMSIL, UNMIL and the Special Court to provide recommendations to the Council by July 2005 and ensure that timely arrangements were in place.


Turning to the transfer of indictees to Freetown, he said that the whereabouts of Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) leader Johnny Paul Koroma, who had 17 counts against him, were not known.† However, the indictment remained valid until evidence of his death might be available to the Prosecutor.† The other indictee, former Liberian President Charles Taylor, had since been granted refuge in Nigeria.† On 3 March 2003, the Prosecutor had issued a 17-count indictment against him, which had been disclosed by the Court on 12 June of that year.† The Court had continued its efforts, so far unsuccessfully, to have Mr. Taylor transferred to Sierra Leone for trial, and all necessary logistical and financial arrangements were in place.† A delay in the transfer and trial of Charles Taylor would have a negative impact in terms of the Special Courtís completion strategy, as well as funding and security arrangements.† Also, the importance of trying Mr. Taylor and Mr. Koroma could not be overemphasized, because of the strong impact their trials would have on the perception of the Court on the part of the people of Sierra Leone and of Africa, as well as on the Courtís contribution to combating the culture of impunity.


Noting that the Special Courtís location in Sierra Leone had given a prominent relevance to the concept of legacy, he said that, foremost, the Court would leave behind a sense of justice for crimes committed during the decade-long conflict in that country, and engender public awareness that criminal accountability for such crimes was possible.† The Court would also leave a legacy for Sierra Leonean legal personnel, who represented approximately 60 per cent of its staff.† In addition, it was expected that, when the Court wound down, it would also leave behind tangible and material resources for the Sierra Leonean legal system, including a state-of-the-art courthouse; a modern detention facility, in full compliance with international standards on prison accommodation; and the highly specialized collection of the Courtís Library.


The meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and ended at 10:46 a.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing by the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.


Briefing by President of Special Court


EMMANUEL OLAYINKA AYOOLA, President, Special Court for Sierra Leone, said he would describe that bodyís progress to date, introduce the updated version of its completion strategy, adopted by the Management Committee for the Special Court on 19 May 2005, and outline the challenges ahead, particularly those of funding, security and cooperation of States.† He introduced Prosecutor David Crane and Registrar Robin Vincent, both of whom had been with the Special Court since its establishment.


Outlining those characteristics that made the Special Court different from international tribunals, he said it had been the first to use ďgreater responsibilityĒ as its standard for prosecuting alleged perpetrators.† Second, it was located in the country where the crimes had taken place and, third, it had been established by an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone as an independent hybrid organization.† That hybrid nature was reflected in the composition of its staff and judges, and in the fact that its Statute drew both from international humanitarian law and domestic criminal law.† Finally, the Special Court was the first international criminal court to be funded from the outset by voluntary contributions.


He said that the founders of the Special Court, which began its operations in July 2002, had deliberately sharpened its focus by limiting its mandate to those persons bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in that countryís territory in the relevant period.† Of the 13 indictments issued by the Prosecutor, 11 were currently active.† In December 2003, the indictment against Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie had been withdrawn as a result of their deaths.† Of the 11 remaining accused, nine were currently in the Special Courtís custody in Freetown. †Of the two remaining accused, Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, had been granted refuge in Nigeria, and the leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), Johnny Paul Koroma, also remained at large.† Although the Prosecutor had indicated the possibility of additional indictments, their number would be extremely limited and possibly linked to the existing indictees.


The trial chamber had issued decisions in January 2004 ordering three joint trials, he said.† As a result, three joint trials, instead of nine separate ones, were currently under way in the Special Courtís two chambers.† Two trials had begun in June and July 2004, respectively, before the first chamber, which was alternating them on a six-week basis.† In February 2004, the President of the Special Court had requested a second trial chamber, for which the Secretary-General and the Government of Sierra Leone had appointed judges in January 2005.† The third trial had begun in March 2005.† At the time of its creation, the Special Court had been envisaged as a cost-effective and time-efficient accountability model.† As it entered its fourth year of operations, the identification of a completion date for those operations became essential.


He said that, based on the current usage of Court time, as well as the actual witness hearing time, it was estimated that the ongoing trials of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) and the AFRC would be completed at the trial chamber stage around the end of 2005 or early 2006.† Taking into account an estimated time for appeals between four and six months, the appeals could finish by mid-2006.† The completion of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) at the trial chamber stage was estimated by the end of 2006, and at the appeals stage by early to mid-2007.† The Registry, in consultation with other Court organs, was working actively to ensure further improvement upon that provisional estimate, as well as the completion of the appeals stage by the end of 2006.


However, he added, it should be noted that the appeals stage would require a smaller establishment compared to the trial stage.† Trials may take additional time due to Sierra Leoneís still fragile and unpredictable political and security climate, and the need for protective measures and security arrangements for the majority of witnesses.† Nevertheless, the Court remained seized of the determination to complete the trials expeditiously without sacrificing the integrity of the judicial process and fair trial to the need for expedition.


Turning to the question of funding, he said it was raised against the background of the reluctance on the part of the United Nations at the Special Courtís inception to embark on another tribunal funded through assessed contributions, in addition to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.† Resolution 1315 (2000) determined that the operations of the Special Court would be financed through voluntary contributions of funds, equipment and services from States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.† That financial arrangement had been adopted in spite of the Secretary-Generalís concern that voluntary contributions would not provide assured and continuous funding and that a special court based on voluntary contributions would be neither viable nor sustainable.† As a compromise, however, the Secretary-General had asserted his right to revert to the Security Council should voluntary funding be insufficient.


To date the Special Court had received approximately $54.9 million in voluntary contributions from 33 States, against a four-year budget of $104 million, he said.† As a result of that shortfall, the Secretary-General had reverted to the Council and sought a subvention under the United Nations programme budget for special political missions to supplement voluntary contributions.† With the Councilís endorsement he had requested the General Assembly to appropriate up to $40 million to the Special Court.† The Assembly, at its fifty-ninth session, had authorized a commitment authority of $20 million for the period 31 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 and its Fifth Committee was currently considering a further commitment authority of $13 million for the period 31 July to 31 December 2005.


There was currently no assurance of funds for the Special Court beyond the end of 2005, he emphasized, even though the Registrar was pursuing additional voluntary contributions from Member States and other organizations, including the European Union.† The Special Court had recently employed a consultant to develop a fundraising strategy, which the Registrar would discuss this week with the Management Committee.† The Court would not only need funds to carry it through the end of the trials, but also, after rendering final judgements in the trials of all accused in custody, for transferring any convicted persons to prisons outside Sierra Leone and discharging a number of residual activities that would need to be carried out.† Those included the supervision of enforcement of sentences; the provision of support and protection to witnesses, particularly those who relocated from Sierra Leone to other States; the maintenance of judicial records and archives; and, importantly, the retained capacity to prosecute any accused person who had been indicted, but who were brought into the Special Courtís custody after or shortly before the winding down process.


Addressing the issue of security, he reiterated that a crucial feature which differentiated the Special Court from the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda was the location of the Special Court in the country in which the conflict took place.† There were, no doubt, crucial advantages in locating the Court in the country where the conflict took place.† However, the location in Sierra Leone had also resulted in considerable pressure on the operations of the Special Court as a result of the security situation.† A very large part of the budget was devoted to security, namely 20 per cent, of which substantial resources had to be allocated to the protection of witnesses during the trial and post-trial phase.


The presence of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone had been crucial in supporting the Courtís mandate, he said.† In light of the Missionís withdrawal plan, new security arrangements for the Special Court would need to be in place by early November 2005.† No budgetary provision had been made for security following the departure of the United Nations Mission.† The only viable option for the Special Court was to retain an international force on-site, preferably a military force, or a formed police unit from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).† To that end, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had initiated consultations with the Missions in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Special Court to provide recommendations to the Council by July 2005 and ensure that arrangements were in place in due time.


Another crucial issue, he continued, was the transfer to the Court of those indictees who were still at large.† There were currently two indictees who were not yet in the custody of the Special Court in Freetown.† The whereabouts of Johnny Paul Koroma, who was indicted with 17 counts, were not known.† However, the indictment remained valid, until evidence of his death might be available to the Prosecutor.† The other indictee, Charles Taylor, who resigned as President of Liberia in August 2003, had since been granted refuge in Nigeria.† On 3 March 2003, the Prosecutor had issued a 17-count indictment against him, which was disclosed by the Court on 12 June of that year.† The Court had continued its efforts, so far unsuccessfully, to have Mr. Taylor transferred to Sierra Leone for the conduct of the trial against him, and all necessary logistical and financial arrangements were in place.


A delay in the transfer and trial of Charles Taylor would have a negative impact in terms of completion strategy, funding and security arrangements, he said.† Also, the importance of trying Mr. Taylor and Mr. Koroma before the Special Court could not be overemphasized, because of the strong impact that that would have on the perception that the people of Sierra Leone and of Africa had of the Court and similar institutions, and on the Courtís contribution to combating the culture of impunity.


With regard to outreach and public affairs, he said the Court had, since its inception, endeavoured to play an active role in contributing to the consolidation of peace in Sierra Leone and to the development of the rule of law.† Since the very beginning of its operations, the Court had been aware of the need for a strong outreach programme, in order to take full advantage of the unprecedented opportunity presented by its location.† The Outreach Section, composed entirely of Sierra Leonean staff, had undertaken a wide range of initiatives.† In a particularly innovative programme, the Courtís Public Affairs Office had been producing video summaries of trial proceedings for the outreach efforts in the provinces, which were screened by the Courtís outreach programme across Sierra Leone on mobile video units.


The location of the Special Court in Sierra Leone and its hybrid nature had given a prominent relevance to the concept of legacy, he noted.† Foremost, the Court would leave behind a sense of justice for crimes committed during the decade-long conflict in Sierra Leone, and engender public awareness that criminal accountability for such crimes was possible.† The Court would also leave a legacy for the Sierra Leonean personnel, who represented approximately 60 per cent of the 340 staff members.† In many ways, the Court would enable its Sierra Leonean personnel in all areas of operations, and their local counterparts, to develop their professional expertise, despite the Special Courtís lack of an explicit capacity-building mandate.


It was expected that, when the Court wound down, it would also leave behind tangible and material resources for the Sierra Leonean legal system, including a state-of-the-art courthouse; a modern detention facility, in full compliance with international standards on prison accommodation; and the highly specialized collection of the Courtís Library.† ďGlobally, our vision and mission is to leave a legacy that will serve as a model for ensuring accountability for violations of international humanitarian law in other post-conflict situations, in an expeditious and financially restrained fashion, without compromising on observance of fair hearing in the judicial processĒ, he said.


The international community could not afford to let the Court fail, as such failure would send a negative message to those struggling to combat the culture of impunity and would undermine respect for human rights and international law, thus emboldening any who might plan to embark on a course of conduct that was in deliberate violation of international humanitarian law.† He urged the Council to continue to give its wholehearted and effective support to the Court in any manner it might consider appropriate, in particular in the areas of adequate funding, the transfer of those indictees at large, and maintenance of the necessary security until the end of the Courtís operations.† As the outgoing President, he said he was honoured to be a part of the Special Court and of the determination of the international community to end impunity.


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