score one for international justice

I had started off the day intending to flag up the humanitarian appeal launched by Archbishops of Canterbury and York for Zimbabwe. But news coming through this afternoon about three Sierra Leone rebel commanders who were found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity has knocked that story off the top spot of my blog agenda. 

The UN’s Special Court set up to address crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s brutal and bloody war heard how the three men were involved in the rape, mutilation and murder of civilians during Sierra Leone’s 10-year civil war, and they agreed that these men had carried out the worst crimes known to mankind – crimes against humanity.

These guilty verdicts send a clear message that those responsible for crimes under international law will not go unpunished. While these verdicts may offer some sense of justice for the people of Sierra Leone, there is still a long way to go in fully tackling impunity in the region.

All eyes are now turning to the former Liberian President Charles Taylor whose trial is taking place at The Hague.  There are real concerns that his trial may collapse as the court’s funds are drying up. That would be a real kick in the teeth for international justice if that were to happen.

Let’s hope that doesn’t become a reality.

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