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Monday, November 16, 2009

Sierra Leone war crimes court hands over control of detention facility
Megan McKee at 12:56 PM ET

[JURIST] The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) [official website] on Monday handed over its detention facility [press release, PDF] to the Sierra Leone Prison Service in a monumental step towards the court's resolution. The Sierra Leone Prison Service will use the facility, which meets international standards, to house female prisoners. Director of Prisons Moses Showers emphasized the importance of providing for the welfare of female prisoners, saying "[f]emales [sic] prisoners all over the world are a marginalized lot, Sierra Leone not being an exception. Emphasis is usually placed for male inmates, and facilities provided for detention centres are usually concentrated for the development and welfare of male inmates."

In late October, eight men judged guilty of war crimes by the court were transferred [JURIST report] to Rwanda to serve out their terms. Because Sierra Leone had no adequate prison facilities, an agreement with Rwanda allowed the men to finish their terms [Reuters report] at Mpanga prison. Three of the men, leaders of the Revolutionary United Front [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], had their appeals rejected [JURIST report] earlier in October, and will now serve sentences between 15 and 25 years. Other transferees include members of the RUF-ally Armed Force Revolutionary Council and government-backed Civil Defence Forces. With these final sentences, the SCSL has largely fulfilled its purpose and will continue taking steps close down [BBC report]. The SCSL was created in a joint endeavor by the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN to provide a forum to try those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law, committed in Sierra Leone.

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