- Judicial contributions of the Sierra Leone tribunal to the development of international criminal law
- Award date
- 7 October 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Law (FdR)
- Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL)
This dissertation considers whether the Special Court for Sierra Leone (“SCSL”), which was established jointly through an unprecedented bilateral treaty between the United Nations (“UN”) and Sierra Leone in 2002, has made jurisprudential contributions to the development of international criminal law. The work opens with an examination of the outbreak of a notoriously brutal civil war in Sierra Leone which lasted between March 1991 and January 2002 and led to the deaths of approximately 75,000 people. It then considers the circumstances of the failed 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement, which initially conferred a blanket amnesty on all the combatants for the crimes committed. The failure of the rebels to honor the generous peace accord led to the request by President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah for UN assistance to establish an independent special court to try the worst offenders. Following a discussion of the creation, jurisdiction and the trials conducted by the SCSL, the analysis unpacks the unique personal jurisdiction over persons bearing “greatest responsibility” and its implications for future international penal tribunals; issues of immunity for the serving head of state of Liberia, which was not a party to the UN-Sierra Leone treaty; the legality of the blanket amnesty that Sierra Leone purported to confer on all perpetrators, and the interaction between truth commissions and special courts given their distinctive reconciliation and punishment mandates. The author argues that the SCSL has made useful jurisprudential additions on many of these topics, and in some cases broke new ground, and that these represent a valuable contribution to the development of international law.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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