Appendix 2, Part 2: Submissions

Project Name: Youth Empowerment Programme
Project No.: SIE 0047 1
Country: Sierra Leone - Northern province
Duration: Six (6) Months
Recipient Organisation: Caritas Makeni

Diocesan Development and Relief Office
22 Wilkinson Road
Sierra Leone
Tell: 232-22-233760
Fax: 232-22-233919

Date of Reporting: 7th July 2003
Reporting Period: January-June 2003
Project cost: 93,862,600


The security situation in Sierra Leone has remained generally stable since the May 14, 2002 Presidential and Parliamentary elections; since then, there is an increasing number of unemployed youths mainly in urban centers with little or no job opportunities. This situation poses a long term social and economic problems.

The conflict in the sub-region notably Liberia, still constitute a threat to the consolidation of peace in Sierra Leone.

The United Nations (UN) is planning a national recovery strategy for Sierra Leone focusing on coordination for recovery, facilitating the reintegration of returning populations, encouraging community reconciliation and promoting the protection of human rights.

The humanitarian situation of returnees and returning refugees remain a major challenge in the peace building process. Also, the influx of Liberian refugees remains a source of concern.

Reconciliation and peace building activities appear to be an uphill task since it has been difficult reconciling perpetrators and their victims.
Nevertheless, barely 18 months after the official declaration of the end of Sierra Leone's decade old war, considerable progress has been made in several areas including youth development and skills training support.

With an increasingly improving national security, agencies fighting to reverse the appalling job and economic opportunities have made a positive mark.

As an implementing partner, Caritas Makeni exhibits a comprehensive record of accomplishment under its child protection programme (CPP) covering among others, reintegration, psychosocial and recreational activities, HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, micro credit and skills training, peace building and reconciliation and human right, youth exchange visits, newsletter contribution and publication etc.

At the beginning of the year 2003, goals and objectives were designed by Caritas Makeni for the Youth Empowerment Programme with nearly 60% of set objectives met.

Eleven thousand youths in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone covered by Caritas Makeni have benefited in diverse ways namely:micro credit, HIV/AIDS awareness raising campaigns, skills training support, peer counseling etc..

On a national scale, the government of Sierra Leone is beginning to address the issue of youths as of July 2003. A strategic PLANNING meeting was organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in collaboration with organizations involved in youth empowerment programs. The aim of the meeting was to launch a National Youth Policy. Issues affecting youths in post conflict Sierra Leone were outlined and debated upon. Challenges and obstacles facing agencies in their work with and for youths were highlighted, and the need for harmonization and reduction of duplication of activities among others were discussed.

Visits of partners from TROCAIRE and CAFOD during the project implementation were a source of inspiration for both beneficiaries and the agency.


The image of the epidemic in Sierra Leone which is now 5%, is assuming a terrifying dimension. Recent surveys conducted by Centre for Disease Control (CDC, Georgia) and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has revealed the crisis nature of HIV/AIDS.










HIV +ve (%)
















15-49 yrs





  • 80% of Sierra Leoneans (12-49) have ever heard of HIV and AIDS.
  • 67% know that a healthy looking person can have AIDS.
  • 88% know that AIDS is spread through sex.

MICS Survey - 2002

  • 54% of women (15-49) have never heard of HIV/AIDS
  • 21% know the three main ways to prevent HIV transmission (ABC)
  • 19% could correctly identify 3 misconceptions about HIV transmission

Adolescent's KAP - April 2002

  • 72.3% of adolescents have heard about HIV and AIDS (90% in W/Area)
  • 7.7% of adolescents have knowledge and understanding about HIV and AIDS
  • 55.1% do not know that healthy carriers exist
  • 37.3% have never heard about condom while only 13.5% use condoms
  • 10.5% know condom as a means to prevent HIV transmission
  • 60.2% have negative attitudes towards PLWHAs

As a country that has experienced a decade long civil war, Sierra Leone have had series of factors to account for the epidemic

• An exceedingly large number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs)
• A huge refugee population in neighboring countries
• A very high rate of STIs
• A health care system crippled by the prolonged civil war with destroyed infrastructure and shortages of doctors, drugs and support staff
• A high proportion of its population within the sexually active ages of 15-49
• A brutal rebel movement that has used rape extensively as a terror tactic
• Widespread abductions of women used as "sex slaves" by rebel armies

Caritas Makeni acknowledges the nature of HIV transmission with its accompanying prejudices, ignorance and misconceptions among youths. In view of this, it has recognised the need for coordinating and networking with organizations, on HIV/AIDS response strategies that can be adopted by agencies for effective implementation, with the view of curbing the spread of the epidemic.

OBJECTIVE: To help about 55 %( 5,550) of young people in our operational area (Tonkolili, Port Loko, Bombali, Kambia and Koinadugu Districts) know about the existence and prevention of HIV/AIDS by 2006.


-Recruiting volunteers in HIV/AIDS prevention and Care campaign
-Training of youths on HIV/AIDS/STIs prevention and care
-Development and dissemination of IEC materials about HIV/AIDS/STIs. (IEC to include drama, songs, folklore, stories, health messages, poems and posters)
-Conducting community out-reach on HIV/AIDS education and campaigns
-Campaign against violence on women, prejudices against people living with AIDS and advocate gender equality and support for HIV infected and affected persons.
-Mobilize community support towards the HIV/AIDS infected and affected persons
-Initiate school AIDS Clubs that target primary and secondary schools with abstinence and faithfulness messages as ways of preventing sexual transmission of HIV.
-Provide counseling to vulnerable groups (commercial sex workers, drug users and drivers) about safer sex.

ACTIVITIES Accomplished
Training of community volunteers (i.e. Youth leaders, Health workers, Teachers, Religious Leaders.) on the mode of transmission and prevention of HIV/ AIDS. As a result of this intervention HIV/AIDS awareness is growing among young people.

Peer educators were trained in schools for the easy and free flow of HIV/AIDS communication message among peers and organizing HIV/AIDS quiz competition among out of school youths to test the beneficiaries' awareness level on HIV/AIDS and clarify any misconceptions and identify gap for future trainings.

Establishment of District HIV/AIDS Committees in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other concern NGOs to oversee and monitor the campaign for the awareness of HIV/AIDS.

The printing and dissemination of HIV/AIDS information, education and communication (IEC) materials like posters, T-shirts and leaflets to speed up information flow.

Organized HIV/AIDS support clubs with youths in schools and vocational centers, to help disseminate messages, as part of the youths to youth peer approach. These support clubs are involved in formulating jingles, dramas, role plays, developing and dissemination of HIV/AIDS materials using local resources such as local song, poems jingles etc..

Launching of HIV/AIDS awareness mass campaigns, targeting the wider communities in highly vulnerable places like slums, ghettos, motor parks, boarding homes, hotels, barracks, UNAMSIL residences and environs, etc. in order to increase knowledge on the dangers of the disease and influence behavior change among youths.

Promote voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services to encourage young people especially groups at high risk like commercial sex workers, rape victims, girl mothers, intravenous drug users to present themselves for counseling and testing.

Skills training support/micro credit offered to young people in the form of quick impact skills training and micro credit in order to help disadvantaged and vulnerable young people,( I.E. girl mothers, rape victims, commercial sex workers) that may be vulnerable to STIs, HIV/AIDS the disease.

Participation in the Stepping Stones Workshop organized by CAFOD, TROCAIRE and Christian Aid Sierra Leone facilitated by Action Aid which is a valuable tool at community level in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


As a result of the programme there is now the existence of HIV/AIDS committees at district level charged with the responsibility of monitoring and supervising HIV/AIDS activities.

There are ongoing quiz competitions at school level on HIV/AIDS.

Availability of printed information, education and communication materials on HIV/AIDS at community level.

There are widespread popular slogans and jingles among young people in various communities.

Young people are now conscious about sex related issues as a result of HIV/AIDS campaigns.

There are now regular HIV/AIDS programs in various media outlets.


Young people's participation in the planning and implementation of project activities was very vital for timely accomplishment of project activities.

The level of poverty among young people is greatly contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Commercial sex workers will tell you the price for unprotected sex exceeds that of protected sex.

Most vocabulary in HIV/AIDS sensitization offends local cultures and taboos, e.g. the mentioning about sex openly and the naming of private parts is shunned upon.

Myths and misconceptions about the risk of STD/STIs or even HIV/AIDS among people of the ages 13-20 is appalling, e.g. at a workshop for young people in higher primary school, a young girl of about 13, who was bold enough to confess she is having sex with even adult, was asked how she can prevent herself from getting pregnant or risk infection.


The Sierra Leone armed conflict was rooted in unemployment and lack of economic opportunities for young people. Caritas Makeni has sought to address this, giving special attention to the youths through the Youth Empowerment Programme.

OBJECTIVE: To provide life long employment opportunities for 60 youths through skills training supports at community by level January 2003.

Activities Accomplished

1. Identification and subsequent placement of 60 young people in four skills training centers as shown below:












d in

























15 !

Mile 91


























~ 2



Procurement and distribution of training materials and tools to all training centers to enhance effective training activities.

Conducted numeracy and literacy lessons to help trainees with relevant skills, Trainees were divided into groups, as some are school dropouts while others have never been to school.

Provided meals for Trainees in skills training during lunch hours.
Monitoring and supervision of project activities for timely implementation of project objectives.


Restoration of self esteem.

Young people (especially drop-outs) now have the opportunity to engage themselves in skills training for self reliance.

Some trainees (cloth weaving, gara-tie dying and plastic weaving) are now capable of making items on their own that enables them earn some form of income.


It is widely estimated that about 70% of the youths in Sierra Leone may have been victims or perpetrators and many are living with the scars of the decade old brutal civil war. The experienced shared from Rwanda by Antoine Girelli (a trauma healing consultant) shows that if these psychosomatic experiences are not immediately address it would have the propensity to worsen the situation dramatically in the future. Therefore in order to salvage the situation and upon the request of the community especially the youths, Caritas Makeni became involved in order to salvage the worsening youth situation, and as an initiative for long term development.

OBJECTIVE: To heal the minds of traumatize youths to enable them grow free of stress.

Activities  Accomplished

Facilitate the formation of youth groups.

Procure and distribute recreational materials to youth groups and training centers.

Facilitate sport and drama activities youth club in schools.
In and out door games like football, volley ball, Ludo, card, draught and painting were organized in all the skills training centers, for recreational purposes and relaxation.

Hired coaches, instructors and school counselors to offer their services to young people.


Many traumatized youths are now fully involved in recreational activities.

Former ex-combatants and youths who suffered during the war do have a common meeting place at recreational grounds.

Reconciliation is gradually gaining momentum.


OBJECTIVE: - To prepare the minds of young people for peaceful coexistence and respect for the rule of law in their communities.
Activities Accomplished

1. A student peace council has been formed in the Northern District town of Makeni, membership comprising of students from all schools in Makeni town, its call "Bombali Student Peace Association" (BOSPA) is formed and organized by Caritas Makeni to mend fences and to help attain lasting peace in and among communities. Violence has been almost a normal routine during sport and festivals amongst youths.

2. Caritas Makeni had successfully mediated a crisis that involved the beating up of the Principal of Binkolo Secondary School (7-km. from Makeni) by students of the school. The three students were taken to court and sentenced for six months imprisonment, through the intervention of Caritas Makeni youth programme each have been acquitted and the principal asked to forgive. The students are now attending their normal schooling and the Principal playing his normal role as the principal of the school.

Workshops on this subject have been organized in Makeni, Bumbuna and Port Loko, in order to address the curbing violence in schools and facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation that are essential to peace.

3. Community animators have been trained to mediate and reconcile community conflicts among youths, groups and peoples. Field staffs have been monitoring the activities of trained peace animators at community level.

4. Focus group discussions are organized for young people on resolving conflict using traditional methods of reconciliation and conflict management.


Young people have become peace agents between individuals, groups and communities.

There is relative calm and joy in communities in contrast to the miasma that once marked certain occasions like dances, traditional and societal gatherings, discos, soccer competitions or during festivals.


The multiple displacement, horror and terror witnessed during the ten years of civil armed conflict known globally for its viciousness and brutality have subjected the people of this country, particularly young people, into acute poverty that demands immediate action. What is needed is a kick-start income that will supplement economic activities of these vulnerable people.

A valuable and attractive alternative to household income is the Micro credit support scheme geared towards promoting their coping strategies, which will eventually improve their standards of living with a corresponding cultural adaptation to their "new" society. Reintegrating war-ravaged youths of this country into their communities is a challenge to all of us hence the need for micro-credit support.

OBJECTIVE: To restore the socio-economic situation of disadvantaged young people through micro credit enterprise development support.

Activities Accomplished

Within the period under review, the following activities were accomplished:
• Sensitization of beneficiaries (110) on the mode of operation and handling of micro finance at community level in collaboration with hired /trained advisors.
• Conducted regular home and market visits to beneficiaries for regular inspection of accounting records to ascertain progress made.
• Facilitate loan recovery and saving at community level.
• Facilitate the formation of co-orperative societies in various community

• Target group, i.e. young people have ACQUIRED small scale business management/ entrepreneurship.
• Beneficiaries are almost always engaged in micro business.
• Beneficiaries can now take care of some basic domestic obligations as a result of profit of profit accrued from the business.
• The tendency for beneficiaries (TEENAGE mothers) to involve in commercial sex is minimal.


Objective: To inform young people about activities and issues affecting their lives in various communities and to exchange ideas, skills and experience among partners.

Activities Accomplished

• Within the period under review four news letter articles were contributed to Don Bosco Homes in Monrovia Liberia to be published in the Youth Voice news letter for and by youth in the sub region.
• Collecting, censorship, editing and posting of news articles from young people and by young people in various communities.
• Conducting training and orientations for youth leaders in the art of writing and editing.


There is now information sharing among young people and partners both within and outside Sierra Leone.

Young people have learnt basic skills in writing and editing.

Young people are becoming aware of activities and issues affecting their lives and others in various communities through reading articles produced in news letters.


During the last report in December 2002 the Youth Empowerment Programme was still to take root. By June 2003 and at moment of this report, considerable progress has been made in all the sectors listed above.

Considerable impacts have been made since the intervention of the youth empowerment programme.

Youths in school and out of school in Mile 91, Port Loko, Makeni, Lungi and Magburaka have benefited diversely.

+ If young people are actively involved in issues that affect their lives, then they can contribute and participate fully.

+ When one objective is realized, it is either necessary to extend activities to other disadvantaged youths or review project objectives.

+ The non availability of voluntary counseling and testing equipment (VCT) for young people who think an HIV/AIDS test is necessary is a limitation to activities on HIV/AIDS education.

+ Anti retroviral drugs also should be made readily available to administer to people living with HIV/AIDS (P/WHA) at all times.

+ Many young people, who are not benefiting from the skills training micro- credit support, are worried that they may acquire their skills but end up with out START-UP KITS. Therefore there is need to increase support in the form of start up kits and micro credit.

+ The opportunities young people are gaining in the form of skills, knowledge and economic empowerment is greatly enhancing peace in communities, reduces vulnerability and brings development in societies.




Caritas Makeni is the Relief and Development Agency of the Catholic Diocese of Makeni, established in 1979 and headed by the Bishop of Makeni. The operational areas of Caritas Makeni cover the entire Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Caritas Makeni is recognised by the government of Sierra Leone as it is registered with the Ministry of Development and Economic Planning and the Sierra Leone Association of Nongovernmental Organisations (SLANGO).

Before the war, Caritas Makeni supported emergency and development projects in agriculture, Micro-credit and small scale enterprises, primary health care. Presently, it has included into its programmes- peace building and reconciliation, child protection, reconstruction and resettlement, community capacity building, and rural infrastructure development.

On Child protection, one of it's projects is tracing and reunifying separated children and child ex-combatants with their families. Caritas Makeni has been fully involve in all inter-agency efforts to fulfil this aspect over the past seven (7) years.

Caritas Makeni started its family tracing and reunification programmes for separated children in 1996 covering (2/3) of the North but has now covered the entire Northern Province. The Organisation works with local community structures, as community involvement is very vital in carrying out this aspect of the project for community reintegration, mediation and acceptance especially to foster sustainable peace and reconciliation. This perhaps explains why community support structures such as the formation of chiefdom child welfare committees was carried out. During this period, 99% of all documented cases were successfully traced and reunified with their families.

As the war intensified in the countryside, more and more children were abducted and recruited into the fighting forces giving rise to a set of children known as child combatants. Caritas Makeni in its avowed policy to care for and protect children took up the issue again as a priority to demobilise, reunify and reintegrate child ex-combatants into their communities through the established community support structures.

Caritas Makeni's trained staff and community members, provided services to these exchild combatants in all of its psychosocial centres, that is, demobilisation centres, interim care centres, schools and out of school etc. These services include skills training, community education investment programme, access to medical facilities, counselling, recreational activities, cultural shows and drama. Caritas Makeni takes a rights based approach to its work in child protection, believing that care for children is undertaken in order to uphold their rights as described under the UN convention on the rights of the child (CRC) as stipulated in Article 9.

Caritas Makeni has demonstrated its ability to move quickly and scale up operations in response to rapidly changing circumstances in the field. Over the past years, Caritas Makeni has demonstrated an ability to move children to safety at very short notice when security deteriorated.

The decade long civil conflict in Sierra Leone was characterized by immense destruction of property, disregard and disrespect of human dignity and loss of human life, perpetration of violence to fill the vacuum left by a diminished state security, massive displacement of the population and added poverty. Sierra Leone has seen some of the worse violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the world during our terrible ten - year war. One of the most alarming feature in the armed conflict was the participation of children as soldiers.

Children have fought with the various factions involved in Sierra Leone's armed conflict which began in 1991. These factions included the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the Sierra Leone Army and the Civil Defence Forces (CDF). More than 5,000 children under the age of 18, both boys and girls and some as young as five, have fought as combatants in Sierra Leone's armed conflict. Children have been specifically singled out for recruitment by both the armed oppositions and forces fighting in support of the government. Most of the children fighting with these forces have been abducted from their homes and families and forced to fight. Many were separated from their families at a very young age. Victims themselves, they have also been perpetrators of human rights abuses, sometimes against members of their own families and communities.    Many have been forced to kill and mutilate under the influence of drugs, alcohol or simply because of fear.

The involvement of children in conflict has devastating effects on their physical and mental integrity. There have been higher casualty rates among children because of their inexperience, fearlessness, lack of training, and as human shield. Children are considered as particularly useful because of their size and agility. They can be sent on particularly hazardous assignments. They are frequently ill-treated or even killed by their commanders when they retreat or failed to follow orders.

In addition to the obvious risks of death or serious injury in combat, children suffer disproportionately from the general rigors of military life, especially in the bush, and are particularly vulnerable to disease and malnutrition.

As for the severe psychological consequences of active participation in hostilities, with children witnessing and committing atrocities, the full extent of the impact on these young veterans as well as the society as a whole may only become apparent over a long period.
Another disturbing feature in the Sierra Leone armed conflict was the use of girls as sex slaves. It is a sad fact that throughout the conflict in Sierra Leone, Girls have suffered serious abuses. Girls as young as eight (8) years have been raped. The RUF/AFRC rebels perpetrated systematic, organized and widespread sexual violence against girls including individual and gang - rape, sexual assault and sexual slavery. These crimes were often characterized by extraordinary brutality.
While some of these abuse were committed by all armed factions, most of the abuses were committed by the RUF/AFRC rebels. These young girls were rounded up at gunpoint during rebel attacks in towns and villages. Once captive they are taken to rebel command centers where they are shared and divided among commanders (combatants). These unfortunate girls most often become attached to one rebel who then refers to her as his "rebel wife". Many became pregnant and remained within the rebel movement for years. Some of these girls were mistresses of the various units of rebels controlled by their "bush husbands". Others are at times active fighters taking par recognizance missions.

However, despite their attachment to their "rebel husbands", these rebel husbands maltreat most of these girls as soon as they become pregnant. They are often driven or released, leaving the poor girls helpless. Some even lost their lives during labour, as there was no proper medical attention. Others who were too shy to return home for fear of family rejection/neglect often ended up dumping their children in dustbin or commit abortion that is sometimes fatal - resulting in the loss of lives.

The Rehabilitation of these girls who have been with military forces as either "wives", helpers and/ or part of the fighting forces poses special challenges relating to issues such as attitudes to sexually abused girls and babies born out of wedlock and as a result of rape. The other frightening aspect is the real tragic danger of many of these girls being HIV infected and thus carrying infection to their next male partner and possibly to their children.

Even though a lot has been done, there is still a daunting task ahead. Many children who fought along side the fighting forces were left out of the disarmament process One reason which account for this is the group disarmament, which gave powers to commanders to decide who is to be disarmed.

Therefore, if you are not favored by the commander, then you are left out. From field level, we saw how rebel commanders bring in their relatives and family members who were not fighting to undergo disarmament and demobilization. This militated against the actual child combatants. Many are now roaming about their villages and towns with virtually nothing to do because they cannot access the reintegration programme. Another reason is that many girls were deliberately left out of the DDR (Disarmament and Demobilization) process because of their attachments to their "bush husbands" Also those who were driven or neglected by their commanders were never given the opportunity to undergo the DDR programmes.

Apart from the re - establishment of security and the consolidation of peace, the most daunting challenge that faces Sierra Leone in the transition of war to peace is the desperate conditions of former child soldiers. The prospects for full recovery will depend very much on rehabilitating their scarred lives and restoring a sense of renewed hope.

The widespread use of child soldiers is both a moral dilemma and tragedy. It is time to focus on the solution to improve the long-term protection of war-affected children, particularly former child soldiers. What is now urgent is to give substance to the repeated commitments to end the recruitment and use of children as combatants and long-term support be given to those unfortunate young veterans who have lost their childhood in action.

A major focus should be put on a prevention of the use of children as weapons of war rather than waiting for and planning a massive rehabiltation and reintegration investment programmes. It is time to put pressure on governments and failed states to establish, uphold and strengthen good governance and democratic structures, respect human rights and the rule of law.

Caritas Makeni therefore urges the following:

Ratification and full implementation of international and regional agreements pertaining to the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Those responsible for the violation of international humanitarian laws, including the recruitment of children into fighting forces should be brought to an International Criminal Court.

Those children who were left out of the DDR programme and children that have taken to the streets should be given urgent attention.

Disadvantaged children who have been indirect victims of the war thus rendering them vulnerable to the society's ills should be given keen and urgent attention.

The TRC should incorporate traditional cleansing ceremonies and alternative truth seeking processes as means of reconciliation.
Government should provide basic school facilities such as Toilets, Water supply system, Learning and Teaching Materials and the rehabilitation of schools destroyed during the war.

Effective provision needs to be made for those girls and women, many of whom are pregnant or have young children, to leave former combatants, if they wish. This would require: firstly, the opportunity to indicate privately to UN personnel their desire to leave the men that abducted and sexualJy abused them; secondly, support through quick impact skills training and income generating activities.

Girls who have also been sexually abused and exploited during and after the war should be urgently catered for.



The Executive Secretary
Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
Jomo Kenyatta Road
21 S May 2003.

Dear Sir,


Reference to your letter dated lst May 2003 on the above subject; I am pleased to submit COOPI's submission to the commission.

I hope the submission and its contents will be useful to the commission, in its aim to capture some of the experiences of children and youth during the conflict in Sierra Leone.
Please find attached a copy of our submission.

Yours faithfully,

Massimo Giovanola

COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale
20, Wilberforce Loop, Freetown - SIERRA LEONE Tel. 00232 022 233509 - 511 email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) is the leading Italian Development and Humanitarian Non-Governmental Organisation working in 37 countries with the World's poorest. COOPI had been operating here since the 1970's till 1999 its operational area had been in the North where its presence was not much felt due to the prevailing circumstances in those days. As a result these operations were scaled down until when the gruesome war encompassed the country especially so, when the rebels invaded Freetown. This invasion increased the suffering of children as they were recruited, abducted, raped, sexually abused, conscripted, amputated and a range of atrocities were committed on them. This spurred COOPI into Child Protection activities such as the provision of humanitarian assistance for them.

In collaboration with UNICEF, ECHO and the MSWGCA, COOPI started working with sexually abused girls released by the fighting forces as its beneficiaries. Subsequently the focus extended to de-traumatised Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their various camps and communities. As the warring factions continued to release children, the issue of separated children and child ex-combatants came in the limelight, and they were incorporated as another set of beneficiaries of COOPI Social Reintegration programmes.

This programme had family tracing and reunification (FTR) as the first stage. This is then followed by follow-up visits to families, communities, schools and institutions where these children were reunified. The follow-up through counselling and mediation ensures that these children are once again accepted in the society. Services like psychosocial care, counselling, schooling, skills training, medical and family support had benefited over 3000 children either in their communities or in COOPI Interim care centres. Today COOPI had moved at least a step further by working with community children through the community-based reintegration programme and as well as undertaking water and sanitation in Kono and closely working with Progressive Women's Association (PROWA) in aiding women's groups. With the cooperation of the Sierra Leone Government and donor agencies, COOPI will continue to provide these services and many more.



• Children Protection agency deals with the following category of children as its beneficiaries.

• SEXUALLY ABUSED GIRLS-These are girls who have suffered sexual abuse in the hands of the fighting forces. Majority of these are either expecting or carrying babies or pregnancies whose Fathers hardly surfaced.

• CHILD EX-COMBATANTS- These are children that were disarmed by DDR and went through the DDR programme.

• SEPARATED CHILDREN- This set of children lost sight of their parents/family members during the war. These-children are later traced and reunified with their family like the second category of beneficiaries, they carry personal identification codes.

• COMMUNITY CHILDREN-These are either abandoned in the street where they are picked up by COOPI or vulnerable community children who are identified by Child Welfare Committees set up under the CBR programme.

Not until 2002 when COOPI activities were extended to Kono, COOPI all this while covers Children Protection in the Western Area only.
COOPI had the following as its experienced before and during the conflict and even during this transitional period in Sierra Leone.


Details & Topic

Before the War

During the War

Transitional Period


These activities

They become the

Now incorporated

recruitment, using

were rarely heard

order of the day

into our diction but

children as


and means of

not practised so they



survival and

need serious



exercise of power.



They were not in

Certain common

Not practised yet.

Massacres and


practices and




sources of pleasure.



Children were not

It was one of the

Unlike amputation,

Torture and ill-

amputated but for


the remaining had

treatment of

certain practices,

practices and

become a routine for


some families and

source of pleasure.

child rearing.






executes to two on




a small scale.



Rape, Sexual

They were

These were the

They are still eminent

slavery, and other

common mainly at

commonest games

and even prominent

forms of sexual

family level and

of the fighting

in some communities.


few outside cases.




at national level,




during national




election they were




always on the







Arbitrary detention

Unlike arbitrary



and disappearances


detentions were

became part and




parcel in some


were common


children but arbitrary


especially during

were transferred

detention is reducing.


general and

into abductions.







elections. It was




more so for ritual







Suspension and

Displacement only

Both concepts were

Unlike certain border


occurred during

common and

areas both are phasing


political or land

practised on daily



crisis and








Throughout the armed conflict in Sierra Leone, from 1991-2001 thousands of Women, Children and Girls of all ages found themselves being subjected to various forms of sexual violence. COOPI as an organisation started working with victims especially girls whose ages range from 9-17 years. In collaboration with UNICEF and other international non-governmental organisations, COOPI created Interim Care Centres (ICC's) in LAKKA and Calaba Town respectively to house and care for boys and girls that were associated with the war. During this period our Social Workers documented stories of sexual violence of extra-ordinary brutality perpetrated against women of all ages. In the interest of brevity, we shall attempt to give only few of these violations.

RAPE: A.B. told our Social Workers that when she was captured, she was raped by six (6) rebels and that she collapsed when the sixth rebel finished with her. She further went on to reveal to us that, after that ordeal she had a swollen virgina and continuous bleeding for a week. Later, one of the captured women who was a nurse examined her and told her that she has contacted Gonorrea, and started giving her treatment. AB's story of being gang rape was common to nearly all the girls at our ICC's. A.B. even told us of P.A her cousin that died in a similar ordeal of gang rape. Al the girl-mothers at the Comforti Centre underwent both individual and gang rape ordeals of horrific proportions. Psychosocial workers at our centres learnt stories of young and adult women being raped, so violently that they suffered tearing in their genital areas and in some cases died in the process.

ABUSE: The extreme brutality suffered by women cannot be over-emphasised.

Cases of torture were widespread. One story that will be of interest to the commission was that of M.F. who told us that one day, she was falsely accused of stealing a commando's $ 200 dollars. She was beaten for two consecutive days, and finally her virgina was cut in several parts with pieces of bottles. When she was brought to the Comforti Centre her condition was so bad that she received intensive treatment at the Holy Mary Clinic for two (2) months. M.F's story is one among the many cases of brutality and torture suffered by girls at the hands of their captors documented at our ICC's. These acts were at all times perpetrated with impunity.

SEXUAL SLAVERY: Almost all the stories documented at our centres revealed incidents of Forced Conscription, Military Training and Marriage, other forms of abuse include Forced Labour, Cooking, Washing, Farm Labour, Carrying of Ammunition and looted items. Few of the girls at the centre were involved in the fighting F. T. told us that she was forced to kill a household of fifty (50) people including women and children by her husband in Kailahun.

As a Child Protection Agency COOPI has released few existing shortcoming in the legal system for children especially, the systems attitude in prosecuting rape cases. Our Social Workers have documented cases of delay in rape cases. Although the collaboration with the Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Police has been good with COOPI and other agencies, Social Workers are always frustrated with the slow process of the legal system. Survivors from poor parental background continue to be frustrated not only with the humiliation associated with public hearing of rape cases, which always expose Survivors to ridicule from both defence lawyers for perpetrators and the public during hearing, but also to the cost of getting the services of Lawyers.

2.2. The laws of Sierra Leone covers very few aspects on Child Protection and even those covered are hardly enforced. For instance the laws that provided for the existence of approved schools and Remand Homes for children are only a facade. The physical structures are there but these are dysfunctional. Another shortcoming is that some International conventions on Child Protection like the African Charter and Convention on the right of the child to which Sierra Leone is a signatory are hardly ratified. Not until recently has Parliament had made very little moves to pass laws that protect children's rights.

2.3. The following has diverse impacts on children in Sierra Leone.







Before the war, it exposed



children to violence. Now



it encourages interaction



through rapport it



establishes revolution.


Street selling/trading by

Transforms children into



street children, prostitutes,



drugs abusers and the like.


Street begging

Inculcates ill habits like



theft in children.


Secret Society

Trains children for better



lives. Breeds' future






Introduces children to





Marriage (Polygamy)

Inadequate attention is



paid to a number of the






Early marriage also deters



children's progress.


2.4. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission should maintain justice through allowing perpetrators to accept their fault on children show remorse to these victims (children). To appease the children and allow them to be active in the reconciliation process, those who are adversely affected by their perpetrators acts or words should be provided with certain basic services and activities. These children should be encouraged on board TRC programmes and be given opportunity to participate in the reconciliation process.

The Special Court should be used to advance the cause of children by defending children's right through making their perpetrators answerable for all their acts against those innocent souls.

2. 5. The reintegration process is affected by the culture, tradition and social mores of the people. Taking the urban area the culture of nuclear family is gradually gaining grounds and this is pushing away some reunified children in the street and allowing them to become street beggars since they are rejected by those families, school going is becoming quite popular nowadays and this is capturing many children's attention. Though government provides free education for primary pupils, some authorities are still in the habit of extorting monies from those children. The children that cannot afford to meet these demands are either asked out of school or they quit themselves. With these we may be plunging back into the old pit.
In the rural areas they have the culture or practice of discrimination between members of certain secret societies and non-members. This provides a very tight place for excombatants who find themselves in the opposing faction.

Certain communities still see combatants as the greatest destroyers during the war this makes the reintegration process very difficult if not impossible for these war victims.

2.6. In the name of reformation and reconciliation I wish to recommend:

i. International Conventions protecting children's right be given consideration in Parliament if not ratified.
ii. Legal aspects of child protection should be strengthening and enforced.
iii. Child protection structures should be functional.
iv. Social mores and traditional practices inhabiting the reintegration process of war child victims should be reviewed and improved.
v. Stringent measures should be put in place for child right violations.
vi. Extortion of monies from schoolchildren in the name of School Fees, PTA/CTA, voluntary contributions and the like should stop.




World Vision is an international Non-Governmental Organization that is operational on six continents, in over 110 countries in the world. It works for the overall well being of all people especially children. It does that through emergency relief, education, health care, economic development and the promotion of justice.

It was originally established in 1950 to care for the orphans in Asia. World Vision functions as a partnership of interdependent national offices overseen by their own board or Advisory Councils. Each partner agrees to abide by the core values of the organization.

Almost 80% of World Vision's funding comes from private sources including individuals, co-operations, foundations, and the other 20% from government grants. Approximately half of World Vision's programmes are funded through child sponsorship where individuals, families, churches, and groups are linked with specific children or projects in their own country abroad.

The World Vision Sierra Leone programme started operation in March 1996. The focus of the organization at that time was to meet the emergency needs of the displaced people. The organization was mainly engaged in the supply of food and non-food items to the displaced people through its commodities programme.

When the peace accord was signed in1996 WVSL played a key role in the repatriation of the IDPs into their communities. World Vision did not only facilitate the repatriation of the IDPs but also facilitated the resettlement of the IDPs into the communities. It introduced the Agriculture Recovery Programme in selected communities in the Bo, Bonthe, Pujehun and Kono districts. The programme supplied seeds and tools to the beneficiary farm families and followed that up with extension messages. They also introduced the Primary Health Care Programme in the Bonthe district. The primary Health Care Programme rehabilitated all the clinics that were destroyed during the ten years civil conflict in that district. It stocked the clinics with essential drugs that were going on a cost recovery basis.

Over the years, the programme has grown to address various needs. At the signing of the Peace accord the programme implemented a Support for Permanent Peace (SPP) programme; with funds from USAID-OTI The objective of that programme was to consolidate the gains made by the peace accord. After, the coup in1997 these activities of the project were disrupted and the programme came to a stand still. However at the return of the democratically elected government in 1998. the programme commenced again but with a different focus. That time round the Youth In Development (YID ) and Civil Society Support (CSS) Programmes were introduced. Those two projects focused the empowerment of civil society so that they can positively input into their governance. Youths were particularly targeted to tap their excessive energy, which otherwise they would direct to mischievous activities. Later, to complement the activities of the NCDDR, the Skills Training and Employment Promotion (STEP) project was started. The objective of the STEP programme was to ensure that the trainees of the NCDDR programme were employed.

After the coup in 1997 and the subsequent alliance between the AFRC and the RUF many children who were with the RUF came out of the bush and were roving the streets of the towns without any care. They were engaged in many antisocial activities like drug taking, pushing, etc. That was what led to the start of the World Vision Sierra Leone Child Protection Programme (CPP). At the inception of the CPP it engaged mainly in the family Tracing and Reunification of those separated children. The reunification was followed up by the reintegration of those children in their original communities. The approach that was taken for the reintegration of those children was community focused. The programme also undertook advocacy and mediation on behalf of former child combatants for their forgiveness and acceptance within their communities and families. Sensitization of parents, authorities and the communities at large on the rights of children, to ensure that children get what they are due in their families, and communities. The aim has been to prevent their alienation in the society and the repetition of another war. Promotion of sustainable reintegration of reunified child ex-combatants, and other war-affected children into their families, and communities through basic education and skills training support. It also includes income generation support to representatives of foster parents associations and child welfare committees so as to build the capacities of the parents to adequately meet the needs of their reunified children.

To date a total of 450 children have been traced, registered and reunified with their parents and are now living with their families in their communities. A total of twenty one schools have been rehabilitated and seven are under reconstruction. At present the total enrollment of these schools is about 8000 children. Of that total, 558 are child ex-combatants. This number comprises of RUF child ex-combatants, who had to be reunified, and Civil Defense Force child ex-combatants who were already living within their communities. A total of 18 community based skills training centers have been supported and these are currently providing marketable skills to a total of 340 children. Skills provided include carpentry, tailoring, soap making, gara tie-dyeing, blacksmithery, weaving; bread baking, auto mechanic, welding, and needlework. A total of 87 Child Welfare Associations and Foster Parents Associations have been supported to undertake income-generating activities. The objective is to strengthen the capacities of these parents to meet the basic welfare needs of their children including adequate food, prompt medical attention in times of sickness. educational support, proper clothing etc. Capacity building training has been provided for 270 representatives of partner Child Welfare Associations. The objective is to provide them with basic financial and resource management.. planning and leadership skills. They are also being trained to become advocates for children in their communities, so that the issues of children will continue to be focused even when World Vision pulls out.

World Vision continues to intervene in the three districts of Bonthe, Bo; and Pujehun in the South, and Kono, in the East of the country. The present focus of the organization is Capacity Building for Child Rights Promotion and Support. Over the years, the Child Protection Programme has been partnering with various community-based child focused groups to address the problems of child rights violations in the target communities. Partners include Child Welfare Committees (CWC), Foster Parents Associations, and other child sensitive Community Based Organization (CBOs). Appropriate animation and empowerment trainings will continue to be provided for these partners with the view to institutionalizing their operations for the sustainable provision of services in their communities after World Vision project support phase out in those communities.

As well, through the group approach, the capacities of families with children in especially difficult circumstances will be strengthened to enable them adequately cater for the rights of their children. This will be done through relevant skills transfer for managing small-scale businesses, and the strategic provision of seed money for economically viable community initiatives. Such support will be focused on vulnerable families that have children associated with the war. Well organized group of women will be mostly targeted with these support, as research indicates that money in the hands of the woman are much more likely to be spent on the children than money in the hands of the man. Women, especially young mothers, will be trained on how to bring up their children.

Recently, the programme turned attention to the plight of children in mining activities and undertook an in-depth study to look at the problems of children engaged in the mines. Even before the war children were used as a source of labour for various aspects of diamond mining activities, though these were not in large numbers. As the economic situation worsened nationwide, more and more people, including children were attracted to the diamond mines. Children usually got involved in mining at an early age; initially on a part time basis, but they eventually became fully engrossed into it thereby interfering with their education or any other viable option that promises a better future. There were those who were doing well at school but had to abandon their educational pursuit to follow their peers who transiently became rich and admirable. This quest for quick gentry among children and youth is part of the explanation for the high school dropout rates in the diamond areas.


The war aggravated the involvement of children in mining activities. In Kono district and elsewhere, many children were captured and conscripted into the RUF and AFRC fighting forces. Those children captured, especially in Kono district were forced to engage in mining activities, where they were used to provide slave labour. These child combatants and other abducted children were ultimately seeking fortune for their commandos. Many of the children and youth who escaped capture by the RUF were later recruited by the CDF, Kamajors. The children that were with the Kamajors too were later to become miners.

They are clearly not in the mines on their own volition. This is clearly an act of child abuse bordering on exploitation. Many of these children have abandoned a11 educational pursuits including acquiring vocational skills. There are children who are being used by their parents, other relatives. and greedy crew bosses purely for their own selfish gains. These children have limited access to health care and educational facilities. There are others who have become dreamers: looking forward to the day they will become millionaires. But conventional wisdom dictates that these children will not realize these dreams, as most of the benefits from their mining activities will only benefit the financiers, who are in far away places from the mine pits. Ultimately these children will be abandoned at a time when it will be too late to acquire any skill or return to any formal educational institution thereby making them social burdens putting much demands on society.

That is not good for a country that has such very high illiteracy rate. Besides, allowing these children to grow up as illiterates and without any other vocational skill to fall back on in later years means consenting as a nation to their becoming social misfits in the not too distant future. Also, many of the children involved in diamond mining activities are doing so unwillingly. Their parents or other relatives or greedy miner owners who have sway over the children are using them for their own selfish gains. All of these are gross violations of the rights of the child. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, such violations cannot be allowed to continue unchecked.

In order to make relevant and concrete interventions. there was need to investigate and document the extent of the problem, in terms of the number of children involved; the types of mining activities children are engaged in; where the children are located, the reasons why they are in the mines, the benefits they get, the problems they face, the type of support they need. The survey has helped to throw light on the realities children are exposed to in the mines, not only in Kono, but also in other mining areas. That requires an organized, integrated and properly focused action by Government, Agencies and NGOs for a secured future of the children of this country.

Table l: Age distribution patterns of children in study population.




Valid i 7


~ 1.0


7 ~


' 9

13 ~


I 10

15 I


i 11

25 I


' 12

49 i


', 13

28 I,



44 ;


1 5

70 '



5,1 I














To date the Child Protection programme of 'World Vision Sierra Leone has registered a total of 1 300 children that are in the mines. In a recent study undertaken, 479 children were interviewed on various aspects and below are some of the findings. It was found out from the number interviewed majority of them are between the ages of 11 to 18 years. It was observed that about 8% of the children interviewed were ten years old and below. This age bracket is the period when the children should be engaged in productive activities that will take their long-term development into consideration. Unfortunately it looks like the priorities of these children have been misplaced and their future is bleak. As an organization we have been trying to sensitize the parents and carers of these children to give them opportunity to engage in productive activities. The sensitization is holding and some of these children are now leaving the mines.

Unfortunately these same children that are leaving the mines find themselves in the streets. Provision has not been made for their engagement into useful activities. Most agencies working in child protection don't seem to have the necessary arrangements in place for the reintegration of those children. Recently WVSL in collaboration with UNICEF placed 50 children in formal school and skills training programmes. That is the focus of the programme at present; to take the children from the mines and place them in activities that takes their future development into consideration.

Table 2: Sex distribution patterns of children involved in mining activities studied




Valid i Male


~ 90.1





497 1



As expected the majority of the children associated with mining activities as identified by this survey were males. It was however interesting to note that about 10% were a female. The females in the mines do the cooking and other chores whilst the boys do the digging and washing of the gravel.

The Crew Boss is the overseer of the mining activities at the mining pit. He could be either the owner of the mines or a representative of the mine owner. The Crew Boss was targeted because in many instances it may not be possible to know or locate the owner of the mining operations especially if he is a foreigner or somebody that is working for the aovernment or agencies that are very alive to the violation of the rights of children. It is disturbing to note that up to 80% of the Crew Bosses were either relatives or parents of the children they were using to mine for them. Those parents or relatives are poor and use what ever the children get from the mines for their selfish ends. At the time of the study it was also noted that some former RUF or AFRC Commanders were still holding unto the children that were with them before the disarmament. It was very difficult to get information from those children to facilitate their reunification with their biological parent. It was noted that those former commandos were still exploiting the children. Albeit the difficulty in getting information from the children the CPAs have worked very hard in the area of sensitization and mediation and advocacy and the former fighters are now allowing the CPAs to document and facilitate the reunification of those children especially those that are from the Kono district.

During the time of the study over half (52%) of children interviewed claimed they were in displaced camps. Another 31% said they were in refugee camps. About 14% said they were in their hometowns whatever that meant. Only 3% said they were with the combatants. In recent meetings, it is reported by the CPAs that most of the children who were in camps have now returned to their homes. However their homes are not attractive nor are they adequate to accommodate them. It is reported that a good number of the children have gone to the streets. They move from the streets to the mines and some move from the homes of their parents and usual carers to the mines.

Table 3: Who child miners were resident with?





~ Percent

Father only


~ 9.5

~ Mother onlv

5 4

; 10.9

Other Relative


! 31.4

Father and mother


I 30.7

Care giver


~ 16.5



Arabic Scholar



Crew boss

3 I



497 i



Over 80% of the children involved in mining activities were actually living with their parents at the time of the study. About 170 were staying with caregivers. These children are separated from their parents. Only a small percentage were staying with their Crew Bosses. This means that they meet at the mining sites and everybody goes their way.

About 34.4% of the children had joined the people they were staying with less than a year ago. This indicates that they probably joined the people after their repatriation to Kono. The others had stayed with their current parents/guardians for more than a year (76.9%)

Of all the children found at the mining site and interviewed 83% said they were actually involved in the mining activities, 8.6% went to the mining sites to prepare food for the miners but they spent all the day at the mining sites. They were mostly girls. About 8% . were there to run errands for the miners. It will be interesting to find out what their ages were. A very small number (0.2%) went to the mining site to sell items or to supervise the mining activity.

According to the survey findings, an overwhelming majority, (75°%) of the children were mining to get money. These are the dreamers and usually the most difficult to deal with in trying to persuade them to see other alternatives.

15.2% were only engaged in this activity because they did not have an alternative engagement; 6.2% were sent by parents and 3.8% were influenced by friends.

Most of the children have been involved in mining for less than six months (53%). This may be due to the fact that most people returned to this area not too long ago. It is however worth noting that some children (10.6°'°) have been involved in this activity for about two years. This indicates that they stayed behind and mined during the war when the areas that they occupied were in rebel hands. These could either be former child soldiers or abducted children.

66% of the children surveyed responded that they would continue I-Miming until they find something else to do. 15% would continue until thev get enough money, and 14% were not sure. About 5% would like to continue until their parents ask them to do so.

Children in mining encounter a host of problems. Over 40% of them said they do not benefit much from the proceeds of the diamonds from their labour. About 13% claimed that they did not get adequate food, while 28% said they were overworked. Another 7% felt that they were not beina properly cared for and 9% suffered frequent illnesses.

Most of the children were not realizing much benefit from the mining activity (43%). About 45% said they got something to meet their basic needs. For up to 2% of them, their major benefit is peer acceptance. There were some (;%) who said they used the money thev cot to take care of other family members.

The survey findings indicate that over 60% of the children assessed had earned over Le 500.000 once before. About 70% of the children involved in mining activities had earned between Le 100.000 to below Le 500,000.00. Almost 30% had never earned more than Le 100,000 at any one instance from the mining activities.

The survey findings indicate that over 60% of the children assessed had earned over Le 500.000 once before. About 7°,% of the children involved in mining activities had earned between Le 100.000 to below Le 500,000.00. Almost 30% had never earned more than Le 100,000 at any one instance from the mining activities.

From the data, many children (46%) usually got money when a diamond is sold. Nearly 30% had not earned any money from their mining activities.

Some 20% said they received wages of some sort from their crew bosses on a monthly or weekly basis.

About 73% of the child miners said their parents/relatives treated them when they were sick. The mine owners they were mining for treated another 22%.

A small percentage (3%) were treated by friends, and about 2% were taking care of themselves.

From the survey data, about 41% of the child miners needed assistance to be in school; 25% requested assistance for engagement into skills training, 24% wanted assistance to start business. About 7% wanted assistance to facilitate farming and 5% wanted assistance for petty trading.

From the findings of the study, it is clear that the involvement of children in mining was prevalent even before the war. However the problem became exacerbated by the eleven years civil conflict.

As a way of addressing this problem; it is recommended that government either puts policies in place or strengthen existing ones that will deter parents, crew bosses and other stakeholders to involve children in mining activities. As a signatory to the CRC it should be noted that there is an age limit for children before their engagement in excessive labour activities to be involved in labour. As a signatory to the Convention the government would need to enforce the stipulations of that protocol and to give stiff penalties to defaulters. For example mining licenses to be withdrawn from people owning mines that allow or use children in their mining activities.

There should be a holistic approach in trying to address the issue of child miners in the communities. The issue of the poverty of the parents needs to be looked into. It is recommended that vulnerable parents with children in the mines be empowered through income generation support The parents should be empowered through various activities so as to enable them to take care of their children. This also means providing alternatives or choices for the children in the communities. So that if the child does not go to the mines what can he or she do that is available and productive. That would mean those children are to be catered for.

There is need to intensify the sensitization on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The government and other stakeholders should work together to ensure that all the articles of that document are understood and are put into practice by the communities. Other relevant documents should be used in such sensitizations. One of the major focus of this sensitization is to help to transform the attitude of parents towards children.

Children's Forum Network, Sierra Leone.
Motto: Laying a solid foundation

C/O ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children's Affairs, 9th Floor Youyi building.

 Freetown. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Special Thematic Hearings on Children. June 16th 2003.

Before the advent of the sad chapter of war in this our beloved country, we the children had no say on whatever issues from the family unto at national quarters. Young people were a marginalized set in this country without a voice and whatever decent platform to hear out our views, opinions and suggestions on pertinent issues regarding our welfare. Our dominant cultural phenomenon or perceptions on us children were to a large extent not in conformity with the minimum of international standards. It was a common say that "children should be seen and not heard". This ugly trend for national development continued until it saw the birth of a decade long war in this country unfortunately targeted against the very young people. This unfortunate chapter in the history of this country exacerbated the marginalization of children in the national discourse, flagrant violations of the minimum norms of human decency and a dramatic increase in the number of suffering children. The saddest part of this all was that unimaginably little efforts were being made to incorporate the children in the national discourse and provide an accessible platform for us to article our views and chat a way forward for us and the nation at large.

What was even more humiliating was the fact that the war started just after our country had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child. The fact was that the Convention was literally thrown into the dustbin as little was done to practicalise any of its ideals to promote the welfare of children or even educate the general public about its content. This created a very ugly scenario as children saw adults as aliens and bullies whiles adults believed that children were tools to be used to attain their selfish ends.

This situation created a spirit of desperation and determination amongst a group of us youngsters. Desperation to articulate the problems and concerns of us children and a determination to see it done amidst all odds saw the birth of the Children's Forum Network in this country. This organization with the support of Government and other Child Protection Agencies has been since at the fore to articulate the concerns of children and also create an accessible platform for children. Our initial intention was to set up a Children's Parliament but because of obvious reasons we ended up having Children's forum Network.

Our activities have mainly been advocacy and sensitization. Our membership spans to up to 42 Branches in different schools and institutions around Freetown and regional branches in the North, South and Eastern regions of this country. Within the schools we engage on series of sensitization and awareness rising on various issues such as:
HIV/AIDS, Drug Abuse, Peer counseling, Peace Education (TRC and Special Court) and a number of issues pertaining to the welfare of children in Sierra Leone.

The Children's Forum Network is a member of the Child Protection Network in the country. We have also since our formation been on the committee responsible for organizing activities for the commemoration of the Day of the African Child. During the DDR initial stages; we visited a number of Interim Care Centers to sensitize our colleagues on living peaceful life in the new societies but also included basics on HIV/AIDS, the TRC and most importantly to portray to them that we love them and we are all brothers and sisters.

Notably also we participated in the workshop held here in Freetown to outline guidelines and recommendations of the participation of Children at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Children's Forum also is the crux of the Voice of Children Project at UNAMSIL geared towards giving children a voice through radio.

The Children's forum Network is a child to child advocacy organization committed to creating linkages and spreading in formation on the Convention On the Right of Child and basically. The organization is the leading voice of children in the country.

A consensus amongst us children in Sierra Leon is that the war was targeted at us. A brutal conflict which we did nothing to bring but suffered and lost everything in it. The adults who were disgruntled and decided to act through the senseless and indiscriminate atrocities were unable to reach what was supposed to be their real targets and decided to take advantage of our vulnerability to exploit and destroy the future base of this nation, which they claimed to have been fighting for. It is quite true that in all conflicts children are bound because of our very nature to bear the brunt of the sufferings. But what we witness was an unimaginable and catastrophic abuse not only because of our nature but because we were the primary targets.
Every child in this country has got a story to tell- a heartbreaking one. Unfortunately only a handful of these would be told and made known to the world. But the devastating impact hinges and endures the time. It continues to linger on the minds and hearts of young people. It goes without saying now that we the children bore the brunt of the conflict and witnessed the worst episode of man's ruthlessness probably ever in man's history.

During several of our sensitization trips to camps, centers and even schools we could read in the eyes of our colleagues despair and hate. Children of this country have been through an "unchildly" childhood. We have been forcefully conscripted to fight for a cause we could not understand, drugged and made to rampantly kill and destroy our brothers and sisters and our mothers and fathers, used as sex slaves and it goes on and on. This was a wretched display of inhuman and unscrupulous attributes by those we were supposed to be protecting us. Our peaceful hands that were meant to be used to play and write were made to be used to burn, kill and destroy.

A general consensus amongst us children therefore is that we were the primary targets of the war. We suffered everything in a war that we did nothing to bring about. At this juncture I will now present under specific headings the traumatic experiences of children as was witnessed in the war.

A phenomenon amongst the fighting forces was that child combatants were the slyest and therefore best tools to be used in as fighters in the war. Secondly, a number of young people were readily available to be recruited as they were either out of school or they saw nothing worthwhile with continuing school. The result of this was that all of the fighting forces engaged in indiscriminate abduction and forceful conscription in to Para military and military regiments. A colleague at the Children's forum Network was abducted after his parents were executed in front of him. Afterwards, he was drugged and ordered to "wash" the remaining of his family members. He was then a fighter with the Revolutionary united front until he was later captured by the SLAs and again forcefully recruited into their ranks. He was eight years when he was first abducted. These abductions definitely went with deprivation of liberty in flagrant violations of international standards. Whilst with the forces another colleagues of ours say, "We were not on our own". We did whatever our commanders wanted. These are appalling stories. The trauma and psychological consequences of these abductions are adverse. The indications are obvious. In the RUF camps in Sierra Leone, the traumatized children were held and 'trained' usually for about two or three months. The children were told they would be killed if they disobeyed orders or tried to escape. Often they underwent a brutal initiation and had to kill or maim those who attempted to flee. The development of lighter weapons - such as the AK47 - meant that boys as young as eight could be armed.

The smallest boys were placed closest to the enemy. In war, they are said to be fearless. Children were often less demanding soldiers than adults. They were cheaper to keep as they ate less and were easier to manipulate. Both sides believed the unpredictability of small children made them better fighters. Some were sent into battle high on drugs to give them courage. The extensive use of child combatants has been another alarming feature of the conflict. More than 10,000 children under the age of 18 years, both boys and girls and some as young as six years, are estimated to have fought in the conflict, with either rebel forces or government-allied forces.

Victims themselves, child combatants have also committed atrocities: many were forced to kill and mutilate through drugs, alcohol and fear.
"When I was killing, I felt like it wasn't me doing these things. I had to because the rebels threatened to kill me." A 12-year-old boy who had been abducted by rebel forces during the conflict said.

As already stated because of our vulnerability, children were bound to suffer more in conflict. Added to that, is the fact that it is no secret that in wars people die. But the extent of murders and massacres primarily targeted against us at different places was unbelievable. These acts were done very ruthlessly as there were instances when children were murdered and massacred in ways that defy explanation in English or otherwise. Rather unfortunately, parents and other relatives who attempted to save their children also suffered devastating consequences. At Wellington, for example in 1999, rebels had lined up five children from the same family when the father appeared begging for the rebels to spare his children. The rebels immediately got hold of him and murdered him in cold bold in front of his children. Later the children were also all executed one after the other.

At old wharf (Calabatown) in 1999, a house was burnt down with eight children within the house. In the morning, it was the area boys who came and picked up the reaming skeletons and they were buried in a mass grave. Young babies were also not spared at all in this indiscriminate madness. In Waima, in the Kenema district, in 1999 rebels got hold of a group of ladies. They got hold of a suckling baby from the back of the mother and placed it in a mortar and physically pounded until death. The baby was less than one year.

There are a number of such cases that were directed against children. Many of us were witnesses to these and regrettably were also drugged and forced into committing such heinous crimes. The images of these inhuman atrocities continue to linger in the hearts and minds of most of us children thus causing devastating psychological impact on young people.

This particular aspect has been referred to as the hallmark of the conflict in the country. The evidences of this are so obvious and can be seen at every corner of our country. It has been reported that all of the fighting forces employed barbaric and inhuman treatments against children.

It was true that children were used as spies and usually sent to surveillance of the enemy territories. This awareness amongst the different forces most seriously endangered the lives of other innocent children. Those that were unfortunately victims of abduction were therefore easily physically molested, maimed and tortured. A student of the Albert Academy got both of his hands chopped off in 1999. Recently a major victim of abuse died after defying professional treatment abroad.

A 16-year-old got his private part cut off and he bled to death. Some of the instances unfortunately should not be mentioned. Children as young as 8 months old were not spared this madness. In Makeni district, the eight-month-old sibling of a colleague now in Freetown had his arms brutally chopped off. This baby was the center of media attention in 1998 and is now in residing in the United States. Another five year old in the same district who had his left arm brutally cut off could not understand this madness. She once asked the adopted parents saying, "Mom, what did I do that they cut my hands off. When would it grow again?" Others were tortured basically because of their associations with other groups within the conflict curb any fears of them running away. What was also quite pathetic was the fact that a number of these children could not access medical attention after the mutilations and some bled to death.

To ensure the total exclusion of the children from normal society, children were branded with body marks of the different sets of bandits. These marks brought the scars from the mind unto the body. Scars that would not disappear soon. There was the case of colleague in one of the interim care centers who told us of the scars bearing the initials "RUF" He confided in us that this had increased his fears and that he believed he was in complete danger. He confessed that he was continually at risk with of being slaughtered by the other forces before they could be captured.

There were several of his colleagues with similar predicaments. They continue to live in fear and these marks if not their emotions continue to remind them of their violent past.

The era of the war saw the abuse of young people particularly children. Sexual violence appears to be the most indecent act to us the children. The people who control the means of suppressions during the war considered the girl child as their toy and a tool to attain their selfish sexual desire. These children were called `sweet sixteen." Commanders of the fighting forces used the girl child as their wives; in the process these children lost their childhood. And at the end a good number of them became pregnant. Thus some of them lost their lives whilst others lost their womanhood and their ability to give birth to children. An instance of this was the case of a fourteen year old that was forcefully ganged raped and in the process became pregnant. Unfortunately she could not identify a real father for the baby and was therefore left with the responsibility of protecting the baby alone as she had already lost both parents. A number of girls were also raped and used as sexual slaves for commanders of the various factions. Whilst in captivity, they were required to perform other tasks such as cooking, caring of babies and the young, etc. "The combatants who abducted me told me: you don't understand. This is the reason we go and capture you people. If you don't sleep with me today, I'll kill you". This is the sad testimony of a thirteen-year-old girl who was raped.

Abduction and sexual violence against girls, often very young; have been among the most abhorrent and distressing features of the conflict. Rape, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual abuse of girls and women have been systematic, organized and widespread. Many of those abducted have been forced to become the "wives" of combatants. Currently in Sierra Leone we have obtained testimonies of the rape of girls by rebel forces in Northern Province since the beginning of the crisis. Rape by combatants in the conduct of armed conflict is a war crime and a crime against humanity. Those responsible for rape must be brought to justice.

These young girls later were neglected and thus they only thing they could do to earn their living was to involve into commercial sex, child labor etc in this country.

Even before the advent of the war, children were subject to arbitrary detention and disappearances. This was more common during political campaign parents as there were repeated cases of children being used as ritual sacrifice. Our selfish and heartless politicians were ready to sacrifice the future generation of this country so attain political power. However, during the decade long brutal war in the history of our country, children suffered even more severely than ever before. More so on the areas of aspect of detention. Children had no fate of their belongings, as there was no tool to protect the children. Many were arbitrarily detained in the camp of fighting forces and some have since been unaccounted for. Thereby, children were used as slaves or child soldiers against there own will. As a result children could no longer realize their dreams. Children were forcefully arrested and were sent into prisons. Because of these detentions they were absolutely deprived of their rights. A boy at the age of 14yrs was detained at the Cockeril Military prison in a container for a week without legal grounds for arrest.

Also, there were repeated cases of child disappearance in the war. A number of children have still been unaccounted for after their encounters with fighting forces. In August of 1997 students were arbitrarily detained and some met their deaths without the notice of their parents.

In the war in Sierra Leone education was in shamble as there was limited access to health care and education. During the war many children at very young age were forcefully recruited in the rebel invasion in which no health and educational assistance were never given to these recruited victims of the war. It was no secret that the child soldiers who were fighting were injected or severely fed with drugs which has severely impaired and psychologically damaged them. Even after the war, most of these child soldiers were mentally affected, and it would take time for most of them to be actually re-integrated into the society. The physical placement of children back into our society does not exhaust reintegration. It must stretch far beyond that. It involves reintegrating their minds and psyche into society. Added to this in the war they were never given the privilege to go to school. In 1997, we lost a whole academic year to instability in the political arena. Those of our colleagues with the fighting forces either as slaves, combatants etc were deprived of the basic right to education. This has meant that most of them past the school going age without any form of education thus adding to the illiteracy rate and posing more threats to the country as whole.

These drugs injected into these children made them more desperate to burn down many structures and commit more heinous atrocities all over the country. This destruction of health and educational centers made education very difficult, as there were not enough schools and health centers in Sierra Leone. No immunization health services were conducted for the newly born children. The problem was even worse for those in the numerous rebel held territories. A colleague reported to whilst with the Revolutionary United Front, a twelve-year-old colleague abducted child was suffering from an acute sickness but could not get the requisite medical attention. When they were attacked at their base by opposing forces, the rebels claimed that the boy was a burden moving around, as he was not contributing to combat. They therefore decided to pass him off.

The children were sexually abused including rape; some were forced into unwanted marriages and so on. This seriously increased the risk of infection of sexually transmitted diseases especially HIV/AIDS, syphilis etc. Considering the peculiarities of especially HIV/AIDS, the extent of the prevalence of the disease is yet to be assessed.

The war in Sierra Leone showed us the cruelty directed against children in flagrant violation of international standards. Children were forcefully taken away from their parents to carry heavy loads like ammunition and other looted properties for very long distances. Any child that refused was beaten and forced to carry these loads on their heads. As these rebels could settle in territories, they forced these little and innocent victim into activities they had already engaged in. For example in the Kono district the rebels forced children into the field for mining minerals. Added to this, in most of their activities including fighting the children were active participants. There was a naked display of child labor and exploitation as we were used, misused and abused. A number of children suffered greatly because of this. They were taught that they should pay themselves at every opportunity they had. This was to tell them to loot, kill and destroy. Usually when a child becomes very tired and attempts to put down the load for a while and rest the result could be fatal for that child no matter the age. The level of forced labor during those periods could not only be limited to instances where children were forced to work for the fighting forces but also as a means of survival. Many of our colleagues could not fend for themselves as a number of us either lost our parents or could not get a square meal a day as a result of the very conflict. This led to what could also be referred to as child poverty. Numerous children were the sources of their very livelihood.

A boy of nine years said that he was ashamed and embarrassed when he begged but he did not know what else to do: "I don't have anyone to turn to when I am hungry except God who provides for me through some kind- hearted people. Most people tell me to go to the camp forgetting it is nothing but a resting-place. If they were I, would they sit there the whole day with suffering and destitute people of all ages?" All those working for us children should proffer the answer to this heart-breaking question.

Unfortunately the unavailability of the means to enhance this survival led to the terrible situation of child beggars, dramatic increase in the number of street children etc. For example one of our colleagues in the streets shared with us in tears that his parents were murdered in cold blood in front of him. Since then he lost hope of living a decent life. All he ever wants now is to merely survive; as for him life is unjust and wicked. This is simply an isolated story. International standards provide that children should be provided with the basics to enhance survival. Many children in Sierra Leone unfortunately do not know what it means to get their basics. We must add that to enhance their survival as a family, many parents decided to send their children to beg out in the streets. The nation during the period became extremely difficult and poor. But as the natural injustice continues against us we became even poorer.

"Everyone was running helter skelter. It was as if the world was coming to an end. I only heard my mom and dad shouting my name but could not see them neither cold they see me. We went on our different ways and that was the last time I ever heard the sweet voice of mama and papa" this is a twelve year old boy's testimony, a member of the Children's Forum Network who was nine years old at the time. After what he referred to as this great separation from his family, life became extremely difficult. He became a displaced in one of the camps and this experience he called humiliating.

He is not the only person that suffered separation from his families. Many of us at one time did. We believe that the best place for the child is the home and the best people to take care are the parents. Therefore the very deprivation of access to our parents during the war was a fundamental violation of our rights. This has seriously impeded on our resolve and determination to move ahead.
In the heat of battle many of us lost our parents and went with neighbors, other relatives, friends or just went alone. It was a jungle situation where only the strong survive. Many others could not survive the displacement and their stories were fatal. Particular reference of our colleague in Moyamba district who after two weeks of separation from parents was so dampened that she died. She was just five years in 1998 when this happened.

Being away from home as a displaced was always quite damaging. It was always difficult for us to adapt to a new environment with sometimes different cultures. With about 30 percent of the total population becoming refugees you could imagine the number that were children. Life in displaced camps was extremely difficult and most times miserable for children. Girls were forced to trade their womanhood for food just to survive in the camps. Similarly, the health situation at the camps was unacceptable to say the least. Children also died at the camps because of these factors and we must say that supplies meant for us were sold to us. That was the magnitude we suffered. Some of us never had the money to buy so we went hungry and were thus forced to go out and look for something mostly "unholy' to do just to survive. The unpleasant stories of our colleagues at a camp in Kisssdougou in Guinea are cases in point. Throughout their time in the camp our refugee sisters as young as five became victims of sexual assault and an astounding rate considering the ostensible civilian nature of the camp. Covered sexual exploitation in camps against women and girls was nearly institutionalized in the camps with reckless impunity.

A number of children were unaccompanied by their parents as they were relocated into new locations. Most of us were already suffering for the devastating impact of the war on us and were already psychologically and mentally tortured. Some of us were as young as six years old in these instances and could not identify either our places of origin or our parents to the Child protection Agencies. Even more heart rendering is the fact that a good number of children could not even identify themselves. We had been through too much to permit us to even think of whom we actually were. This made it extremely difficult to relocate any of the lost children without families. This means that for those who could not be relocated there was a big deprivation from a fundamental right- the right to identity. That is in fact one of the reasons why this year's commemoration of the day of the African Child focuses on the right to identity.

The long-term effect of this loss of identity would be devastating on the children of this nation. Everyone wants to have an identity and be proud of it. Unfortunately many of our colleagues do not have one and would have to sadly settle down with those given to them by social workers.

As already pointed out, children suffered disproportionately during the war. It is also fair that children must benefit the greatest proportion of the peace. These are our recommendations, which we hope would be taken very seriously in addressing the special needs of us the children. We are with the fervent conviction that these recommendations, if implemented, would promote our welfare in society and help prevent a repetition of the dark chapter of war in this country.

1. End the recruitment of anyone under the age of 18 into armed forces, as required by both the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children and their commitment under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
2. As part of the peace building process the virtues of reconciliation, dialogue and tolerance should be actively promoted among all Sierra Leoneans.
3. At all levels in our society there should be fair treatment for everyone, and justice should be meted out without fair or favor.
4. Engaging young people in a number of economic and development activities must be a means to minimize crime and violence throughout the country.
5. Laws must be vigorously enforced to stop the illegal sale and the use dangerous drugs and weapons within our borders.
6. Duties on cigarette and alcohol should be increased in order to reduce the high percentage of children using such products.
7. Corrupt persons should be exposed and prosecuted and those found guilty being made to pay a high price for their crimes.
8. Cinema halls and video centers should be effectively monitored in order to protect children from films that promote violence and crime in society.

1. More schools building and other facilities should be provided for all the children to benefit from the current free primary education scheme.
2. Supply of school materials should be increased and their distribution effectively monitored.
3. Duties on all school uniforms should be abolished
4. Programs should be designed to sensitize parents through the country to send their boys and in particular girls to school; so that they acquire the skills they need for life.
5. Organized debate among children in school and other institution should be encouraged in order to give children the opportunity to express themselves.
6. More parks and other recreational centers should be created throughout the country in order for children to play and improve on their sporting and social skills.
7. There should free and compulsory education at all levels.
8. There should be provision for vocational training for those cannot go through the normal school program.

1. Primary health care services including immunization should be made accessible to all parents in the country in order to reduce the current high rate of death of babies and pregnant women.
2. More health centers and hospitals should be built or rehabilitated and equipped to cater for the health of children and their families especially in the rural areas.
3. There should be programs to inform and empower parents to take active part in the family planning.
4. Young people should be provided with the information they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. In addition there should be programmes involving parents that are aimed at encouraging children to delay sexual activity until they are physically and emotionally mature.
5. Traditional healers and herbalist should undergo training to ensure that they practice safe service delivery.
6. Traditional female society practices should be done with safe health standards. The consent of the child before such practices should also be paramount.

1. Local councils and community -based organizations should be involved in programmes for street children. They should support children, together with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs so that they help in resolving problems within families and assist with rehabilitation including counseling; schooling, housing and health care facilities for children.
2. The trauma healing and Counseling centers being constructed by NACWAC should be transformed in to shelters for the numerous children roaming the streets.
3. Regional homeless centers should be established and run by the ministry of Social Welfare gender and Children's affairs or a children's commission.

1. Parliament must pass the Child Right Bill to serve as the basis for an adequate way of protecting the rights of children in Sierra Leone.
2. There should be a child-friendly version of the convention on the Right of the Child [CRC]. This will be very important for the children of Sierra Leone to read and know their rights and their responsibilities.
3. Laws should be passed and enforced making it a criminal offence with severe penalties for those who indulge in sex without consent with children under-18 years of age.
4. The age of marriage should be increased to 18 years and traditional and religious leaders should be prevailed upon to implement this age in their communities.
5. There should be minimum rules and procedures for the so-called adoptions and transfer of children into other countries. Children should be protected against exploitation through exportation.
6. Government must legislate and provide the requisite facilities for a proper registration of all children in the country at birth.
7. Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children's Affairs a special monitoring unit on check on activities of so called child protection Non Governmental organizations to curtail the growing cases of child exploitation.
8. Special phone lines should be established to report the numerous occurrences of child abuse.
9. District authorities to be set up and made responsible for direct tackling problems of children and youth in these areas by providing innovative strategies for that region or area.
10. Child Protection officers should be employed and deployed to every district and report to the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children's Affairs.

1. There should be massive sensitization promotion HIV/AIDS awareness and discouraging those practice that lead to the spread of the diseases.
2. Appropriate medical and psychosocial care and advice should be made available to all victims; their caregivers and their families.
3. Government must declare the disease as a national emergency to take it more seriously.
4. Government should increase surveillance capacity to track the epidemic.
5. HIV/AIDS must be part of the national school curriculum.
6. Government must promote the use distribution and safe use of condoms to adults.
7. Voluntary testing centers should be established all over the country and they must be youth friendly.

1. Government should improve the availability of job opportunities in the country so that people would be able to earn a living and take better care of their children.
2. All workers should receive their salaries on time and conditions of service should be regularly reviewed to reflect their cost of living.
3. There should be more micro-credit facilities in order to give a greater number people access to income generating actives.
4. Food, housing and other basic needs should be affordable.
5. There should be programmes to inform and empower parent to have fewer children who they can love and care for.

1. Government must decentralize the remand and approved schools into every district in this country to ensure that children's cases are treated separately.
2. The family support unit of the Police should be strengthened to an extent that they adequately investigate and provide counseling services for delinquents.
3. There should be a child protection officer at each police station to ensure the special protection of children. Cases relating to children must be referred to them first before other actions are taken.
4. The Family Support Unit of the Police should be strengthened to an extent that they adequately investigate and provide counseling services for delinquents.
5. The Child Protection Network most especially the ministry of the Social Welfare must be more proactive and should be seen working together with police to protect children in conflict with the law.
6. There should be an extensive retraining of police personnel on child related crime and punishment.

1. There should be a special monument located centrally in every district in honor of the numerous children that were either killed or suffered during the conflict.
2. Private enterprises confirmed to be assisting children's improvement should be given tax incentives and relief.
3. There should be a child friendly version of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, which can be used by teachers, children including children's organization such as the Children's Forum Network to disseminate the findings and recommendations of the commission to the young and unborn generations of Sierra Leone as a measure to prevent recurrence of what happened.



Christian Brothers is a religious organization working in the sub region, primarily with the underprivileged and disadvantaged youths and the socially and economically marginalized.

The Religious Group before 1995 focused on facilitating the social and economic reintegration and reinsertion of street children, disadvantaged youths and commercial sex workers including girl mothers in all four chiefdoms in the southern Region; in Small Bo Chiefdom in the Eastern Region and the Slums in the Western Region.
As a Sub- Regional Organization, the overall administrative set up is supervised by the Regional Leadership Team (RLT) comprising the Team Leader, Deputy Team leader and two counselors who are in turn responsible to the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) based in England. Christian Brothers in the Humanitarian World operates under the jurisdiction of the Catholic mission supervised by the Ministry Of Social Welfare Gender and Children's Affairs and the Ministry of Rural and Economic Development.

The Child Protection component of the Unaccompanied Street children's Programme was established in 1995 in response to the mass population movement of internally displaced persons within the Southern Region with a composition of about 75% women and children.

Considering the diversification of project implementation strategies and activities, a review of the organization's annual operational plan recommended that the Child protection Component be transformed into a whole programme.

Before the National Child Protection Network review, Christian Brothers served as the Focal Agency for Child Protection in the entire Southern Region. Presently, Christian Brothers is the District Tracing Agency (DTA) for Bo and Moyamba Districts with support from the Christian Brothers and UNICEF providing community based reintegration for six hundred separated and demobilized children in both districts.

The community based reintegration project is geared towards the involvement of the people in the protection of their children at all levels within the community (PRA system) The programme identifies individuals, CBOs, and NGO partners that operate within a particular community that have similar aims and objectives.

The identified partners or structures are given training on community-based reintegration for children. The programme signs a memorandum of understanding with the group that has been trained. These trainings help to build the capacity of the partners to operate on child protection issues and make periodic report to the programme. The programme also encourages the formation of youth groups and School Clubs as a means of creating an opportunity for youth and children to play (recreation), enabling them to forget about some of their traumatic events.

The programme focuses on placement of children into formal schooling system and skills training centers. Those placed in skills training will have the opportunity to acquire basic survival skills like carpentry, tailoring, weaving, soap making, gara-tie dying, and tin smiting.
Family Tracing and Reunification has been the heart of the programme's intervention. During the conflict, high records of population movement was maintained a situation that necessitated family tracing and reunification for separated children, as displacement was a common phenomenon at that time.

Developing campaigning materials for the protection of child rights during the conflict and setting up of a community sensitization system, monitoring and reporting of gross child rights violations, advocacy and mediation, counseling and trauma healing (Psychosocial support) form part of the programme's operational interventions in both districts.
The programme beneficiaries include separated reunified children, child ex-combatants, sexually abused girls, street children and other needy community children. Social Workers go into the community, identify the children, verify the information with the community-based groups before documentation can be effected. Community members who volunteer to provide care for separated children as foster parents are given support in the form of agricultural input, survival skills and income generation activities.

During the pre conflict period, Christian Brothers as an organization facilitated the provision of skills training, psychosocial support, outreach programmes and post training support to disadvantaged and socially marginalized youths and children at various centers country wide.

Primarily, the programme activities included: tailoring, soap making, weaving, shoe making, carpentry, recreation, health care services and psychosocial services which helped to build the capacity of the middle level man power. With the emergence of the civil conflict, the number of beneficiaries increased with different needs thus changing the focus of the programme to the emergency phase; tracing families and reuniting them, providing wet feeding for displaced children, medical care with trauma counseling services.

As fighting intensified, from the Eastern Region towards the south, more man power was required by the government troops which resulted into mass recruitment into the national army which was then under military rule. Youths and children were the most vulnerable as they were forcefully grabbed and given crash military training.
The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) on entering the boarders of the southern region used the strategy of forceful recruitment into the rank and files of the revolutionalists. Youths and children were conscripted and as a way of stigmatizing them, they had tattoos indicating membership designed on various parts of their bodies. These inscriptions inhibited the children from escaping as they were now labeled thus making them enemies of their communities of origin.

Of the little over four thousand children documented during and after the war, some 75% of them testified their effective use of drugs such as marijuana, brown brown and cocaine to spur them unto action. Documented evidences have shown that most of the amputations, lootings and burning of houses and destruction of property were carried out by children between the ages of 12 and 17 under the supervision of adult commanders failure to comply led to summary execution as a deterrent to cowardice behaviors.

Youth and children them saw the jungle principle as one that provides pleasure promoting the rule of jungle justice -survival of the fittest. The labeling of these youths and children with names of renowned heroes (Rambo, Doctor Blood, Mosquito Spray, Captain clear all, operator sweep, etc.) made room for children and youths to take more risks in the battlefield. There were instances when these youths, organized contests to determine how many people each of them kill in the battlefield.

Even though there is a clarion call for the non-use of child soldiers by every international standards, there is always an overriding tendency in the political world that heads of governments and politicians would go the extra mile in protecting their political interests hence the support for the recruitment of children in the Kamajor society.

Boys in the Southern Region who had reached the age of 12 had no option but to be initiated in the fighting forces as non-membership saw members of the adult population and other adolescents who were all for the risk discriminating against you. Initiates came out with visible scars and tattoos with evidences of having gone through a series of physical torture with law depriving them of eating what nutritionists would call a balanced diet. Closed door interviews conducted with some of these children made disclosures that in the hit of proving valiance, they were emotionally charged to the extent of drinking human blood.

As these boys abandoned their schools and other skills training centers to join the fighting forces either as active combatants or carries or fore runners they took advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law and developed a new culture. Some were given the responsibility of commanding groups, which made them fail to go through the ideal process of development. Traditional Rulers lost their authorities as these youth saw themselves as people with the maximum immunity.
Fighting alongside with AFRC, CDF, RUF, had a lot of psychosocial instability in these children. Some have found it difficult to accept the realities of life even after the war. The negative impact of the drugs taken still continues to serve as a deterrent to positive development in these youths. Police in the Southern Region continue to record recurring crime involving youths and children who find themselves in conflict with the law in contravention of state laws on the misuse of drugs and larceny.

The family support unity also records incidences of either canal knowledge or rape committed by youths who are in a way rehearsing the jungle style where gang rape and forceful marriages were common practices.

In post war Sierra Leone, juvenile justice is still a dream as crimes committed by children and youths are not given the concern it deserves. Children are tried in the open courts and detained with adults. We are still looking for the establishment of a Remand Home in the Southern Region.

• That government should ensure that children are not recruited by any combat group
• A policy should be made on foster care and orphanages as members of the adult population take advantage of post war situation to use children in the guise of providing humanitarian support to access funds.
• Approved schools should be established in all regional headquarter towns.
• The school curriculum designers should review and may be consider the inclusion of civic and human rights education as a strategy of promoting civic responsibility among the youths.
• Public media houses should edit films, entertainment clips and publications as youths and children copy some of these artists, and heroes.


During the decade of civil war in Sierra Leone, thousands of children were forced into the crossroads of conflict thereby causing violation of their rights ranging from abduction, multiple rape, amputation. forced engagement in the battlefield and drug addiction.

Against this background, the government of Sierra Leone established the National Commission for War affected Children in short as an Ombudsman to redress the wrongs meted to children.

In this brief survey of the presentation paper of the National Commission for War affect ed Children to the thematic hearing on youth and children of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on June 17th 2003, I am going to focus more on Advocacy and Recommendations on behalf of the War Affected Children and matters relating to the Convention on the Right of children.

The National Commission for War Affected children has been seriously engaged in enhancing implementing partners in the areas of Skills Training, formal and non- formal education and foster parenting to enhance demobilization and rehabilitation of war affected children. In this regard the Commission has supported a wide range of programmes nation wide.

This involves programmes such as skills training, formal and non-formal education for war affected children of school going age and those above school going age.

Other programmes designed for the demobilization and reintegration of war affected children were operated by (CAW) and Kids in distress, two Non-governmental Organizations:

(2) Specialized Ministry to children of the United Methodist Church is engaged in National Radio Sensitization programmes on problems affecting street children "you pikin komot na trit and also giving educational support to rescued street children in the Freetown area, Bo district, Moyamba district and Bonthe district.

(3) Campaign for Collective Development in Bo, Caters for Trauma Healing, Skills Training and shelter.

(4) About 300 Foster Parents and underprivileged families have been provided with both materials and financial support.

(5) Construction of five buildings which will serve us Trauma Healing and Recreational children's Centres in Bo. Kailahun, Pujehun, Makeni and Freetown.

(6) Printed Posters on CRC have been distributed and chiefdom sensitization on child protection issues with emphasis on rehabilitation and reintegration of War Affected Children have been carried out at district level.

(7) The Voice of Children Radio programes are aired with the assistance of UNAMSIL every weekend.

These are examples of some of the NaCWAC programmes implemented by partners.

Recently, with the support of UNICEF, NaCWAC organized a two days residential workshop including members of Child Protection Agencies to come up with appropriate recommendations for the implementation of programmes.

(1) NaCWAC can boast of the positive activities of majority of the implementing agencies and regrets, the slow implementation of projects by few others.

(2) NaCWAC also faces difficulties in reaching out to different places in the country with the speed necessary because of lack of vehicles. We relied mostly on UNAMSIL for vehicles to start with, but thankful that UNICEF has provided a brand News vehicle and together with one bought by NaCWAC recently, progress is made in reaching out with our mandate especially that of Advocacy.

(3) The beaurocratic procedures to access funds from the Finance Department is frustrating.

There are yet a lot to be done in order to detraumatise our war affected children. In this regards we are making the following recommendations:

  1. Provide Trauma counseling and rehabilitation centers to help rehabilitate the traumatized children especially those who came in direct contact with the former fighting forces.
  2. Promote formulation and implementation of child friendly policies and programmes.
  3. There is need for government in collaboration with NGO's that are working with children to review and formulate national policy on children. Steps should also be taken to harmonize laws of Sierra Leone with Provisions of the CRC. and African Charter on the Rights of the Child.
  4. Establish child protection committees throughout the country to monitor and report on incidents of child abuse and other protection issues.
  5. Communities and parents should be encouraged to participate actively in creating conducive social and economic climate in which children have better opportunities available to them.
  6. Organise nation wide sensitization on the plight of war affected children and provisions of child protection instruments such as the C.R.C. and African Charter on the Rights of the child.
  7. Ensure adequate facilities are provided for the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of all war affected children especially sexually abused, child mothers, drug addicts, street children and child ex-combatants.
  8. Provide trauma healing and Counselling services for street and returnee children.
  9. Provide temporary shelter or foster parent placement and skills training for war affected children especially street children, child ex-combatants, sexually abused and child mothers.
  10. More infrastructural facilities be made available by the Ministry of education to meet the demands of free education.
  11. Government should institute effective cost recovery programmes in health sector to mitigate the problems of self medication.
  12. Education should be made accessible to every child and skills training centers should be provided for children who are no longer interested in formal schooling.
  13. Facilitate access to media and participation of children and adolescents in decision making on issues affecting them.
  14. Special consideration be given to amputees particularly their children in terms of support.
  15. Provide increased financial support to the National Commission for War Affected Children.


May I take this opportunity on behalf of the National Commission for War Affected children and on behalf of the children to express our full support to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a positive tool for peace building and Reconciliation. I take this opportunity to urge all Sierra Leoneans to give it their unflinching support and to thank H.E. the President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, his government and the members of parliament for establishing the Commission. God bless.


Your Lordship, Bishop J.C. Humper. Chairman of the TRC
Commissioners of the TRC
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Our Beloved Children

In extending special greetings and recognitions to your eminent Commissioners let me express gratification on behalf of the National Commission for War Affected Children for your kind invitation extended to us to attend and participate in this all important forum. We feel profoundly humbled.

During the decade old civil conflict, thousands of children of Sierra Leone were forced into the crossroads of conflict. Their reintegration is critical to heal scars, to bring stability and to meet the moral responsibilities of civil society.

Children bore the brunt of the decade long conflict started by adults. The rate and extent of violations of children's rights, ranging from abduction, multiple rape, amputation, slavery, exploitation and forced engagement in the battle field where they took up arms and were forced into drug addiction during this period, is alarming.

They were denied education, traumatized, psychologically injured and morally compromised.

Damage done to children during the civil conflict is paralled by injuries they committed to people once called neighbours. Harsh memories do not fade easily and it will take special effort to help communities embrace young perpetrators of violence.

Against this background and inspired by the Graca Machel Report (1996) which presented a disturbing and compelling account of the abominations being committed globally against children in theatres of conflict, His Excellency. Mr. Olara Otunu, United Nations Special Envoy to the Secretary General who was on an official visit to Sierra Leone to assess the impact of the war on children during the conflict met with our revered President H.E. Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and reviewed matters of mutual interests affecting children caught up in the conflict. As a result, through their shared vision they both agreed to establish a Commission for children to redress the wrongs meted to children particularly those affected by war.

In response, the National Commission for War Affected Children was established as a statutory body by an Act of Parliament on the 26h January 2001 constituting a board of Commissioners representative of different disciplines, expertise and regions whose nominees successfully went through the parliamentary screening and approval. In addition UNAMSIL and UNICEF agencies of the United Nations are ex-officio members of the commission whose membership and contributions have provided increased expertise and support. The Commission was formally inaugurated in February 2003, when it's members were Sworn in by President Alhaji Amad Tejan Kabbah.

The main thrust of the Commission is primarily to ensure that concerns of War Affected Children are translated into policy, priority setting and resource allocation at national level. The Voice of Children initiative radio programming for and by the children coordinated by UNAMSIL with the NCWAC as Secretary to the Advisory Board aims to enable children and youth to participate more systematically in national discourse. In addition, to ensure that children affected by the conflict will live and develop in a condusive climate responsive to the political, socio-economic and cultural development in the areas of Education, Health, Housing and other social facilities guaranteed by the CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (CRC).

Mr. Chairman, Commission, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, my beloved children. The truth of the matter is that every Sierra Leonean child is affected by the war directly or indirectly. The Commissioner's mandate is extensive to include concerns and issues affecting children in totality but much more, children brutalized and traumatized by the war.

In order to establish a comprehensive database as an appropriate tool to guide our planning needs, the Commission contracted the services of STATISTICS Sierra Leone in partnership to conduct a nationwide survey on street and other war affected children in selected parts of the country. The report has been completed and submitted with positive outlook and recommendations now being studied by Commissioners for appropriate action. The survey covered about 98% Sierra Leone Children.

The main objectives of this survey was to rapidly assess the post war situation of street and other war affected children in Sierra Leone, with regard to the categories of such children and their numbers by gender and locality, family background, access to health care, educational status / or access to educational facilities, sexual behavior and awareness of HIV/AIDS and STI.

The Consequences of the war have been enormous and devastating. Women and children who constitute the vulnerable group bore the brunt of the atrocities committed by the rebels. The overall standard of living, especially the levels of health, and education, declined and a significant portion of national infrastructure was destroyed.

The war also precipitated the problems of orphaned, abandoned and separated children or children who lost their way when the rebels attacked their towns. The numbers of kids on the streets increased as a consequence of displacement from the war and the loss of parents/guardians.

The findings of the survey indicate that:
• About 69% of street children and 8% of other war affected children have at least one parent dead or missing and 48% of the war affected children are complete orphans, with both parents dead.
• A high percentage of the other war affected children have been resettled in communities, with 27% still displaced. However, 64% of the street children are displaced children, 33.7% are resettled in areas where their basic necessities are not well catered for, and so they are on the streets. About 10% are refugees.
• Various injuries were suffered by the children. Sores and scars from war wounds were found to be the commonest war related injury on the children. Some suffered amputations of limbs.
• The war caused psychological effects on the children the most traumatic effects of the war on the children were fear, stress, mental disorder and depression.
• Health facilities are expensive and therefore not easily accessible to the children. Malaria/Fever and Headache are common illnesses among the children. Treatments are mainly from dispensaries and pharmacies. Majority of the street children go to drug peddlers for treatment.
• Because of the long protracted war and the displacement of families coupled with disruption of normal social life, a lot of the children have past school-going age and would prefer to learn skills instead of going back to school.
• Choice of skills include Carpentry, Masonry, Tailoring Blacksmith, Hair dressing.
• Some of the children are taking hard drugs and the most common drugs used are marijuana and "Brown Brown" (Cocaine).

During the brief establishment of the Commission the following landmarks have been impacted on behalf of our children.

Support, rehabilitation and re-integration programmes of 27 non-Governmental and Community Based Organization nation-wide. The programmes include Skills training, Sensitization, Leadership trainings for adolescent, formal and non-education and recreation.

About 300 Foster Parents and under privileged families have been provided with both material and financial support.

Over 100 disadvantaged children have been supported in Secondary Schools and Vocational Institutions (payment of school fees and other school charges).

7 temporary counseling and recreational centers are operative in Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Pujehun, Bonthe,     Moyamba and Freetown.

Over 300 street and other war affected children have been catered for and provided with means to alleviate abject poverty concerns.

More than 200 street children have been exposed to sensitization meeting (these include child beggars, commercial sex workers, child labourers and separated / abandoned children.

The objective of the sensitization meetings is primarily to identify the root Causes of street life and to provide them with alternatives consistent with our mandate in terms of rehabilitation.

At Christmas and other religious festivals, we have organized appropriate parties for war affected children in specific regions and provide them with suitable gifts i.e. second hand clothing, footwear and toys.

The Commission participates in issues affecting children in collaboration with UNAMSIL, UNICEF and other agencies i.e. International Day of broadcasting, Day of the African Child (DAC) and others.

Construction of five buildings which will serve as Trauma Healing and Recreational Children's centers in Bo, Kailahun, Pujehun, Makeni and Freetown.

In order to maximize greater efficiency to strengthen Advocacy, the Commission with the support of UNICEF organized a two days residential course for 40 participants including selected child centered and protection agencies (NGOs) in the country to discuss, study and make appropriate recommendations to assist the Commission in implementation of programmes appropriate to our mandate.

10. a. MEETINGS:
In addition to the monthly statutory meetings of the Commission to discuss matters affecting war affected children and their development, there are specialized Technical committees on Advocacy, capacity building and youth participation, Education and Health, Rehabilitation and Re-integration and Resource mobilization and Legal norms which meet, discuss and make appropriate recommendations for the Board. These committees are made up of representatives from UNAMSIL, UNICEF, NGOs and Sectoral Ministries.

The National Commission for War Affected Children is policy driven and according to our mandate, not an implementing agency working in collaboration with other government departmental and agencies and non-governmental organization, policies that will ensure the provision of Health, Educational and Social Welfare facilities to War Affected Children through advocacy at all levels.

In this regard, the negative social issues affecting War Affected Children such as Child Trafficking, Child Labour, Child Miners, Prostitution and a Host of others inimical to their enhancement are the subject of the Child protection Bill actively in progress initiated by the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children's Affairs under the strong Leadership of the Minister Hon. (Mrs.) Shirley Yeama Gbujama awaiting parliamentary study and ratification in the not too distant future. The urgency of legislation to guarantee the continued survival, promotion and development of children in all issues affecting their status are reflected in the proposed Child protection Bill that will also take cognizance of both our customs and traditional values in defining the Rights of the Child. The Commission continues together with its broad partnership to lobby all stakeholders in collaboration with the Children Network Forum along these lines.

In terms of broadening ship our expertise, the Commission has participated in exchange visitation programmes and the most recent being to Dakar, Senegal to obtain practical study war affected children. the trip was sponsored by Sierra Leone Government led by the Executive Secretary, Mrs. Bintu Magona. Other trips are being explored to broaden our horizon.

The source of Funding to the Commission is provided by the government of Sierra Leone through the Highly Indebted poverty communities (HIPC). The amount is utilized for our specific programmes of Trauma Healing and recreational children's centers in Bo, Kenema, Pujehun, Makeni and Freetown.    By courtesy of the leadership of the United Methodist Conference in Sierra Leone the Resident Bishop J.C. Humper who is also the current Chairman of the TRC the Commission was able to rent an impressive building at Gloucester Street in the central of Freetown at affordable rate that will be specifically used for rehabilitation of street children.

Mr. Chairman of the TRC & Commissioners, let me conclude the following points and recommendations.

The difficulties Sierra Leone is facing today are the direct results of bad governance, the culture of silence, the misuse of youths for selfish political gains and marginalisation. The children of Sierra Leone need to be heard and participate in the democratic process to ensure their enhancement through their respective channels under the leadership of NaCWAC.

The solutions to the problems facing Sierra Leone cannot be isolated from the global community particularly the instability in the sub region characterized by civil conflict, increased refugees exodus, displacements and migration to name a few.

The vision to move Sierra Leone from its present difficulties to a better future should be based on Sierra Leonean Initiative and Action.

Attitudinal change and improved governance at all levels and respect for the rule of law and separation of powers without political interference should be recognized.

The recognition of the children as important partners in development.
Prompt legislation and enforcement of a Child protection Bill to address the problems of child labour, street children, child trafficking, and others.

Providing increased financial support to the National Commission for War Affected Children with possibly consultants. The International Community through its respective agencies in Sierra Leone, and abroad to assist in strengthening capacity building of the Commission as a matter of priority.

The issue of CHILD SOLDIERS is a phenomenon especially in developing countries. The reasons are due to social and economic inadequacies backed by political problems. Compulsory free education is a step in the right direction but much more the Ministry should be involved to conduct sensitization including other forces. Also at the international level the United Nations, African Union ECOWAS and others should prioritise the agenda of child soldiers and discourage the practice.

That special consideration and priority be given to Amputees and War wounded particularly their children in terms support.

There is the need to support more vocational & skill training bodies especially in the rural setting.

May I take this opportunity on behalf of the National Commission for War Affected Children and on behalf of our children to express our full support to the Truth and Reconciliation Council as a positive tool for peace building and Reconciliation and urge all Sierra Leoneans to give it their unflinching support and to thank H.E. the President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, his government and the members of Parliament for establishing the Commission. God Bless.


The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs is responsible for the provision of services to socially marginalized, disadvantaged groups, less privileged, particularly children, women, the aged, the disabled, whether groups or individual family units and the needy in our communities. In this regard, the ministry's mission is to promote and advocate for the needs and rights of these categories of people mainly in the area of resource mobilization and allocation and to ascertain any necessary law reforms in favour of the welfare of these people.

In pursuance of its mandate, the ministry engages itself in the development of programmes geared towards creating a conducive atmosphere for these categories of persons. Its activities embrace families, communities, women, children, the aged, mentally and physically disabled, street children and war affected children including child ex-combatants, sexually abused and separated children.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs has two Divisions:
1.    The Social Welfare Division
2.    The Gender and Children's Affairs Division

The Social Welfare Division is responsible to provide services for the socially marginalized and disadvantaged groups in society either directly or indirectly through welfare non-governmental agencies. It has seven operational sections or units:

a. Child Welfare Secretariat
b. Probation
c. Institutions
d. Family Case Work
e. Disability issues
f. Audio Visual Aids
g. Community Based Organization

In addition to these sections, there are two welfare institutions that are directly operated by the Division, namely, the Remand Home and Approved School. These are institutions used to reform the juvenile delinquents that are in conflict with the law.

The Gender and Children's Affairs Division promotes and advocates for the needs and rights of marginalized groups including women and children particularly in the areas of resource mobilization and allocation without gender discrimination.

The objectives of the ministry include the following:

1.    To assess and evaluate the welfare situation generally in the country so far as it affects vulnerable groups such as
-    Unaccompanied Children (UAC)
-    Children Associated with the Fighting Forces
-    Street Children and Sexually Abused Women and Girls
-    The aged
-    Mentally and Physically disabled
-    Children in Conflict with the Law

2.    To register, trace, reunify and reintegrate unaccompanied children and children associated with the fighting forces with their families and communities.

3.    To ensure that the rights of children in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are adhered to.

4.    To ensure that social reintegration of children is based on the principles of the CRC.

5.    To provide care and protection for children in conflict with the law and other destitute children.

6.    To assist and reconcile families in conflict in order to protect the welfare of their children.

7.    Enable the voluntary Community Based Organizations to carry out their activities and to enlighten them on their role and responsibilities within their respective communities.

8.    Promote consensus on the conceptual framework that guides identification of gender disparity in society and analyse the causes, which should form the basis for formulating national policy on gender focusing on the marginalized groups.

9.    raise awareness and recognition of gender disparity in all sectors of society, using electronics and print media as well as inter personal communication channels.

10. Train development planners and policy makers to use gender analysis tools to develop and orientate sectoral projects, programmes and policies in the public and private sectors.

11. Establish a resource base for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information and statistical data on gender specific indicators for various ages and socio-economic categories, which will impact on policy formulation and programming in related ministries.

12.    Advocate for the collection of adequate technical, financial and organizational resources within line ministries to re-orientate human development policies and programmes for closing the gender gap and supporting the expansion of the public role of women and marginalized groups especially as parents, producers, income earners, managers, educators, health workers and decision makers.

13.    Mobilize additional resources from outside, UN Agencies, NGOs, the Private Sector and other civic groups to support programmes on gender, women and children.

14.    Advocate for the integration of women into the development process at all levels through programmes and policies.

15.    Facilitate the work of the National Commission for War Affected Children, the Department for the Advancement of Women, the Children's Forum Network and the Women's Help Live as a way of monitoring the implementation of policies and programmes on women and children.

Immediately before the war the present Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs was the Ministry of Social Welfare and Rural Development. This ministry then was responsible for women, children and all the socially marginalized persons and group of people when the Democratic Government was overthrown by the military, in 1992, Gender and Children's Affairs Ministry was established separate from the Ministry of Social Welfare. Youths Affairs that was part of the mandate of the Ministry of Social Welfare was also transferred to the Ministry of Education during the early days of the war (early 1990s).
Before the conflict in this country, the Ministry now referred to as Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs was performing its normal activities. These activities included:

a.    Provision of services to juvenile delinquents who are caught by the police or reported to the police, by the public for committing various crimes. The services here include:
-    Identifying these juvenile offenders with the police and advocating for their release if the crimes committed are not grave. For crimes that cannot be easily dropped, the police are encouraged to charge the offenders to court without delay and arbitrary detention.
-    The police is also encouraged to handover to the ministry on bail, those children who are charged to court. The ministry produces them to court as and when demanded. The ministry also follows up the cases to conclusion and advice the magistrates according to the principles of the CRC.
-    Those children who need to be punished are again handed over to the ministry and are subsequently transferred from the Remand Home to the Approved School. These children are reformed at the Approved School. While here they are provided with health, education, skills training and recreational facilities until when they are free to join their parents again. Follow-up visits are carried out to these families to ensure that their children are properly reformed.
b.    Provision of services to families in conflict. Mediations and counseling are carried out within such families. Families that are very poor are assisted with grants to enhance their living conditions. They are also trained in various skills like soap making, gara tie dyeing etc and provided with micro-credit funds to set up their own businesses for self-reliance to support their children.
c.    Services are also provided for people with disabilities (eg. The blind, deaf and dumb, polio victims, amputees etc). This ministry provides subventions to institutions where these categories of children and adults are cared.

The 10 years civil conflict in Sierra Leone indeed has negatively impacted on the lives and development of the children of this nation. Thousands of children in Sierra Leone have been exposed to series of violations against their rights during the period of the 10 years conflict. The major violations of the rights of children during the conflict include the following:

1. Abduction and forced conscription of children into armed forces as combatants by all the fighting forces.

2. Killing of children during raids of RUF/AFRC on communities and using children as human shield during confrontations with enemies.

3. Children have been amputated by mainly RUF and AFRC. Some are tortured in many other ways e.g. Lacerating the bodies of children to write on them inscriptions of their movements (RUF/AFRC). The main reason for this according to the children themselves was for them not to escape from the movement.

4. Children, mostly girls were raped and subjected to other forms of sexual violence by the fighting forces especially the RUF and AFRC. All girls above the age of 5 who were released by the RUF/AFRC or who escaped and found themselves with the ministry and its child protection partners were sexually abused. According to information given to us by the victims themselves, some of them were gang raped, while others were forced into sexual slavery in the form of forced marriage to the rebels. In fact, according to some girls and women the rebels (RUF/AFRC) usually put a number of them in well-secured houses just for sexual purpose. Any rebel who had sexual feeling would go in to satisfy his desire. These types of sexual abuses have resulted in many instances permanent physical harm such as some of the girls/women becoming sterile from gang and repeated rapes and sexual torture. Some of the victims have contracted sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/Aids, some girls/women had unwanted pregnancies, which resulted to, unwanted babies and above all many of the victims of the sexual abuses did not live to tell their stories.

5. The 10 years war resulted to the separation of over 15,000 children. Some of these separated children went across the borders to Liberia, Guinea, the Gambia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and other West African Countries. Many more were internally displaced and had been languishing in internally displaced camps all over the country. These separated and displaced children living in refugee and displaced camps had been exposed to a lot of child rights violations such as, child labour and economic exploitation, rape and sexual abuse, child trafficking, drug abuse etc. Most of those separated and displaced children who found themselves in the streets have been constantly in conflict with the law either through stealing, sexual abuse or other crimes committed against the public or the state.

6. Most children lost their identity during the war. There are some among this category of children who will never regain their actual identities in their life time. The breakdown of traditional and family structures, cultural values and practices during the war resulted to the lost of identities of some children. Some separated, displaced and refugee children and those who were permanently in the bush with the rebels had no time to grow within their traditional family and community structures that have cultural values. Such children, most of whom are now young adults did not have the opportunities to learn their culture and values. Meanwhile, it is possible for such children through the reintegration processes to learn about their lost cultures and traditions. But for children who were very small (babies) at the time of separation from their families and communities and who could not even remember their names, families they were born into, communities, chiefdoms, districts and regions they come from have completely lost their identities and would never regain them.

7. Majority of the Sierra Leonean children lost access to education, health and shelter services due to the massive destruction of such facilities during the war. This has resulted to high incidence of malnutrition, diseases, school dropouts and crime rate among children and young adults.

In the bid to address the awkward situations of children affected by the war in Sierra Leone, the ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs in collaboration with its Child Protection Partners has established Child Protection Committees at National, Regional, District and Chiefdom levels - a system to coordinate, monitor and evaluate all child protection activities implemented in the country. With the help of the Child Protection Committees, different programmes have been developed for the care and protection of children affected by the war in Sierra Leone with the following objectives:

  1. To promote child rights issues.
  2. To increase awareness and responsibilities around the CRC nationwide.
  3. To ensure the reunification of all separated children with their families and communities.
  4. To provide alternative care for separated children awaiting reunification.
  5. To provide quality services and facilities that promote care and protection for children within acceptable minimum standards.
  6. To ensure social reintegration of war affected children.
  7. To plan for the long-term future of children in especially difficult circumstances.

In order to achieve the above objectives of providing adequate and appropriate care and protection for the children affected by the war in Sierra Leone, the following programmes and projects have been designed and implemented in collaboration with child protection partners:

  1. Child Rights Advocacy and Sensitization
  2. Programmes for street children and children in conflict with the law.
  3. Family Tracing and Reunification of separated children including cross-border tracing and Reunification
  4. Centre Base and Alternative Care for children whose families could not be easily traced.
  5.  Demobilization and Reintegration of child ex-combatants.
  6. Reintegration of ordinary separated children who have been reunified with their families and communities.
  7. Child Rights Violation Monitoring Network.
  8. Juvenile Justice System - programmes for children in conflict with the law.
  9. Girl Mothers Programmes.
  10. Programmes for Commercial Sex Workers.
  11. Scar/Tattoo Removal Project.


In Child Rights Advocacy and Sensitization, training workshops on the Convention on the Rights of the Child have been organized for Child Protection Committees, Youth and Women's groups, the Police, Prisons Officers, Law Officers and the Military (both the Sierra Leone Military Forces and UNAMSIL). Some Religious Leaders (both Pastors/Reverends and the Imams) and the Media have also been trained on child rights issues.

Every year the Day of the African Child (DAC) is celebrated with the full involvement of all categories of children. A theme is carefully selected to advocate for the rights of children. This year's theme is "Birth Registration: An Identity and Voice for Every Child".

For child rights issues to be effectively promoted in this country, the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be harmonized with the national laws. In pursuit of this venture, the ministry in collaboration with its Child Protection Partners and the law Officers Department has developed a Child Rights Bill which is now in the process of being incorporated into the laws of Sierra Leone.

For street children and children in conflict with the law, a Taskforce has been established to coordinate and monitor activities related to the relief of problems of street children and the children in conflict with the law. The Taskforce is working with street children's organizations to alleviate the problems of street children. Programmes have been designed and are being implemented for street children in the areas of education (formal, non formal and skills training), health and counseling. Some of the services provided for these children are residential while others are day-care. All these services are provided with the aims of removing the children from the streets and subsequently reunifying them with their families.

In the area of Juvenile Justice, the Probation Section of the Ministry monitors police cells and other detention centers including Central Prisons for children who are arbitrarily detained. Advocacy and Counselling services are carried out for these juvenile offenders. Advocacy sessions are held with the police to ensure that juvenile offenders are not placed in the same cells together with adult criminals.

The ministry operates a Remand Home and an Approved School for children in conflict with the law. Those children who are caught by the police or reported to the police by the public for committing various crimes are advocated for by the ministry for their release (for crimes that are not serious) or them to be charged to court (for crimes that are very serious) without arbitrarily detaining them. The ministry bails those children who are charged to Juvenile Courts for crimes committed against the public or the state. They are kept at the Remand Home and be produced to court as and when demanded by the magistrates. While at the Remand Home, various services are provided for them including the provision of food, clothing, medicare, non-formal education and recreational facilities. When the court finds them guilty, they are ordered to be transferred to the Approved School at Wellington for their reformation for a period of time. The above facilities provided at the Remand home are also provided for the children at the Approved School in addition to formal education and skills training. Family and community mediations are carried out by the ministry's social workers with the families/communities of these children for them to be subsequently reunified with families and communities for their reformation. Follow-ups are also done to these families to ensure that the children have been properly reformed.

Because of the massive displacement and separation of over 15,000 children due to the civil conflict in this country, the ministry with its partners has established a National Family Tracing Network to trace reunify and reintegrate separated children with their families. Over half of this number have been traced and successfully reunified with their families. The National Family Tracing and Reunification Network is also charged with the responsibility of finding alternative care such as interim care centers, foster homes, group homes as well as independent living for those children including street children who  could not be immediately reunited with their families due to various reasons ranging from fear of retribution from communities, displacement of families, destruction of homes etc. in order to enhance the Family Tracing Programme, a National Database has been established within the ministry to collect and process data on separated children.  This Database is also responsible for the coordination of family tracing programme through the country.

Mechanisms have been put in place to reintegrate demobilized children from the former fighting forces into their families and communities.  The  ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs has been working with partner institutions like UNICEF, NCDDR and other NGOs to encourage demobilized ex-child combatants to enroll in specially designed school programmes,  given the exigencies of the situation, emphasis is placed on the psychosocial assistance through trauma healing services, counseling, training, educational and recreational activities within the school system.  About 6,000 children were demobilized.  Some have gone through reintegration processes while others are still going through the processes.

The reintegration assistance aims at providing children with opportunities for achieving the following objectives:
1.    To enable them meet the immediate post demobilization and resettlement needs.
2.    To develop initial marketable skills.
3.    Engage in income generating activities.
4.    Improve their perception of personal security.
It is expected that reintegration assistance will help child ex-combatants lead productive lives and contribute to the development of their families, communities and the country.
Child Rights Violation Monitoring Network has been established in the country due to the high increase in the violation of children's rights.

The Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) was identified as one of the child protection partners to the ministry to coordinate this Network. The menace of child abuse and misuse is increasing every day and the involvement of more stakeholders to curb these excesses is the only way out to fulfil the goals of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Child abuse is indeed a community problem; therefore the network has involved opinion leaders including chiefs, religious heads, women and youth groups in the discussion of child issues pertaining to violations of their rights. Child Welfare Committees have been established all over the country to monitor and report on child rights violations occurring in their respective communities. For example, some communities are now vigilant and have formed "Community Watch Groups" to promote child welfare matters, especially the education of the girl child and monitor gross child rights violations in their localities.

Violations that are monitored and reported on include the following:

  1. Rape and other forms of sexual abuses
  2. Amputations
  3. Torture and other ill-treatment of children
  4. Killing and massacres
  5. Arbitrary detention
  6. Abductions
  7. Recruitment of children into armed forces
  8. Child labour
  9. Child trafficking
  10. Deprivation of children to access health care and educational facilities.

Both partner agencies and government provide medical services for the victims of child abuses such as rape and other forms of sexual abuses, torture and other ill-treatment of children. Community sensitizations are also carried out on child abuse to encourage victims to come out and report the abuses for actions to be taken. The sensitizations are also aimed at helping to prevent child abuses from occurring. Free legal support is now given to victims in order to apprehend the perpetrators and ensures that justice prevails. The Family Support Unit of the Police, the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone, FAWE, the Probation Unit of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, International Rescue Committee and LAWCLA (a group of Lawyers who have come together to provide free legal support to the victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence) are assisting in one way or the other to legally support the victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuses.

Because of rape and other forms of sexual violence and exploitation, many girls became pregnant and gave birth to children most of whom have no father to be responsible for them in a family setting. Some of these girl mothers have been rejected by their parents because some were involved in the fighting and others, because they have brought additional responsibilities to the family (additional babies/children). So the girl mothers are left alone for their survival.

Some partner agencies like COOPI, GOAL and FAWE have been providing services for the girl mothers and their children. The services provided include counseling, skills training and other income generating activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter for the girl mothers. The babies/children of these mothers are also cared for by these agencies while their mothers are busy with their trainings and other activities.

Commercial sex workers (CSWs) are young men, women, girls or boys who have traded home life for freedom in the streets. These generally:
-    Have little or no formal education or skills training
-    Some times, but not always, come from poor socio-economic backgrounds
-    Live rough in the streets
-    Are drug addicts
-    Former abductees of former SLA/RUF fighters
-    Come from the displaced population
-    Have very low self-esteem
-    Are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse
-    Are street hawkers

The following factors have given rise to commercial sex work in Sierra Leone:
-Forced child marriage
-Low academic achievement
-Low self-esteem
-Peer or family pressure
-Drug abuse
-Abduction by the fighting forces and the subsequent rejection by family and community

Many services have been provided for commercial sex workers by partner agencies like GOAL in the Western Area. The services provided are as follow:
- Non-formal education/skills training services
- Construction of shelter to house commercial sex workers eg. Susan's Bay
- Free distribution of condoms to commercial sex workers
- Distribution of non-food items - blankets, shoes, clothes toys for children and many more
- Psycho-social counseling
- Primary health care facilities for CSWs, their under-5 children and sometimes their  customers
- Referrals of CSWs and their under-5 children to tertiary health institutions
- Provide on-street contact, support and referrals for sexually abused girls and women
- Provide ante-natal and post-natal care for CSWs
- Carrying out health education for self-awareness and that of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS - what they are, how they are contracted or mode of spread and how to prevent them.
- Advocate on behalf of CSWs when they are in conflict with the law
- Conducting sensitization meetings with community leaders, the police, the military and their exploiters and other members of the public
- Undertaking preventive commercial sex work education targeting at risk children and their families.
- Provision of recreational facilities - outdoor games, movies and beach parties for CSWs
- Strengthening family/community support for CSWs - this is done through the provision of loan schemes for CSW.

AFRC/RUF commanders used sharp objects to mark the children in their care so that they cannot escape to go to the pro government forces or to their families or communities. The marks/tattoos (RUF or AFRC) were put on the chest, back and arms of the children. In collaboration with COOPI, specialized doctors were brought into the country to remove these tattoos from the children. Over 100 children benefited from this project successfully. Some children refused to remove their scars because, according to them, they want to remain as heroes.

Because of the numerous problems the children of this country have gone through during the 10 years war and are still going through even after the war, the government in collaboration with the office of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict decided to establish the National Commission for War Affected Children. This Commission was established by an Act of Parliament of 26th January 2001 and is charged with the responsibility for facilitating the reintegration and rehabilitation of street and other war affected children into normal family and community life. The Commission has started its work in sensitizing the communities on its activities and also assessing the situations of war affected and street children. The Commission is currently constructing centers at key places in the country, where disadvantaged children will be trauma counseled, afforded skills acquisition opportunities, non-formal education and recreational facilities.

In order to give more premium to child participation as one of the main provisions in the Conventions on the Rights of the Child, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs facilitated the establishment of the Children's Forum Network. This forum is now functional and has established branches in the provinces. Children's participation in decision making on issues that affect them is no more a secret or taboo in this country.

With this frame work the Voice of Children Radio Station through the support of UNAMSIL Information Department has been established in-order to give children the opportunity to express their views on issues affecting their well-being.


  1. That Parliament and Cabinet speed up with the harmonization of the Convention on the Rights of the Child with the laws of Sierra Leone.
  2. That resources be provided to help increase the establishment of Child Protection Committees throughout the country to monitor and report on incidences of child abuse and other child protection issues.
  3. A policy on children be developed to ease the implementation of child protection activities.
  4. More funds be allocated to the ministry for the implementation of child protection programmes.
  5. The Juvenile Justice system in the country be improved upon so that children in conflict with the law are adequately cared for and protected.
  6. Remand Homes and Approved Schools be constructed and operationalized in the regional headquarters of Bo, Kenema and Makeni to address the increasing juvenile delinquencies in the regions.
  7. The ministry's devastated offices in the provinces be speedily reconstructed and rehabilitated to be able to cope with the increasing welfare issues in the country.



UNICEF has been the lead agency for child protection in Sierra Leone since 1993. Working together with other agencies to provide services to Sierra Leonean children, UNICEF supports the demobilisation of child combatants, reunifies separated children, provides psychosocial assistance to separated children, and develops and manages programmes for reintegration and long term care. UNICEF's protection mandate stretches to children in all circumstances, including street children and children in conflict with the law.

The UNICEF Child Protection Programme promotes protection of all children against violations of their rights. Its main objective is to ensure protection of their rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international legal instruments. In working towards this goal, UNICEF and its partners work to demobilise and reintegrate all children associated with armed groups, reintegrate unaccompanied children, provide psychosocial services for all children affected by the war, and support the sensitisation of communities on the protection needs of children.

UNICEF's child protection interventions also include emergency care and reintegration of separated children, care, protection and reintegration of sexually exploited children, promotion of child rights, and monitoring and advocacy in the area of juvenile justice. In 1998, UNICEF supported 54 agencies to form the Child Rights Violations Network to monitor, document, and advocate against continuing human rights violations against Sierra Leone's children.

The Child Protection Network, chaired by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, and coordinated by UNICEF, is comprised of forty members from UN agencies, international and national non governmental organisations, and government ministries, and has been the focal point for coordination and collaboration in the area of child protection since 1996. A national Child Protection Committee was formed, with regional and district branches, to make policy for child welfare, with particular emphasis on child soldiers and unaccompanied children. In the face of immense obstacles, UNICEF and its child protection partners established structures for the demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers, identify, register, document and reunify unaccompanied children separated by war, poverty and abuse, and provide psychosocial support to children suffering psychologically and emotionally from their tragic war experiences.

UNICEF has been the central organisation receiving and caring for demobilised Sierra Leonean children. From the moment the first group of 360 boys and ten girls were demobilised and handed over to UNICEF on May 31, 1993, UNICEF has played the key role in this effort to free child soldiers from the bonds of forced conscription and provide them with security, shelter, care, and ultimately, family reunification or foster care, and education. Since 1998, UNICEF has been a member of the Technical Coordinating Committee of the National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR). Its services to ex-child soldiers include services to all those who come from the fighting forces, including abductees and young "wives." Once a child entered the program for protection of former child soldiers, they were screened and placed in an Interim Care Centre (ICC) as close as possible to the place where the child would be reunified with their family and community. In the ICCs children are provided with immediate care until such time as they can be reunified with their families, such services including basic supplies, medical services, trauma counselling, family mediation, education and skills training opportunities and recreation. As part of the assessment the stores and background of the child were carefully assembled and recorded.

UNICEF's family tracing and reunification activities aim to reunify all children with their families and communities, and include a focus on education, skills training, and follow-up support for the families. Nonetheless, there have been times when a child cannot be reunified with her/his family, either because of the failure of the tracing mechanisms, because of ongoing insecurity in the region of origin, or because the child may have been rejected by her/his family. UNICEF and its partners have been doing their utmost to ensure proper and comprehensive long-term care for children in this tragic situation.


The reports of brutality committed in Sierra Leone during its ten-year civil war reverberated throughout the world. After numerous false hopes of a lasting peace over the years, a cease-fire finally took hold in January 2002. At the time of writing of this submission, Sierra Leone has maintained its grasp on a fragile peace, and scores of international and national agencies and institutions have been doing their part to ensure that the horrors of the past do not recur.

No one has suffered the devastating effects of such widespread systematic brutality more deeply than Sierra Leone's children. Particularly vulnerable to abuse, children in Sierra Leone were violated in deep and lasting ways, some too awful to be adequately described in words. Sierra Leonean children have been murdered, mutilated, tortured, raped, beaten, enslaved, and forcibly recruited into fighting factions. The wounds, both physical and psychological, inflicted upon them will leave permanent marks on them and their families, as well as on the entire Sierra Leonean community and indeed, all humanity. In some ways it is as if a new level of cruelty has been attained in this war, setting the bar lower than ever imagined and eschewing international efforts to put a limit on the commission of such outrageous crimes against humanity.

UNICEF and other child protection agencies faced great obstacles in their efforts to protect children from the relentless war and the concurrent gross violations of children's rights. Access to children in areas of the country at war often made identification and documentation of unaccompanied children as well as reunification of those already identified impossible. Communities and families, the primary caretakers of the children, were systematically damaged and destroyed, weakening if not shattering their ability to reintegrate or support their children. Child protection and support staff themselves were victims of human rights violations, making them unable to assist themselves and their own families, and certainly preventing them from providing any support to separated.

The extent of the damage has yet to be assessed. When we speak of children and the impact of such violations upon them, we cannot talk only of statistics or of apparent physical consequences. We are talking about attempts at destroying the very humanity that these children have been born with. We talk about not only violating their rights as enshrined in international law, but about denying them the very right to exist as what they are -- children. The damage to them as human beings will resound for them and for their families and communities for years if not generations to come. We have an obligation to protection for them against future brutality, to do our utmost to protect their basic human rights, and if at all possible, to bring back their hope in a better future.

The war in Sierra Leone has had a devastating and permanent impact on children and their families. Children have been forcibly abducted from their families and held in abominable conditions, mistreated both physically and sexually, and denied basic human needs. They have been forcibly conscripted into military and paramilitary activities and forced to commit heinous acts against others, often drugged, all the while undergoing brutal treatment by their superiors. Girls have been captured as sex slaves to serve as "wives" to combatants who treated them with the utmost cruelty. Children of all ages have been separated from their families, in many cases never to be reunited. Many have grown up in abominable conditions both in Sierra Leone and in neighbouring countries as refugees.

The special needs of children combined with the depth of their suffering means that it will take years if not generations for the wounds to heal. The risks are great and further damage can be done in the process if it is rushed or if we are careless. Truth telling can heal and contribute to reconciliation; but truth telling can also hurt and spur renewed violence. Sierra Leonean children deserve a post-war process that both protects them and supports them; one that both includes them and accurately documents their suffering, while protecting them against further traumatisation and retaliation; one that provides a basis for building a future based on their best interests, ensures access to education, and with that, full respect for their rights.

The first step towards this end is to ensure that they are given an opportunity to tell their story. It is a story not easily told. It is a history which will inevitably be incomplete, with a gaping hole left by the missing stories of children who were killed and disappeared. The focus of our documentation must of course be the children themselves, if they are willing, and if the process protects them. This submission is written based on UNICEF's own documentation, while at the same time corroborating and endorsing the reports of other key institutions who have been monitoring and documenting child rights violations during the war, and whose reports are cited herein. In support of their own truth telling, UNICEF hereby submits this overview of the impact of the war on Sierra Leone's children.


Sierra Leone is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Sierra Leone ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, and its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts as well.1 It has also ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and signed the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Although the Government of Sierra Leone has committed itself to upholding the provisions of these documents, it has failed to incorporate their precepts into national law or to adjust national legislation to meet the standards set by its international obligations.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6(1), states that "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." Article 7 states that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," and Article 8(1) states that, "No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave trade in all their forms shall be prohibited." Article 9 goes on to say that, "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention." There are particular provisions of the ICCPR which deal with the protection of the family unit and of children. Article 23 holds the family to be the "natural and fundamental group unit of society" which is thus "entitled to protection by society and the State." ICCPR Article 24 protects the rights of children, without discrimination, entitling them to "such measures of protection as are required by [the child's] status as a minor.2

In ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Sierra Leone has committed herself to "ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights" (Article 3), to afford "the widest possible protection and assistance the family"(Article 10.1) in particular to take "special measures of protection and assistance ...on behalf of children" (Article 10.3) to "to recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living ...including adequate food, clothing and housing," (Article 11.1) and to "recognise the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health" (Article 12.1).3

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, to which Sierra Leone is a party, states that "Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right." (Article 4), and prohibits "All forms of exploitation and degradation of man particularly slavery, slave trade, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment" (Article 5), and Article 6 protects every person's "right to liberty and to the security of his person," adding that "no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained." Article 18 provides that "the family shall be the natural unit and basis of society," and requires the State to "ensure the protection of the rights of the woman and the child as stipulated in international declarations and conventions .4

The pre-eminent international document for the protection of children's rights is the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This instrument is replete with provisions protecting the rights of children, parents and caretakers, describing the obligations of States Parties with regard to respecting those rights, and calling for broad ranging measures to guarantee that the best interests of the child are guarded.5
Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which governs conflicts "not of an international character," states that:

'Persons taking no active part in the hostilities ...shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction based on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above mentioned persons:
a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
b) taking of hostages;
c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
d) ...the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees...6

All armed groups that fought in the Sierra Leone war are responsible for deliberate and outrageous breaches of their obligations under international law. According to the extensive documentation of violations conducted by both international and national human rights and humanitarian organisations, the RUF and the AFRC were responsible for the bulk of violations committed against children. Nonetheless, systematic and horrific abuses were committed by the pro-government CDF and their powerful Kamajors, as well as by ECOMOG forces.

The provisions of the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the CRC, the Torture Convention, CEDAW, the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the Geneva Conventions were systematically and egregiously violated during the war in Sierra Leone, with total impunity. The very crimes prohibited by international law were flagrantly committed during the war, targeting all civilians including children. Children were victims of killings, sexual violence and sexual slavery, forcible recruitment of child soldiers, abductions, use of human shields, illegal detention, torture, amputations and mutilation, and exploitation, in spite of the fact that any such acts are breaches of international law.
The Sierra Leone government has ratified these international instruments, and thus all factions and armed groups acting under the authority of the state are directly bound by their provisions; yet they have acted in direct and systematic contravention thereof.

The ICCPR, the Torture and Slavery Conventions, and the Four Geneva Conventions have risen to the level of customary international law. As such, their provisions are inviolable by any and all state and non-state actors, irrespective of formal ratification. The rebel RUF and AFRC are bound by these provisions, and have outrageously and methodically violated their precepts.

Under the Geneva Conventions, states are obliged to bring perpetrators of violations of the Conventions to justice. Each of the four conventions has a provision requiring States to "enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention." The Conventions furthermore holds that each State "shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.7 Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions are described as "wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment ...wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.8    In addition, the Outcome Document for the UN Special Session on Children called for an "end to impunity" and prosecution of those responsible for international humanitarian law violations. Within the current context of simultaneous efforts at truth telling and reconciliation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and prosecution of those who bear the greatest responsibility by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, there is enormous potential for prevention of a repetition of the conflict, healing of the nation and rebuilding of society, all goals of the TRC.


a. Multiple Abuses
Most children in Sierra Leone suffered numerous abuses, compounding their suffering and trauma. In July 1998, in Port Loko, a seventeen year old girl was caught by the RUF hiding in the bush, carrying her one and a half year old infant on her back. The rebels demanded food from her, but she had none. The perpetrators raped her, amputated her right hand, and killed her baby in front of her. One mother of a two and a half year old girl and five year old boy reported that in Kenema in April 1998, as part of "Operation Pay Yourself," the rebels found their bush hideout. The rebels looted all their belongings, and were forced to stay in the wooden hut which was their hiding place. The rebels then set fire to the hut, and when she was fleeing the fire the children fell into the flames. Both survived but with devastating burns. In July 1998, a thirteen year old boy in Kailahun was asleep next to his elder sister when she woke him and told him they had to flee to the bush. In the bush they were ambushed by a group of rebels. The boy's sister was sexually abused and then killed by the rebels in front of him, and the rebels then shot the boy in his leg, and left bleeding. ECOMOG soldiers found him and took him to the hospital. In October 1997, while an eight year old girl and her mother were attempting to escape from an attack by RUF rebels in Kenema District, the mother was raped and killed with a machete, and the child was tortured and tied to a stick.

b. Killing
Children were routinely and relentlessly targets of summary killings by rebel forces and pro-government troops throughout the war, in flagrant violation of the international law. Parents and other relatives who tried to protect their children were killed in the act, and the children subsequently slaughtered.

Child rights monitors documented horrific reports of brutal killings of children, often infants, throughout the war. Children became victims of both deliberate and arbitrary killings which often were the final step in a barrage of other violations they suffered. Abducted children were tortured, sexually abused, forced to commit heinous violations against others, mutilated or amputated, and finally killed.

Between February 15 and 24, 1998 alone, 111 children were killed in the Bo area during rebel RUF/AFRC attacks. Between April 1 and June 20, 1998, out of 265 war wounded patients brought to Connaught Hospital, one quarter were children.9

International human rights monitors documented what appeared to be a pattern of attacks targeting pregnant women and girls.  Many pregnant women were shot in the abdomen, were found dead with their feotuses cut out of their wombs,10 or were disembowelled.11

The Child Rights Violations Monitoring Network documented hundreds of cases of killings of children; the stories are appalling. In August 1998, in the Northern Province, a one and a half-year-old baby boy was pulled by rebels from his mother's arms, and before her eyes, cut into three pieces. In Bombali District in February 1998, a seventeen-year-old boy was killed by RUF/AFRC rebels when intervening to protect his sisters from rape. In Kono district in April 1998, a twelve year old boy left his home in search of some salt. On his return, he was caught by RUF rebels, who took the salt from him and killed him.
In February 1998 in Kenema District four children, ages seven, ten, seventeen, and eighteen were reportedly burned alive by rebel forces when their house was burned to the ground.

Children were also witnesses to horrific killings, often of loved ones, in their presence. In June 1998, in Pujehun, a fifteen-year-old boy was present when rebels killed his mother and father with machetes. Just following the killings, the rebels shot him in the left leg. The child was unable to seek proper medical care, and the bullet fragments remained in his leg for five months, causing permanent damage. A seventeen year old boy in Kailahun district reported that in July 1998, rebel RUF/AFRC forces entered his house shooting in all directions, killing his father and elder brother and shooting him in the leg. He later reported that he had been witness to numerous amputations of small children, as well as to the cutting open of pregnant women's stomachs.

c. Sexual Violence
Because of the way in which rape and sexual violence attack the very essence of the survivors, their families, and their communities, rape, as well as other forms of sexual violence, is considered to be an instrument of genocide, a means of torture, a crime of war, and, when committed as part of a widespread attack against a civilian population, a crime against humanity. International standards have finally acknowledged that a crime of sexual violence is an attack against the physical integrity of the victim, and not an attack against the personal dignity of the victim. It is the personal dignity of the perpetrator which is destroyed in the act of committing rape, and the physical integrity of the survivor.

The precise number of child victims of sexual violence is extremely difficult to establish due to underreporting and an absence of comprehensive medical statistics. Survivors may fear retaliation for disclosure, stigmatisation or rejection, may experience guilt feelings, or may be psychologically unable to deal with the consequences of disclosure.12 What is clear, however, is that sexual violence during the Sierra Leone war was perpetrated on a horrifically wide scale, and in blatant violation of the precepts of international law. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, has stated that "systematic and widespread rape and other sexual violence has been a hallmark of the conflict in Sierra Leone. Sexual violence in the context of armed conflict is a "means of demoralising [sic] individuals, families and communities and is used as a weapon to disable an enemy by dissolving bonds between family and society.

Gender based violence against girls is the type of violation that was committed both independent of, as well as in conjunction with, other abuses against children. Girls were raped or otherwise sexually violated and then killed. Girls were abducted and held in illegal detention for lengthy periods of time, and repetitively raped and gang raped, while held in forced labour. Girls were beaten and tortured before during and after the commission of acts of sexual violence against them. Girls were mutilated by their captors while being sexually abused or raped.

Girls were individually raped and gang raped at gunpoint or knifepoint by AFRC/RUF combatants, raped using objects including guns and sticks, and cut. Family members were often forced to witness these acts of sexual violence, helplessly standing by while their daughters and sisters are brutalised. In other cases male family members were forced to commit such acts against their female relatives; refusal meant instant death or amputation.15 Sexual violence was often performed as an act of retaliation or punishment for failure to comply with orders given by rebel combatants.

Rebel forces subjected girls of all ages, ethnicities, to rape, particularly and openly targeting young women and girls whom they believed to be virgins. Rebel forces often entered private homes looking for virgins girls, often girls as young as four, who were thereafter given to young fighters. 16 Human rights organisations documented cases where girls were "checked" prior to being individually raped or gang raped to verify their virginity. Girls who were "virginated" suffered societal and cultural consequences of this violation in addition such as a decreased likelihood of marital eligibility, due to the high value Sierra Leonean society places on virginity.17

Rebel forces often used objects such as weapons, burning wood, and hot oil, to rape young women and girls, which often led to the girls' deaths. Some girls reported that the rebels put hot pepper in their vaginas as punishment based on accusations of having been a "wife" to an SLA soldier.18

In February 1998 in Bombali district, two sisters ages seventeen and fifteen were home with their parents sleeping when they heard gunfire around their house. Armed men commanded them to open the door. The men entered, dragged the girls to the floor, and raped them both in front of their parents. In Kono District in April 1998, a twelve-year-old girl and her parents were abducted by the rebels. The child and her mother were raped in front of her father, and the girl suffered permanent physical injuries. In April 1998, as a result of harassment by rebel forces, one family decided to relocate to the interior of Kono. In the village they moved to, they were attacked and forcibly gathered in a public area along with many others. The RUF commander reportedly announced that all girls under the age of fifteen would be detained "because the `Pa' needs young girls to satisfy his sexual urge." The fourteen-year-old daughter of this family refused, and was thus tortured and raped as punishment for refusal. She was forced to remain with the `Pa' and perform household chores as well.
These children suffered severe trauma, in addition to disease and internal injuries.19 Many girls were wounded by their captors to prevent their escape, including having their legs and/or feet cut.20 Often those that became pregnant were sent home by their perpetrators, only to find their families dead or gone, or to be rejected by their relatives.21 Others were forced to abort, in particular if their childbirth coincided with a military operation that might be put at risk by the presence of an infant.22

During the January 1999 offensive, girls and young women were raped in public places. They reported being rounded up each night and forced to report to certain commanders, who in some cases insisted that the girls' virginity be verified prior to raping them.23 Individual and gang rape was rampant during the attack, on a scale unequalled throughout the war. International and local NGOs reported that more than 1,800 women survived sexual violence during the invasion; of these, fifty-five of them had been gang raped and two hundred had become pregnant.24

In response to the needs of girl survivors of sexual violence during the January 1999 offensive, UNICEF initiated a mechanism with the Ministry of Social Welfare and child protection partners to provide medical screening, services and counselling to these girls. In October 1999, the Conforti Centre for young mothers began providing interim care for the mothers and their infants, mediation with their families, and skills training.25

In January and February 2000, there was a surge in the abuses against civilians who had sought shelter in camps for the internally displaced in and near Port Loko. During this time, many girls reported being abducted by rebel forces and repeatedly raped and forced to perform household chores for their rebel captors.26

Following the September 2000 announcement by the President of the Republic of Guinea that Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea were responsible for harbouring rebels, and thus causing the cross border attacks which had been taking place, the Guinean population retaliated against the refugees. Throughout the country, many young Sierra Leonean refugee women and girls were individually and gang raped by Guinean military, police, and gendarmes. As a result of these events and the fact that Guinea was no longer safe for Sierra Leonean refugees, many of them fled back to Sierra Leone, during which scores of young women and girls were captured by rebels as sex slaves.27

i. Sexual Slavery
Countless girls have been captured and held as sexual slaves by RUF/AFRC combatants. During their captivity, they were required to perform other tasks such as cooking and washing, and caring for young children held with them in captivity. These women were referred to by the rebels as their "wives," mistreated, abused, and raped at will by their captors, and forced to stay with the combatants as they moved from place to place during the war.28

Abducted girls were forced to have sex with whoever demands it whenever it was demanded. Many reported being "shared" by the combatants, and some reported having "attached" to one combatant in an attempt to protect themselves against gang rape.29 Girls are reported to have spent years with the rebels in captivity, even in some cases getting pregnant and giving birth during this time. There are many girls who remain to this day in captivity, under the control of their rebel "husband."

There are reports of girls as young as four years old being abducted and forced into sexual slavery. Many of these girls bled to death as a result of rape.30

During the January 1999 offensive, rebel commanders identified virgin girls, usually between the ages of twelve and fifteen, and ordered them to report to them each night, where they would be raped and otherwise sexually abused.31

Acts of gender based violence against girls have resulted in both physical and psychological trauma, and in often irreparable harm. Many girls have bled to death as a result of injuries caused by perpetrators of sexual violence against them; others have acquired sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Still others have become pregnant only to be raped again and miscarry. Many girls who became pregnant were released, as their captors did not want to deal with the excess burden of the baby32 and the decreased capacity of the mother to perform hard labour.

Girl children who were abducted for use either as fighters, sex slaves, or "wives" have not figured highly among the numbers of demobilised children. The reason for this is that many such girls who have been held for long periods of time are afraid to return to their families and communities. They have feared that they will be reject due to either the sexual abuse they have suffered, the time they spent with rebel forces who may have subjected the girls' family and/or community to violations, or that they will be accused of ongoing allegiance to their captors. Between 1999 and April 2002, only 8% of the total number of released and demobilised children were girls, and this number sank to only 3% during the last demobilisation phase in November and December 2001.33

Many girls and women who survived rape continue to suffer the physical consequences. Young girls who have given birth so young often suffer from vesicoor recto-vaginal fistula (VVF), proven to result from rape and childbirth prior to the mother's maturity.34 VVF is a breakdown of tissue between the bladder and the vagina, which results in urinary incontinence, which in Sierra Leone usually renders a person a social outcast.35 This condition is permanent without access to surgical procedure, which is not available in Sierra Leone.

Gender based violence committed against girls was more than an attack against the individual survivors; it was an attack against their families and communities. Indeed, it is an attack against their present and their future, destroying their ties with home, threatening if not destroying their hopes of normal family life and often taking away their possibility of having children. Gender based violence is an attack against the survivors' dignity, which they may never be able to regain. When committed on such a widespread scale, as was the case in Sierra Leone, it is indeed an attack against their very humanity.

e. Child Soldiers
Throughout the war in Sierra Leone, children as young as seven were forcibly conscripted into fighting factions, both by rebel forces as well by pro-government troops and militias. Children were brutally abducted from their homes and families, held in abominable conditions, systematically mistreated and denied their basic rights, forced to take up arms and commit heinous crimes against others. Rebel forces as well as government troops engaged in child recruitment on a massive scale, with more than six thousand recruited as fighters and a similar number recruited for forced labour and sexual slavery.36 Both the rebel RUF/AFRC and the Civilian Defence Forces (CDF), in particular the Kamajors, were responsible for widespread recruitment of child soldiers, in blatant violation of international law. It is estimated by UNICEF that almost 7,000 children were associated with fighting forces in Sierra Leone during the ten-year war.37

Although no exact details can be obtained UNICEF Sierra Leone holds the impression that a large proportion of the girls held by the fighting forces were used as fighters.

Often, child recruitment took place via village elders, who were politically pressured to hand over a certain "quota" of children as soldiers, or risk credibility within the community. The children themselves were often convinced to believe that fighting to defend their communities was their civic duty.

Children were viewed by their captors as fertile ground for recruitment as combatants, as they were seen as easily manipulated and obedient.38 New recruits were forced to walk enormous distances to the training camps, and many did not make it. Those that survived joined others who had been previously recruited, and those that resisted or tried to escape were put to death.39

Taking advantage of their vulnerability, child soldiers were frequently given retraining and indoctrination to make them as fearless as possible. Their inauguration into the fighting forces often involved a ritualistic initiation. This was especially the case for those children recruited by and initiated into the traditional hunting groups of the Civilian Defence Forces (CDF), who believed children to have magical powers. When the magical powers of these children were bestowed upon them or strengthened through initiation ceremonies, the children were often told that it made them "bullet proof," a belief that was intended to make them entirely fearless.40

During the military training, some boys were given war names, in an ostensible attempt to make them feel a sense of belonging and power.
Separated children, and those that had previously been recruited and then released, were particularly vulnerable to recruitment or re-enlistment, and were thus particularly sought out by the RUF/AFRC for recruitment.41

Many child soldiers interviewed by international human rights organisations reported that they were forced to drink alcohol and take drugs to numb their fears, in order to ensure their willingness to carry out acts of brutality.42 Child combatants were put on the front lines and forced to commit crimes against their own communities, making it difficult if not impossible for them to return home due to traumatisation, feelings of culpability, and an unlikelihood of acceptance by their communities.43

Forcibly recruited children were usually placed under the authority of a military commander or officer, whom the child had to obey at all costs, even upon return to the child's village. Thus, a child soldier would usually have to obtain permission from his superior officer to return to his village to resume schooling. Even then, the initiators could object to the child's demobilisation by refusing to release the child from his vows.

In many cases children were recruited at a very young age and spent years among the rebel or government forces. The length of time spent in such nightmarish circumstances, combined with their forced participation in or witnessing of heinous criminal acts, made it extremely difficult for these children to return home.

It was not always possible for child protection agencies to know which authority to deal with when advocating for the demobilisation of child soldiers. When dealing with the CDF, for example, in Bo district in 1998, CDF officials were unable to specify to UNICEF which branch of their authority structure would be responsible for negotiations with child protection agencies. This confusion was often an obstacle to efforts to obtain the release and demobilisation of child soldiers.

One contributing factor to forced recruitment of children was the absence of nontraditional schooling opportunities for children in Sierra Leone. Those children who had been recruited and thereafter released had a difficult time recommencing their schooling. Unsuccessful reintegration would result in these children being vulnerable to re-recruitment as child soldiers, which unfortunately often took place. Teachers reported that the absence of programs for reintegration of these children into the education system contributed to their increased participation in the fighting.

Financial factors also affected a child's ability to reintegrate and re-enter the educational system he left when recruited. If the child's family was unable to pay for the child's schooling, that often was an obstacle to his resumption of schooling.

Small arms trafficking which prevailed throughout the conflict in spite of economic sanctions facilitated the use of child soldiers as such weapons and ammunition most often fell into the hands of child combatants.44

i. The Demobilisation, Disarmament, and Reintegration Program
With the support of the international community, the Demobilisation, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR) program was begun in 1998. Managed by the government of Sierra Leone with funding from a World Bank trust fund, the DDR program was intended to both disarm combatants as well as to serve as comprehensive support for ex-combatants in their transition from fighting in war to living in peace. From the start of the program in 1998 until May 2000, approximately 25,000 ex-combatants had begun the demobilisation process, out of an estimated 45,000 combatants. After the May 2000 incidents (described below in detail), many previously demobilised combatants re-joined armed groups. However, following the cease-fire of May 2001, even greater numbers began to demobilise.

In May 1993, there was an official announcement of the release of all child combatants between the ages of 8 and 17. In response, UNICEF collaborated with humanitarian agencies and the government to urgently establish three demobilisation centres, where the children were provided with basic supplies and shelter by UNICEF and food by WFP. Basic medical care was provided by UNICEF and Ministry of Social Welfare staff, and teachers were recruited to provide education and skills training. By December 1993, 56% of the children's' families had been traced by the Catholic Mission and the Red Cross Society with support by UNICEF. Forty three percent of these children returned to their families and twenty six percent dropped out of the programme, due to a combination of disappointment with the program and material benefits offered to them by child combatant recruiters.45 By the end of this program, three hundred fourteen children had been successfully demobilised and reunified with their families. A few Interim Care Centres (ICCs) were established by UNICEF in 1993 in response to the demobilisation of children from the SLA.

As of August 1994, 57% of these children were in touch with social workers. Of these 180 children, by this date, forty percent were attending school, 18 percent were in skills training and twenty percent were engaged in domestic activities. The remaining twenty-two percent were either re-enlisted or were living on the streets.46

By 1996, though precise statistics were not available, estimates of child combatants approximated 3,200 child soldiers affiliated with the RUF, and 1,000 with the CDF. UNICEF estimated at this time that among this number of RUF child soldiers, half were engaged in active military activities and half were in forced labour.47 In response to the ongoing abduction of children by the RUF and recruitment by CDF, a programme for the reception and demobilisation of children from the armed groups was formed and registered 150 child soldiers.

Simultaneously, a National Child Welfare Forum was formed within the Ministry of Social Welfare to deal with child welfare policy issues.48
The 1997 coup and subsequent junta rule saw a major increase in the levels of abductions and forced recruitment. The Child Protection Committees were overwhelmed, but managed to obtain the release of 340 children from RUF, as well as agreement by the fighting factions to release all children under the age of ten. Nonetheless, this process was halted when the coup was overthrown, and UNICEF estimates that child protection agencies at this point lost their power of negotiation over the release of approximately 2,000 children from the AFRC/RUF. Many children were subsequently killed, others remained with their RUF captors, still others were arbitrarily arrested and detained, and many fled the country to become refugees in Guinea. UNICEF suggested that during this time, the primary hindrance to the work of the child protection agencies was the widespread animosity against these child combatants based on their (involuntary) association with the RUF.49

Between September 1997 and January 1998, over 90% of the 340 children who had been released by RUF were reunified with their families.50 Child protection agencies became particularly concerned about the child soldiers recruited by the CDF.

Between August 1998 and June 1999, the first phase of DDR took place, during which children who were demobilised were given over to child protection agencies. UNICEF and its partners placed these children temporarily in centres or in foster care as close as possible to the targeted reintegration communities.

Children from the fighting forces enter into the programme through different channels. Since late 1999 the majority of the children have entered into interim care from the demobilisation centres but many more have either been captured and handed over to UNICEF by the security forces, were part of a negotiated release/handover or were picked up by UN military observers on patrol. Irrespective of the way they enter the programme, after screening children will be placed in an interim care programme located in their area of possible reunification.51

UNICEF built on the few already existing Interim Care Centres and created additional ICCs for child ex-combatants, which provide them with shelter, basic needs, tracing registration, mediation with families to support their reintegration, counselling and medical care, education and skills training orientation, recreation, and preparation for transfer to home community or foster care.52 The ICCs have been managed by a team consisting of UNICEF, its child protection partners, and the Ministry of Social Welfare, and were created as "new structures to respond to the DDR programme."53 They were to serve as an interim support for the transition between demobilisation and reintegration.
Between January and May 2000, less than 25% of the estimated 5,400 child combatants had been released and demobilised, and the reintegration of the 25% who had was slow. At this time, there were four operational demobilisation centres, which, with the interim care centres, provided for the 1,232 children who had been demobilised, most of whom came from the AFRC/Ex SLA and had reported to DDR in Port Loko.

The transition of the children from demobilisation centres to interim care centres at this time was severely hampered by procedural delays. This left children who were in demobilisation centres exposed to ongoing pressure by their former commanders, especially because child ex-combatants were not always separated from adult excombatants. The reason for this mingling of adults and children was the difficulty of identifying camp followers (family members of combatants who travelled along with the armed groups and/or joined them in the demobilisation centres), abductees, and child soldiers from among the families of the demobilised adult combatants who had come to live with them in the demobilisation centres. Child camp followers were particularly at risk due to the absence of programs to assist them, and the inability to distinguish between child ex-combatants and camp followers often denied both groups access to services. Commanders, used to being in positions of military power, used their influence to keep as many children as possible under their control in the camps. Commanders used their influence to block attempts at identification of child combatants and girl "bush wives," who consequently were afraid to take the risk of leaving the camp for fear of reprisal.54 Those children who could be identified by child protection agencies were either reunified with their families immediately or placed temporarily in interim care centres.

The disarmament was proceeding very slowly, in particular with regard to the demobilisation of the RUF. In May 2000, following the hostage taking by RUF of 500 UN Peacekeepers, and the civilian deaths at a demonstration in front of RUF leader Foday Sankoh's house, the situation degenerated. Many children left the interim care centre at Makeni, coerced into returning to the ranks of the RUF. Others fled with their caretakers to seek safety. From the ICC in Lunsar Town, many of the 200 children in the ICC children ran away when the rebels came in, but most were able to regroup one week later and made it to safety in Freetown. The ICC in Waterloo, with thirteen separated children and fifteen demobilised child soldiers, relocated due to the arrival of the rebels, and some older girls were even too afraid to remain in the ICC; they were housed temporarily in an NGO office. The forty-seven children from the ICC in Daru were also relocated due to rebel incursions. In the southern provinces, at this time a safer area than the others, children housed in the ICCs nonetheless were targeted in retaliation for previous participation in RUF activity, as were any organisations or individuals who assisted these children. It was a time of immense fear, which compounded the trauma of the children.55

By September 2000, the DDR program estimated the number of children recruited by the RUF/AFRC and in need of demobilisation to be much higher than they had originally thought, due to a lack of access to over half of the country at the time.56

Children who agreed to be reintegrated often faced an additional trauma upon returning to their families. At times members of the family might have been killed, others might be disappeared and yet others may have fled to seek shelter in neighbouring countries. Children returning to their families might have sustained themselves through their suffering with memories of home. The shock of returning to a home which has dramatically changed, in particular where close relatives have been killed or have since died, had a drastic impact on these children.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict visited Sierra Leone in June 1998. During his visit, the Sierra Leonean government committed to ceasing recruitment of all children under eighteen and ensuring demobilisation and protection for child combatants. But merely one month later, the CDF was reported as continuing to recruit child combatants.57

By late 2001, the demobilisation and reintegration process for children was more efficient than before. However, children still stayed in the ICCs for much longer than originally foreseen.

The long lasting repercussions on these children of the violations they suffered cannot yet be assessed, but the immediate impact upon them was clear, and shocking, to child protection staff working with them in the ICCs. UNICEF staff documented the condition of the children in the Interim Care Centres, reporting that child mothers recently demobilised were often depressed, which impacted on their ability to care for their children. Children often had difficulty paying attention during schooling and thus frequently failed their classes. When asked about his school difficulties, one boy reported that he believes education has nothing to offer him after so much lost time. Others appeared merely to have lost interest and thus have difficulty paying attention. Some boys acted tough, hardened, aloof, and/or withdrawn. Children reported being called "rebel" by others, which made them either prone to retaliation or more reclusive, depending upon the child.

Other children were reportedly aggressive and confrontational, and had difficulty forming ties with people. Some were described as troublesome, bullying other people, verbally abusive and disruptive.

Some children cared little for appearance and hygiene.

Many of the children expressed fear of reintegration in anticipation of recriminations or acts of retaliation. One eighteen year old told a UNICEF reintegration officer that he would like to go back to his family but is worried about his personal security. This boy's father was a Kamajor commander, and the boy did not feel safe returning to his own home due to his recruitment and demobilisation after six years with the RUF. Often no family came forward, children had to stay for extended periods of time in the ICCs.

Many children were forcibly recruited by one-armed group only to be captured and retrained by an opposing armed group fighting against the original one. This put the children at risk of re-recruitment no matter where they went, as well as in fear of retaliation from several armed groups and/or from victims of violations committed by either group they were forced to join.

A child's behaviour often improved dramatically upon news of the location of previously separated family members.

Those children who did not have a safe and secure family environment prior to the war had their suffering dramatically compounded by the years of cruelty they experienced as child combatants. Children such as this also often had no where to go following demobilisation and their time in the ICC; even if family could be traced, returning to them was often not an option. These children, during the war, were at great risk of re-recruitment, due to their vulnerability and intense need to feel a sense of belonging.

Particularly despondent were the children who had been recruited as young as 7 and demobilised as teenagers. These children often were confused, disoriented, conveyed facts and information wrong, and were frequently unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. One ten-year-old boy described his mother as having four eyes and claimed he himself was twenty years old. Others gave conflicting and confused information about their place of origin or the last known location of their relatives.

Children were regularly reluctant to attribute their feelings to the traumatic experiences they had survived, choosing instead to ascribe their behaviour to a physical condition. One boy repeatedly stated that "there is something wrong in my head."

Another 16-year-old boy, when asked about his violent behaviour towards other children, said that he sees ghosts of his mother, who make him turn violent.

Drug use at the ICCs was common. Though the children consistently denied this when confronted, attributing their erratic behaviour to the drugs with which they were injected in the bush, the evidence of drug use was frequently obvious. One seventeen year old boy who had spent nine years with the rebels admitted to using drugs, saying that they "open up my mind." This boy often slept through entire days. He also wet his bed nightly, a symptom associated with post traumatic stress disorder.

Children in the ICCs described gruesome crimes they were forced to commit, often under the influence of narcotics. One boy talked about his participation in the attack on Freetown in January 1999, and another said that he had killed his mother and grandmother. Many suffered from immense guilt associated with the crimes they committed, and had consequent nightmares.

The reintegration of children associated with fighting forces was a monumental challenge. Many children had been brainwashed and deeply involved in the fighting and commission of atrocities. Child protection organisations worked with local community leaders and families to convince them of the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness.    Families were often more ready to accept the reintegration of their children than the communities were, leading child protection staff to involve tribal leaders, who engaged the communities in traditional cleansing ceremonies.58

Child protection agencies were far less successful in addressing the needs of girls associated with fighting forces than boys.59 Many girl "wives" had been with their captors for years and had given birth to babies. In DDR Phase Three, the "fast track period," ex-combatants were permitted entry into the demobilisation camps without their "families," which cut off a key means of access to their abducted "wives." Thus, child protection agencies only acquired access to girls who came to the camps of their own volition, a rare occurrence at best. There were no means in the planning of the process for the active searching out and "rescuing" of abducted girls.60

Girls who did make it to the ICCs usually stayed there far longer than boys. Many of these girls were young teenage mothers whose families would have accepted them back but not their "rebel child," as such infants were frequently called. Girl mothers in this situation were unlikely to be placed in foster care, and attempts to place their infants in foster care to permit the mother to engage in education or skills training were usually unsuccessful. There were also some girls who viewed their commanders in a positive light, even revering them, convinced that these commanders had saved their lives. Child protection agencies found themselves in the uncomfortable situation of having to ensure that they do not antagonise the commander "husbands," which in these cases was likely lead the girls to refuse to give their names for family tracing.

A chart detailing the numbers of children who entered the ICCs per year is included in the section on statistics below.

Reintegration of demobilised children was not always a smooth process. Child protection agencies reported that younger children adapted more easily to reunification with their families than did teenagers. Children who had spent extended periods of time, such as several years, with their captors were also less likely to reintegrate successfully. Particularly difficult was the reintegration of girl "bush wives" who had spent years with their commanders. Many of them had borne children, and some had been provided with access to supplies and food which was markedly more than what their families could provide them upon reintegration. In some cases, some children left home again following unsuccessful reintegration, to rejoin their captors in the bush. Teenage boys who had spent years as child combatants and who were unable to find activities to interest them in their communities were often left susceptible to re-recruitment by armed groups, even by commanders who have joined rebel forces from neighbouring countries. Child protection agencies also said that many children had not gone through the child protection network. For these children, it is more difficult to monitor and document what became of them.

f. Abductions
Human rights violations during the Sierra Leone war were often committed in contexts in which the perpetrators gained total control over their victims, leaving them at the complete mercy of their captors. Thus, abduction was often the first abuse committed against children; thereafter, their liberty completely restricted, the victims were subjected to other hideous violations such as killings, torture, sexual violence, amputation, mutilation, and forced labour. In fact, most human rights abuses described in this submission took place in the context of abductions, even if the abduction was for a brief period of time.

Abductees were not only victimised themselves, but were also forced to witness killings and brutality against others, committed in their presence by their captors.61

Adolescent girls were often abducted and held for the purpose of caring for younger children who had been abducted and who were being held by rebel forces.62

Youths and children were abducted by combatants and forced to work for them, carrying loads, and performing domestic chores. Young girls were captured and kept as sexual slaves.

The Child Rights Violations Monitoring Network reported on innumerable cases of abductions and other abuses committed in the context of abductions. In 1996, in Bo District, a fifteen-year-old boy's mother was killed by the RUF. The boy and his father fled to Bo. One day the boy went in search of food in a village, where he was abducted by RUF rebels. He was tortured, amputated and severely wounded on his neck and legs by the RUF, and left to die. He remained without assistance in the bush for five days until he was discovered, and has suffered severe permanent disabilities. In December 1996, an eight-year-old boy in Tonkolili District was on his way to morning prayers with his father when the rebels started firing at them. The father and boy ran, but the boy was caught by the RUF and abducted.

In May 1998 in Kono District, two brothers ages fifteen and twelve got separated from their parents and were captured by rebel forces. They were used as forced labour, until they became too exhausted to continue. A friend who was with them at the time reported that the rebel captors told the boys that if they do not continue, they will be killed. Sadly, the boys were simply unable to go on, and were summarily killed on the spot.

Also in Kono District in April 1998, a man left his family to go in search of food. While he was gone, the RUF went into the bush looking for people hiding, and they came upon the boys. The rebels abducted and disappeared the man's three children, a boy aged seven, and two girls ages nine and twelve. In another case during the same month in Kono village, a family of four was hiding in the bush when they were encountered by the RUF rebel forces who were looking for food. Civilians were fleeing in all directions, but the two children of this family, a five year old boy and a thirteen year old girl were abducted. The father reported with complete desperation that he heard the children crying but that he was unable to respond for fear of his life.
Following the attack on Freetown of January 1999, more than four thousand children were reported missing, most of whom were abducted. An estimated 60% of these children were girls, the majority of whom were reported to have been sexually abused.63 These children were taken to be used as human shields, camp followers, and "wives," and many were forced to pick up the weapons of those already killed and forced to commit human rights violations against other innocent civilians. Many of these children did not survive the treacherous journey on foot, but those that did joined other child combatants who were previously abducted. The new recruits were trained in the use of weapons, and those who were unable or refused to learn were summarily killed, or tortured and branded.

g. Torture
Torture formed a tragically common part of violations against children, and was committed routinely in the context of abduction and detention. Scores of child victims died as a result of torture. The means and methods used by the perpetrators of torture had no limit and were at times too gruesome to put into words:

Children were often tortured based on associations with armed groups. Following the overthrow of the 1997 coup and nine months of junta rule, many former child soldiers were tortured, and even killed, by CDF and other pro-government armed groups in retaliation for their association with the RUF.64

The reports of torture of children are appalling. In February 1998 in Bombali District, AFRC/RUF rebels forced their way into the home of four teenage boys (ages fourteen, fifteen, seventeen, and eighteen), expelling the boys and their father. Two days later, the father sent the boys back to the house to collect some necessary items. The boys were met by the rebels who stopped them, tortured them, and left them to die. The boys' father returned, found the boys in agony on the ground outside the house.

In July 1998, an eight-year-old boy in Kenema was gathering wood in his village when the rebels attacked. Most children scattered, but this child hid in a hiding place but was caught. The rebels tied him up and asked him to point out to them the important people in his village. When he refused, they shot him in the leg and left him bleeding. In Kailahun district in March 1998, two boys, ages ten and eight, headed out of their home and into the bush to look for their relatives. They suddenly found themselves in a rebel ambush, and were abducted by RUF/AFRC forces. The ten-year-old was killed by being forced to drink boiled palm oil, and the eight-year-old was tortured.

h. Amputation and Mutilation
Reports of ghastly amputations committed primarily by rebel forces in Sierra Leone during the war have gained international infamy. HOW MANY of the amputees are children. Hundreds cases of child victims of amputation were documented by child rights monitors, and the stories are horrific. In one case which took place in May 1998, in Makeni, six children, ages six, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and fourteen were in their village when the rebels attacked, killing some, and abducting others. The six children each had both hands amputated by the rebels during this attack. Many children were left to bleed to death following amputations.

Children were also branded with physical engravings by rebel forces, leaving them physically scarred for life. The branding of children was intended to prevent them from escaping from the armed groups, which had forcibly recruited them, or to gain compliance. The words "RUF," "AFRC," or "Ex-SLA" were branded on a child's chest, forehead, arms or back, and were cut into the child's body with various sharp instruments. The children were thereafter told that if they escape, the security forces would find them and kill them as a result of their identification as combatants.

Branding placed an enormous obstacle in the path of such a child's demobilisation process, as it symbolically affiliated the child permanently with the rebel group and their crimes. Thus, for example, the case of one child from Bo district who was captured by the RUF and branded with the letters "RUF" on his chest. This child was continuously at risk of being killed by the Kamajors, for whom it made no difference that the child had been forcibly recruited into the RUF and branded against his will. It was only with the vigilant protection of the population of his village that the child was able to survive.65 In cases where the child did not have anyone to protect him or her, children were at times killed in retribution for RUF offences based exclusively on the presence of an RUF scar on their body. One local human rights organisation reported on the case of one child soldier who was captured by ECOMOG and watched his friends, also child ex-combatants, executed by ECOMOG soldiers based on the letters "RUF" which had been branded on their bodies.66

Reintegration of demobilised child ex-combatants was understandably dependent upon acceptance of the community. Fear that their home communities might reject them based upon their scar made many such children hide from reunification and reintegration. Child combatants with scars were aware that their home community would likely forget the fact that their involvement with the fighting forces was involuntary, and would not distinguish between different roles they may have played among the armed groups (combatant, sex slave, camp follower.) Consequently, UNICEF and the International Medical Corps (IMC) developed an initiative to perform plastic surgery to remove or transform these scars for some of these children. The plastic surgery scar removal project was carried out over a period of six months beginning in August 2000. All children counseled before, during and after the operation by social workers. Ninety-three children were recommended for the surgery, and thirty-seven girls and forty-five boys have had their scars successfully surgically removed or transformed.

i. Sexual Exploitation
Sexual exploitation is perhaps the least documented human rights violation due to a commonly held misperception that such activities are permissible or consensual. In fact, entrenched sexual exploitation affected scores of young Sierra Leonean girls both during the war and after and both within Sierra Leone as well as in refugee hosting countries. In February 2002, UNHCR and Save the Children, UK, published a report entitled "Sexual Violence and Exploitation: The Experience of Refugee Children in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.67 UNICEF welcomes investigations into sexual violence and exploitation, including monitoring situations that involve humanitarian workers. This report in particular led to a follow-up series of investigations and brought the world's attention to this widespread and long-existing phenomenon.

Sexual exploitation in Sierra Leone, however, is far more common than documented in this report, and the perpetrators include not only international humanitarian workers but also Sierra Leonean teachers, religious leaders, and government authorities. The inherent power differential between a man with access to resources, however minimal, and a young woman or girl with less, or none, renders any sexual relationship between the two non-consensual sexual exploitation.    In particular in the context of the horrors of war, the desperate poverty and hunger, and the consequent enormity of the needs of civilians, men in positions of power, both Sierra Leoneans as well as expatriates, systematically took advantage of this situation for their own sexual gratification. Hiding behind the cloak of words such as "prostitution" and "commercial sex work" lurks the reality of young women and girls who are survivors of a sickeningly widespread pattern of exchange of desperately needed goods and services for sex.

j. Refugees
The history of the Sierra Leone war and its impact on Sierra Leonean children would be incomplete without reference to the experiences of refugee children in Guinea. Guinea was and remains the primary host to refugees from Sierra Leone. Most Sierra Leonean refugees initially fled across the border and settled in the area of Guinea, which extends into Sierra Leone, called the "Parrot's Beak." Over time, it became difficult if not impossible for UNHCR to distinguish between refugees and combatants in that region, and tensions in Guinea were increasing. From September 2000 until April 2001, RUF and Liberian armed forces launched cross border attacks into Guinea. In September 2000, Guinean President Lansana Conte made a public announcement accusing all refugees in Guinea of being or harbouring rebels. This speech led Guinean authorities and citizens to rise up against Sierra Leonean refugees, including children, in Guinea. Refugee camps were attacked by Guinean police and military forces, and non-camp-based refugees were detained en masse. During this time scores of refugee children were raped and many were killed or died in detention due to the abominable conditions in which they were held. As a result, many refugees fled back to Sierra Leone, only to be abducted as child combatants and sex slaves.

Guinean forces launched cross border helicopter gunship shelling of towns and villages in Kambia District in retaliation for the cross border attacks by the RUF. During the shelling, scores of Sierra Leonean children were killed. The Child Rights Violations Monitoring Network investigated reports of the dead and wounded, and found that the bodies of the dead were either quickly buried in shallow graves or abandoned, while survivors were taken to Lungi Government hospital. At the hospital, the monitors recorded nine children ranging in age from nine months to eleven years all suffering from shrapnel wounds.

In late 2001, UNHCR undertook a screening and relocation of Sierra Leonean refugees from the Parrot's Beak to refugee camps in the Kissidougou and Nzerekore regions of Guinea. Throughout their time in these camps, refugee girls as young as five became victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence at an astonishing rate considering the ostensible civilian nature of the camp. Entrenched sexual exploitation perpetrated against refugee women and girls continues in these camps to this day, with near total impunity. Each refugee camp contains several "ghettos," or drug bars, and brothels, where men go to exchange money or goods for sex, often with minor girls. Other human rights abuses committed against both adult and child refugees in Guinea refugee camps include arbitrary arrest and detention and other due process violations, police abuse, blocking of freedom of movement. Of particular concern is the ongoing militarisation of the camps in the region of Nzerekore, in particular Kuankan camp, which houses both Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees. Members of the Liberian rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) are in positions of power among the refugee communities in these camps, causing the civilian nature of the refugee camps to be threatened. This has led to patterns of human rights violations against refugees, including reports of abductions from the camps.

International legal standards clearly oblige us to call for accountability for perpetrators of the heinous human rights violations committed against children in Sierra Leone. Nonetheless, inside Sierra Leone, support for bringing the perpetrators to justice is not as widespread as one might think. Child protection staff at UNICEF were consulted regarding their impressions of children's support for accountability.

Child protection staff stated that they did not encounter child survivors who asked for their perpetrators to be arrested and punished. This could be attributable to several factors. First, in most cases child protection staff have not directly discussed issues of justice and accountability with children in Sierra Leone. Second, the misinformation about post-conflict justice mechanisms - in particular the confusion over the differing roles of the TRC and the Special Court -- are likely a contributing factor in the apparent lack of support for these mechanisms. When asked whether they thought there was an aspect of fear of retaliation, child protection staff said their impression was that the ignorance of formal justice procedures was a greater factor in the absence of discussion on this issue than fear of retaliation on the part of the child survivors. Child protection staff shared their impression, however, there appears to be wider support for reconciliation processes than for prosecution processes.

There is much debate in the country on the issue impunity for perpetrators, in particular due to the first simultaneous existence of the TRC and the Special Court in one country, as well as due to the limited mandate of the Special Court. UNICEF has been playing a central role in the development of agreements between child protection agencies and these institutions, and has been supportive of the work of both and the potential contribution they can make to the situation of Sierra Leone's children. However, it is markedly difficult if not impossible to work with and get to know children who have suffered such brutality and horrific mistreatment and to not support all efforts at holding the perpetrators accountable.

The TRC has a critical role to play in this post-war period. In particular, its tasks of establishing an impartial and official historical account of the impact of the war on children, promoting reintegration and reconciliaion, creating a public forum to allow victims' voices to be heard, and contributing to a culture of impunity will all play a central role in the recovery process for Sierra Leonean children. UNICEF supports the TRC in its task of documenting the crimes against children in Sierra Leone, in particular as a voice for the child survivors. Nonetheless, UNICEF simultaneously strongly supports all efforts to bring the perpetrators of such egregious violations to justice.


Story 1 (male child):

"I was abducted at the age of 11 years in 1997 at my village in the Eastern Kono District of Sierra Leone during a rebel raid.

Immediately my rough ordeal started when like many others I was made carrier of the stolen items, and sometimes the aged from our village who got tired to trek the unknown bush journey we were undertaking. It must have taken us not less than 30 miles before we reached Masingbi, which used to be one of the main rebel bases.

At Masingbi we were addressed on the aim of the revolution, which was meant to bring freedom and hope of better life for Sierra Leoneans and the do's and don'ts of the movement. In the evening of the same day I was in a group of 60 young men and a few girls who were led out about five miles to a valley for robust gorilla training.
I learnt how to shoot, lie in ambush for long hours in places like trenches and even on trees, how to set to booby traps, and how to fire arms like AK-47 twelve inch, RPG and many more. We were given nicknames as motivation for good combative performance. Mine was `X'.68

I participated in several raids on towns and villages under the command of Captain A.69 The most interesting but rough experience I had was a mile ambush that we made for Military Vehicles that were carrying logistic supplies. As we took along a drum of petrol from a truck, it exploded and set on fire two of my colleagues. It was from that moment that I started fearing going on raids or ambush. I also learnt to live on drugs such as mixture of gunpowder and alcoholic drinks like "Teachers whisky"; Marijuana and even ate bullet to make us brave and strong.

The end of it all came in October 2001 when along with 16 others; my commander and I escaped from our Masingbi base for about 40 miles and surrendered ourselves to the UNAMSIL battalion stationed at Mile 91. There we were immediately flown to the Lungi demobilisation centre.

I spent three days at the centre being cared for by Military officers, and a Social Worker in terms of clothing, food and counselling. I was given a demobilisation number and identification card and was transferred to the interim Care Centre located at the East End of Freetown run by COOPI, an Italian Non-Governmental Child Protection organisation.

I stayed in the centre for six weeks and received medical and psychosocial care.

I was finally reunited with my Aunty in Freetown and enrolled at the Government Independent Secondary School under the Community Education Investment Programme (CEIP) sponsored by UNICEF. The reunification made by the Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) team of COOPI with my biological family made me feel so good and happy that I then realised the happiness I lost when I became separated from my family.

I am happy that I am now with my family and doing fine with my schooling through the help of Social Workers of COOPI and UNICEF."

Story 2 (female child):

"On the 8th of January 1999 I was made to abandon my home, and became separated from my family at the age of fifteen for another home and environment only known to me before as one full of dreadful life.

After being in hiding for two days with my parents - who never had wanted me to be out an inch for fear of my getting abducted- during the R.U.F. invasion of Freetown we had to flee our home in a state of confusion and panic at mid night when a huge bullet hit and set our house on fire.

As I ran and got separated from my parent in the heat of the panic, I decided to take refuge in an old, abandoned house. Little did I knew that I was running from hot water into fire as I entered into the hands of armed rebels who were already holding many people in captivity.

In the morning, I was with a group of abducted children that were escorted in a single file by seven rebels up the hills of the city into the bush. We found ourselves in a camp of thatch houses. There we were allocated to the care of different rebel commanders.

My ordeal under Captain C70 indeed made me different from who I used to be. In less than a week I became his second wife and after much sexual harassment, I also became pregnant.

I was taught to hold the A.K. 47 rifle but I never used it. When raids were conducted, I served as a carrier. It was on one such raid on a village ... that I fell in the ambush of Government Soldiers and was captured.

I was taken to UNAMSIL Forces centres for demobilisation at Port Loko and stayed there for three days. Because I was pregnant I was put under the care of a Social Worker and a Nursing Sister. I received medical and psychosocial care, clothing and mats and was given an identification number and card that showed that I was no longer with the rebel faction and had gone through the disarmament and demobilisation processes.

Later, I was brought to Freetown and placed in a girl mother centre Conforti Home For Girl Mothers ran by COOPI, an international non-governmental organisation. I received medical and psychosocial care, food, and clothing and had access to indoor and out door games.    I gave birth later to a healthy baby girl.

In November 2001, I was reunified with my uncle. After my mother took my baby [into her care], I was enrolled under the Community Education Investment Program (CEIP) at the St Joseph Secondary School for Girls.

I am now well back in my society and home.

I am very happy that at the end of everything my family has now accepted me back as a member of the family after a lot of mediation facilitated by the Social Reintegration team of COOPI. For this I would like to say I am grateful to all the Social Workers and other parties that have made it possible for be to gain back my childhood and above all my family

Story 3 (male child, 16):

"I've been away from home for six years, and I haven't seen my mother, my father or my brothers and sisters in six, long years. I was captured and abducted by the RUF commanders when I was only 10 years old. They made me do a lot of bad things ... but I don't do those things anymore. I never wanted to do them, but they made us. They would kill us if we didn't do the things they ordered us to do."

This boy spent almost 5 years fighting in Sierra Leone's dense jungles, living under a daily threat of death, flogging and torture. He fought as a rebel out of his mind on cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and fear for his life. These were all injected and induced by his commanders - mostly young men around 18-24 years of age who were also high on drugs - on a continual basis.

"I have 3 brothers and 5 sisters living with my parents. I can't wait to see them again. I hope they will be proud of me."

Accompanied by local staff members of the NGO, Caritas-Makeni, including his psychosocial worker and his community reintegration officer, this boy was reunified with his family that he hadn't seen for six long years. Child protection staff reported that when he first came to their care, the boy was very quarrelsome, and that even though he was malnourished, depressed and sick, he was out of control. The RUF had given him a new name, but over the year and a half since demboblisation, he decided he wanted to change his future - that he wanted to learn a skill so he could go home and be with his family. From that day on, he focused on building a new future for himself.

"My favourite thing to make is a bed. It takes me about two days to build a bed. But I can also make cupboards, stools, and tables - just about anything anyone wants me to make. I'm a good carpenter. Did you know that Jesus was the son of a carpenter?"

This child ex-combatant had never been to school before being abducted and so simply being in a learning environment would have been difficult enough for him in the first place. But he was also used to the rebel life. There, he had a gun, which gave him a sense of power.

"In Sierra Leone, we learn that we must respect our elders. But the rebels turned that upside down and all the child fighters were taught that with a gun in their hand, they could tell their elders what to do and the elders would do it, for fear of their lives and the lives of their family. They knew that if they didn't immediately obey an RUF child combatant, they could be killed."

At the Interim Care Centre, he had to listen and learn from his carpentry teacher, his psychosocial counsellors and his peers. It wasn't easy for him. During that time, his family was traced for reunification, and he was finally reunified.

Story 4 (Girl child, 16):

"I was abducted when the RUF invaded Freetown on 6 January, 1999. I was hiding in my room. The rebels had my father just outside and forced him to lie on the ground. They were going to shoot him and I cried out. They heard me and told my father he could live, but they were going to take me away."

This girl's father was allowed to live and she was abducted in return ... but not before the rebels burned the family home to the ground. She was thirteen years old when she was abducted.

"I was forced to walk up into the mountains around Freetown and was taken to a house and locked up for 3 days. There were many other abducted girls and boys inside and we were all scared. We didn't know what was going to happen to us. A short time later, a bunch of vehicles arrived and we were put inside and driven to the town of Masiaka, where the RUF had lots of support."

She worked as a `housewife' for a rebel commander, and had to cook, clean, wash clothes and carry loads for him. In April, this girl tried to escape, but she was caught. The next day, at the end of a football match played between the RUF rebels and Masiaka civilians, her commander and two other rebels grabbed her, tied her arms behind her back and held her down on the ground. Using a razor blade, her commander cut "RUF" in large letters across her chest. She struggled and fought against the men, making the cutting deep and uneven.

Afterwards, her commander told her that the next time she tried to escape he would kill her. He added that even if she did escape, she would be killed as a spy or combatant as soon as the other side saw the "RUF" letters scarred onto her body. She knew it was probably true. Then the men wiped the blood off their hands and off her chest with a dirty rag and let her go.

"The blood kept coming out and over the next few days the letters got infected and swelled up. It wasn't until about three weeks later that the scars healed. I hated the RUF and I hated the rebels for what they had done to me. They were cutting all the children to scare us from trying to escape. Some had the letters scarred across their foreheads, some on their arms, some on their legs, some on their chest, some on their back. They used anything that was sharp - razor blades, knives, broken bottles, needles, bayonets."

In September, 1999, after surviving 9 months as a rebel abductee, this girl was finally freed following the signing of the Lome Peace Accord in July 1999 - but she found that she was neither completely physically or psychologically free of the RUF. "As soon as I got home, I was so happy to see that my father was alive, but I was so ashamed and scared to show him the scar. But I showed him right away and he just cried. Then he told me not to worry and that he would do everything to remove it."

Her father went to all the hospitals and health clinics, but none of them could help her. Then a man came to the house and said he could perform the operation but that I would have to pay in advance. Desperate to help his daughter, he gave the man a lot of money, but they never saw him again.

In the meantime, the girl was trying to adjust back to life in her community.

"Most of the people in the neighbourhood knew that I had been abducted and they were kind. But some people looked at me with suspicious eyes and scorned me. I never said anything to anyone about the time while I was abducted. I was scared that if anyone saw my scars they would accuse me of being a rebel and would make problems for me and my father."

So, for the next two years, she lived alone with her secret. She was always careful when she bathed and she only wore clothes that were cut high around her neck so that no one would see the RUF letters.
"I had to dress differently from the other girls and I started to stay inside the house more and I became quiet and isolated. I didn't want anyone to know or to find out what had happened to me."

One day the girl tried to remove the letters with a caustic substance. The results were painful, the "RUF" letters remained visible and new scars were formed.

"I had to go to a health clinic after that and that was when a woman working there told me that UNICEF and some other organisations were going to start a project to help children with scars like me. I was very happy and told my father because he was so worried for me."

On 22 October 2001, the child underwent plastic surgery to remove the RUF letters from her chest. The operation was successful and the three letters are no longer visible. Marks do remain however, the results of the deep and large cuts originally inflicted upon her, the resultant infections and the new scarring caused by the caustic substance.

"Now, if anyone sees the marks on my chest, I can just tell them that they are the result of a car accident, so I feel much better. I know that my chest will never be perfect as it was before, but now I no longer have to see those letters every time that I look at myself in the mirror."

VII. RECOMMENDATIONS Children and the Youth
• Children and youth which make up 62% of the population ( 0 to 25 years) must require considerable support in the post war recovery period
• The youth between the ages of 21 to 25 years make up one quarter of the total population. This group is currently not given the priority that is required to provide them with an attractive future

Social Services
• The rehabilitation of basic social services that provide a high quality service needs to be a major priority. The high levels of morbidity and mortality (Infant mortality 170/1000 live births; Under Five mortality 286/1000 live births; maternal mortality rate of 1800/1000,000 live births); 27% of children underweight and two thirds of population illiterate indicate an unacceptable situation
• The TRC can nominate the rehabilitated schools and health facilities as symbols of reconciliation and a remembrance to the war

Promotion of Child Rights
• Perpetrators of crimes against children should be held legally accountable.
• Respect and protection of children's rights must be the core of the work of government, military and police and civil society groups
• Initiatives for peace building should be linked to concrete measures of community-based protection for children.
• Priority needs to be given to the reform, reinforcement, and retraining of the judiciary with a focus on child rights issues, in particular, in dealing with cases of sexual violence against children.
• Magistrates, law enforcement bodies, the MSWGCA (particularly the probation officers), detention officers and other correctional staff and all NGOs working with children in conflict with the law require systematic training on the application of child rights.
• Broad information campaigns should be organized to inform children and their families on the rights of the child. Engage communties on the issue of the apparent gap between traditional/cultural practices and international standards of child rights as defined by the UNCRC. Only through in depth processing can this gap be bridged.
• Special attention should be focused on the promotion of the rights of girls and young women.
• Provide long term capacity building for those national institutions, including the MSWGCA, Police, the Juvenile Justice System and local NGOs, to enable them to shoulder the long term burden of protection of Sierra Leone's children.
• Ensure comprehensive information sharing among all actors who have some involvement in child protection activities. This should include both international and national organizations, both governmental and non-governmental bodies, and should include all those involved in activities, which affect children.
• Local and international human rights groups should combine an approach that reports on violations as well as builds the capacity of local groups and coalitions to monitor, provide referral services for victims, report, and channel advocacy on human rights abuses.
• Each police station should have one individual responsible for the protection of children. There are no apparent procedures in place to ensure the prevention of child incommunicado detention. Police stations should be systematically monitored by independent bodies to ensure that referral systems for ensuring the unnecessary detention of children are followed. All efforts should be made to ensure that the MSW or a child protection agency are contacted upon the arrest of a child and that children are not detained with adults. A police officer in charge of child protection and an independent individual such as a probation officer should be present at all interrogations.
• Data collection relating to the arrest, detention and sentencing of children should be standardised, coordinated, and improved. Duplication of effort in this regard should be avoided. Legal assistance must be made readily available to all juveniles arrested by the police and juveniles should be informed of this right.
• Alternatives to imprisonment should be made readily available, such as community service. Efforts should be made to create a child friendly environment and the juvenile court should ensure that only those involved in the specific case are present. Efforts should be made to speed up the process in determining the age of a child, as well as putting greater pressure on parents and guardians to attend trial. Magistrates and justices of peace must be trained on international guidelines, rules and law regulating the trial of children in conflict with the law.
• In relation to children in conflict with the law, the draft Bill (1996) builds on the current juvenile justice system requires revision. For example, the age of criminal responsibility remains too young at 10 years and should be increased. Children jointly charged with adults may be tried in a Magistrate's Court. The draft Bill should also incorporate the right to legal assistance at the point of arrest as well as an independent body to monitor the police cells. Diversion schemes from institutions should be incorporated such as voluntary work, vocational training schemes and community service. The ratification of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984) should be incorporated into the draft Bill, such as the systematic review of interrogation procedures, practices and arrangement for the custody and treatment of any individual under arrest, detention or imprisonment (Article 11 to the Convention against Torture).
• The Remand Home and Approved School desperately require resources and restructuring. Placing a child in these institutions may be detrimental to the child's physical and mental development. Alternatives should be sought to the detention of children in adult high security detention facilities.

Juvenile Justice
• The juvenile justice system requires comprehensive reform and in some cases, physical rehabilitation and must be addressed with some urgency. The improvements cover the whole range of the system including separate facilities for girl and boy children in detention that includes access to exercise, proper food and hygiene, legal representation, social support and counseling; release on bail where possible and minimal pre-trial detention and where release is impossible, prompt court proceedings that are not unreasonably protracted; ensuring that children in need but not accused of violations of the law do not get placed in the Remand Home but in proper care facilities.
• The national legislation requires reform to be in conformity with international standards, including UNCRC and ICCPR.
• Improve services for restorative justice to prevent excessive application of punitive measures

Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration of Children
• In future DDR programmes in other countries advocacy needs to target Government, military factions, and political parties/associations to uphold international agreements precluding the military recruitment of children. This would also include all children who are involved in "supporting" (i.e. abducted children, camp followers, porters, bush wives) a particular a fighting force.
• Future DDR Programmes should specifically include children (fighters and non fighters) such that the programme is designed to fully disband the fighting force and reintegrate all those associated with the fighting force, rather than focus only on the demilitarisation of the fighting forces. Thus specialised procedures for the disarmament and demobilisation of child soldiers. and children will be a central part of any future DDR Programme
• Priority should be given to assisting those children, especially girls, who did not go through the DDR programme and consequently are not a part of any reintegration support programme

Community-Based Reintegration for child ex-combatants, reunified separated children)
• One cannot assume that children, once they are reunited with their families, do not need any additional support or follow-up visits.    Experience has shown that children require long term support assistance in their family setting to ensure their protection, care, and development
• Community based reintegration strategies providing long term support (community education on children affected by war, family/community mediation, counseling, follow up, schooling, skill training) are essential
• Volunteer community structures (Village Child Welfare Committees and Children's Clubs) can greatly assist in the acceptance and inclusion of children.
• Children access to formal education and skills training are a vital part of the reintegration process
• Children require follow up from social workers and community volunteers to ensure participation and inclusion in family, peer, and community activities (eg. school, skills training, recreation, and cultural/religious activities).
• Education is the most vital part of reintegration and a return to normality for all children. All the children in the child protection programme stated that they wanted education more than any other form of support.
• The Government and the international community need to prioritise the rapid development of quality education - both formal and non-formal, and vocational and small-business training
• As the provision of schools increases the issue of quality teaching, teaching and learning materials and conductive classroom environment becomes an increasing priority
• Sensitize communities to the importance of education, in particular for girls.
• Where possible the Government can reduce as many barriers as possible (e.g. fees, charges, school uniforms) so all child can attend both primary and secondary school.

• Gainful employment for the youth is of critical importance
• Career guidance should be provided as well as training of small business development in viable areas that includes on-going support in small business development

• The power of sport in the reconciliation and socialisation processes should not be under-estimated. In particular, sport creates positive opportunities for the youth. A sports field in every village would be a fitting memorial to the lives of children lost in the war and at the same time, creates opportunities for the development of hope in the future
Protection Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
• Sexual exploitation and abuse including child trafficking are very important issues that must be comprehensively addressed in the post war recovery and long term development. Not only was sexual exploitation and abuse one of the main violations against girls and young women it is very prevalence in current society. Attitudes and practices in society often create opportunities for sexual exploitation and there is not a general strong attitude against such abuses. There are few specialised services; the majority of which operate in Freetown.
• The development of services that support survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation must be a priority in the three main areas - prevention, protection and prosecution. Services must be expanded (in number and area of operation) along with the SL Police Family Support Unit. This must be combined with information dissemination that creates a public attitude that will value the services and help control abuses. Community involvement is essential in monitoring and taking action against sexual & domestic violence.
• Services must be provided in such a way that enables easy access and includes activities that are relevant to the survivors such as vocational and life skills training.

The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) was established in1984 and alleged itself to be a legitimate opposition group with the intention of overthrowing the ruling All People's Congress (APC) party in Sierra Leone. During its early existence, the RUF was heavily comprised of youth, both those with a political agenda and those with seemingly none but with nowhere else to go. These youth combined with members of Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), and with the behindthe-scenes support of other politically interested groups and individuals, launched an incursion from Liberia into Sierra Leone in 1991. Led by Foday Sankoh, and joined by mercenaries from Burkina Faso, it was this incursion which sparked the war. The RUF, comprised heavily of minors, from the moment of the invasion engaged in a pattern of serious violations against civilians in the villages they passed through, including summary executions, sexual violence including sexual slavery, abductions and forced conscription. Their aim of overthrow of the government quickly became a campaign to gain access to land's diamonds and other resources.

In April 1992, Valentin Strasser, an army captain, overthrew the APC government of Joseph Momoh, but continued on a path of corruption and mismanagement. Meanwhile, the RUF grew in size, joined part time by disenchanted SLA soldiers. Both Momoh's and then Strasser's governments engaged in widespread recruitment of men and boys as young as twelve, with the intention of gaining strength over the RUF as it too was gaining in numbers. In May 1993, there was a successful demobilisation of 370 child soldiers, which sparked UNICEF's establishment of a Children in Extremely Difficult Circumstances (CEDC) programme to try to address the needs of demobilised child soldiers, unaccompanied children, and children suffering from war-related stress.

In 1995, Strasser hired Executive Outcomes, a South African private security company, to try to take back control over the diamond mines, which were by that time largely controlled by the RUF. The private company began to collaborate with the Civil Defence Forces (CDF), a pro-government military force, as well as their strong-arm branch, the Kamajors. This effort was able to push back the RUF from Freetown and take back some of the mining areas from them.

The CDF was established in 1993-4, and in 1996 was placed under the control of Hinga Norman, Deputy Minister of Defence. Trained and supported by Kabbah's government, the CDF movement was largely comprised of local village defenders and hunters, and its members underwent a traditional initiation said to give them extraordinary powers. The CDF, usually defending their own villages and regions, were a significant opponent to RUF forces, and enjoyed widespread local support.

January 1996 saw the overthrow of Strasser by his deputy, and in February and March 1996, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) was elected President. As the CDF, and primarily the Kamajors, gained back territory in the Eastern, Southern, and Northern provinces from the RUF, the country suffered a major economic crisis. With more than sixty percent of the population living in abject poverty, children returning to their homes faced severe deprivation, and the child protection mechanisms which did exist were unsuccessful.    In spite of this, an effort was undertaken to revise national legislation in an effort to bring it in line with the provisions of the CRC." Negotiations between Kabbah and Sankoh began, and the Abidjan Peace Accord was signed in November 1996. This agreement included disarmament, demobilisation, an amnesty for all RUF members, and the removal of all foreign forces from Sierra Leone. UNICEF and its partners established a national family tracing and reunification network in November 1996. In early 1997, UNICEF led the refocusing of strategies and approaches to the defence of the rights of the child, as well as child protection, among both governmental and non-governmental institutions.

The cease-fire was broken in 1997 when fighting broke out in Moyamba district and when Sankoh was arrested in Nigeria, accused of arms violations.

In May 1997, a coup led by just-released prisoner Johnny Paul Koroma ousted President Kabbah, who fled to Guinea, and caused the release of hundreds of other prisoners, who joined others in widespread looting. At this time, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council was formed, and, joining with the RUF, the two took control of Freetown in June 1997. The AFRC/RUF ruled by military might, suspending the rule of law and engaging in a pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention.

President Kabbah, from exile in Guinea, rallied international support which led to the deployment of Nigerian ECOMOG forces from Liberia into Sierra Leone, reinforcing ECOMOG forces already stationed at the Freetown airport. Following the AFRC's announcement of a long-term plan for return to civilian rule, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on Sierra Leone, which in October 1997 were echoed in a resolution adopted by the UN Security Council. In spite of all the immense obstacles in their path, during this year, UNICEF and its partner agencies in child protection facilitated the demobilisation of over 894 child soldiers associated with government forces, successfully advocated for the release of children associated with the RUF, provided comprehensive psychosocial services for 1,600 unaccompanied and street children and children from vulnerable families. Also during this year, the National Child Welfare Forum was transformed into the Child Protection Committee, with its regional and district branches. UNICEF and its partners developed an educational curriculum relevant to the current circumstances that school age children found themselves in, and trained national facilitators and community leaders to address the psychosocial needs of children suffering from war-related stress.

An agreement signed in October 1997 between Kabbah and the AFRC/RUF agreeing to Kabbah's return to power was only partially implemented due to fighting between ECOMOG forces and the AFRC/RUF. In February 1998, however, ECOMOG forces succeeded in recapturing Freetown from the AFRC/RUF, and Kabbah returned to power. ECOMOG forces continued to gain control over large portions of the country, while Sankoh was transferred from prison in Nigeria to Sierra Leone and sentenced to death for his role in the 1997 coup. It was at this point in time that the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs took up its mandate in coordinating child protection activities. According to UNICEF, however, the Ministry during this time remained weak, and thus UNICEF and its partners retained a key role in child protection activities, as well as the main advisory role to the Sierra Leonean government on demobilisation and reintegration of child excombatants.72

In July 1998, the UN Observer Mission in Sierra Leone was deployed to monitor the situation. Children who had lost contact with their families were at great risk due to the deteriorating situation. Between February and June 1998, UNICEF and partner child protection agencies ensured that 400 children participated in pre-demobilisation documentation for family tracing, and out of 340 children demobilised from the RUF, 158 were reunified with their natural families, the rest being placed in interim care centres or in foster care. With UNICEF's key participation, a network of eight organisations monitored and documented child rights violations throughout the country, reporting that children were being abducted, raped, tortured, lynched and arbitrarily arrested. The child protection agencies reported that while the violations against children were getting worse, protection mechanisms for them were also severely limited, leaving them at grave risk. By this stage UNICEF estimated that before the coup, there were an estimated 5,000 child soldiers and over 3,000 registered unaccompanied children in addition to the children associated with fighting forces. By November 1998, the numbers had increased dramatically, with an estimated 10,000 children separated from their families, and increasing numbers of child victims of gross human rights violations. Despite initiatives by the government and non-governmental organisations to develop policies and services for the demobilisation and reintegration of child combatants, protection for unaccompanied children and psychosocial assistance, the social welfare structures had been irreparably affected by the years of poor governance. The UNICEF CEDC and child protection programs had to adjust to fill the gap.

Over the course of 1998, the AFRC/RUF rebels gained control over the diamond rich areas of the country, consolidated their power, and launched an offensive against Freetown in January 1999. This was to be the most brutal part of the war, with the levels of humanitarian law violations skyrocketing. Estimates are that over five hundred civilians were killed by AFRC/RUF fighters and more than one hundred amputated, girls as young as eight were sexually victimised, and civilians were used as human shields. Many were burned alive in their homes; others were tortured, and thousands wounded. Nigerian ECOMOG forces summarily executed prisoners of war. While driven from Freetown, the AFRC/RUF forcibly conscripted youths, abducted other civilians for forced labour, and captured thousands of young girls to use as sex slaves. Their path involved ongoing killings, rapes, and amputations in villages they passed through. Child protection agencies were unable to reach the thousands of separated children, including child ex-combatants, in areas where the children were kept, which were under rebel control. Dialogue between these agencies and the government and CDF was severely hampered by the ongoing security situation, and child protection partners suffered extreme personal and organisational losses. Tracing activities were severely hampered and in some cases cut off, in particular in the North and East, and thus the reunification of these children was stalled. The DDR program itself was suspended. During this time of systematic gross child rights violations, a national Child Rights Violations Monitoring Network was established to monitor and advocate against child rights violations.

International pressure achieved a cease-fire in May 1999 and the peace accord in Lome in July 1999. Sankoh was released to participate and both he and Koroma were given positions of authority under the peace agreement. Sankoh became Vice President, and Chairman of the Board of the Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and Development (CMRRD), and Koroma was given the chairmanship of the Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (CCP). The peace agreement included an amnesty, but the UN Secretary General's Special Representative included a hand-written caveat, stating that the amnesty would not apply to violations of international humanitarian law.

The UNOMSIL mission was converted into a UNAMSIL peacekeeping operation intended to protect the peace, but soon violations of the peace agreement abounded, and the AFRC/RUF continued to terrorise the civilian population. Widespread sexual violence against women and girls continued, as did systematic sexual slavery, and a breakaway AFRC group, the West Side Boys, committed broad ranging egregious violations in Freetown. Hundreds of children were abducted by the West Side Boys, and when in August 1999 an international delegation comprised of ECOMOG, journalists, humanitarian workers, religious leaders, and others attempted to obtain their release, they themselves were captured by the West Side Boys and held for over one week. During 1999, UNICEF and its child protection partners, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, installed registration points in the Western areas to document missing children. A preparedness plan was also developed for the demobilisation of former child combatants, which included the establishment of Interim Care Centres. By the end of 1999, the ICCs were accommodating over 700 children as part of the DDR program. During 1999, 139 children were released to UNICEF by ECOMOG, 801 children were released to UNICEF by the rebels, and 342 children had been officially demobilised from demobilisation camps. Also, many children had been reunified, where this was possible due to their areas of origin being accessible. Others were placed in foster homes.

By May 2000, the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration Program (DDR) was proceeding at a slow pace, with only about half of the 45,000 combatants demobilised. The deployment of peacekeepers was slow, and the violations of the peace agreement frequent, until in May 2000, the RUF captured over 500 UNAMSIL peacekeepers, holding them hostage for several weeks. Renewed fighting throughout the country ensued, with demobilised child soldiers being forcibly reconscripted. Human rights abuses continued, perpetrated both by RUF and by progovernment forces. Following a demonstration in front of Sankoh's residence where twenty civilians were killed, Sankoh and 125 others were arrested by government forces. Ongoing attacks against civilians by both sides led to huge internal displacement, and even the CDF, in particular the Kamajors, committed previously uncommon acts of sexual violence against women and girls. Major Johnny Paul Koroma, then Chairman for the Consolidation of Peace and AFRC leader joined forces with the SLA and the CDF in opposition to the RUF.

In response, the British Government sent military troops and UNAMSIL strengthened its ranks. The West Side Boys continued committing heinous violations, until they were destroyed by British troops in September 2000, with many of them imprisoned. From this time until April 2001, RUF and Liberian forces launched attacks against Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea. Guinean retaliation involved excessive human rights violations, both committed against the attacking forces as well as against Sierra Leonean civilians who had sought shelter in their territory.    Following a cease fire agreement signed in November 2000, the human rights situation continued to be dismal, but on a less intense scale than previously. The RUF continued to commit rape, murder and abductions, but released 1500 child soldiers for demobilisation. Girls who had been kept as sex slaves, however, were refused release by RUF forces.

During 2000, 2312 separated children were provided with basic services in Interim Care Centres throughout the country, 1500 of which were demobilised child soldiers, and the rest of which were camp followers, unaccompanied children, and children awaiting retroactive demobilisation (child ex-soldiers who did not go through the DDR camps.) 370 child ex-soldiers who had been with the CDF were directly demobilised into the their communities. Furthermore, 532 child sexual abuse survivors were provided with reintegration assistance. 2836 children were registered for tracing and 1,226 children were registered as missing by their families. 585 were reunified. This year also saw UNICEF's lead role in the development of a national strategy for the reintegration of children from the fighting forces through the DDR program. During 2000 alone, 486 girls and 426 boys were documented victims of human rights violations.

During 2001, due to the spontaneous repatriation of many Sierra Leonean refugees from Guinea due to tensions there, UNICEF mobilised support for those sheltered in safe areas, focusing both on returnees as well as host communities. UNICEF and its partners supported the demobilisation of 3,664 child combatants and provided emergency care to 2,377 of them, until such time as their families could be traced or alternative care arrangements made. This year also saw the launching of UNICEF's Community Education Investment Programme, which provides packages of teaching, learning or recreation supplies to all schools, which enrol child excombatants. UNICEF and the National Forum for Human Rights sponsored a technical workshop that brought together national and international experts on human rights, juvenile justice and reconciliation processes.

This workshop resulted in a comprehensive report entitled "Recommendations for Policies and Procedures for Addressing and Involving Children in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission." In May 2001, following intense advocacy conducted by UNICEF and its partner organisations with the RUF, 1,187 children were released to the care of UNICEF and the child protection agencies. Throughout 2001, 3,664 child soldiers were demobilised with the support of UNICEF, and of those, 2,377 of them entered UNICEF's interim care programme. UNICEF also continued in its role as the focal point agency for the Child Protection Network comprised of forty members from UN agencies, international and national NGOs, and government ministries. Through this network, children are assisted comprehensively so that the child can either be reunited with her/his family or be placed in alternative care as near as possible to its home location.73

In spite of achievements in the face of immense obstacles, 2001 saw a struggle in terms of child protection as access to child protection services was severely limited compared with the needs of children. In particular, 2001 was a year of transition; as children were increasingly reunified with their families and returning to home communities, the focus of child protection activities began to shift from centre-based programming to community-based approaches. On the more positive front, during this year the Parliamentary National Commission for War Affected Children was created, with the mandate to advocate for and advise on issues pertaining to children affected by the war. In addition, the Sierra Leonean parliament ratified the CRC's two Optional Protocols.'4

In addition to the above, UNICEF conducted training of police in protection of children in conflict with the law, facilitated the movement of children from the Remand Home to the court for legal proceedings, and monitored the conditions of children in detention.


From: The Sierra Leone Youth Empowerment Organisation (SLYEO)
Address: Head Office: 24 Main Motor Road, Congo Cross Freetown
Regional Office: 50 Bundu Street, Mile 91, Tonkolili District
Submitted To: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Secretariat, Jomo Kenyatta Road, Freetown.

Subject/Content: Submission for the Thematic Hearing on Youth and Children

The Sierra Leone Youth Empowerment Organisation (SLYEO) is a local NonGovernmental Youth Development, Peace and Human Rights Organisation.

Through effective and strategic networking, collaboration and partnership with local and international development agencies, SLYEO seeks to combat anti-social behaviour for the promotion of positive citizenship.

Its aim is to increase the capacity of young people and their opportunities for selfdevelopment through an all inclusive enabling, ensuring and empowering approach. The Organisation (SLYEO) was established in August 1995.

The Organisation's focus purpose is reflected in a nine point agenda which includes:

  1. Literacy Development
  2. Human Rights
  3. Civic Education/Awareness
  4. Conflict Social Drama Counseling
  5. Agriculture
  6. Credit/Enterprise Development
  7. Capacity Building /Group Formation and Development Partnership, Collaboration and Coalition Building
  8. Research, Mobilisation, Documentation and Advocacy
  9. Youth Health/'HIV/AIDS

The establishment of SLYEO came as a result of the recognition that young people were conspicuously seeing to be playing a more central role in promoting the conflict at every level. Following this realization, emancipated and enlightened young people deemed it necessary to put up mechanisms for young people's involvement in building lasting peace and reconciliation in Sierra Leone. During the conflict period, SLYEO played an active role in educating and sensitizing the youth constituency and their communities in peace building, election before peace /peace before elections , conflict management/prevention, trauma counselling and indigeneous reconciliation mechanisms. Public fora were held to provide young people directly or indirectly involved in the conflict with an opportunity to air out their grieviances, re-examine their economic, social and political make up and suggest ways by which community life can be re-started.

Such fora were held in areas including;
- Western (Urban, Mountain and Rural/Peninsular Areas)
- Northern Region ( Port Loko, Kambia, Tonkolili and Koya (Okra Hills) and Bombali)
- Southern Region ( Bo, Moyamba Districts)
- Eastern Region ( Kenema, Kono and Kailahun)

These activities and experiences build on the fact that young people can play a significant role in re-building peace in S/Leone .
In addition to these, SLYEO provides a regular forum for young people in the Western and Northern Regions to meet and discuss issues relating to national reconciliation and development.

In Northern Tonkolili, these are practically implemented in our on-going projects focusing on "Empowering the Youth to build peace and Promote food Security in Communities affected by severe conflict in Sierra Leone".

Others included:
- Adolescent Research Project (Western Area and Northern Area) as documented in research Report titled "Precious Resources: Adolescents in the Reconstruction of Sierra Leone conducted by local Youth NGOs including SLYEO, CCYA, FAWE, IYF, MUYOG, in collaboration with the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children based in New York, USA.
- Protecting Human Rights under the African Charter on Human and People's Rights in situations of conflict in Africa. A case study of Sierra Leone. Addressing the tyranny of participation and turning literacy political: The Tabotsaneh Framework.
- HIV/AIDS And Young People: The Realities And Challenges For Africa (a forum organised by the Commonwealth Youth Forum at the Commonwealth Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia- April 2001

These were climaxed with strategic lobbying and advocacy mechanisms as a means to provide a formative structure that will help to address the needs/welfare of children and young people in post - conflict Sierra Leone.

Crucial to these services were structured education programmes on the framework to Peace; the Abidjan Peace Accord (APA) and the Conakry Peace Plan (CPP). These activities provided a fair knowledge and understanding of peace and a basis upon which Sierra Leoneans can kick start their reconciliatory process. The exercise graduated into a National Consultative Conference: Ref The Road to Peace in Sierra Leone (Report). SLYEO co-ordinated youth participation and a position paper was presented by its co-ordinator ( Charles B.P. Lahai) on behalf of the Youth of Sierra Leone.    This led to the nomination of SLYEO's Co-ordinator to form part of the delegation as Observer Mission to the signing of the Lome Peace Accord in Lome, Togo in 1999; a process that saw the long fought exclusion and marginalisation of youths in the sense that though nominated and approved, youth participation became a bone of contention at the eleventh hour. This situation prevented youth and students participation at the signing of the Lome Agreement.

SLYEO recognizes and places special interest in the welfare of children and youths.    Our knowledge of this prevalence and factors that militates against the welfare and    special needs and care for children accounts for a clear disparity in the use of the tools that should inspire and characterize protection and reflection on the Rights and welfare of children and young persons. The following have in no small way helped to hinder the factors that promotes the protection and capacities of children in Sierra Leone:

Abduction, recruitment and use of child soldiers were glaring evidences of the lack of protection of children and young persons.

As part of a team that conducted a vulnerability Assessment Survey during the Junta rule in 1997, there was an outstanding evidence of child combatants with the Revolutionary United Front. The homes (temporary) of some senior officers were crowded with child soldiers and some of these homes were also used as detention centres.

Thoughts about murder and massacres throw a flash back of the very many vulnerable children and young people who were only protected by their unprotected mothers and fathers who suffered severe and acute damages and loss of lives during the 1997 and 1999 junta take over.

The mass exodus of families to seek refuge also created an alarming and wide spread consequences.

The situation could be viewed two fold:
- that the junta regime in their claim to provide protection to unarmed civilians turned out to unleash unwanton destruction of lives and property.
- that the ousted government's support to the sub-regional force (ECOMOG) and their intervention strategy culminated into resistance and confrontation with the junta regime in which process, lives and property were also destroyed..

In addition to these, Amputation, torture, maiming, sexual violence, arson, deprivation, not to talk about coercive conscription of children and young persons were amongst the very many violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws especially for children. These violations were not prohibited in any way. There were evidences (eye - witness for e.g.) of arbitrary arrests/detentions, denial of food and lack of access to health care for children and young persons. They lost parental guidance and became recruited into druggism. Children lost their moral and placement.   

A lot of children in the process became fathers and mothers of children ... a burden that they cannot cope with. Their coping mechanism resorted to harassment and other negative practices through the use of weapons. We (SLYEO) are of the strongest belief that instruments like the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Law of Youth Rights must be used (enforced) to curb these ugly incidences. Children must be molded for positive citizenship while in their stage.

The bunch / bulk of children in Sierra Leone today have being opened to criminalized tendencies and this puts the country's future at a high risk.

3.0. Health is a development issue.
In our "Precious Resources: Adolescent in the Reconstruction of Sierra Leone Research Report, a process which followed focus group discussions, surveys of top priority concerns personal interviews and case studies (methodolo&nes), the lack of health facilities was ranked 3rd on the top - ten priority concerns. We have held advocacy sessions on these issues at local and international levels with UN Officials and policy makers (in New York, Washington DC etc). These can be found in the research report , a process that was conducted by the adolescents themselves. A copy of this report is now faithfully tendered to the TRC Secretariat.

Education and sensitisation campaigns/programmes are part of our on-going process to fight against HIV/AIIDS at National and International levels. The notion that "Health is Wealth" rings true in our society before and after the war. There was and still an evidence of a declining health situation after the war. SLYEO has facilitated the establishment of an NGO / CBO Networking Alliance in Tonkolili Northern Sierra Leone to pilot these programme.

For the past three years, SLYEO Executive Co-ordinator has been the Sierra Leone Youth Representative to the Commonwealth Youth Forum. He attended and participated in a number of fora including the Commonwealth Youth Programmes Africa Center and Regional Advisory Board meetings in Ghana, Zambia and Cyprus. These fora dealt extensively with HIV!AIDS . Prior to a Commonwealth Youth Forum held in Lusaka, Zambia in 2001, a consultative meeting was held in Freetown with youth groups/Agency to input into mechanisms that will reduce/prevent the widespread of this epidemic. Ideas and strategies formulated and agreed upon by the participants in this session was compiled and submitted as a country report on behalf of the Youth of Sierra Leone.

A sub-regional report of the forum held in Zambia on the theme: HIV/AIDS And Young People: The Realities and Challenges for Africa was reproduced and circulated to the wider Sierra Leonean populace.  
A copy of this report is also tendered to the TRC Secretariat.

4.0. The economic, social and political well being of children and young persons have and still continues to be problematic. Streetism has become conspicuously challenging for children and young persons. The bulk of children and young persons do not have access to social and welfare protection. The evidence of this can be seen in the streets of every town in Sierra Leone where children have been transformed to street beggars, petty traders etc. This carnage has displaced, and misplaced lots of children. Most have migrated to diamondferous areas where they work round the clock in pits for diamonds for either Lebanese or other selfish Sierra Leoneans. A policy on Just Mining must preclude children's involvement in such practices and this must be enforced by child protection agencies and government. We have being part of the campaign for Just Mining in Sierra Leone and remain committed to its dictates.

4.1 Culture and traditional practices in Sierra Leone does not permit girls to choose their own husbands.    The dangers of this is that having lured them into marriage to older men (may be four times their ages), they can hardly avoid the risk of dating their younger male folks. In most cases, these issues become exposed, and heavy fines are levied upon the younger folks When the war reach some sections, some of those younger folks who have had anger and resentment were quick to join the fighting forces with the aim of seeking revenge . Reference can also be made to a case in point which refers to a chiefdom (MalalMara) in the Tonkolili District were SLYEO operates.

A young lady who was betrothed by the Paramount Chief was snatched by the boys of the then commander (Mustapha Johnny alias John 3:16). SLYEO made frantic efforts to bridge that gap in a situation where the PC was prevented from going across into the other section (Mara) for close to six years.

We succeeded using an indigeneous approach to bring these people together face to face through a Research and Mobilisation process. The process included community and inter - chiefdom football derbies, cultural / Bubu dance and other forms of social activities. This culminated into a week tour of SLYEO with the Paramount Chief within his own chiefdom. At the end a series of meetings/workshops were conducted by SLYEO for the PC and his subjects, the rebels, the SLA, CDF, UNAMSIL, District Officer, Police, Teachers, Youths, Women and other Stakeholders as a way of expediting /facilitating their participation in Conflict Management and Prevention.

We trained and recruited 19 Literacy Facilitators, 23 Agro Para-Extensionist, 4 Community Based Monitors and a Gender Officer to team up an work wityh our Project staff in their own communities.  This is a means of providing control and a feeling of ownership in the minds of  our beneficiaries.

Immediately after the signing of the Lome Agreement, SLYEO and the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports in collaboration with other agencies including World Vision, UNICEF,UNDP, Action Aid, WHO and others organised the first Freetown Youth Festival which was popularly referred to as YOUFEST 2000 with its motto: Recreation for Peace Building, at the National Stadium for 7 days.  At the opening the government presented a statement of intent, presentation were made by other functionaries and a position statement was also delivered by a SLYEO representative.

SLYEO in collaboration with World Vision also organised a Peace Gala and Cultural show in the seven villages in the Mountain District in the Western Area.

In collaboration with TBS (The Best Squad), SLYEO organised a Peace and Reconciliation Carnival at the National Stadium for NGOs, Business entitities, etc.

5.0  Added to these, SLYEO has collaborated with CARITAS  and NGO/CBO Networking Alliance in Tonkolili District to organise programmes like the celebration of the Day of the African Child.  Primary as well secondary school children were invited and trained prior to the date in social drama. Role plays, songs, stories and skit were performed before an audience chiefdom representatives (Malal-Mara, Kholifa Mabang, and Yonni Chiefdom). Postals, handbills, and pictorials were printed and distributed to create awareness. Public lectures for school children are conducted periodically as well as weekly programme on the Radio Gbafth in Mile 91. These programmes focus on other pertinent issues like control measures/ prevention of Bushfire and Grasshopper, TRC and Special Court.

Although SLYEO does not deal with health issues professionally, yet it advocate for the prevention of the spread of infection among the general populace, by providing information, education and means of protection. At the organisation's expense, SLYEO supplies condoms to young people in Mile 91 at no cost. We hold advocacy/ debates with schools and communities on:

Rights to privacy
- protection against mandatory testing - HIV status kept confidential
    - Rights to liberty and freedom of movement
- protection against imprisonment, segregation, or isolation in a special hospital ward

Rights to education/information
- access to HIV/AIDS, STDs prevention education and information
   Rights to health- access to health care prevention services, including STDs services and condoms

Non - discrimination

-    protection against discrimination
These among other are things that we advocate and lobby for on behalf of our youth constituency, more especially as they are most vulnerable.

Collaboration with child protection agencies.
Collaboration with youth serving agencies
Advocacy on policy review and implementation
Support services to NGO's that have the capacity to deliver       
Resource mobilisation


The Muloma Kids' club came into existence in Kailahun District when a number of children in Daru town thought it fit to come come together and form a club to assist themselves and the community.

PRESENTLY THE Club is existing in about seven chiefdoms in the district with a membership of about four hundred children and towns in the district.

The kids club is involved in the following activities in child protection issues namely, identification of child protection issues affecting children in their various communities e.g. Rape, early marriage, agricultural activities, school competitions, HIV/AIDS awareness raising, follow-up on fostering and family tracing.

•  Influence SC-UK to build a resource center in Daru
•  Identification of adopted children within the community
•  The club succeeded in minimizing child abuse in the community e.g, early marriage, rape, exploitative labour.
•  Influence parents to send the girl child to school
•  Break the difference between ex-combatants children and the community children in various communities.
•  Influence school authorities to accept ex-combatant children in schools and skills training centers
•  Help in the formation of other Kids' clubs in other parts of the district
•  Help in the formation of three girls' clubs in the district
•  Participate in the sensitization of HIV/AIDS

•  Lack of materials to take up their activities e.g, mobility (bicycle and stationery)
•  Lack of public address system e.g, megaphones
•  Some members in the club who lost their parents during the war lack school materials and school fees.
•  Parents sometimes fear to allow female children to participate fully for fear of pre-marital sex
•  Lack of posters and literature to take up their sensitization programme on HIV/AIDS
•  Lack of funds to run their activities effectively
•  Some members learning skills training lack start-up kits

Issues affecting children in the Kailahun District

General security

•  Frequent attacks – the frequent attacks within the borders of Kailahun district prevent from going to school, and sometimes these kids are abducted.  As such, since they are not trained fighters they are killed in combat.
•  Children are abducted and raped.  Girls are still in the hands of their former 'commandos', because they cannot be accepted by their parents
•  Girls have developed relationships with their so-called commando husbands which they can nolonger destroy because they have two or more kids for these so-called commanders.  Besides their children are regarded as commando children and can only be cared for by their commando fathers.  Parents often reject the responsibility for these children.
•  Girls are raped, impregnated and abandoned.
•  During the process of disarmament, the RUF fighters left their so-called wives in the bush and came out to surrender, as such these girls were not cared for by the DDR programme.  The RUF husbands benefited from whatever was provided by the DDR leaving their so-called wives without benefiting, because they failed to turn up for disarmament.  These so-called wives are presently suffering in the Kailahun district
Lack of trained and qualified teachers because of the location of the district.  Some of the reasons for the lack of teachers are:
    Lack of housing facilities
    Cost of living is very high
    Absence of social amenities
    Poor road infrastructure

Poor learning environment – children are over crowded in classrooms.  This often leads to  disciplinary problems.

Some school buildings lack good roofs.  They are normally covered by tarpaulin.  Sitting accommodation is not adequate.  Children are sent out school because school authorities can nolonger cope with  the high number of children in a classroom, which sometimes lead to confusion among pupils.

Skills training centers and educational institution give priority to ex-child combatants who have destroyed the country.  Skills training centers should accommodate not only the ex-combatants but the community in general.

Children are raped and the perpetrators are not prosecuted in any court of law, because such issues are not normally settled at family level.  Rape is very common in Kailahun district because most of the commandos had many women at their disposal, now that they have lost the opportunity they have decided to take to forceful sex.

When a rape case is reported to the police the ask for money before preparing a referral to the doctors and the doctors cannot react to these cases in the absence of the police report. 

Children in the Kailahun district therefore recommend the provision of machinery  in order to perform their duties efficiently.  Hospitals in the district are poorly equipped to provide for rape cases.

Medical facilities are poor.  Hospitals are ill-equipped
Transport facilities (ambulance) are not available.  People are normally transported in 'hammock' to the nearest hospital. Some of the reasons for the poor medical facilities are thus:-
    Poor road network
    Security situation at the border
    Lack of trained and qualified doctors
    High cost of living
    Area is underdeveloped
    Lack of essential drugs in the few available hospitals

Children were faced with multiple recruitment into armed groups
Early marriage
Single girl mothers
Poor medical facilities leading to high death rate
Child labour
Displaced persons
No school facilities

1. Government and UN agencies should encourage trained and qualified teachers (young graduates) by way of fringe benefits e.g, remote allowances, rent allowances and housing facilities
2. Government / UN agencies to increase the number of schools within the district
3. School furniture should be made readily available to the few schools that are existing
4. Preference should be given to teachers residing in the whole district when it comes to housing facilities
5. Government and UN agencies should make sure that skills training centers are not only open to ex-combatants but also to the community people who have suffered a lot during the ten year rebel war
6. Government and UN agencies should increase the number of hospitals to meet the needs of even the remote villages within the district
7. Hospitals should be equipped with the latest  medical  technology through out the district, again essential drugs should be made readily available
8. Government, UN and INGOs should encourage trained and qualified doctors to reside  within the district.  This can also be done by way of special facilities given to doctors, e.g, rent allowances and other fringe benefits
9. Government and UN agencies should ensure that security within Liberia and Sierra Leone boundary is watertight and be monitored frequently.  Security awareness campaigns should also be done to educate people.
10. The roads within the district should be up graded in order to facilitate the smooth movement  of people and commodities
11. Government should put strong security mechanisms in place within the borders of Sierra Leone
12. Government and UN agencies should rehabilitate already existing school buildings within the Kailahun district.

18th JULY 2003

I must first of all express my gratitude to the Chairman and entire membership of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for this opportunity extended to me to make a presentation on issues relating to the Sierra Leone conflict, particularly the role and/or position of youth in that context.

"Youth" today is now steadily moving up on the agenda as one of the most challenging issues in our national life, and it is hardly surprising that after the end of the war and the holding of the 2002 General and Presidential elections, His Excellency the President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabba considered it necessary to create a Ministry specifically responsible for youth matters and sports. The proliferation of youth organisations and youth coalition groups today, are symptomatic of the high expectations, impatience and desperation of young people who now within the democratic framework have at their disposal (for expression of their grievances) channels that were not available to them in the very recent past.

Those who have preceded me here have given testimonies that have included illustrations of how young men and women came to be brutalized or transformed into killing machines. They have spoken of the role of poverty, sectionalism, exclusion and power. I am also aware that coming in at this stage, it is difficult for me not to repeat some views or comments made or positions held by previous guests of this Commission. I have therefore considered it useful to structure my presentation on the basis of the use and abuse of ideology or pseudo-ideology in influencing the evolution of youth culture in Sierra Leone.
At this point I would request permission from the Commission for me to speak in my private capacity as a citizen of this country and not as a Cabinet Minister. The views I shall be expressing therefore must in no way be considered as policy.

In the geo-political chequerboard of the post-independence era, African regimes and oppositions aligned either to the Western countries or to the Eastern bloc. Very early in our history, the main opposition party, the All People's Congress (APC) started dealings with countries in the Eastern bloc such as the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and, Czechoslovakia.

When the APC took over power in 1968 it did not take long to develop privileged relations with these communist countries, relations that to a large extent influenced the APC party structure in terms of an extremely powerful leadership cult, party colours, slogans and titles ("comrade") and methods of dealing with opposition. One of the highlights of the early seventies was the effort of the APC to consolidate political power. It is within this perspective that one can understand the importance of the APC Youth League. A considerable number of young men and women were offered bursaries, study tours or training opportunities in places like the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, or even Cuba. Among those trained as doctors etc some returned to take leadership roles as activists in the vigilant and extremely powerful Youth League. These were the elite youth among whom were sons or nephews of the President, children of top APC dignitaries, on whose shoulders the continuity of the Party rested. Their situation was legitimised by the offer of posts in the Civil Service and elsewhere, but party business took precedence over the practice of a profession.
The role of these youths in the erection of a police state that reached its highest point during the one-party regime cannot be over emphasized.

The use of violence as a means of silencing opposition was legitimised and vigorously pursued by these elite party youth whose business it was to mobilize for missions of plunder, destruction and death, a less fortunate category of youth that came to be known as thugs. Probably, the most notable of these missions is the attack on F.B.C. campus at 10 a.m. on 31st January 1977 when thugs led by Youth leaders such as Christian Cole, Alfred Akibo Betts, Kemoh Fadika, etc ransacked the campus and brutalised students in the name of the party.

The patterns of recruitment used in the 70s (i.e. drugs, guns, money or the promise of it, and indoctrination with poorly assimilated ideologies) was a shadow of coming events. The stage for the militarization of youth in the 1990s by the RUF and CDF seems to have been prepared by the APC youth activities of the 1970s.

The APC machinery that relied on the retainer ship of thugs-on-call and female yelibas/praise singers at the court of the Party was robust and had to be supported with money, lots of money. And indeed, either through corruption, gifts or bogus contracts a lot of money circulated in the system that was unearned, money that was never based on a real exchange of goods and services. This created a false impression of "good times". This state of affairs would have very serious repercussions on the psyche and behavioural patterns of youth in the future as they increasingly became captive to handouts and the use of shortcuts to wealth instead of developing the culture of hard work and achievement.

All this happened within the general framework of the concept of "national cake"; an innocent expression which on the surface implies an egalitarian distribution of national wealth but which in effect has gastronomical implications that portray the business of governance as an act of eating or better still chopping.

To sustain this false sense of wealth and "a good life", beneficiaries of the system reckoned that detractors had to be crushed; so large numbers of youth were left impoverished, unskilled and in a permanent state of "usability", ready to be transformed into machines of terror and death. Their numbers grew as steadily as they were marginalized and neglected within a collapsing economy.

While the elite APC youth were enjoying the things of political privilege, a new kind of youth activism was being born in the college campuses of the 1970s. This new category of youth activists was characterised by its down-to-earth perception of realities, its closeness or kinship with the under-class, and its vigorous abhorrence of state violence, suppression of freedom and corruption. Student leaders of this period delved into various philosophies of liberation and acquired heroes and spiritual mentors such as Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Black militancy was also in vogue and so we read Eldridge Cleever, Malcolm X, Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko. Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus brought in the modern French revolutionary messages. We listened to Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Students read extensively and intensively outside their course work in order to be able to cope in the long philosophical college room discussions that lasted far into the night.

International Youth influences such as the Woodstock flower generation and the 1968 French student's strike freshened the revolutionary thinking of student leaders and helped to establish the smoking of marijuana as common campus practice. Strangely, this habit helped to create linkages between students and some of the "lumpen" youth in town.

Another significant influence was the presence on almost all campuses of students from Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa who used to be freedom fighters and were versed and tested in liberation ideologies. Names of powerful crowd pullers and compelling orators such as Trust Maposa and the Taruvinga brothers still come to mind, and there were always some Zimbabweans in the student executives.

With the advent of the Hindolo Trye Government in 1976, student thinking and campus climate was ripe for major protests and confrontation. The Hindolo Trye camp had settled for the motto: "The Self' implying the importance of self-esteem and dignity, the awareness of one's rights which should never be put under bondage of any sort. It also implied the right to liberate oneself or for the collective self to undertake its own liberation.

During the 1977 students' demonstrations against the APC regime some people in power took the convenient position that "the whole thing" was being stage-managed by the political opposition. This was false. The revolutionary thinking that had developed on campus had little or no accommodation for the political class, whether government or opposition. Even college administrations suffered permanently from the unrelenting confrontational stance of student movements that saw themselves as crusaders with a mission to uproot a rotten "system". This system was, Government, College authorities, the Apartheid regime, Orthodox religion etc. Reggae culture and music played a crucial role in revving up the spirit of protest among not only students but also the large mass of disadvantaged youth, who had found common ground either in their poor backgrounds or in their marijuana smoking habits Youth had their regular doses of musical hits such as: "System dread," "Legalise it," "Crazy baldheads," "War," and sang with feelings of revolt lines such as "system dread! I say change it! The people them sad, I say change it! The youths them getting mad!"

By the early 1980s two significant developments had taken place: firstly, the APC had succeeded in suppressing all forms of organised opposition by introducing the one-party regime. It was therefore very easy for it to undertake unchallenged extremely costly and suicidal projects such as the hosting of the OAU conference in 1980. A second important development was that many of the revolutionary student leaders had graduated from college and were either teaching in schools all over the country or lecturing at the university. The bonds of college student and high school pupil solidarity that had emerged from the 1977 "No College! No School" protest could now be deepened within a context of deteriorating economic and social conditions presided over by an increasingly indifferent and insensitive political class.

It was in this same context that the new Green Book philosophy of Muhamar Qadaffi was introduced, the latest in a long line of ideological teachings that had been fertilizing student activism. The Libyan ideology was compelling:- it had worked, and had created a new, proud and viable society in Libya; Libya was just one-stop away from Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana. So when the University sacked lecturers or expelled students who were part of the Green Book Study groups in 1985 the seduction of violent opposition to the entrenched repressive system became irresistible. And so some youth activists, former students and others accepted the invitation to go to Libya.

"Power to the people, wealth to the people", are all slogans that the RUF used to summarize their appeal for support and solidarity.
The deplorable conditions into which Sierra Leone had sunk, (i.e. lack of employment, low salaries, acute shortage of basic commodities, collapse of the educational system, poor health facilities etc) had produced a large mass of angry and desperate youth all over the country, youth who had absolutely nothing to lose. The whole political class had failed. Even young men and women in the armed forces, some of whom had been recruited by patronage, were disgruntled. The ruling class more or less abandoned the provinces and turned inwards, attending to their own preoccupations, retreating into their residences, and ignoring like ostriches, the shanties that were steadily creeping up to their respectable neighbourhoods.

This background is essential to an understanding of the speed and ease with which the RUF populist ideas engulfed a huge portion of the youth population of this country. What were these ideas?
Basically, the RUF preached that the wealth of the country belonged to the people - meaning the common man. But the ruling class, including politicians, chiefs, business people and intellectuals, had stolen the wealth while excluding and impoverishing the common man. This conspiracy of the well-to-do over the poor could only end by the use of force. The RUF presented itself therefore as an opportunity for those who were poor, or had been suppressed by local leaders in their towns and villages to reclaim and re-possess their property by violent means. They could now have direct access to the diamonds and gold, which, as they were taught, belonged to them.

Time has now proved to us that yet again, in this populist enterprise, the youth were basically used and manipulated to satisfy the greed and selfish ambitions of their leaders. They ended up being merely slave workers for the "popays" who held on to the gems promising to give them their share when they landed in Freetown to seize power. Power was seized for a while in 1997, but payday never came.

In this typical Orwellian situation, many rebels would soon begin to see through this great betrayal as their mood changed from frustration to exhaustion. I would like to submit that by the time the DDR process had gained momentum many of them had really wanted out.
However, let me return for a while to the populist thinking. We in Sierra Leone should not underestimate its pervasive influence on current mindsets among the less fortunate class of Sierra Leoneans.
Most of us are familiar with that interesting expression commonly employed by young soldiers or rebels during the AFRC regime when they justified their commandeering of vehicles, houses and wives of relatively well-to-do Sierra Leoneans: "Na we money!"

By implication people driving cars and living in nice houses must be robbers and enemies of the common man. Everybody going into public office does so with the express intention of stealing public funds. Such is the level of mistrust today of public officials and the ruling class, felt by large sections of the youth population. Of course, the incidence of corruption in society in the every sector, public, private, religious and other sectors only serves to reinforce this profound mistrust. This mistrust can easily transform itself into anger and bitterness. It is therefore crucial that as we work towards national recovery we bear these things in mind.

I would like to end by making a series of observations relating to the youth situation in our country today, that I believe policy and decision makers must be mindful of, if the peace so painfully gained must be consolidated.

The economic empowerment of our youth today must be considered as a priority and given the same kind of attention as rehabilitation or reconstruction of infrastructure and restoration of authority throughout the territory. Because we have a broken economy, the pace of economic revival can hardly catch up with the high expectations of the youth. Creative news ways of engaging them in gainful activities should no longer be seen as the business of the Ministry of Youth and Sports alone but as a national, collective emergency action involving all development partners. Without wishing to sound alarmist, I would like to submit that an angry, idle and disenchanted youth population is not a good factor in any process of national recovery.

Having said that, one will have to deal with the mindset acquired by youth between the 70s and the 90s, especially during the era of military regimes: that is, the belief that there are shortcuts to prosperity, the denial of the culture of work and the paralysing faith in social parasitism. Contrary to the lyrics of that beautiful song by my friend and brother Steady Bongo , not all "youth men" really want to work. Many of those who manage to retain their jobs go in for other reasons except work. And it is not just the youth, it is the whole society that suffers from this problem.

Another observation relates to a certain perception of democracy that seems to be popular and visible even through the attitudes of people; that is, democracy is unbridled freedom, a kind of free-for-all system. Whenever there is a military regime, there is order and discipline but as soon as democracy is restored it is considered as a relief and a general licence for indiscipline. It is crucial that for young people who within a ten-year period lived in successive contexts of the law, a morality, absurdity, and peace, a whole re-education on the basic notions and practices of democracy be envisaged. I am happy that several NGOs have civic and peace education in their programmes.

The O.G. (Original Gangster) culture that is sweeping through our youth, especially the adolescent population, is cause for concern because of its content of hard drugs, violence, and sex. We know that it was during the war that Sierra Leone became a market for hard drugs and that the trade continues today behind the fayade of spare parts shops, video centres or even church missions located at specific areas in Freetown. The copying of back street American lifestyles constitutes a serious risk that needs to be addressed and it is really hoped that the gun and gang culture that normally accompanies the drug trade will not be allowed to take root in this society.

However, it will be misleading to say that the Sierra Leonean youth are without hope or a future. Our youth population displays very talented young men and women everywhere. In sports, Eunice Barber rose to world class in athletics; Mohamed Kallon and Paul Kpaka are defending the national colours of our country so well. And recently a totally homegrown team qualified for the U-17 football championship. In music Jimmy B, Vicky Amara, the late reggae Kabba have done extremely well. There is a group of young Internet practitioners, named "IEARN" who have just won second place in a world competition on LC.T. The talents undoubtedly are there, but what we need now is basically resources, encouragement and role models. Good role models are becoming hard to find and as I said before all the youths tend to see, real or not, are corrupt and unreliable people.

I believe that there is a need now for a frank generational dialogue to be engaged so that the perception of youths about people, system and things could be reorganised in the light of our efforts to bring a positive change.

I would end by highlighting the positive role that religion can play in shaping the lives of our young people today. Already, more and more young people are being drawn for spiritual solace and comfort to religious movements. The advantage here is to, among other things of course, restore a sense of what is good and what is bad in a society that had gone completely amoral. It is because this extraordinary potential that religion has to bring change, that one would like to see religious missions and groups in more positive socio-developmental programmes instead of the current overwhelming emphasis by some religious formations on prayer and worship.

Indeed, finally, let me congratulate the entire Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the good job being done. I must confess that at some stage some of us were skeptical about the timeliness of the Commission's work and the willingness of victims and ex-combatants to come out openly with the truth.

Your tact, care and professionalism have established trust and confidence in your institution. It is therefore my prayer that your efforts will be a major contribution to the project of rebuilding this country and the creation of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Sierra Leone. I thank you very much for listening.


Our Commissioners, fellow citizens, our facilitators, I wish to continuously embrace the far-sightedness and positive resolutions of the TRC. Under the auspices of the RUFP, I wish to express sympathy for the war that led to the mixed feelings of the children and youths during the one-decade war in Sierra Leone.

We are aware of the notion that Children and youths were cast out of their parents either forcefully or through conflict of motives by the parents (which, is which baby or child).

Some children were taken off due to the lack of food at homes of the parents. The lack of food affairs captured most fighters and civilians too.

Having heard my colleagues talk on the topic: Children and Youths, I am in deep regret for those that fell victims during and after the war.
The bench I am occupying right now, is a bench produced by God for me to speak nothing but the truth on what I know. Today, I am not here to only speak but to also teach how some of the incidents occur. I will also highlight issues on resolutions, suggestions and plead for mercy if necessary.

How were these children and youths captured?

Everybody was captured in one way or the other. Cpl. Foday Saybana Sankoh himself was captured by his creative thinking that only through arms the corrupt governments shall be washed away. Mr. Sankoh after some years started capturing members for his goal through motivations, sensitisations and mobilisations. For those captured during the war, they were caught at various points or place.
At those places, some were suckers (taking breast) while some were left behind because the mothers and fathers were not able to carry all the children.

RUFP is aware of the fact that most children and youths have been deprived either domestically or through other ways. Most children have left schools. Some do not fear their parents any longer. Considering the teachers in developed countries, they are to be respected by both parents and students.

Most children were affected through forceful jobs just to get their daily bread from those who captured them.

Some were looked at quantitatively (growth above age) and were given heavy loads to carry.

However, characters of these children could not be levied on the war. Some parents are born rude. With these characters, the children inherit it as the community prior to the war also played major roles on the ill practices of these young people.

Most of the children were already reluctant to take control from their parents before the incursion of the war. We need to accept the blames as good citizens.

Some children and youths lost their lives at food finding missions by either falling into armed bushes by enemies or an immediate attack on the food convoy.

The RUFP showers regret that the two major options: Education and Employment were completely erased during the war.

However, we are requesting that as the war is completely over, the employments and education of our young folks remain a primary issue for all citizens. We need to encourage those that are capable. Today, we have in the world doctorates that people feel they are liabilities.

All the victims are to be encouraged so long as they fell victims of the war. They should go to school. Amputees have requested on so many occasions but the responds are always very little.

For education, we need to force all school going children if we need good future for Sierra Leone.

Personally, I will suggest that we include cell classes within the working groups of the TRC to educate the children on the chaotic effects of war in the universe. We can do this through professionals, the military, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Gender and Children'saffairs. We are to include the professionals who are easily controlled and who can also control their emotional poises with a brief psychological knowledge.

We should avoid the importations of war toys and encourage educational toys.

GOSL should arrest through police or communities children absolutely under vagrance during school hours.

Remember that not all children and youths handle arms but are all in Freetown stating nothing negatives on GOSL not doing anything.

Those that fought and had not been reintegrated must be forced to go back to their villages and do farming. The reintegrated ones should be encouraged job wise.

Political parties should join hands to find solutions to problems that our children and youths are presently facing. They should stop roaming the streets of Freetown.

We as politicians have business people that can host our brothers and sisters as securities, store cleaners and or statistic positions to upgrade the business.

Remember that the more we go with the slogan "it is not my business", the more bandits we achieve.

Parents must also be rigid and not to pet them. They are of course your children. We are indebted to bringing up good children.

Submission made to the TRC by GCRV Network
presented by Rosina Conteh, Child Rights Coordinator CCSL
17th June 2003

Chairman and Commissioners of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Senior Citizens of our Republic here present, Fellow Sierra Leoneans.  I am here to share with you the work of the Gross Child Rights Violations (GCRV) Network.

The Gross Child Rights Violation (GCRV) Network was set up in April 1998 in response to the high number of violations against children during the war.  The main aim of the programme was to set up a structure that would monitor and advocate fro the promotion and protection of the human rights of children in Sierra Leone.

With the approval of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs (MSWGCA) and support from UNICEF, the GCRV Secretariat was established at the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL).  Council was then charged with the responsibility of coordinating the activities of a network of NGOs, grassroot members and line ministries that work towards promoting and protecting the rights of children.  All reports on violations/abuses of children's rights are to be channeled through the secretariat where the information including statistics should be collated for dissemination among partners both nationally and internationally.  Reports containing issues of vital concern are usually raised up with the appropriate authorities to effect changes in the lives of the children.

Another responsibility of that secretariat is to monitor, document and report on GCRV throughout the country.

There are currently six monitors based in all four regions (2 in the North, 2 East, 1 South and 1 Western Area) to serve as focal points for reporting violations/abuses.  The monitors report on the violations of children's rights are brought to their attention  by family members, children themselves, partners and newly established Child Welfare Committees on monthly basis.

During the last quarter of 2002, GCRV Secretariat after series of consultations with UNICEF agreed on a new strategy on protecting children's rights.  It was agreed that community members should be fully involved in the protection of children within their communities.  Series of workshops were held throughout the country and issues discussed included what are gross child rights violations, how such violations hamper the healthy development of the child and the community and how they could be prevented or minimized.  Chiefs, religious leaders, teachers, market women, children and other community members participated in the workshops.

Feedbacks from communities confirm GCRV's statistics that the level of child abuse is high and is on the increase.  Every community has stories of children being beaten mercilessly, sexually abused, and exposed to drugs and alcohol abuse.

Others are used as child labourers, street beggars and some forced to work as prostitutes against their will.  The shocking fact of these violations in post war Sierra Leone is that they are committed by individuals that children trust – family members, neighbours, relatives and family friends.

So what is the appropriate response to this huge and worrying problem?

GCRV Network believes that while it is fundamentally important for child protection agencies to ensure that a child who has fallen victim to abuse access medical, psycho-social and legal assistance, it is equally more important to work on strategies that aim at preventing the abuse occurring in the first place.  The old adage 'Prevention is Better than Cure' is GCRV Network's mantra for this year.

In this vein, GCRV Network has set up sixteen Child Welfare Committees throughout the country.  Each committee has been trained on child rights, gross child rights violations, the need for monitoring and reporting all child rights violations using the CRC as a yardstick.
Committees comprise of chiefs, Christian and Muslim leaders, teachers, market women, youth representatives, children and  NGO workers.
In most communities, representatives from the FSU, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, the armed forces and the prison service pledge their support and regular attendance in advisory capacity at committee meetings.


Before the war
Before the war the GCRV programme was not in existences.  People might not have been aware of or willing to bring to the public notice some of  these violations, where to report and who should advocate for them.  Many children must have suffered in silence.

During the war
During the 10 year civil war, there were lots of atrocities perpetrated against innocent civilians by the fighting forces.  Women and children were the most affected.  Most children became of violations such as : sex slavery, forced recruitment, amputation, child labour, child pregnancy, abduction, prostitution, economic exploitation, murder/killing, illegal detention etc.

Atrocities perpetrated against children by adults and sometimes children themselves are enormous. They included sexual violence, abduction, forced recruitment etc.

Both government and rebel forces used children to fight a war, which was not of their (children) own making.  In 1994, due to persistent advocacy, government was forced to demobilize all child soldiers (vigilantes) from the war front.

Between 1998 and 2000, over 4,000 cases of war related violations were documented by the GCRV Secretariat with the help of other NGOs.  Reports showed that thousands of children were abducted from their homes especially in the Western Area of the country during the January invasion and taken to unknown destinations where they were abused in various ways – some used as spies, sex slaves, combatants, labourers etc.  many children lost their lives and some of the girls were impregnated and are now mothers with children they cannot care for.  Hence the issue of girl-mothers today who are children themselves that need the love and care of their own parents.

At Present
Since the end of the war, the problems facing the children of Sierra Leone have changed rather than diminished, whilst children are nolonger at risk of abduction and recruitment, statistics show that in post war Sierra Leone children are at a higher risk of domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation than they were before the war.

Everyone, either directly or indirectly is guilty of abusing or violating the rights of children in this country : viz

• Delays in passing bills into law has rendered the CRC dysfunctional.  Many people refuse to avide by the provisions of the CRC because it has not been incorporated into our national  laws.
• The government has not been able to adequately cater for the needs of children, hence the high number of street children in the country and the high rate of prostitution among teenagers
• The continued imprisonment of child offenders alongside their adult counterparts only helps to increase the crime rate as such children tend to imbibe more negative attitudes while in prison.  This contravenes the juvenile justice code, which makes provision for special treatment of children in conflict with the law.

Delays in court proceeding undermine efforts to convict alleged perpetrators of children's rights.  Out of a total of 64 cases of gross violations charged to court by January 2001 and December 2001, only seven were committed to the High Court.  38 cases were active in court while 26 remained dormant.  The victims and their relatives must have probably lost interest due to long periods of adjournments, out of court settlement, witnesses refusing to testify in court etc.

Between January and December 2002, over 1,645 cases of neglect/abandonment, rape, economic exploitation, violence related injury etc. were reported at various FSU branches in Police Stations throughout the country.  Despite efforts made by CPAs, the rate of domestic violence, sexual abuse, economic exploitation, child labour against children is still high.  Every week GCRV Secretariat and other  partners document some cases of violence against children.

For the period 2002 and 2003, GCRV's reponse to these problems is twofold.  It focuses firstly on child protection and secondly on the prevention of abuses.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child lies at the heart of the GCRV programmee.  In 2003, GCRV's focus is in producing resource materials on the CRC for distribution in schools, communities and amongst child protection partners.

It intends to continue its awareness raising, campaign, publicizing child rights issues on the radio and television network, organizing rallies on gross child rights abuses especially sexual violence against children in the four headquarter towns and producing quarterly newsletter that highlights child protection concerns. It also plans to train its staff and partners on the National Laws as they relate to children, international human rights law and the effective use of the CRC in monitoring and prevention initiatives.

These broad categories of beneficiaries of this project have been identified and they are: (a) Children in Abusive Situation
(b) Communities at chiefdom level and wards in the Western Area
(c) Network Partners.


• The monitoring and documentation has helped to determine the high rate of violations perpetrated against children during and after the war.
• Community sensitization has raised public awareness of the need to protect and promote children's rights. Awareness raising activities carried out by GCRV through Jingles, radio TV discussions, posters, workshops, meetings in schools and market places, have yielded highly positive results with communities (Western Area and the Provinces) responding promptly in providing information on cases of child rights violations whenever they occur. Parents, guardians, children, concerned neighbours, visit the GCRV Secretariat almost on a daily  basis to report such violations.

Evidence of this could be found in the statistics collected. See attached Appendix.

In 2001, a total of 967 cases of violations were documented.

In 2002, the number rose to 1,645, a direct outcome of the sensitization exercises carried out in the communities The setting up of the CWCs has further enhanced information sharing, networking, monitoring and reporting of gross child rights violations.    The establishment of the CWCs, which serve as watchdogs in the various communities, is also helping to lower the rate of violations perpetrated against children. People now talk openly about these violations and are willing to report such cases whenever they occur. In this way potential perpetrators are kept in fear of the consequences of committing such abuses.

• Community members are now directly involved in monitoring violations against children's rights and ensuring that punitive measures are meted out to the perpetrators.
• Positive actions taken to protect victims who seek legal redress by providing them with legal representation. Medical assistance is provided to victims of sexual violence.
• Advocacy with the Office of the Chief Justice has led to sexual offences being prosecuted in closed chambers

•  At the moment Sierra Leone has no clear-cut definition of a child.  Various acts exists for various offences relating to children. These are sometimes so confusing that they hardly leave room for full legal redress.  The most controversial of these is the customary law as it relates to marriages. It offers no age limit or clear definition of a child. Children as young as ten years are given in marriage in many local communities with impunity.

•  In most areas of the country children are left in the streets uncared for.  Some are sent to the streets to sell instead of being in school, thus denying these children especially girls their right to education. This has been and is still the reason why there are so many cases of rape and other forms of child abuses.  Sending children out to sell exposes them to the danger of becoming sexually exploited by adults.

• Unnecessary delays in court proceedings through long adjournments often undermine GCRV Network's effort in seeking redress for rape victims through the court.

•  Many rape cases are settled out of court either as a result of some financial benefit from alleged perpetrators or in the name of maintaining good relationship within family circles.

•  Free medical support for victims of rape is not readily available.  There is a very limited number of agencies providing assistance to a huge caseload of rape victims.  Health institutions with the exception of Connaught Hospital demand fees from rape victims for medical examination. Where the parents are poor, victims suffer.    This often leads to the loss of physical evidence to corroborate charges preferred against perpetrators in court.

•  Victims as well as their parents, out of fear of stigmatization and ignorance often refuse to report cases of rape to the police on time for necessary action to be taken. This leaves the victim suffering in `silence' and perpetrators going unpunished.

•  The absence of proper 'remand homes' or 'approved schools' for child offenders leads to the incarceration of child offenders together with their adult counterparts in the same cells.  This is a breach of the Code of Conduct of the Juvenile Justice System.


The TRC should encourage the Government to take the following actions:

  1. Incorporating the CRC into our national laws.
  2. Media houses must be more sensitive in reporting cases especially cases of rape where names of victims were mentioned in newspapers.
  3. Government to strengthen line ministries to enable them play more leading roles in the protection of the rights of the child.
  4. Government to set up an Independent Commission on the rights and protection of the child.
  5. In order to build confidence and security for the child offender/victim we recommend that an independent counselling body/unit be set up prior to Juvenile Court sittings.
  6. Recommend that a provision be made for the safeguard and protection of children during armed conflicts. The use of children as combatants should be made a crime against humanity.
  7. Recommend the provision of legal aid for child victims and offenders.
  8. Recommend legislation dealing with a minimum age of marriage to cover all forms of marriages in order to protect children from early marriages.
  9. Special training of the Police Force and the Judiciary on the protection and rights of the child and how to deal with cases involving children.
  10. TRC should put a mechanism in place that will prevent future wars in the country.
  11. Those found guilty of committing atrocities against    children must be brought to book.




Mr. chairman, Commissioners, the Forth Estate, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

I am Thomas Ngolotamba Katta, the National Coordinator for The Centre for Coordination Youth Activities – CCYA in Sierra Leone.

This Centre was established in September 1998 as a non-political, non-profit youth serving Agency working towards youth empowerment through efficient and effective coordination and capacity buyilding of youth groups and organizations utilizing participatory intervention while cooperating and collaborating with youth promoting organizations in  and outside Sierra Leone.

Our target groups are Youth and Women.  We operate a field office in Port Loko at No. 7 Kambia Road.

Our organization is a coalition member of the National Forum for Human Rights NFHR, Network on Collaborative  Peace building NCP in Sierra Leone.

1.1    The nature of work we do can be categorized as follows:

We monitor Human rights issues around youths and women.  We also do Human Rights Education in schools and youth communities.
We have been involved in the activities of the Transitional Justice mechanisms – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Court and our organization is a member of working groups of these institutions in Sierra Leone.

• Done several sensitization workshops on TRC/Special Court. 

We are involved in education and training on Democratic issues and Good Governance.  With support from the National Democratic Institute NDI and in collaboration with Search for Common Grounds – Talking Drums Studio (SFCG/TDS), we trained youths in Sierra Leone to monitor the elections, campaign for violence free elections and also mobilize youths to register and vote.  This ensured youths actively participating in observing all stages of the election process including the pre, post election period and polling day to ensure a non-violent  free and fair election atmosphere.

We still continue to be committed to the local Governance issues and will  be doing a training on that before the end of the year in all chiefdoms in Sierra Leone.

We are involved in identifying early warning signs as means of averting conflicts. We do Conflict Resolution through Dialogue and Confidence Building

• Involved in a three days youth peace symposium in Makeni during RUF occupation in collaboration with CCP, DDR and UNAMSIL as a means of creating sustained contact between the warring factions,  - June 2001

• Involved in building confidence between the Dollar boys and the National Union of Nigerians in Sierra Leone after the death of Jam Jalloh, a youth engaged in petty trading  - July 2002

• Training for Kono District youths on Youth Leadership and Social Change, a confidence building method through training in capacity building and coalition building – March 2003

We are involved in HIV/AIDS sensitization in youth communities and secondary schools in the Western Area and Northern Province

• Peer educators club in 11 schools in the Western Area funded by WCRWC

• HIV/AIDS sensitization and micro credit scheme for poor rural women in Port Loko district for 100 young women – funded by CARE

Int. through the Canadian fund for local Initiatives
• Working with commercial sex workers (young girls) in the Western Area

Working with youths in Kafu Bullom, Dibia and TMS chiefdoms in Pork Loko District on Food production and environmental safety practices campaigns.

• July 2002, 500 acres of food crop production – rice, corm and groundnut

• Support given to 300 youths with planting materials this planting season

• Supported onion production by youth in the Kafu Bullom chiefdoms

• Provided food for agriculture to youth farmers from WFP

Youth are trained in life skills such as tailoring, construction/building or sent into programmes organized by partners as apprentice to learn.  Also from institutions like NIC, IPAM, MMCE&T, FBC and Foreign institutions students come into the centre to learn from our participatory interventions.  They also write dissertations on topical issues related to youth work.

We are involved in a lot of research dealing with the welfare of youth in Sierra Leone and the sub region.

• Last year we did a participatory Research study with Adolescents and youths in Sierra Leone – Precious Resources: Adolescents in the reconstruction of Sierra Leone – funded by WCRWC

• We also release a magazine on quarterly basis called the “Youth voice” as our advocacy medium.

• We are one of the lead organizations advocating for enactment of a National Youth development Policy and the establishment of Independent National Youth Council

• Created a data on over 300 Youth Organizations and their development activities within their areas in the Western Area

We work with women's groups in the Western Area and Northern province.  Already we have over 22 women's groups in Port Loko District and are currently undergoing training on HIV/AIDS sensitization and Micro credit scheme.

Following Sierra Leone's independence from British rule in 1961, politicians preached well being for all, but the country remained one of the world's poorest, and few youth could find ways to create change.

For decades, all young people hoped for was the fulfillment of their basic rights – a chance to go to school, to get health care, to find jobs, to participate in the life of their communities, to be respected and listened to by stakeholders in government and to live without insecurity.

But the political system was undemocratic, and  resources and power remained in the hands of a few.

Youths became import only when there were elections and they were dumped after excellent thuggery and barbaric lives.

We have seen the children of government officials attending expensive private schools while most of us could not even go to school say a young RUF fighter.

In the 1970s the All Peoples Congress APC one party system was dictatorial, totalitarian and repressive.

Youths and students called for reforms that could lead to better education for young people and a better standard of living for all.  Sierra Leone rich with mineral  resources- Diamond, Bauxite, Titanium – and plush with beautiful coastal water and verdant, fertile countryside that could provide for everyone but yet these hopes are still in oblivion.

Because students and lumpen youth demonstrated in 1977 – APC became more lethal and arrested a lot of students and youths and detained them, victimized some of their family members and banned student and youth activities.  This led to a lot of disillusioned young people  whose hopes were dampened with no prospects and few alternatives, to join a “movement” against the government.

Students were now getting scholarships depending on their allegiance with the APC one party system and the country was governed on the ticket of  “WHO KNOW YOU” .  Several other students were sent out of college every year as a result of Administrative victimization.

The young people see the decade long war in Sierra Leone as fundamentally about adolescents and youth – their issues and their involvement.  Rebel groups, which some young people joined as a last resort in their struggle to change the political system, perverted the course of non-violent student/youth Activists, who had championed reforms,dragging young people into conflict and compelling them to commit atrocities against each other and their communities.  Young people on both sides of the conflict became perpetrators and victims of the war, while the spoils of the war,  diamonds in particular, remained controlled by adults who  had no intention of fulfilling young people's rights.

Youths have been violated all through out before, during and even after the conflict.  This is a worrying situation right now because the politicians still continue to give lip service to the issue of concern to young people. There is still need for the consolidation of peace since disarmament is surely not everlasting peace.

Also the absence of a National Youth Development Policy – neglect of youth issues in this country by almost all governments exacerbated the involvement of young people into the war and the reckless disregard of their welfare especially around the issues of Education, poverty and living standard energize them to become more violent.  Regardless of age, gender, location and experiences with fighting forces, young people are concerned about the lack of educational opportunities, poverty and lack of healthcare, employment and other basic necessities.  These are the same issues young activists had spoken about generations before and that youth organizations speak out about today.

Recognizing that they were at the center of the war, youth believe they must be at the center  of peace making and reconstruction. Without better support and respect for their rights, young people will become a major source of new unrest.

As the concept of “might makes rights” ruled  the wartime period, many young people engaged in stealing and looting as a matter of course and the siege that constituted their normal life.  Today, without livelihood possibilities, positive support for change or a functioning police structure, many young people still depend on stealing as a way of life.  Sexual violence, another form of asserting power – derived in part from a lack of  control – was wide spread in the conflict and continues as social protections including cultural m=norms prohibiting such behavior, have broken.

Young people say that girls and women especially, are engaged in prostitution in large numbers before and after the war.  Many resorted to prostitution mainly out of necessity, describing their inability to find support without submitting to the power of males who control resources, loss of self-esteem and hopelessness have also driven girls to prostitution, compelling them to place their lives at risk or otherwise confirm their felling of degradation and worthlessness.  Some believe that the proliferation of commercial sexual violence perpetrated against girls and women during the war perpetuating a state of mind and on explosion of willing customers, including peacekeepers.

“Ghetto life” described how they fought their troubles by smoking marijuana and taking other drugs like sedatives, capsules, crackers, cocaine,etc.  This was a legacy of successive governments that had nothing to offer youths but to convert their 'energies' to cause havoc during their political campaigns and after that they are dumped and forgotten about.  It them became a rally point for youths to mediate over their predicaments.

Young people say girls especially marry when they are young in order to  find economic sustenance and survival.  This may also be connected to the initiations into traditional societies, elderly males in these communities help to pay their ritual costs and in turn request their hands in marriage.  Such options may be well received by the young girls and their families, with few resources or other  options.  Culturally marriage also might provide young girls with a sense of belonging and a re-establishment of tradition.

All these have negative effect on the youth and stay with them for a long period of time.

• The GOSL must strengthen Nations legal frameworks to protect the rights of children, adolescents and youth and should immediately pass into law the National Youth Development Policy, and also enact child's rights law and eliminate gender discrimination under the law
• The GOSL and others working on judicial and legislation reform should make a priority improvement on protection from sexual violence and exploitation and forced marriage under Sierra Leone law.  They must also work to ensure women's rights to own property.
• The GOSL should ensure equal access to education, livelihood opportunities and property ownership for girls  to help prevent sexual exploitation.
• The GOSL and the International Community should establish and support a special  fund for war victims as stipulated in Article XXIX of the Lome Peace Accord (LPA).
• Donors should fund youth groups and Agencies directly, and International NGOs, Government Ministreies and UN Agencies should work with them on programming and capacity building.  Holistic programmes must be giving priority for adolescents and youths that  address the range of education, livelihood, psychosocial, participation, health and protection of their rights.
• The 1991 Constitution has  a lot of ambiguities that militate against the ordinary citizens and therefore needs urgent reforms.   E.g. Where the Constitution restrains taking the Government to Court for any action that might cause problem to the people... this law encourages impunity for Government officials.
• Government should create avenue for youths to get a lot of recreation – games and sporting activities that will engage them.  There is  also need for extra moral studies for adolescents and youths in Sierra Leone.


The fratricidal war that lasted for almost eleven years in our Country was an effect of cumulative causes.

It would be recalled by honest Sierra Leoneans that by the mid 1980's, after the Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U.)meeting held in Sierra Leone, the Political and socio-economic situations were such that there was bound to be a change, either through the Siaka Stevens regime's willingness to adopt reform (which was not forth coming) or the regime risked having itself kicked out of power. In the absence of the former, the latter became inevitable.

Hence, it wasn't a surprise that the N.P.R.C junta government had such massive spontaneous support on that faithful day April 29, 1992 when a handful of Young and inexperienced Officers of the National Army marched on their benefactors and seized control of power.

For the same reason, when an ex -Corporal of the former Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces, Foday Sankoh announced in 1991, that the then President Joseph Saidu Momoh should either allow Multi-Parry Democratic Elections or face an attack in 90 days.  Most Sierra Leoneans (who were already saying in especially public places such as pubs, transports etc that only war will solve our Country's woes.) breathe a sigh of relief expecting that at long last someone was standing up to what was then perceived as an all powerful oligarchy whose foundation was built on mal- governance, corruption, ineptitude, greed, tribalism sycophancy etc.

This was the State of mind of the majority of Sierra Leoneans, who had to suffer under one of the most autocratic and ruthless regimes in the Continent. Specialised in the silencing of every opposition, the A.P.C. government conducted it's first elections in 1973 . In almost a11 areas especially the Northern region, the A.P. C. Candidates through institutionalised violence were returned unopposed after their Sierra Leone Peoples' Parry ( S.L.P.P.) opponents were kidnapped and locked up in unknown locations during Nominations.

In the absence of political competition and or tolerance, one would have looked forward to the Judiciary as perhaps an area of hope being the arm of Governance that should have mitigated and ensured that justice was done. Unfortunately, Siaka Stevens did not stop at creating a puppet Executive entirely at his service, he infested every facet of the lives of our People and Country. Every structure of State was rendered impotent or redundant, particularly the Justice system.
The late Mr. Stevens who by 1971 , three Years after his ascendancy to power, wielded the authority of an Executive President, having transformed the state of Sierra Leone into a Republican status, had the prerogative to appoint Judges to the superior courts including the supreme court of Sierra Leone.

Mr. Stevens was by this authority able to appoint men of mean character, men who were content to satisfy their greed at the expense of the Nation and People. Men who killed their consciences at the beck and call of Siaka Stevens, himself poised to destroy every thing of virtue and value in our beloved Country as long as it ensured his stay in power.

Judges appointed to such high offices any where in the World, are expected to be above board. Unfortunately, Mr. Stevens' appointed Judges were reduced to mere sycophants, who went out of their way to obtain A.P.C. Party cards to satisfy one of the criteria to become a Steven's Man. Under the circumstances, it was insanity to expect Justice. Thus, Mr. Stevens effectively silenced justice. In its place came the . . culture of fear and silence. The Avenue for every form of redress including political redress was stifled.

Consequently, as elections' violence and mal-practices, assassinations of perceived dissidents , state sponsored robbery, the whole sale loot of our resources ( diamonds, gold etc) by politicians whom it appeared had the blessing of the Executive, became the order of the day. There was nowhere to turn to.

The scenario became limited to two choices: you either join the looting and destruction of the State that was set in motion by men who had no regard for the welfare of the vast majority of our People whose living standard was deteriorating by the day, or you respect the call of your conscience. I chose the latter.

However, even before the 1980's some of our compatriots (the so-called technocrats) who are still shamelessly hovering around , opted to join the gang of State criminals especially from Fourah bay College which was supposed to be the citadel of learning.

Hence, it became very convenient for them to say 'if you can't beat them join them', even when the suffering masses were groaning. It also became fashionable for them to say that every body was one Party, implying that everybody was A.P.C. I beg to differ. I know and I am convinced beyond doubt that A.P.C. was not the Nation of Sierra Leone and therefore could not have been a Nationality. Therefore, I like others with conscience or rather who did not allow material lust to cloud their Consciences refused to compromise and be categorised as A.P.C. by succumbing to the path of destruction as set forth by the Late President Siaka Stevens and his successor Mr Joseph Saidu Momoh.

Except for those who directly or other wise benefited from the wanton economic destruction caused by the plunder of the State of Sierra Leone during the A.P.C era, but for the bulk of the People; the Period of A.P.C. 2 decades rule created the objective conditions for the Criminal war that was carried out by the so-called Revolutionary United Front ( R.U.F).

Before the advent of the A.P.C in 1968, the Sierra Leone economy was relatively among the best economies of some of the emerging new states from Colonialism. Certainly better off then Singapore and Malaysia in South East Asia, Colombia in South America and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. It is in record that Sierra Leone supplied the seedlings of the thriving Pa1m kernel oil trade for which Malaysia is renown today. And about the same period, Sierra Leone exported food and cash crops including our staple food rice.

However, the reign of the A.P.C was marred with scandals of corruption such as the sales of ship load of Fertiliser by a government Minister. The out bust of the infamous Squandergate and vouchergate etc. The shortage of basic commodities such as rice and fuel that became the fastest way to enrich government ministers and Public Servants.  This situation deteriorated to an unbearable state where it became survival of the fittest. And such words as "ose den tie cow na dae e go eat grass" became a belief and a way of life for many Sierra Leoneans . In the process, the predators became so used to eating the grasses that it became very difficult for them to stop until they were toppled.

It became so bad as a result of corruption that many of our Young People ended up in cells in Europe and America awaiting deportation either due to illegal entry or for crimes committed in their search for survival as it was literally impossible for them to survive in their Country of Birth - Sierra Leone. They became the replica of the Trans-Atlantic Slaves albeit willingly.

At the same time, children of the members of the clique in Power were in the best Institutions of Learning abroad, although a good number of them ended-up being drug addicts. Because they had too much money to spend, they looked for where to spend some and drugs became the most attractive since it offered the pleasure only lazy People like the Gentry can enjoy. Easy come Easy go.

They were the sons and daughters of the Rulers of Perhaps the most potentially Wealthy State in Africa south of the sahel. The land of iron and diamond which by that time had become known as one of the  . . bastions of Institutionalised corruption in Africa, where the bulk of the wealth of the Country was in the Hands of foreigners who had no interest in the welfare of the state and it's People. Where misappropriation of Public funds was greeted with admiration from above and apathy from below. "God dae" became the only consolation for many Sierra Leoneans who when they attempted to speak were arrested by orders from above.

This whole country was reduced to one big hell on Earth, where it was impossible for the average Sierra Leonean to have two meals a day let alone three. Where Education became an out right privilege enjoyed only by the affluent. Where prostitution became the means of support for families that were lucky to have girl Child. Where it was a fortune for public workers to receive salaries after three months and for private sector operatives to make do with coins for legal tender transactions in the absence of notes in the currency circulation of the country. Even to have the coins one had to pay commission to Bank officials. Every- thing was in short supply to facilitate corruption.

The love that existed hitherto when every body was some body else's keeper disappeared leaving in it's trail hate, which has today reached the point where we now refer to it as pull him down (P.H.D.)syndrome.
As is obvious, philosophical statements are coined to suit every age of man the World over. In Sierra Leone it wasn't different. Thus, it was Mr. Stevens the architect of the destruction of the State of Sierra Leone who in trying to justify the superiority of Wealth over Education said "den sae Bailor Barrie you sae Davidson Nicol."

When Mr. Stevens and his cohorts were propagating these negations they may have parochially understood them to mean politics. Hence, to blatantly lie, deceive, steal and keep our people ignorant became simply POLITICS for them. Politics was reduced to the manipulation of the People to submission. It became common place to see politicians encouraging young people into drug addiction and alcoholism as long as they can support them to return to power to continue the loot of the state.

But should we blame the Young ones?, when those who preceded us and us who lived before them offered nothing to them that they can be proud of ?.It is a good thing to ask what one does for his Country but one is firstly born into a world, that world received us based on what others have contributed to making it good for us. Therefore, we are equally under obligation to leave our contributions for others so that they too should be able to build on it for the unborn. Failure to do so becomes a shame!. And it leaves a situation of backwardness to those yet unborn.

The question then is what have we left for those after us and those to be born? In an answer to this question, I at a tender age vowed to make my modest contribution to humanity and avoid being a useless consumer.

It was against this background, that I became identified with what could aptly have been described as the left in the Politics of Sierra Leone because of my consistent criticism of the then A.PC. regime in relation to the welfare of the People of Sierra Leone.

An Expression of Conscience in my opinion is the highest level of conviction and the raison d'etre of my living. This is a very strong belief which I held and continue to hold and if I am to be understood in my sincere attempt to espouse the truth of what I lived and knew about militias and armed groups within the context of the sierra Leone war, I must be understood from this premise.

Let me firstly take this opportunity to register my thanks and appreciation to the People and Government of Sierra Leone, the International Community and the Chairman and Members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for providing the opportunity to us (especially some of us who may have been wrongly portrayed by our detractors whose speciality it is to malign others and in the process distort history), to speak the truth as it happened. I must confess that I have patiently looked forward to this opportunity in order to set the records straight.

Born to Mr & Mrs Jabez Adjei Reider in Freetown, where I spent all my boyhood years, I attended the Mereweather Road Municipal School and the Prince of Wales Secondary school respectively between 1963 and 1976.

Following the Students' unrest across the Country in 1977 and it's failure to address the totalitarian and undemocratic rule of the Steven's regime, I officially joined the Sierra Leone Peoples' Party where I worked directly under the late Alhaji Sanusi Mustapha and became the official Party's polling agent at Model Secondary School polling station in favour of Mr.Eutace King the then Candidate in the General Elections in 1977.

Also as a direct consequence of the students' unrest, a good number of Students and Youth activists dispersed all over the world into different countries for fear of the almighty hand of persecution of the A.P.C .regime. As one such Youth activist, I had the privilege of benefiting from a scholarship granted to me by the Government of the Republic of Guinea where I offered a course in History and philosophy at the Institute Poly Technique Gamal Abdel Nasser currently the University of Conakry.

Meanwhile, among the comrades who remained in the Country particularly those at the University of Sierra Leone-Fourah bay College. an organisation was formed to be known as PAN AFRICAN UNION (PANAFU). Among the founding members of PANAFU were Richie Olu Gordon, Cleo Hancils,  Jef Bowley -Williams to name but a few and some Youth activists including myself, Sahid Kamara, etc all of whom became members of PANAFU.

One of the major objectives of PANAFU was to rally support of progressive Sierra Leoneans with the aim of politically educating .the oppressed people with a view of providing a sound ideological alternative to what was then the undemocratic and repressive regime of the APC Oligarchy.

The Pan African Union (S.l) was created on a marxist- Leninist ideological platform Hence the setting up of a number of ideological study cells within Freetown and later the provinces to Politically train potential cadres. One such cell was meeting at 71 Blackhall road. This was the cell that operated between 1986 and 1987, from where Mr. Foray Sankoh was recruited by Panafu.

In 1985, some Lecturers and Students were expelled from Fourah bay College . This group of disgruntled students had forged a link with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya where they had to travel to a couple of times. After the expulsion, the Students' group eventually resurfaced in Accra, Ghana where they were absorbed into the University of Lagon.
By 1987 the link between the Students in Accra and Tripoli  had reached a point where an understanding was established between the two parties to offer Political leadership training to Sierra Leoneans in Libya. It was then that a delegation of Students from Accra met some Sierra Leoneans from PANAFU in Conakry to discuss matters relating to the subject matter.

It would appear that these delegates from PANAFU had an ulterior motive for agreeing to whatever the proposal was, for no sooner the first batch of Sierra Leoneans left for Tripoli via Accra in June 1987 than they reneged on the very understanding which they forged.

I wish those who went to Conakry on behalf of PANAFU were serious about what they did. Or should I say, I wish they knew how important it was to have believed in the suffering People of Sierra Leone and themselves enough to have the courage to translate theory into action and avoid mere Revolutionary phrase mongering to enhance their personalities. If they were sincere and did not antagonise those whom they voted to go on that selfless trip to Tripoli, an ignorant Man like Foday Sankoh would never had plunged this Nation into one of the most brutal wars in the history of humanity.

Unfortunately, six months later in February, 1988 when the nominees to Libya returned , the same Delegates who initiated the programme with the Alie Kabbah group, incited the Younger activists in PANAFU against the former.

Consequently, in a meeting following the arrival of the nominees, the majority of Members especially the younger ones, having been instilled with fear voted against the continuation of the Libyan programme. And in that meeting the new arrivals having been betrayed, were further threatened with Police action. The meeting ended in a note of mutual suspicion and hatred between the initiators of the Programme and those who went on the request of the Organisation -PANAFU. Thus, prematurely ended an important phase in our Political Struggle

Even though I knew that Foday Sankoh was one of those who were recruited by PANAFU later, yet I was surprised to have heard Sankoh giving an ultimatum to Former President Joseph Saidu Momoh that in 90 days he was going to attack the security apparatus of the Momoh regime if the latter did not concede to multi party democracy.

From that moment, knowing fully well that Sankoh did not have the capacity to understand the nature of the struggle let alone lead, I realised it was going to be a disaster. I still could recall that shortly after Sankoh shot the first shot in March 1991, Richie olu Gordon met me at my Wilberforce Street ( SPARTA BUILDING) office and required to know my assessment of Sankoh's act of invasion. And I told him categorically that the Struggle of our People has been bastardised, a view I think he shared.

It is on record that I have been among the few out spoken critics of the criminal war that was perpetrated by the so-called Revolutionary United Front R.U.F. against the People of Sierra Leone. The S.L.B.S Radio and Television have evidences of this fact.

 "Whoever takes up arms against the People without adequate Political education is a potential criminal" this was what the late Thomas Sankara had to say about unprepared self styled revolutionaries. This statement holds very true for Foday Sank-oh particularly and the rest of the members of the R.U.F. in general.

 Sankoh took upon himself to hijack the effort of some of the selfless sons and daughters of this Nation who were capable of putting an end to oppression, poverty, inhuman degradation etc caused by the close to 25 vears of A.P.C. misrule.

It is a fact that as I mentioned earlier, every true Sierra Leonean was yearning for positive change. Like in every society where sane People live, it is obvious that oppression of any form and or kind will be challenged inevitably by selfless People who have love for others. These fine minds of every society are those who are ready to make the necessary sacrifice.

However, they must be ready to study in order to know who the enemies and the allies of the People are, so as not to end up victimising the People they professed to liberate as was the case with the R.U.F. They must understand the International balance of forces in order not to jeopardise the aspiration of the People for Change. In short, they must be able to put the Struggle into the right perspective to avoid the prolonged and unnecessary suffering of the People. And this can only be achieved when the proponents of any change (what ever it is called) spend their time acquiring adequate political education.

This is not the type of education that one acquires in the classroom, it is borne out of the passion one has for his People. The extent to which you believe in the right of man every where to live in dignity and freedom. It is with this conviction alone that one is able to even lay down his life for his People.

This was what some of us expected before we were betrayed and a man who had no inkling of what it is to love one's People to the extent of dying for them hijacked and bastardised the aspiration of the People of Sierra Leone.

With the disintegration of the former Soviet Union in 1990, the wind of change rapidly swept across so called third world Countries especially those in the poorest Continent-Africa. For those who were familiar with international geo-politics, there was bound to be this chain reaction in Africa like elsewhere where Soviet subsidies were crucial to the survival of so called Soviet satellite States.

Therefore, with the advent of "perestroika and glasnost" heralding the surrender of the Soviet States to American imperialism, the World that was hitherto divided into East and West blocs geo-physically and politico-ideologically will be from then on answerable to the sole "World Policeman" Yankee imperialism.

Hence it wasn't a surprise that since most developing Countries that hid under Soviet cover to perpetuate one party dictatorship were now faced with a new situation, they reluctantly had to concede to the adoption of multi-party dispensation.

America was able to tie up human right's issues with Aids and or loans. And it became clear that those States that were to receive alms from her must conform with her new conditions, as there was no alternative power to turn to. This was the external situation that obliged most developing Countries to adopt political pluralism including Sierra Leone.

The internal realities also were very much ripe for fundamental political change, as I have repeatedly reiterated. It was in the midst of this wind of change that was sweeping across the world in general and Africa in particular that in October 1991 the then President Momoh announced the resumption of multi party democracy.
Following this, a group of Young men and Women who in their separate ways have been working for the change of the wretched situation in our Country, came together to form the National Democratic Party ( N.D.P.)

I was among these patriots. The present executive secretary of the Truth and reconciliation commission Mr. Franklin Kargbo was also a member of this party It is a fact that what ever I have done in my life, has been done with conviction. I have always being very active in any organization and or group in which I functioned. And that was why my name was never heard in the R.U.F. not even as I vehemently opposed them through the war years.

With humility I want to say here that I am above the mindset of the R.U.F. To say the least no man rises above his mind. That was why when I heard Sankoh professing to be the Leader of such a grandiose task, I knew they had failed because his mind was limited to the personal grudge he had for the APC Government. No more, no less!

As the momentum in the new multi-parry dispensation develops, we were greeted with the inevitable on the Wednesday morning of April 29 1992 when the Guns that were supposed to protect the status quo was turn against it's protagonists.

The die is cast ! A coup d'etat is announced. What to every body seemed an almost impossible feat has been carried out by some hitherto unknown young Soldiers who came from the war front with confused motives. Some said they were here to mutiny, others believed it was a coup. By the second day it was clear that the 24 years oligarchy has been brought down in less than two hours.


As I mentioned above, the euphoria with which the Coupist were greeted was enough evidence to justify the need for change, that change which some of us sought before it was hijacked by ill motivated People calling themselves R.U.F.

Alas! Another opportunity for another set of opportunists element who usually catch into every available situation to better their lot at the expense of the People and Nation.

Hence, we saw new faces of men with the same orientation as their predecessors forming the core of civilians who were to concertedly direct the affairs of the State with the Soldiers albeit for a little while. They were to make sure that what ever the good intentions the Soldiers had were betrayed. They were only interested in their pockets. It wasn't long before the People of Sierra Leone realised that that was not the type of change they anticipated.

By the Second year in their reign, the N.P.R.C Junta had ran into several difficulties including their inability to put an end to the War that has intensified during their tenure, the worsened state of the economy; resulting in the further depreciation of the standard of living of the mass of the People.

The rather reckless manner in which the members of the Junta were carrying themselves further aggravated the anger of the People. Their insatiable lust for young and productive girls whom they obliged into the negative attitude of skin bleaching since they preferred light skin girls.

It reached the point where it was obvious that they could no longer handle the situation . It was at the height of the N.P.R.Cs' failure to respond to the need of the People especially with regards to the war, that I in collaboration with other well-meaning Sierra Leoneans founded the National Co-ordinating Committee for Peace (N.C.C.P.).

This Organisation which was an umbrella of some 65 organisations including the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, the Sierra Leone Teachers' Union, The Bar Association, the Sierra Leone Professional Drivers Association, The United Indigenous Commercial and Petty Traders' Association etc to name but a few had as it's primary aim to explore all possible ways and means to bring the warring parties to the Conference Table and negotiate an end to the fratricidal war. I was elected the first and only Secretary General of the NCCP until it's demise in 1996 following the election of the Democratic government of His Excellency Alhaji Dr, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. Later a similar structure the Co-ordinating Committee for Peace( C.C.P.) was set up to address the agreement signed in Lome.

In the thick of the heat when it was time to decide as to whether election should precede peace or otherwise, I represented the N.C.C.P. at the Bintumani 1&11 conferences August 15 to 17 1995 and February 12, 1996, respectively.

It is important to remind Sierra Leoneans that at the time the N.C.CP. was formed in the first quarter of 1995 it was an anathema to even conceive of the idea of asking the Junta to negotiate Peace with the Rebels let alone pronounce that in public. Many People lost their lives as a result of being labelled Rebel sympathiser much more to be called a Rebel. And here were some courageous Young Men and Women who fully cognisant of the deadly risk they were taking yet, in the face of the ruthless Junta Government mustered enough courage to
Say to Sierra Leoneans and the World that the panacea to the war was in negotiated settlement.

The rebels too thought it was siding with the Government to ask for negotiated settlement since it was their belief that they had an upper hand in the War having captured a large area of the Country's territory.

Thus, by the time the People through their various organisations decided that elections should be held irrespective of the territories under Rebel control, it became obvious that the interest of the bellicose forces synchronised. That is to say since neither of them wanted elections; the two became one in their opposition to elections before peace albeit for different reasons.

The Soldiers did not want Elections before peace because that would have guaranteed their stay in power, for as long as the war lasted they would have continued to be in power. They were not going to finish the war anyway, as its prolongation was serving their interest. They realised that they had become very unpopular and any elections would have seen their exit. That was what eventually happened when the People elected Alhaji Dr, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah at the Elections following their resistance.

The Rebel Outfit also realised that it would have been impossible for them to have participated in the pending elections let alone win. Therefore it was in their interest to have disrupted it so as not to allow any form of legitimate government that would have had sway over them in the event of any eventual negotiations.

Effectively, the two warring factions tried all they could including a palace coup that hosted former head of state Rtd captain V.E.M.Strasser on the side of the soldiers and on the side of the Rebel operatives, the' amputation of the limbs of innocent People intensified. At the end of the day however, the People won. A democratically elected Government was put in place.

When the A.F.R.C. coup occurred in May 25 1997, I had a Contract with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Agriculture to renovate the Newton Government Agricultural Farm. We were at the end of the contract when the coup occurred. This location was not spared by the marauders who descended on us that faithful Sunday morning.

This coup in my opinion, was a clear manifestation of grudge by a set of People who now believe that they alone have the right to decide the destiny of our People because they tote guns. That in just a little over a year after the return of civilian democratic rule, they should plunge this Country again into bloodbath was not only a surprise but also a rude shock.

As a matter of fact, this time around they had the misguided advice to bring onboard a rebel outfit with no political programme order than to come to Freetown and seize power. The rest we all know is history.
But the fact remains that the soldiers of the N.P.R.C. were no different from those of the A.F.R.C. and they knew those who chased the former out of power to usher in democracy. Therefore, even though I wanted to witness from start to finish the phenomenon of May 25, (yet after some persuasion from my wife who realised my staying around was not only risking my own life but also the rest of my family), I left for the Guinean border town of Pamelap with my family where we lived until the end of the A.F.R.C Junta rule.

With the restoration of democratic rule in march of 1998, I returned to my business and among the contracts that I did was the provision and supply of furniture to some Government quarters, payment for which lasted for over two years until after a Commission of Enquiry chaired by the current Speaker of Parliament Justice Edmond Cowan exonerated us.

After the restoration of sanity the predators came again in January 6, 1999, my shop which I had established at 19a Regent road narrowly escaped the madness of the marauders. And because I lived in the West End of the city, I did not see much of their madness this time around until they were overcome by the gallant loyal forces of ECOMOG.

A year later in 2000, I was appointed to serve as one of the Sierra Leone Peoples' Party (S.L.P.P.) members of the Committee of Management of the City Council of Freetown. Within the two years period during which I served in the Council I was instrumental in developing and implementing the policies of that Institution.

As the Chairman of the Municipal Trading Committee for the period under review, I was instrumental in facilitating the reconstruction of the Big Market, the Construction of the Low cost Housing Estate Market among others.

Following the death of the former Regional Organising Secretary of our Party (S.L.P.P.) in the Western Area Councillor John Gooding, I was appointed to act as the Regional Organising Secretary in February 2002 prior to the Elections in May. A position I still hold. I was then subsequently elected as the Member of Parliament representing the Freetown West-West District for the Freetown Central 11 Constituency.

I continue to modestly serve the People of Sierra Leone at the National Legislative Body - Parliament

I have tried to limit myself to specific areas in order not to consume much more time. These include the Political, the Legislative, the Judiciary, the executive, the socio economic malaise the Youth crises, Education, Women and Children.

1.1  To start with, the political class of Sierra Leone must be serious about its commitment to this Nation. We must firstly understand that the only way we can get this Country on it's feet is by making the sacrifice that will enable the rest of the Nation to depart from this perennial poverty. We should understand that until the general condition of Sierra Leoneans improve, no individual could consider him/herself affluent however much him/her may have extracted from the system. This was clearly manifested during the height of the fratricidal war when the AFRC/RUF Combined invaded the Capital City in January 6 1999. It became evident that the simple possession of a television set ( which was noticeable by it's antenna) was a cause for attraction by the invaders. In other words, it became a war of the "have not" against the "haves."

1.2  Having lived through some of the worse periods in our recent history, I want to reiterate here that the attempt that was made to bring down oppression, injustice, Institutionalised-corruption, mass poverty and hopelessness should not be misunderstood nor put out of context. We were forced to live as mere underdogs by those who had no love for our People and Nation. That is why we should ensure by all means that such people or their kinds never hold positions of trust now and the future. This effort, save for the reckless hijacking of the process by the RU.F was purely Political.

1.3   This brings me to another dimension of the issue: The attempt by some People to give a false interpretation to our history by the impression that but for the Libyan Government, Sierra Leoneans were content with the dictatorial one party regime of Mr Stevens. That is to say, Sierra Leoneans would never had seen the need for change without the intervention of some super external force. This is insulting to our National integrity to say the least. Sierra Leoneans are poor as a result of the causes above mentioned, but that does not mean they are sub- human. Therefore, they can feel and think and know what is good and bad for themselves. So let it be known that any oppressive system where ever it is found, is bound to be challenged by those who are living within the given realities.

1.4   In my opinion therefore, in order to avoid the recurrence of this negative scenario, the first and perhaps the most important recommendation would be the need for an unprecedented Political will to be manifested by the ability to plan as a Nation and consistently carry out such plan to it's logical conclusion.  It's is inconceivable to imagine any success without planning. Thus, the adage that "failing to plan is planning to fail". The same is true for the art of Governance even though there is the tendency of some who would want to make believe that the concept of a National Development Plan is Communist but even the best of western Democracies can not deny the importance of a development plan. The approach may be different, but the essence is virtually the same. To enhance the welfare of the People. While in the West, planning is invariably determined by the market forces and the latter by the monopolists; the Monopolists themselves are obliged to work within the policy framework of the Government within which they find their prime collaborators. Although they would hardly concede to this fact but it is true for example that the American Government has Parastatals that cater for jobs for American citizens outside of the United State of America. These are policy guide lines that American Business interest over sea must observe especially in the area of strategic industries' Investments.

Therefore, for a developing Country like ours that depends on the benevolence of the International Community for over 60 % of its budget expenditure, not to plan is to continue to be beggars. Thus, we must have a National Development Plan that should be simple and straightforward and sub divided into short term, medium and long terms within every five year term of Governance. The plan unlike others in the past should take a bottom top approach. From the village to the Chiefdom unto the district, the Region and then National. Every Ministry must be given a set target to achieve within the given time as required by the National Development Plan. This is how we may know those who are performing and those that are not. By so doing a lot more would be achieved. In effect, a National Development plan is imperative for a developing Country, Sierra Leone being no exception.

2.   As a People we should never again accept a situation where any group, party, individual and or clique shall hold this Nation to ransom under a monolithic political system. We must jealously guard our fledging Democracy by upholding the Constitution of the State. In this regard, we must have a very strong Legislature and should ensure that whatever is an encumbrance to the growth of such a legislature be reviewed. For example article 93 k of the 1991 Constitution and the aspect of the impossibility of independent candidature as provided for by the 1991 constitution. These and many others are defects in this Constitution that in my opinion must be Reviewed. We need a Constitutional Review with an immediate effect.

3.  I have dealt a lot with the weaknesses of the Judiciary earlier. This is one arm of Governance that must be given serious attention. It would be recalled that it was in league with the judiciary under the Late justice M.S.Turay as chief justice and Mr. Solomon Pratt then Minister of Justice and attorney General that the former President Siaka Stevens committed a rape of the then National Constitution through the imposition of a one parry constitution in 1978 following the student Country wide unrest in 1977. That is to say, the judiciary until recently had collaborated with the autocratic regime of the past to destroy this Country. Thus, justice was undermined to the extent that injustice became the hallmark of the then system. While these men were busy doing every thing to better themselves and their families at the expense of Justice, the general conditions of the Judiciary deteriorated so badly that most of their Colleagues were left with the sad choice of towing the line in the manipulation of the will of the People to suit the wimps and caprices of the Governors. Consequently, the human resource base of the judiciary dwindled, as sober minded legal luminaries left the Country for fear of persecution and their involvement in the flagrant corruption that was the order of the day.
To turn the situation around, the Judiciary must equally be strengthen by ensuring that the correct working environment for the members is created. The Judges and Magistrates must be kept above board through the enhancement of their welfare. Following that, there must be a through and judicious review of the Sierra Leone Laws generally to strengthen those that time have rendered obsolete. Strict observance of the rule of law must be adhered to so as to guarantee that Justice is not delayed as this has been the most subtle way by which some actors of the Judiciary, have manipulated justice on behalf of the rich and the rulers.

4. The Executive so far under the leadership of His Excellency the President Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah has done remarkably well. However, it must be noted that there is need to strengthen this arm of government through the complete separation of power. The 1991 Constitution made it very clear that members of Parliament can not at the same time serve in the Executive unless they resign their seat in Parliament. What the framers of the Constitution in my opinion sought to achieve is a complete separation of power unlike what obtained in the past. Of cause, in the past it was conceived that because members of Parliament looked forward to appointment from the Chief Executive and can revert to Parliament at their dismissal as Ministers, they compromised the integrity of the Legislature. Hence, the fundamental tenet of Democracy-separation of Power was undermined..

4.1   In this regard, I am recommending that the Executive encourage the Judiciary and Parliament to enjoy the independence which is provided for them in the Constitution in order to strengthen our National Democratic culture.

5.  It is true that the World has become a Global Village to the extent that what ever happens anywhere may have a direct and or indirect effect on other areas of the Globe. It is equally true that Globalisation as an effect of the Global Village concept has had it's toll on the Peoples' of the World especially the working masses. One of such effects is Trade Liberalisation. The latter has its attendant consequences in a World where double standards have become the modus operandi by which the richer Nations dictate the rules of the game. When Human rights for the Americans is different from human rights for others. Where farm subsidies in this part of the World is intolerable but acceptable in Europe and America.

Against this background, we in the Political Class must understand that in this business of governance; there is certainly no permanent friends nor are there permanent enemies. The important thing therefore, is to have and safeguard one's own interest i. e. the interest of one's People. Why do I have to raise this issue of interest?. This is so that we can understand the extent to which we have neglected and continue to neglect the interest of our People vis a vis their economic welfare and the devastating effect that it has had on their general welfare and also how that is related to the war that has just ended.

This is perhaps the only Country where the bulk of the economic resources are in the hands of Foreigners. Worse still for a consumer oriented economy where Trading is predominantly the main stay, it is unfortunate.

Although some members of the Political class of the past considered it wise to protect the helpless informal sector by an act of law (1969 NON CITIZEN TRADE AND BUSINESS ACT), yet over time out of greed and selfishness on the part of some section of the same Political class, most of the very People that were supposed to have been barred were given Nationality by naturalisation.. And since they became Citizen by naturalisation it became rather difficult for the police to enforce the law whose violation they also benefited from.

The irony is that while these proponents of the concept of Trade Liberalisation and Globalisation would want to make believe that the idea to protect our impoverished Traders is xenophobic, they would see nothing wrong with American embargo on Chinese goods entering the U.S.A.

My recommendation in this regard is for us to find ways and means by which our People can be protected and empowered economically for the essence of good Governance is the all round improvement of the welfare of the People in general.

Youth crises.
6.1   Adequate attention must be given to Young People in the area of education. The Type of education that is given to Young People must be such that it should be compatible and relevant to the creation of social wealth. Society must create an enabling environment for Young people to grow in fulfilment of their aspirations. In that regard sports and recreation should be a part of all levels of education curricular.

6.2  Government should institute a policy of Youth service training camps after the completion of higher education. This should be done as a way of exchange by which Youths would interact with their peers under healthy atmosphere. This should be done in such a way as to enable the Youths to train in areas other than their localities.

6.3   The Government should encourage more Community interest in the Education of Young people. The Leaders of Communities themselves should take special interest in the education of their communities' kids.

This approach will minimise the malaise of so called ghost Teachers and the perennial problem of salary backlog for Teachers. It will revitalise the former attitude of everybody being somebody else's keeper. The love that disappeared with the advent of extreme poverty will return to our People.

6.4   Finally the Youth should feel a sense of belonging and care from the elders most especially the Leaders at all levels of the Society.

7.  Women and Children
These are two categories of People that are the precious gifts of every Society. We all known that for every Society to continue, the Women have to be willing to reproduce physically in the general sense and in the African context, economically. And because we are in Africa, I will look at Women within this context.

Over 75% of production in Africa are agrarian. Consequently, the bulk of the wealth is created by over two thirds of the Population who mainly are the inhabitants of the rural areas. And of this rural Population, the bulk of the mainly farm work is done by Women who in turn tend the Children after having bore them.

Effectively, these Women are doubly exploited; economically and socially to the extent that we men tend to forget that we are responsible for the Child bearing of the Woman. Hence, as Africans it is not very common for the Men to tend the Children nor involve in domestic chores. We leave this burden to be carried by the Women exclusively.

For these reasons and many more, Government should have policies that will seek to take cognisance of these above realities so as to ensure that the seeming disadvantaged situation of Women is adequately considered.

Liberate Women and the Kids would have been set free. For even in the Animal Kingdom the Female tend to be more caring for the Young then the Men. Therefore, Women should be given more responsibility in areas of social interest, e.g. as Teachers, as Medical Doctors, as Politicians etc. Government should encourage a policy by which special attention should be paid to the children especially at the tender age of infancy. The fact remains that for every weak foundation the latter stage of the development of the children will be faulty. Therefore, Government must design a policy that will ensure and safeguard the future of the Children.

I have paid particular attention to a phenomenon which seems to have baffled every well meaning Sierra Leonean to the extent that any body that walks into the Country for the first time need only to spend a couple of days to notice it. It has to do with the hatred that Sierra Leoneans have for each other on the one hand and the love for any thing Foreign on the other. This cuts across every facet of our Society. From the Politician to the Civil Servant, to the magistrate, to the Land lord etc. Every one of these categories of Sierra Leoneans will prefer to favour a foreigner anytime any day under any circumstance.

No Sierra Leonean will compete with any foreigner for whatever thing and succeed to a public servant in Sierra Leone. Isn't this phenomenal? Some would say the public servant would prefer a foreigner to a Sierra Leonean because he would not trust his brother in a dubious deal. In effect, before dealing with his brother, he would rather prefer to connive with the alien and lose resources on two fronts: he ends up having peanut on the one hand for selling the Country to the foreigner and on the other hand rending his brother abjectly poor while the foreigner who has no obligation to the Country rich...

This explains why the economy of the Country is in the hands of foreigners. Why the best houses are rented only to foreigners. Why anything that is done by a foreigner including the flaunting of our laws is observed with a shrug of the shoulder while if a Sierra Leonean does the same that Sierra Leonaen will be denigrated by every other Sierra Leonean. It explains why it is very rare to see foreigners imprisoned in our police cells and or prisons. This equally explains why a Lebanese man can disfigure a Sierra Leonean maid servant with impunity and - jump bail. And that the surety can freely continue to live normally as if nothing has happened. The only Country that I know of, that a foreigner can rape a teenage girl, then spray some unknown. liquid into her Virginia and go Scot-free. This is a unique Country. Where only Foreigners can ride in the best cars without alarm, but if a citizen rides in a similar car; every effort would be made to bring him/her down. Indeed this is a unique Country. Where if any body does some thing good for the poor, there are all attempts to destroy. In this Country, no one survives if he is against all of the above i. e. against the status quo.

If we are serious about truth and reconciliation these are some of the challenges that the TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION CONMISSION would have to squarely face.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen I rest my submission and truly wish the Commission success in all it's undertakings. I thank you!

Speech Delivered by Honourable Elizabeth Alpha-Lavalie, Deputy Speaker, Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone, at the Hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Thursday, 19th June, 2003

Mr Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Government Ministers, fellow Parliamentarians, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, Heads of Departments, Observers, all protocols observed.

I am greatly honoured today for the opportunity accorded me to deliver a statement at the continuing historic hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone. Permit me, Mr Chairman, to say that the current effort is yet another important milestone in our drive as a nation towards consolidating the hard won peace. It is a moment of reflection on the things we got wrong and a moment of rethinking that these things must be put right.

Indeed, it is often said that only gods and fools do not change. As Sierra Leoneans, I know that we are no gods. We are also no fools. Hence, this is our moment to change; change that must be for the better and not only for the sake of changing. This change is to be predicated on a very basic lesson of history; and, that is, that we need to have a retrospective insight into our immediate past, evaluate our current situation and use our experience to fashion a peaceful, just, democratic and civilized nation worthy of emulation the world over.

In this connection, the present hearings could not have been more timely. They are necessary for stock-taking; they are necessary for genuine contrition on the part of those who wronged us; they are necessary for the aggrieved to forgive the perpetrators; they are, therefore, necessary if our present and future are to be any meaningful than our dreaded past.

Fellow citizens, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I crave your indulgence to allow me take a symptomatic approach to this presentation. I shall first give you a phased, historic and analytical showcase of the antecedents of the war, the war itself and the concomitant wanton destruction of life and property. Finally, I shall proffer some recommendations on the way out of this ugly episode.

Since 1970, Sierra Leone was experiencing a history of political misrule for decades under various governments. With bad governance, social and political injustice was the order of the day. Mismanagement of resources was predominant. Unemployment was at its highest. Youths were supplied drugs to exhibit violent conduct during elections. A climate of malcontent and discontent engulfed the country.

A direct consequence of this economic, political and social injustice was the advent of the Ndorgbowosui conflict in Southern Sierra Leone in the 1980's. Though confined to Pujehun District, the disruptions of this uprising rang the alarm bell for the then All Peoples Congress (A.P.C.) government to pull back and reconsider her method of governance and avoid a catastrophe. But the lessons of the Ndorgbowosui movement did not mean anything to those in whom state authority was entrusted and widespread corruption in all aspects of life pervaded in society.

March 1991 saw the advent of the war in Sierra Leone. The RUF rebels supported by mercenaries from Burkina Faso and Liberia entered the South Eastern parts of Sierra Leone. Properties were destroyed, civilians killed and youths abducted in large numbers to be recruited into the rebel forces. The then Government was either incapable or reluctant to prosecute the war. Phrases like "Dis na mendeman war. Leh den kill dem sef' permeated the city, Freetown, whilst the war raged on and village after village, town after town in the eastern and southern parts of the country fell under rebel control. Reasons given for the war by the RUF was to oust the repressive regime of the A.P.C.

At a mammoth meeting at the State Avenue about one month after the REVOLUTIONARY United Front (R.U.F.) insurgence started, President Momoh confessed his government's inability to prosecute the war. He, therefore, advised the chiefs and other traditional leaders to organize the civil population into vigilantes to defend their localities (villages, towns, sections, etc).

These local communities were supplied with cartridges for their local guns. The vigilantes were later integrated into the military to help prosecute the war. The method of recruitment left a lot to be desired and the consequence may have been the birth of an unprofessional national army.

At the very early stage of the war, it was discovered that senior military officers were in league with the rebels and Charles Taylor; who was then fighting his own rebel war to oust the Liberian Government of Samuel Doe.

On 29th April, 1992, the National Provisional Ruling Council (N.P.R.C.) overthrew the corrupt A.P.C. Government. Amongst the excuses given for the coup were the non-payment of soldiers' salaries, and the lack of a political will to prosecute the war. The junta promised to put a speedy end to the war.

But the war still raged on and civilians were killed and abducted, girls were gang rape and forced to become wives of rebels; vehicles were ambushed and other valuable properties were either looted or destroyed. The civil population seemed at the mercy of the rebels. Town and village chiefs were deposed or killed and replaced by rebel representatives. Families were disintegrated and married homes broken. There was total breakdown of cultural and traditional norms. Rebel ideology governed these towns and villages.

In desperation, the civilians organized civil defense structures to defend their towns and villages, their properties and families, and their wives and children. This received the approval of the military regime - the N.P.R.C. Government. These civil defense forces teamed up with soldiers. They were instrumental in guiding soldiers through terrain unfamiliar to them. The period of union between the national army and the C.D.F. has been referred to as Phase One of the war.

The coalition of soldiers and CDF was very successful. We saw progress in the war. The rebels were now on the run, surrendering towns and villages to government forces and retreating to neighbouring Liberia. Amnesty was declared by the then Head of State, Captain Valentine Strasser for one month (30 days) in November 1993 so that the rebels can lay down their arms. This was met with civilian protest because they expected the government to prosecute the war to its logical conclusion; then that they had the advantage over the rebels.

The C.D.F. comprised the following entities

  1. The Tamboro from Koinadugu District;
  2. The Karmajos from Kenema, Kailahun, Bo, Moyamba, Bonthe and Pujehun Districts;
  3. The Donsos from Kono District;
  4. The Gbethis from Tonkolili and Port Loko Districts;
  5. The Hunters from the Western Area;
  6. The Kapras from Bombali and Kambia Districts, and
  7. The vigilantes from the Youths nationwide.

The C.D.F. were drawn from professional local hunters and warriors who claimed to have mystical powers. They were recruited through the recommendation of their village chiefs, town chiefs and headmen, in the case of the Western Area. One criterion for recruitment is that they should be of good character in the community. They were then registered and issued identity cards.

These men had the blessing of their community and government. The community contributed through a tax levied on each household. This ranged between Le500-Le1000 per household. During the farming season, the community volunteered labour for absentee farmers who were on mission of defence.

This was a sort of self-defense mechanism adopted by the people of Sierra Leone. The government provided logistical support in the form of cartridges, medicines feeding and transportation.

On 25th December, 1993, the R.U.F. rebels attacked Segbwema in Kailahun District and Nomo Farma in Kenema District, and massacred hundreds of unsuspecting civilians who were celebrating the Christmas season. A new turn to the rebel war evolved. We dubbed this Phase Two.

In this phase, the civilians were targets of both the rebels and soldiers. Rebels claimed that the civilians were disclosing their whereabouts to soldiers and soldiers accused the civilians of being rebel collaborators. This brutality and savagery mainly directed towards civilians generated an unprecedented level of hatred and mistrust among the people. Soldiers were accused of being in league with the rebels to wreck harvoc on the civilian population - killing, maiming looting, raping and burning villages. Soldiers were called Sobels (soldier-rebels). The slogan "watch you Neba" meaning "watch your neighbour" was used to show how the people had lost faith in the soldiers for security. They pressed on the government to provide logistical support for the C.D.F. so that they can continue to defend their land property and families. I want to emphasise here that civilian were forced to organize the C.D.F. as an instrument in self defense and in defense of their families where they found out that the military government had lost the will to prosecute the war and were then compounding their agony. As the war intensified and it was more and more evident that the soldiers who were supposed to protect the civilians were now hand in glove with the rebels there was the need for the civilians to strengthen the defence of their localities. More men were needed. They looked up to the karmohs who initiated people to acquire mystical powers that the professional hunters and warriors have. A new-breed of C.D.F. was born.

The situation in the country was worsened when a loose coalition of elements of the national army, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (A.F.R.C.) and the Revolutionary United Front rebels seized power on 25t" May, 1997 and again on 6t" January, 1999 on a mission to shot their way to power caused mayhem nationwide. There was spontaneous opposition to the junta rule and a state of civil disobedience existed.

During the junta's oppressive rule in 1997, with indiscriminate killing, summary executions, rampant looting armed robbery, massive destruction of social amenities and a countrywide insecurity led to a state of social chaos and anarchy. This era saw the advent of massive amputations.

Whilst we were in exile in the Republic of Guinea, it was reported that the C.D.F. were siding with the government of President Tejan Kabbah and were loyal in defending their country. They were putting up strong resistance to the junta in the provinces and working with the ECOMOG troops.

In February 1998 there was an intervention by the ECOMOG troops. The Junta was ousted and the democratically elected Government was restored. There was then a total lack of confidence in the Sierra Leone military. ECOMOG, the few loyal troops and the C.D.F. provided security for the country until a new army could be reconstructed.

During November and December of 1998, there were persistent threats of insurgence and it became evident that ECOMOG troops could no longer defend the capital city, Freetown. As if there was a collusion to see the city fall, rebels of R.U.F. and West Side Boys (a group of renegade soldiers that held out in a hill 39 miles outside Freetown) continued to pose a continuous threat to the stability of the country.    In all these situations, the C.D.F. always acted as a stabilizing force.

Like President Momoh before him, the ECOMOG General in charge of defense of Freetown confessed he was unable to defend the city and advised us to retreat to our towns and villages and mobilize the C.D.F. to come and retake Freetown, as it was imminent that the city was soon to fall into the hands of the rebels. Again the people turned to the C.D.F. to defend their homeland against anarchy and wanton destruction of life and property.

The C.D.F. were airlifted from various localities into the city and were based at Lungi, Jui and Brookfields Hotel in Freetown. This was because the roads were constantly prone to ambushes by the West Side Boys - remnants of the A.F.R.C.

It was, however, discovered that ECOMOG and the Chief of Defense Staff of the Sierra Leone Military were reluctant to equip the C.D.F. to defend the city. Rather, youths were haphazardly recruited into the military; an act oblivious of the conditions of recruitment agreed upon. These new recruits were not disciplined and included elements of the R.U.F. and the West Side Boys.

Mr Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is therefore not surprising that when the city was attacked on the 6th of January, 1999, only a couple of ECOMOG soldiers, the O.S.D., a few loyal troops and the C.D.F. were at hand to defend the city.

At this moment, kindly allow me space to and time to proffer some suggestions for consideration in mapping the way forward. My intention is not to put forward an exhaustive profile of what needs to be done to redress the misfits in our society. The intent is to give a humble contribution that may be useful in charting the way forward.

Let me start by mentioning Article 28 of the Lome Peace Agreement which states: "Given that women have been particularly victimized during the war, special attention shall be accorded to their needs and potentials in formulating and implementing national rehabilitation, reconstruction and development programmes to enable them to play a central role in the moral, social and physical reconstruction of Sierra Leone".

Expected TRC to be more gender sensitive. I thus recommend the following:

-    To equip women with requisite skills for improved participation in all spheres of life
-    To revisit women's human rights situation e.g. aspects of the Sierra Leone constitution which discriminate against women especially as regards to inheritance, adoption and marriage laws. CRC and CEDAW should be legislated into Sierra Leone law.
-    Address poverty issues with proper law enforcement for defaulters. Micro-credit schemes, skills training and business management are to be instituted nationwide as part of government's poverty reduction strategy.

Education: given that women constitute about 80% of illiterate adult population, their lot should be improved through civic education, advocacy and lobbying with the appropriate authorities for their needs to me addressed more coherently.


• Vulnerable groups such as victims of sexual abuse,
• Children
• Commercial sex workers
• Girls child mothers

Address issue of street children, which has become the bane of our society. Children have been orphaned and abandoned. These are very vulnerable and are open to abuse. They could be used as slaves, robbers, drug pushers, etc.

Child-care centers, medium/ long term (in the pattern of SOS children and villages), should be established to address this issue particularly for children with no families.

Children at these centres will attend school; learn skills until they could be appropriately placed either in Forster Homes, substitute families or as a last resort, for adoption. There should be adequate budgetary allocation to the ministry of social welfare Gender and Children's Affairs to address the welfare issues of the disabled and the Aged and amputees.

Further assistance should be given to strengthen NACWAC to help NGOs to build up existing childcare centers to take the children off our streets. To economically strengthen foster families and organizations. To institute outreach programmes for recreational facilities for children in each chiefdom.

To further address the issues of women and youth for participation in the reconstruction, short-term effective skills training programmes should be instituted in every chiefdom headquarters, so that  even the villages can fully participate in development programmes. Encourage their involvement into income generating activities e.g. Backyard gardening, farming, production technologies in handicraft.
Establish youth and women cooperatives in every chiefdom. Not forgetting wards in western area. Soft loans should be provided for women and youth who are now household heads to rebuild their homes. This will address the problems of war widows.

Mechanisms should be put in place to give early warning signals so that these could be addressed. The structure of civil intelligence should be strengthened.

Recruitment in the military -There should be a laid down policy, which must be adhered to. This should incorporate the equitable recruitment by geographical arrears so that personnel from one geographical area do not dominate the military. Paramount chiefs, headmen/women for western area, and community elders should attest to the suitability for recruit as regards behaviour. The military should be professional; i.e., military personnel should be given the opportunity to be specialized - for e.g., army engineers, etc., plus combatants. The military should be disciplined and well-equipped.

Nepotism in recruitment should be avoided and the issue of the proliferation of small arms must be addressed.

The boarders of Sierra Leone are porous. There is the need for territorial force to secure the boarders. To maintain law and order, the police force must be well equipped and trained. There is also the need to train National (Local) Administration Police Force particularly in chiefdoms without the presence of the regularly Police Force.

One of the factors responsible for the deteriorating situation in Sierra Leone was Bad governance. Therefore I recommend that Democratic Governance must be encouraged. Resources for rebuilding social infrastructure must be equitably distributed and areas of health, education and social welfare are cases in point. The Anti-Corruption Commission should be more effective.

In all this Civil Society of Sierra Leone should act as guarantors of the peace process. Therefore, it should continue to be actively engaged in reinforcing initiatives to enhance the processes of peace, reconciliation and Good Governance through advocacy campaign; workshops and seminars; sensitization through electronic and print media; through CBO's National and International NGO's and Inter-Religions Organizations.

As representatives of the people parliament should uphold the constitution amend laws that are discriminatory against women and children and promulgate laws that seek to enhance the powers of women in governance. Enact legislation into Sierra Leone laws to give effect to treaties, charters and conventions that have been ratified for example the convention on the Rights of the child, child trafficking (CRC), convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Enact laws to address the issues of the disabled, the aged and amputees, and advocate for Civil Service Reforms. Ensure equitable distribution of resources through budgetary control to enhance democratic good governance. They should work in close collaboration with the Executive and Judiciary though at the same time been observers the separation of powers.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) should be instrumental in advocating for implementation of the afore-mentioned recommendations. They will go a long way to consolidate the Peace. If we are to attain and heal the wounds in moving towards reconciliation, the needs of the victims and perpetrators alike should be addressed.

Taking a clue from earlier gestures, this exercise of reconciliation and peacebuilding will be more meaningful if the C.D.F. and loyal Republic of Sierra Leone military personnel are decorated. This is an instance of reward for defending the citizens of this country against the mayhem, carnage and merciless brutalisation of the R.U.F. and A.F.R.C. Junta.

May God in His Mercy bring total peace, reconciliation and development to our beloved nation, Sierra Leone.

I am grateful to all of you for your valuable time.


Office of the Ombudsman
Telephone: Office : 224702
84 Dundas Street
Telefax: 224702
Mobile: 076 630 001
Sierra Leone

076 610 166
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19th June 2003.
Mr. Frank Kargbo
Executive Secretary
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission
C/o Brookfields Hotel

Dear Sir,


It gives me great pleasure to forward to you the following documents:

(a) A copy of the Annual Report of the Office of the Ombudsman for the year 2002.
(b) Information Pamphlet.
(c) A copy of the Statement made by the Ombudsman to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Thanking you for your co-operation and goodwill at all times.
Yours sincerely

Francis A. Gabbidon
1. Your Excellency The President, The Honourable The Vice President, The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, The Honourable The Minister for Presidential Affairs, Colleagues, it gives me great pleasure to be here today to present the First Annual Report of the Office of The Ombudsman in Sierra Leone for the period lst January to December 2002.

2. This Report is submitted pursuant to Section 15 of the Ombudsman Act 1997. Your Excellency, your Government passed the Enabling Legislation and eventually appointed me the Ombudsman for this vital and important Office.

3. In the current global trend towards greater democracy, respect for Human Rights, Transparency and the Rule of Law, the Ombudsman is undoubtedly one of the key Institutional Pillars of good governance. And by virtue of the Constitution and the Ombudsman Act, we have been playing a critical role in helping to deepen democratic culture, investigating mal-administration and injustice, peaceful settlement of disputes between citizens and Government Agencies and the Observance of Human Rights.

4. It has not been easy since the Office was established, but we can humbly say that we have been gradually consolidating our role especially in the investigation of Complaints and Grievances by Members of the Public against Government Departments, Statutory Corporations, Institutions of Higher Learning, The Police and The Army.

During the period under review, we received Complaints and Grievances from all parts of the  country. We Investigated 460. There are 30 still under Investigation, 85 were found justified and 345 were found unjustified.

Your Excellency, several informal Complaints of a non-jurisdictional nature were received by our Office, although they are not included in the Statistics, they proved beneficial especially in so far as we were able to intervene to avert potential problems by dealing with them.

We only have an Office in Freetown because of limited funding. It is necessary that Provincial Offices are established in Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Kono at the earliest opportunities, so that our brothers and sisters in the Provinces will have access to our services, and this lack of access was shown recently when many citizens from the Provinces travelled all the way to Freetown to refer Complaints to our Office during the Elections for Paramount Chiefs. The existence of Branch Offices in the Provinces would have prevented the inconvenience, money and time spent in coming to Freetown incurred by the     Complainants.

We are grateful to Government for the allocation of a 4 Wheel Drive brand new Vehicle to our office, which has helped us greatly.  We look forward to another one to be based in the provinces when the offices there are established.  Even though we have no Offices in the provinces, the limited publicity we have done so far has made many people there aware of the existence of the Office and individuals and tribal authorities regularly come to our Office to seek advice or refer Complaints.

Your Excellency, we have produced an Information Pamphlet, which I will soon present to you also which explains in simply language, basic facts about our office.  This will now be distributed to schools, colleges, shops, supermarkets, libraries hotels and Town Halls  for people to pick up and keep as personal copies to enable them to know what we are doing and how we can help them.

We will also very soon appoint a Public Relations Officer to liaise with the Print and Electronic Media, but I have also prepared a Plan to give Talks to schools, colleges, Religious Institutions and Civil Society Organizations about our Offices in Freetown and the Provinces.  The plan includes a monthly Press Briefing about our activities without disclosing confidential information.

Members of my staff and I are regularly invited to attend and present papers at various seminars, Workshops and Meetings to explaining about the Role of Our office and our duties.  I recently did so at Fourah Bay College, The University of Sierra Leone.  A Training Programme was sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat for some of our Personnel last year with a Training Officer from the Ombudsman's office in Uganda, who  spent 2 weeks in Freetown doing the Training.  This was very helpful and beneficial to those who participated.

Our Office also held a very successful 4 days Workshop in Freetown co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the African Ombudsman Association on the Theme ' Developing the Role of the Office of the Ombudsman in Sierra Leone' from 23rd to the 27th September 2002.  The Workshop was opened by the Honourable The Vice President who graciously attended and met the participants, especially the Ombudsman of Botswana and the  Ombudsman of Ghana, and Dr. Victor Ayeni of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The Workshop attracted Government Functionaries, Civil Servants, Parliamentarians, Civil Society Members UNAMSIL, The Police, and The Armed Forces.  In June last year, I was the only African Ombudsman invited to attend and participate at a similar Workshop held in Trinidad and Tobago by the Carribean Ombudsman Association.

Your Excellency, Our Office has now been accepted as a Member of the African Ombudsman Association and The International Ombudsman Association based in Ontario Canada. from which we hope to derive many benefits and support. Last year, we also received Invitations to attend Training Programme and Workshops in South Africa, Seychelles and Senegal, but could not attend because of limited funding, this was regrettable as these Meetings helped considerably in Networking, Capacity Building, Exchange of Information and Strategies.

Indeed, the present strategy adopted by Offices of The Ombudsman worldwide is a proactive and preventive approach, in other words, you do not necessarily have to wait until mal-administration or injustice takes place. If you see or observe early warning signals or symptoms, an Ombudsman is now expected to intervene to prevent its occurrence. This approach was confirmed when I attended the Carribean Ombudsman Association in Trinidad and Tobago.

Our Office works very closely with the Anti-Corruption Commission and we exchange ideas and information, and refer necessary cases or complaints to each other. We hope to extend and strengthen this relationship to help in the fight against Corruption and graft. In January this year, Mr. Collier the Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission and myself as Ombudsman of Sierra Leone, were invited by the African Development Bank to attend an important Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to exchange ideas, discuss and deliberate with Colleagues from other African Countries on the fight against Corruption in Africa by scrutinizing the Draft of the Convention by the African Union in its fight against Corruption in Africa. The Meeting clearly showed that the fight against Corruption could not be left solely to Anti-Corruption Commissions in Africa but must also include other partners such as the Ombudsman, the Auditor-General, The Public Account Committee of Parliament, The Police and other Oversight Institutions.

It might interest you to know your Excellency, that after the Meeting in Ethiopia by Mr. Collier and myself, representatives of other countries including Nigeria, Malawi and Kenya expressed a desire to visit Sierra Leone to examine our Legislations and structures of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman to see how our Institutions work. I believe this was as a result of the presentations Mr. Collier and myself made respectively at the Meeting. Indeed Mr. Collier was selected by over hundred and twenty delegates to give the Vote of Thanks at the end of the Meeting and I was asked to propose the Toast to the African Development Bank and the African Union at the final end of Dinner Ceremony.

Later in the year, The Government of East Timor invited me to join a group of other Ombudsmen to help in drafting the Legislation for their newly established Office of the Ombudsman and Human Rights. As I could not visit East Timor, I e-mailed my own contributions which they later acknowledged to have been useful and helpful.

At home Our Office continues its good working and amicable relationship with the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and hope to strengthen it as we go on. The Attorney-General and myself regularly discuss issues, exchange ideas and information and matters of interest concerning Public Administration, Good Governance, the Rule of Law and Human Rights.

Our Office also works closely with the Sierra Leone Police in exchanging ideas and information and we not only Investigate Complaints against Police Officers, but also refer Cases to the Police which could also constitute Criminal offences for onward Investigation and prosecution if necessary. Minor Complaints from citizens about the Police referred to us are forwarded to the CDIID for Investigation and remedial action if necessary.

I am now in the process of submitting to the Law Reform Commission some of our Laws and Statutes which I believe need urgent revision or reform or even complete repeal to meet present day political and socio-economic changes in our society that affects Public Administration, the Rule of Law, Accountability and Transparency. A reasonable number of these Laws and Statutes need urgent reform and I have had fruitful discussions on this issue with Dr. Peter Tucker the Chairman of the Law Reform Commission and Mrs. Yasmin Fofanah the Secretary.

One area of concern is the question of Pensions, Gratuities and Terminal Benefits for Civil and Public Servants. Citizens Generally, Retired Civil Servants and Public Officers regularly expressed their frustration and difficulties they have to undergo in their dealings with the Establishment Secretary's Office, the Ministry of Finance, and their respective Ministries in getting their Pensions paid. There are generally Complaints of the inordinate delays encountered in receiving these Pensions. They complain that sometimes it takes years before they are able to receive their Pensions or Benefits, and in a few cases, some Retired Civil Servants have in the past died or left the country in frustration because of non-payment or delays in receiving their Pensions. Our Office always intervenes when we receive such Complaints, yet the process is so slow and it takes a long time to get replies from the Establishment Secretary's Office who complains that the delay in getting replies is due to the nonchalant attitude of the affected Ministries. I regretfully state that this situation has not improved and is still not one our country can be proud of. I have recommended in my Annual Report to Government that a Committee made of the Financial Secretary, the Establishment Secretary, the Secretary to the President and the Secretary to the Cabinet should meet as soon as possible to consider what strategies or remedial action could be put in place to cut down unnecessary delays and non-payment of Pensions and other relevant Benefits to Retired Civil Servants and Public Officers within a reasonable period.

Our Office in the past, worked closely with the Judiciary and there was mutual co-operation and support, regrettably, the present Acting Master and Registrar has written to Our Office rejecting our Mandate to Investigate alleged acts of Mal-administration by Magistrates and JPs to the amazement and surprise of my Office. He wrote ascertaining that he was writing with Instructions from the Honourable The Chief Justice of Sierra Leone.

We never had this problem with the Judiciary in the past when Mrs. A. Showers was the Master and Registrar, and under former Heads of the Judiciary. We expressed to the Judiciary that we have a Mandate which includes their Department concerning matters of Mal-administration which amount to an injustice. We further stated that our relationship is complimentary and not competitive, but this approach has been rejected by the recent correspondences we received from the Acting Master and Registrar as relationship between the Judiciary and the Office of the Ombudsman. We are concerned with the numerous Complaints we received concerning inordinate delays in Judicial Proceedings, Bribery and Corruption by Court Officials and Bailiffs, unfair treatment, bias, and other act of Mal-administration by some Magistrates, JPs and Court Officials.

We do hope that the relationship will get back on track and the amicable relationship that existed in the past will continue and strengthen.

We are of the view that the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman must be expanded as is now the position in other Commonwealth Countries where the Office is established. The areas referred to are the following:

(1) Human Rights Violations.
(2) Matters affecting the Environment.
(3) Privatized Institutions where the Government has Shares .
(4) Disputes between the Private Sector and the Government, and Government Agencies in Commercial and Business matters.
(5) The Rights of the Handicapped and the Disabled. (6) The Rights of Women and Children.

Your Excellency, there is no gainsaying that contemporary society today is confronted by new challenges as we enter the new millennium and with regard to our country as we enter this period of consolidation of peace, renewed stability and socio-economic development, The Office of the Ombudsman in discharging its Statutory Mandate effectively and nationally, and to add value to national efforts towards democratic governance, needs its overall capacity to be enhanced. This is more so if the Office is to effectively grapple with the daunting challenges of poverty, illiteracy, injustice and corruption. It is a fact appreciated both locally and internationally as Government has been making strident efforts to deal with these problems, but the overall strategy includes us also and we also have to join in the fight against these social ills which at times are caused by mal-administration or could result in mal-administration.

Let me finally thank the Government for the financial and other support allocated to our Office in gradually getting it established. But we would also use this opportunity to request that the Government intervenes with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that allocations of monies and resources by the Ministry of Finance to the Office of the Ombudsman is given its necessary priority so that the Office will consolidate in Freetown and expand to the Provinces, if our country is to experience the benefits and advantages of the establishment of such an Office. It gives me great pleasure and pride to present to you Sir firstly The First Annual Report of the Office of the Ombudsman and secondly an Information Pamphlet for the citizens of Sierra Leone to enable them to know about the Office of the Ombudsman. I thank you Sir for your patience, in the delay by our Office in producing this First Report, we can assure you that we have learnt a lot by this First one and the next one will be ready in December 2003. I also thank you for listening and May God Bless Us All and our Beloved Country Sierra Leone. I thank you once again.

Republic of Sierra Leone

Office of the Ombudsman

What is the Ombudsman?

  • Is a high level official.
  • Is independent of Government and any political party.
  • Receives complaints from aggrieved persons against Government agencies or officials
  • Has the power to:

- investigate
- recommend corrective action
- issue reports
- enforce orders.

How does the Ombudsman work?
Anyone can complain to the Ombudsman, who will then investigate the complaint.  The Ombudsman gives the citizens adequate opportunity to test the legality and fairness of any administrative decision. Think of the Ombudsman as a referee who can look at all sides of the problem.

Who can be investigated by the Ombudsman?
Government at all level. This includes Central and Local Governments; Any person performing a public function, e.g. The Security Services like the Army, Police Force, Prison Services etc. Corporations or Companies where the State is involved, e.g. The Sierra Leone Ports Authority, Civil Aviation etc. Sierratel, Road Transport Corporation.

What can the Ombudsman Investigate?

  • Functioning of the Public Service Commission
  • Injustice 
  • Corruption
  • Abuse of power 
  • Discrimination
  • Maladministration, mismanagement and unfair treatment.

How does one complain to the Ombudsman?
You can lodge your complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman. There are staff members who will listen to a complaint and will request for supportive documents to enable them to conduct investigation. Or you can write to us and send it to:

The Office of the Ombudsman
84 Dundas Street
Freetown Sierra Leone
Tel: 224702
Fax: 224439
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How much does it cost to get help from the Ombudsman?
Nothing. Services are free and available to anyone who has a problem as set out above.

Will anyone else hear about my complaints?
No one will hear your complaints, except the Ombudsman and his deputy. Confidentiality is guaranteed. All interviews are done in camera.


My name is Dr. Albert Joe Edward Demby, son of the Late Paramount Chief Alfred CenawaDemby of Gerihun, Baoma Chiefdom, and Bo District, in the Southern Region of Sierra Leone.

I qualified as a Medical Doctor in December 1969 and returned to Sierra Leone in March 1970. I worked in Freetown, Kenema, Kailahun and lastly Kenema Government Hospitals up to 1975, when I resigned and opened my private clinic. I worked continuously in my clinic in Kenema from 1975 to March 1996 when I was appointed as Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

The general situation in the country started to decline in terms of governance in the early 70s. There was dissatisfaction everywhere in terms of employment, social amenities and political activities, which culminated to a one party rule and Republican Status. Party politics and party affiliation gave people all the advantages to live a comparatively better life.

In 1989, the Liberian civil war started, which greatly affected this country, especially those of us living near the border with Liberia. Streams of refugees poured into this country and at that time there were no refugee camps, no NGOs and we did not hear of UNHCR. We assisted these people by providing them with shelter, food, medicine etc. By 1990 we were told that Sierra Leoneans were training in Libya to come and overthrow the A.P.C Government. Students spoke of Green Books, Democracy and, news of their friends being recruited to go to Libya for military training. Within the country also the talk of and yearn for multiparty system of Governance began.

Then came the sad news in March 1991 that Sierra Leonean Rebels from Liberia had invaded this country led by one Cpl. Foday Sankoh.

We in Kenema also realized that our Army was small and ill equipped as was told by the soldiers themselves. Hence within a short space of time the war had moved very fast into the country. Our first-hand information of the nature and seriousness of the war came from a Foreign Catholic Priest who was stationed in Koindu - Kailahun District. He narrated his ordeal during his face-to-face encounter with the rebels in his mission house, where he was surrounded and captured by the rebels one night. He was even while at Kenema very timid and anxious to leave the country. He said that he was only allowed to leave because he was a foreigner, but he saw the corpses of many of those he had known in Koindu Town. He emphasized that it was a real invasion that intended to stop at nothing except the overthrow of the A.P.C Government. He said that they spoke in fine Liberian ascent and not a single Sierra Leonean language. They told him that they had come to destroy, while those after them will do the repairs etc. Also that they were hired for three months and within that time they should capture Daru (Moa Barracks) and hand over to Sierra Leonean Rebels.

Few days after his narration we began to see streams of Sierra Leonean displaced people arriving in Kenema from Kailahun and Pujehun Districts, each with awful stories of their ordeal at the hands of these rebels. Those who stayed for few days with the rebels said that they told them that they had come to liberate them from the A.P.C misrule, etc. This they demonstrated by wearing palm leaves on their wrists signifying that they were SLPP supporters. But that with time, their true colour of cruelty was revealed; when they started to rape, loot, abduct. Murder, slaughter their animals, burn houses and appoint their chosen chiefs etc.

While our rebel war was in progress, the Liberian Refugees organized themselves into a fighting or armed group, as most of them were former Liberian Government Soldiers who had escaped into Sierra Leone during the Liberian Civil war. Their group was called ULIMO. We accepted them as our soldiers were few and have not been exposed to rebel war. The APC Government gave them recognition and supported them. They then fought side by side with our Army. But later, we noticed that they were at the same time very wicked as they began to kill other Liberians who were from other ethnic group with the pretence that they were NPFL    rebels that had invaded this country. So any one with Tattoo mark on his body was killed. They infact introduced the term "washing" i.e. to kill him by the riverside and throw the body into the river.

The APC Government brought in the Nigerian Army to help fight the war and we heard about them deployed in Pujehun. Later they also invited the Guinean Army that went to defend the Moa barracks. Thanks to the Guinean Army who successfully beat back the advancing rebels into the Moa Bridge and killed their commander, "Rambo". Thus, their timely intervention saved the Barracks from falling into Rebel hands.

On the political front, the cry for multi-party election and democracy became louder the more. Finally, the APC Government gave in to multi-party election but with a hidden agenda. They began to register only in the Western and Northern Regions with the excuse that there was war in the South and Eastern parts of the country. Also many APC prominent people were not in favour of the return to multi-party system and not ready for election at that time. It should be noted here that since the 1967 General Elections, all the elections under APC were full of the reign of violence and intimidation etc. The situation by then was better imagined than described. I was arrested and detained at the Police station, for my membership of the SLPP while a Government Medical Doctor in 1972 and in 1986 for leading the SLPP election campaign for late Mr. B.S.Massaquoi in Kenema. I was forced to resign from the civil service in 1975 because I was always in trouble with the APC Government, as they knew that, my parents were SLPP founding fathers.

In early 1992, information was rife about the involvement and connivance between the top APC members and the rebels. This was demonstrated by the APC Government's failure to supply adequate logistics to the war front. They continued their election arrangements while the war was spreading deep into the Southern and Eastern parts of the country. They claimed that it was not a serious war, but it was the Mendes fighting one another, and they called it "Mende War". This statement and other happenings in the country angered us the South-Easterners and we became more confused as to the cause or essence of the war.

To our delight a messiah came i.e. the coup of 1992, which stopped the APC plan against the South-Easterners. We danced and danced for the end of the APC misrule and hoped that the war will then end. But still with the fall of the APC Government, the war continued after few months of lull. We were told that the rebels and the New NPRC Government failed to agree on an accord.

By the end of 1992 when the NPRC was now in power, the Rebel war had engulfed the whole of Kailahun and Kono Districts. About the same time, Lt. Tom Nyuma, the then Secretary of State, Eastern Region addressed us the elders in a meeting in Kenema Town. At that time, Kenema Town had hosted most of the chiefs and elders from Kono, Kailahun and other parts of Kenema Districts that were under Rebel control. He told us that a decision had been taken in cabinet to request us to mobilize our hunters called Kamajor to help the regular Sierra Leone Army to guide them in our bushes etc. He said, "America did not win the Vietnam war because they did not know the terrain". The SLA encouraged and recruited youths called VIGILANTES- employed as CARRIERS and INFORMANTS, most of whom eventually turned out to be CHILD SOLDIERS in both the SLA and CDF. We then formed the "Eastern Region Defense Committee" the membership of which comprised of all Paramount and Regent Chiefs, S.D.O, Chairman Kenema Town Council, Senior State Council and other prominent people from the three Districts - Kenema, Kono and Kailahun. The Late Dr. Alpha Lavalie was appointed Chairman and myself, Dr. Demby as Treasurer. Also a similar message was sent to Koinadugu District. They also mobilized their hunters that are called "Tamaboros".

The militia stayed in their villages and were only mobilized and brought to Kenema on the request of the Brigade Commander for a particular mission. We funded this militia by providing transportation and short gun cartridges while they had their short guns. Occasionally Lt. Tom Nyuma did help with money and cartridges. But once they were with the Army, it was the responsibility of the Army to take care of them until the end of that mission. The initial cooperation between the militia and the Army was very cordial. The Kamajors and the Tamaboros helped the Army to liberate Kono and Kailahun and the war almost came to an end in December 1993. We even held a victory meetinv at the Kenema Praying Field where plans for a victory parade were arranged.

With that euphoria, the Army relaxed, and neglected their forward position especially at Normo Farma i.e. Sierra Leone - Liberia Border Town. So while the commander, Capt. Gbonkeleke and some of his officials were in Kenema arranging for a Christmas party, the rebels attacked and a large cache of arms and ammunitions were captured. The war then did not only progress, but also escalated.

Before December 1993, some of the Kamajors had learned the use of Automatic Weapons and were even allowed to use the captured weapons. They joined forces with ULIMO who had now been recognized and were supported by the NPRC Government and the three forces became allies. Later, the once cordial relationship between the soldiers and the Kamajors became sour, due to what they saw as unpleasant happenings while they were in the bush, between the rebels and the soldiers.

These strange relationships resulted in the loss of many lives of their family members, looting of their properties, arson and even threats to kill them if they revealed what was happening in the bush. Many of the Kamajors later refused to go with the soldiers again and openly told us their plight. Some ULIMO fighters also told us that our war was very complex. With the type of co-operation they saw existing between our soldiers and the rebels, to the extent of supplying them with ammunitions and other logistics. In fact it was difficult for them to identify the real rebels and this made most of them to return to Liberia for fear of their lives. The civilians who escaped from the Rebel held territory also narrated similar stories of the co-operation and that the soldiers were more wicked to them than the Rebels.

From 1994 onwards there was no improvement in the war as our fighters were only on the defensive. They only reacted when places were attacked. I think this information was passed to the NPRC, which led to the purging of the army, in which about 14 top senior Military Officers were retired. But this did not help the situation either as the war still intensified.

By this time again, the NPRC recruited a Mercenary group called the GURKHAS. At that time the war was around mile ninety-one in the Tonkolili District. Their stay in the country was for a short time as they left soon after the death of their commander. NPRC then brought another Mercenary group called Executive Out-Come to replace the Gurkhas. They were more experienced, trained and did extremely well. They fought along side the Army and the civil Militias. They remained in the country up to and after the 1996 General Election. The SLPP Government inherited them and continued to support them until November 1996 during which the Abidjan Peace Accord asked that all Mercenaries leave the Country. That ended their contract and that of ULIMO.

Also by 1994 when the war had reached Bo District, I informed my Uncle the late Paramount Chief A.S Demby who was brutally murdered by the rebels in 1997, about the formation and success of the Militia in Kenema. We decided to invite Chief Hinga Norman, then Regent Chief of Jaiama Bongo chiefdom, adjacent to our Chiefdom and his elders. It was at this meeting in Yamandu that I introduced the idea of Civil Militia to Chief Norman and his Chiefs, and the essence of forming an alliance to defend our two Chiefdoms together, with the Army in the event of a rebel attack on either of the chiefdoms. We decided to train volunteer young men and asked Chief Norman to be in charge. I regret to report that the only group that went to Talu were those killed at Talu, which is known as the "Talu massacre" in which over 200 people were killed including my younger brother Arthur, and Chief Norman narrowly escaped the onslaught. So the idea was abandoned.

Then came the campaign and the General Election of 1995-1996. These  rebel went all out to disrupt, creating lots of atrocities on the civilians. With the victory of SLPP, I was appointed Vice President. At about this time also the idea of the civil populace defending themselves and their towns and villages spread fast like bush fire and with successes against the rebels. Other chiefdoms began to mobilize their hunters and using their Tribal names to identify them. The Kamjors mainly from the Mende ethnic group in the South and Eastern Regions, the Donsos from Kono also from the East, the Tamaborors from the Korankor ethnic group and the Gbethes and the Kapras from the Temene ethnic group in the northern Region while the Organized Body of Hunters Societies (OBHS) represented the Western Area. It was the respective Chiefdoms that controlled their respective militias using volunteers. They were never recruited or conscripted. It was they that appointed their commanders from among themselves; some asking retired service men to lead them. The Kamajors, it will be recalled are from the South and East of Sierra Leone boarding Liberia. They were the first to be attacked, suffered the most and the longest.

They were the focus of the whole country, some using political or Tribal connotations to describe them or refer to them. At the same time, there emerged from among the civil populace, men and women with mystical powers. That they prepared herbs which when used in the war front, render them bullet proof. Whether it was true or physiological, many of the fighters joined this society and were initiated. They paid their initiators who also seemed to have control over them. The news of these initiators also spread very fast and every Chiefdom in the Southern, Eastern and part of the Northern Chiefdoms recruited their own men and women initiators. It was also a voluntary initiation and certain prominent people in our society joined or allowed themselves to be initiated for self-protection. In some cases it was the Chiefdom elders and prominent people from those chiefdoms that contributed for their fighters to be initiated but not recruited. The Government was not responsible for either initiation or the recruitment and had no control over who was to be initiated as the people made private arrangement and paid for them. As stated above, every chiefdom, District, or Region appointed their leaders, Commanders, and Administrators using their native names, which led to confusion. Government then decided to group all of them and called them "Civil Defence Forces" (CDF) with the same alliance with the Sierra Leone Army (SLA).

The Kamajors were the prominent single group in the CDF because of the size of the area that was under Rebel control and the duration of their occupation. It should also be recalled that over 90 percent of the CDF were illiterate without any form of military training and discipline. These were Village men, women and Children who came together voluntarily to defend their towns against looters and invaders using any defensive weapon to beat back the aggressors. Their actions were in most cases predicated by the activities of their aggressors and should be seen in that light It was also very difficult for Government officers to adequately control most of their actions because of their large number, the remoteness of their places, and it was also risky to go there, as most of the areas were either occupied by Rebels or not under complete Government control.

When the different militias were brought under one name, that is the Civil Deference Forces (CDF), their activities and logistical supplies were like other allied forces, under the same control of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). At that time, which was after the return of the Government, following the interregnum, it was the late General Maxwell Khobe. Later I was appointed in my capacity as Vice President as Chairman of a committee that was responsible to seek the welfare of the CDF. The CDF operations were legalised and supported by Parliament and Government. And lastly Hon. R.E.S. Largao was appointed to head the affairs of CDF after me.

The committee appointed by His Excellency the President called the National Co-ordination Committee comprised:

  1. The Minister of Finance
  2. The Minister of Agriculture
  3. The Minister of Presidential Affairs
  4. The Minister of Information (Representative of the West)
  5. The Deputy Minister of Defense
  6. The Chief of Defense Staff
  7. The Resident Minister, Eastern Province
  8. The Resident Minister, Northern Province
  9. The Resident Minister, Southern Province
  10. Chief Brima Kargbo (Representative of the East)
  11. The National Security Adviser
  12. (Deputy Speaker of Parliament later became member of the Committee)
  13. (Mr. Okere Adams later replaced the Northern Regional Minister)

A Deputy Secretary, who was the Secretary to the committee, headed the CDF office. The function of the committee was to look into the welfare of the CDF. Government provided them with logistics, which was issued to Regions by the Secretariat on the committee's guidelines.

Another Armed group called ECOMOG came to this country during the inter-regnum of May 1997-March 1998. They also fought side by side with CDF and loyal SLA. It was these allied forces that removed the JUNTA (AFRC/ RUF) from power. They remained in the country until the end of their mandate in 2001 and were also replaced by UNAMSIL who finally together with British Army, Loyal SLA and CDF ended the war.

Our gratitude at this point should go to late General Sam Abacha, Rtd. General Abdulsalamii Abubakar, President Olu Segun Obasango, late General Maxwell Kobe, and Rtd. General Victor Mallu, former Foreign Minister Chief Tom Ikimi and former High Commissioner Alhaji Abubakarr all of Nigeria, President Lansana Coteh of Guinea, President Eyadema of Togo, Ex President Alpha Konare of Mali, former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook, and former British High Commissioner Peter Penfold. His Excellency SRSG Oluyemi Adeniji and His Excellency Kofi Annan of Untied Nations for their tremendous effort and contributions in bring lasting peace to our country.

With the number of different armed groups that participated in this small country and under five different Governments, one should not be surprised at the scale of destruction that took place, especially when sophisticated amour such as Helicopter Gunships, Warships, Tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers and Fighter Jets etc. were used.
We Sierra Leoneans have suffered so much that we are now ready to FORGIVE and OVERLOOK, but not to FORGET what happened. How can I FORGET the destruction of my five houses, three vehicles, my Office, my Lodge, and my clinic and the brutal murder of my brother Arthur, Uncle P. C. Demby and other family members and friends like B.S. Massaquoi and P.P. B. Kebbeh both of Kenema, my Nurse Saffa and my Driver Lansana?

That the steps now taken by Government and the International Community to create a conducive atmosphere, where in resettlement, rehabilitation, reintegration and reconciliation are taken place, are all steps in the right direction, that will bring lasting peace in this country.

Thanks for your attention.


My name is Dr. Albert Joe Edward Demby, Former Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

I have no knowledge and have never heard of the of the destruction of Koribondo in particular other than the general information of the destruction of towns and villages in the country.

I knew of the deployment of both the SLA and the CDF in Koribondo before the coup of May 1997. Whether it was at that time that the town was destroyed and by which of the fighting forces I cannot tell.

Thanks for your attention.


Chairperson, Commissioners,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
"There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it ill-becomes any of us
To fling stones at any of us"

This saying by Thomas Hardy aptly describes the theme of my presentation. There is no gainsaying that Sierra Leone is blessed with abundant and abounding resources, both human and material.
Our nation had been built upon sound foundations predicated on patriotism, respect for elders, honesty, integrity and tremendous sense of responsibility.

This was our outlook prior to and during the course of our attainment of Independence and little afterwards. However, everything went haywire with the advent of materialism in the country. This unfortunate phenomenon reared its ugly head during the first Republic of the Siaka Stevens era. The new characteristic bred unwholesome quest for material acquisition breaking in the process, the backbone of our hitherto wonderful character of a prolific value system. The dawn of this inglorious era turned us into material robots, intolerant of one another.

All of a sudden indiscipline crept into our body politic eating deep into the fabric of our hitherto morally sound and fundamentally upright society.

People in the position of leadership did not help matters by their indulgence in traits which negated their respective roles. Leadership became selfish, self-centered and impervious to reason; thus they cultivated the habit of intolerance to prodding, exhortation, let alone criticism, constructive as it may be. The followership, having no better disposition than lucre, became cynical, abhorrent to the status quo, disobedient, critical and at times rebellious as was the case with the Rebel War. In short, our institution of family has broken down; respect for elders which used to be a cardinal principle in our society is now at its lowest ebb; honesty, where it does not pay, has becomes meaningless.

This has ensued a free-for-all which in turn has bred and nurtured in us, as a polity, the syndrome of:

"Everybody for himself, God for us all,
The devil takes the hindmost".

Survival of the fittest, relegating our natural responsibility of being our brother's keeper, has become the order of the day. We are no longer ourselves. We have become out of sorts everywhere, at home nowhere. In trying to copy others blindly we have ended up being a poor caricature of what we are trying to copy. We must now try to be ourselves. We must revive our good cultural heritage.

Our traditions and customs must be upheld where they do not clash with our match to success.

Chairperson, Commissioners, distinguished ladies and Gentlemen, the aforementioned scenario, coupled with the inability of our system to put in his place a sound, sincere and veritable insurance for a public servant upon his leaving office, or the inability of our system to guarantee good medicare, reasonable cost of living and such other social security provisos, propel the average public officer be it civilian/military (in or out of office) to indulge in the wild and unbecoming rush for material things putting it mildly so to speak. This then makes the public officer the citadel of - permit me to say so corruption, indiscipline and unpatriotic disposition.

Allow me to digress a little here. Have we ever paused to ponder on how our system expects the average Sierra Leonean to survive a situation where as a "Senior Public Servant" his/her emoluments are insufficient to take care of utility charges - water, electricity, telephone, etc., etc? I mean, after settling these from his/her monthly wages there is not a cent more left to even feed let alone pay for Medicare for self or family members, take care of transportation or pay school fees, talk less of buying a new dress for oneself or a family member. Surely the system must look at itself properly in the mirror and readjust according to the realities of our times. Things have really gotten so bad that the average Sierra Leonean is unable to have two meals a day whether the meal is square, rectangular or oblong. It is that bad!! Let us all work towards making president Kabbah's wish, that by 2007 "no Sierra Leonean will go to bed hungry."

With the above scenario, how can the cancer of corruption not set into our polity and tenaciously become so malignant as to defy solution? The only answer is for people to indulge and delve into the arena of indiscipline and un-patriotism. How else do we interpret the actions of some people vested with positions of authority who flagrantly abuse them in such a fashion that negates civilized behaviour?

People in positions of trust sometimes employ such arrogance which tends to smear the already battered image of leadership. Coming lower down the strata we, as ordinary Sierra Leonean, have forgotten the meaning of words such as decency, tolerance, good measure, patriotism, discipline, being our brother's keeper and even how to say `Thank You' for a good turn.

Even the media which is supposed to be the fourth Estate of the Realm and by such vantage position be the watchdog of society has been caught pants down. The level of unpatriotic posture emanating from a section of the Sierra Leonean press provides the required fuel which the foreign media cashes on to ridicule, cajole and unjustifiably lambast Sierra Leone to our utter chagrin and cost.

The time is therefore now for us Sierra Leoneans to resolve that our great country must be rid of the multifarious malaises and negative tendencies which have added up to earn us the intolerable attribute of a nation so richly endowed with ingeniously negative sets of people, that led us to the eleven - year rebel war. Sierra Leone must be taken out of the decay and stench of corruption, we must make a clean break from our negative past; act of corruption and misdeeds must be thoroughly investigated, revealed to public and accordingly rewarded either by way of criminal sanction or the loss of the particular public office, position or property. No one ought to be spared or turned into a sacred cow. As a people, we must identify our real enemies within and outside the country. We must also learn to tolerate one another. We cannot claim to be championing Human Rights if we are unable to even be our brother's keeper, we cannot sing the song of Press Freedom unless we are willing to match that freedom with responsibility.

Mr. Chairperson, Commissioners, distinguished ladies and Gentlemen, please pardon my having taken so long by way of introductory remark.
I pray that all of us called upon by the TRC shall speak with the usual civilized but reasonable and patriotic candour as to do justice to the confidence reposed in us.

May I implore Government at the highest level, to avail itself of the proceedings of the TRC and use the deliberations as a worthwhile compendium to commence the exigent but arduous journey towards making the much needed amends, bound to catapult our great nation into greater heights. It is only by doing this, that we will avoid the mistakes that brought us 11 years of mayhem caused by RUF/AFRC.
Inspite of everything, we should not lose hope. I have not lost hope; I am an optimist not a pessimist. God willing, we shall overcome. Once we realise our shortcomings we are on the way.

"Whoso recognizes and confesses his defects Is hastening in the way that leads to perfection; But he advances not towards the Almighty Who fancies himself to be perfect"

But let us pray. Let us pray that all may love Sierra Leone like him or herself. Let us pray for good leadership, for the whole thing boils down to good leadership. The saying is: If any congregational prayer goes wrong it is the Imam, Reverend or Priest, leading it. May God grant, therefore, that we may continue to have leaders who will not lie; leaders who will not steal; leader with the fear of God; leaders who are not corrupt; leaders who have fire in their bellies but humanity in their heart; leaders who will look at the lot of the ordinary people with the eyes of a compatriot not with those of the privileged few; and leaders who will know when they are no longer equal to the exigencies of their nation and will have the prudence of handing over to others before they forfeit the admiration of their countrymen. Nations have become great by their patriotism. Let us be patriotic at all times and forever more. Amen! Amen! Amen!

Thank you all and God bless Sierra Leone

Joe C. Blell
Deputy Minister of Defence


Mr. Chairman
Members of the Commission
Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

1.    I am exceedingly delighted to accept your invitation and I feel highly honoured to be granted the privilege of speaking at this public hearing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In my view, ladies and gentlemen, the establishment of this commission is a historic chapter in the history of this country.

2.    The TRC as we know was established, among other things, to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the gross human rights abuses that accompanied the ten year conflict. Though not a cure in itself, but the TRC will, go a long way in promoting relief, and consolation for both the victims and the alleged perpetrators as well as to prevent a repetition of the abuse and violations.

3.    Today, I will talk on the theme "MILITIAS AND ARMED GROUPS" Within the context of the ten-year conflict in Sierra Leone. In this presentation, I have deliberately left out the regular security forces, namely, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces. The Operational Security Division and all conventional allied forces ECOMOG and other outside elements like the Gurkhas. The Executive Outcomes, and others, which fought on the side of the Government throughout the period of the 10-year conflict. In making my presentation, I will do it in typical military style covering introduction, aim, scope and conclusion.

4.    The aim of my presentation is to discuss the various local armed groups and militias within the context of the ten-year conflict in Sierra Leone.


5.    My presentation will cover the following:

a. Historical background of the armed militias
b. Types of armed groups
c. Activities and roles of the armed groups
d. Conclusion

6.    The CDF originated as far back as 1991 when the NPFL/RUF war started.    After the outbreak of the war, the strength of the Sierra Leone military was then very small and ill equipped. Furthermore, there was the urgent need then to have in place an auxiliary force to augment the efforts of the military.  As a result of this junior army commanders at the front started encouraging able-bodied youths and middle-aged to form small groups of volunteers to assist them in military operations. These later developed into civil defence units. The groups, of curse, assisted the troops greatly in fighting and halting the rapidly advancing rebels in addition to the local defense of their respective towns and villages.

7.    The significance o f the CDF because more apparent after the overthrow of the JS Momoh regime by the NPRC and the recruitment and full organization of the CDF became top priority. The person who spearheaded this and played a key role in it was the Under Secretary of State for Defence, Retired Captain Komba Kambo.

8.    The first area where the CDF organisation started in earnest was the Koinadugu District. Where the TAMABORORS were formed and organised. Nothing the great success scored by the TAMABOROS especially in the liberation of Kono, which had them been under RUF control for too long, the Southern and Eastern regions also formed the KAMAJOR militia which later grew into a very dominant organisation countrywide.

9.    When the SLPP came to power in 1996, it encouraged all these various civil militia groups to be organised and restructured in terms of hierarchy, administration and operations under one parent umbrella known as the Civil Defence Forces commonly referred to as the CDF.     The motive was to see a quick conclusion of the war and the rapid restoration of peace and security throughout the country. The CDF was placed under the command of Chief Sam Hinga Norman, who carried the title of Chief Coordinator.

10.    The militias and armed groups in Sierra Leone can be classified into 2 categories, namely, the pro-government forces and the anti-government militia groups.

a. The Pro-government militia groups. The pro-government militia forces are made up of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF). These came into existence after the advent o f the NPFL/RUF rebellion in 1991. In the early days of the war, civilians were recruited and organised into small groups or militias to compliment the efforts of the regular fighting forces. By regular forces I mean government troops of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (formerly known as the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces), and the then Special Security Division (SSD) (now Operational Security Division (OSD) as well as the allied forces. The militias were i n all p arts of the war theatre as they were our local allies. It was from this rudimentary stage that the CDF grew into a big fully organised society at the national level. The pro-government forces included the KAMAJORS and DONSOS from the South and East. In the North, other militia groups were formed and this included the TAMABORORS of Koinadugu District, the KAPRAS of Tonkolili District, and the GBETHIS of Port Loko District. The Organised Body of Hunters Society (OBHS) formed in the Western Area is also included I this category.

b. Anti-Government Forces. The Anti-Government militia included the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the West Side Boys (WSB). The RUF started the incursion, which sparked off the war on 23 March 1991. The AFRC was formed by disloyal and disgruntled elements of the Sierra Leone army who overthrew the democratically elected government on 25'h May 1997. In spite of the worldwide condemnation of the coup, the coup makers went ahead and established an illegal AFRC junta regime. In the aftermath of that unpopular and inglorious AFRC takeover, the coup plotters invited the RUF to join them to unleash more terror and mayhem on the people of this country. The Westside Boys were actually ruthless, notorious and hardcore AFRC elements who were as vicious and deadly as they were bloody and dangerous. After their invasion of Freetown and commission of arson and massacre on a grand scale, they retreated from the city under fire and established a notorious rebel base right at the threshold of the Freetown peninsular at Okra Hills from where they continued their horrendous activities until they were annihilated by the British-led "Operation Barass". These anti government elements will be dealt with in detail during the course of this presentation.

11. Pro-Government Forces. The Pro-government forces are made up principally of the CDF. Their primary role was to assist troops defend their respective localities against the advancing rebels. Elements of the CDF militia assisted troops by serving as scouts or guides, assisting troops on patrols as well as carriers of troops ration and ammunition. It is interesting to note that the CDF took active part in the planning and conduct of combat operations against the rebels. For example, during the intervention operation to oust the AFRC junta in February 1998, the CDF played a key role in enhancing and complimenting the efforts of ECOMOG troops to successfully restore the democratically elected government. With time in recognition of the patriotic services of pro-government militias, a parliamentary act was approved which eventually placed all pro-government armed militias and groups under one parent umbrella organisation known as the Civil Defence Forces (CDF), with Hon. Chief Sam Hinga Norman as the National Coordinator. Let us take a quick look at each of these pro-government armed groups or militias:

a. KAMAJORS: The Kamajors were initially recruited within various localities of the war theatre to complement the efforts of government troops and to assist in the defence of their respective localities against the RUF rebels. Their primary roles included serving as guides to troops on patrols, protection of the localities, gathering intelligence on the enemy and serving as informants as well as the carriage and conveyance of troops rations and combats supplies which included arms and ammunition. They later greatly assisted ECOMOG in fighting against the RUF/AFRC insurgents. One of the founding members of the KAMAJOR militia is the late Dr. Lavalie who died in a landmine explosion at Mano Junction in 1994.

b. DONSOS. In the same way, the DONSOS were formed in Kono District in the East with the same aim to carryout similar complementary duties. The DONSOS, as the local hunters of that district assisted immensely in defending that general area.

c. TAMABOROS.    The TAMABOROS hailed from Koinadugu District. In fact, the TAMABOROS were the first of the CDF elements to be recruited, organised and administered in a proper way under the supervision and coordination of retired Captain Komba Kambo. Like all other CDF groups, they were made up of traditional hunters and local civilian volunteers who were grouped together as a fighting body. The primary aim was to assist in the liberation and defence of Kono, which was then under rebel control for a long period. The TAMABORORS impressed this nation by scoring significant successes of the TAMABORORS earned the wonder and admiration o f the nation and this encouraged the formation of other militia groups who followed the good example of the TAMABORORS.

d. KAPRAS. The KAPRAS were organised and based in Yele in the Tonkolili District at the height of the 10-years crisis. Yele with its environs was one of the few rebel-free areas in the country t hat w as fully safe and secured under the sole control of the CDF. The Hon. Paramount Chief Bai Sontabe, was Very instrumental in the formation, mobilization and administration to defend the Yele general area and its environs, with some assistance from government and ECOMOG.

e. GBETHIS. The GBETHIS were also organised in the Kambia and Port Loko Districts. Mr. M.S. Dumbuya, who was also the CDF Coordinator for the entire Northern Province, was the sole supervisor.

f. OBHS. The Organised Body of Hunters Society came into existence during the intervention of ECOMOG forces to restore the democratically elected government in 1998, as well as during the May 8 RUF uprising. They greatly assisted ECOMOG forces during that critical period of national crisis, when the national army was dormant.

12. Anti-Government Armed Elements. The anti-government militia included the following:

a. RUF. The Revolutionary United Front started the incursion, which sparked off the war on 23 March 1991. The incursion led by retired Corporal Foday Sankoh was launched from Liberia with disgruntled Sierra Leoneans, hired Liberian and Burkinabe mercenaries with the assistance and support of Charles Taylor who contributed massively both human and material resources that fuelled the war in this country. In my view Charles Taylor was, thus, both the chief patron and protagonist of the ten-year conflict in Sierra Leone. In the wake of the RUF rebellion in the country, massive scale of atrocities, mayhem, catastrophe, chaos, anarchy, and terror were unleashed on the civil populace, which inevitably led to the huge loss and destruction of human and material resources as well as the solid infrastructure across the country. The RUF's main strategy was the adoption of heinous acts of barbarism, radicalism, banditry, lawlessness, terrorism, and massacre to achieve their selfish objective of seizing power by the barrel of the gun at all costs. The RUF started their campaign of terror and banditry since the APC days of ex-President JS Momoh and continued through the NPRC regime on to the SLPP government in 1996. This piece on the RUF will not be complete without shedding some light on the countless atrocities committed by the organization that was claiming to liberate the people of this country. At the height of their campaign, the RUF used the strategy of avoiding military deployments and installations and instead resorted to targeting civilians and other soft targets. Their general motive was to render the country ungovernable, get the maximum advantage of committing acts of mass looting, rape, arson and mass abductions. These horrendous activities of the RUF were even extended to UN peacekeepers in year 2000.

b. THE AFRC. In May 1997, some disloyal and disgruntled elements of the Sierra Leone army in a rude and crude manner toppled the young democratic SLPP government, which w as t hen barely a year in office.  The coup makers established an illegal AFRC junta regime.  This was a big shock not only to Sierra Leoneans, but also to the whole international community. Needless to say, the period of the AFRC/RUF that culminated into the West Side Boys (WSB) was the darkest and gloomiest period in the entire history of this country.    The 9 months era of the AFRC was truly a period of hell for Sierra Leoneans and foreigners around the country. Senior military officers including myself were not spared as we had a hell of time with the junta who was suspicious of all officers. Thus, they nicknamed their illegal act as "Other Ranks Revo". For my part, for example, I was arrested, and incarcerated a t the Pademba Road Maximum Security Prisons for a long period. Eventually, I had to seek refuge in the Republic of Guinea.    A host o f other senior officers were similarly maltreated and insulted in broad daylight on countless occasions.

c. The West Side Boys. The West Side Boys were a gang of ruthless, notorious and hardcore AFRC elements who were as vicious, wicked and heartless as the RUF. They were opposed to any move for a peaceful settlement of the 10 years conflict. They thus, choose to establish a notorious rebel base right at the threshold of the Freetown peninsular at Okra Hills. The end of their existence and survival in the Okra Hills was reached when the WSB went out of the way and abducted some British soldiers on routine patrol around Okra Hills vicinity. When all forms of dialogue and negotiations failed to secure the release of the abductees, force was used, as this was the only language the bandits understood. The ensuing British-led "Operation Barras" that ultimately and absolutely put to rest the Westside nightmare, rooted the bandits, demolished the base, exterminated stubborn bandit elements and captured the key leaders.

13.    Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I have been discussing militias and armed groups in Sierra Leone and their respective roles in the decade long civil war. I started by touching on the significance of the TRC as an independent institution, which is supported both by the Sierra Leone Government and the international community. With a huge measure of international support and backing, it then comes as no surprise that members of the commission have prudently selected to ensure objectivity, neutrality, fairness, independence and impartiality.

14.    I went on to discuss the various militias and armed groups that participated in the 10 years conflict in Sierra Leone and traced the historical background of each of them. I said that the armed groups could be divided into pro-government forces and anti-government elements. I also highlighted the activities and significance of the various armed groups under each category in the context of the 10 years conflict in Sierra Leone.

15.    Mr. Chairman, esteemed ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the honour of inviting me to make this presentation. I further thank you for your patience and attention. May God bless us all.


2 State Avenue Freetown
2 April 2003
The Chairman
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Block A, Brookfields Hotel
New England Freetown

Dear Sir


I would like to refer to your request for submission to your Commission dated 25 February 2003 and to forward to you the attached. The NCDDR stands ready to support the work of the TRC as we gently strive to consolidate the peace in our beloved country. Please do not hesitate to request for any further information if the need arises.

Please accept assurances of our co-operation at all times.

Yours sincerely

Dr Francis Kai Kai Executive Secretary



Introduction and Overview

After the restoration of democracy in February 1998 it was envisaged that the war would soon come to end and moves were made by government to ensure that the civilian population as well as the former fighters were well catered for. This was with the aim of supporting the national strategy for peace, reconciliation, consolidation of the political process and security for a viable post-war national recovery programme.

The National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR), was accordingly established by the Government in July 1998 with the mandate of ensuring that all combatants were disarmed, demobilised, and assured of a successful reintegration programme into society. Ex-combatants comprising members of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), former Sierra Leone Army (SLA) and the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) indeed constituted a considerable risk group, which deserved to be given targeted assistance if the peace process was not to be hindered. The Committee was chaired by His Excellency The President Dr Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabba with representatives from GOSL, UN, Donors, RUF and ex-SLA.

The implementation and supervision of the DDR Programme (DDRP) was placed in the hands of a National Executive Secretariat, which collaborated closely with other key stakeholders like ECOMOG, UNOMSIL, UNAMSIL, UN Agencies, DFID, World Bank, NGOs, CDF, AFSL, RUF, Civil Society and various communities to ensure the success of the programme.

The DDR Programme was implemented in three phases. During Phase I (September-December 1998) considerable effort was aborted due to heightened fighting in late 1998 and early 1999 which culminated in an attack on Freetown on January 6 1999. Subsequently, the Lome Peace Agreement was signed on July 7 1999.

Phase II was re-initiated and implemented within the LPA framework from October 1999 to April 2000. The process of disarmament and demobilisation was enthusiastically restarted with full participation of the international community and other various stakeholders. Nonetheless, the programme was halted in May 2000 when hostilities broke out among the fighting forces. This state of affairs continued until two ceasefire agreements were negotiated in 2001.

The period from May 2000 to May 2001 was regarded as an Interim Phase for the DDRP. It was characterised by Consultative Meetings to review the DDR Programme and agree on an acceptable way forward, negotiations with the RUF for the release of UN hostages, a ceasefire and discussion of framework on how to resume the disarmament exercise. Two ceasefire agreements were signed in Abuja (Nigeria) in November 2000 and April 2001, which eventually led to the establishment of a Joint Committee on DDR chaired by the UNSRSG Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji. The first meeting of this Committee was held on May 15 2001. Phase III of the programme commenced on May 18 2001 after the first Joint Committee Meeting and continued until January 2002 with the full participation of the remaining fighting groups, namely RUF and CDF.

On January 18, 2002 with disarmament completed all over the country, Government declared the eleven year rebel war officially over, while demobilisation of the newly disarmed ex-combatants continued in camps until February 2002. After completion of disarmament and demobilisation, the last important mandate of the NCDDR remains the economic and social reintegration of eligible and registered ex-combatants which has been over 70% accomplished.

Objectives Of The DDR Programme

Immediate and Medium Term
The immediate and medium term objectives of the DDR programme were:
To collect, destroy and dispose of all conventional weapons/ammunition retrieved from combatants.
Demobilise an estimated 45 thousand ex-combatants. (Eventually about 72,400 were disarmed) from all former fighting factions.

Long Term objective
To prepare and support ex-combatants for an eventual reinsertion and Socio-Economic reintegration into society.


Disarmament and Demobilisation
The NCDDR accomplished individual and group disarmament of the AFRC, RUF, CDF and Paramilitary Units since January 2002. Although there were occasional disagreements among the parties, we were able to maintain a reasonable standard that protected the credibility of the processes in this country.

During the three phases of the disarmament and demobilisation process of combatants in Sierra Leone, the following specific achievements in terms of numbers of combatants disarmed are recorded as follows:



Phase 1 Phase 11

Interim Phase

Phase 111(18 May



(Sept-Dec (Oct.'99-

(May 2Q00-17

2001-Jan 2002)



1988) April

May 2001)









187 4,130





0 2,129





2,994 2,366










2 8,800





0 1,473















3,183 18,898

~ 2,628

~ 47,781

~ 72,490 I







CHILDREN* 189 1r982




ADULTS 2,994 16,916




TOTAL _j- 3,183 '18,898





*Child combatants do not require weapons to join the DDR Programme.









189 1982






1,414 15,469






1,603 17,451



~ 69,463 ~


*Those who have gone through demobilisation with a DDR Programme ID Card and transport assistance. These are eligible for Short Term Reintegration Opportunities (STRO).

3. Mindful of the fact that achieving 100% disarmament was unrealistic, NCDDR provided the Sierra Leone Police with technical and logistical support in the development of the Community Arms Collection and Destruction (CACD) Programme. This programme was designed to collect arms and ammunitions in the hands of individuals who did not qualify for the DDR Programme. This programme was also successfully implemented in the country.

4. In the area of weapons destruction, NCDDR worked very closely with UNAMSIL who contracted GTZ to destroy the disabled weapons by cutting them into pieces and recycling the cut pieces into productive tools. Some 25,089 weapons have since been destroyed through this process. An additional arms and ammunition destruction programme was implemented by UNAMSIL Forces in the various military sectors.

5. The most significant achievement of the disarmament exercise is the improvement of the security situation. During the process, erstwhile enemies through persistent negotiations at the level of UNAMSIL, GOSL, CDF and RUF built up confidence in each other, which led to accelerated collection of weapons and ammunitions. Subsequently, there has been marked improvement in the security situation, leading to the free movement of persons and goods, accessibility to areas hitherto out of bounds to either party, and more significantly holding of elections leading to the restoration and extension of Government authority in parts of the country formerly under RUF control.
Demobilisation involved the process of receiving, registering and re-orienting ex-combatants into civil society. The following are highlights of achievements in this area:

  1. The NCDDR identified, established, staffed and managed 16 demobilisation centres located in every district prior to the commencement of disarmament in each. Some of these centres were established in logistically challenging environments with no normal access over a considerable period of time - especially Koidu and Kailahun in the Eastern Region.
  2. In close collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, NCDDR established policy and operational linkages that enabled the recruitment of about 2,385 ex-combatants (ex-RUF, ex-CDF) into the military. This military reintegration was the alternative option open to disarmed ex-combatants.
  3. For the child ex-combatants the Secretariat, in close collaboration with UNICEF and various child-focused NGOs, established seven Interim Care Centres managed by 5 Child Protection Agencies. Most of the children have been reunified with their families and provided with reintegration support. The total number processed is outlined in the Table earlier given.

The DDR Programme is currently supporting the social and economic reintegration of ex-combatants by engaging them in productive activities beneficial to them and facilitating their return to their families and communities in a responsible manner. In order to fulfil the commitments made to facilitate the return to civilian life, NCDDR strategy includes the provision of the following to adult combatants:

1) Post discharge resettlement support to ex-combatants in the form of reinsertion benefits.
2) Short-term Reintegration opportunities, to enable them to sustain themselves with opportunities in short-term employment, acquisition of basic skills, basic inputs for agriculture, self- employment and formal education. These are provided under a Training and Entrepreneurial Programme (TEP).
3) Referral and counselling services to strengthen their relationships and increase their participating in family and community based activities.

Child Ex-combatants
Assistance to child ex-combatants is provided on the basis of a memorandum of understanding with UNICEF. The components include:

•    Interim care services, followed by family tracing, counselling, primary health care and reunification.
•    Reintegration opportunities for children in two programmes, Community Education and Investment Programme (CEIP) or Training and Employment Programme (TEP). The CEIP supports formal education or accelerated learning programmes in communities including ex-combatants. The Training and Employment Programme supports child ex-combatants between ages 15 and 17 that are not able to return to formal education.
These activities are in support of Government's strategy to consolidate the peace and national security.

Reinsertion Benefit
A reinsertion payment (or transitional safety-net allowance) to ex-combatants was conceived as part of the DDRP since 1998. Although it was suspended in May 2000 following breakdown of the peace process, donors endorsed Government's proposal to resuscitate the payment of ex-combatants at the Paris Donors meeting in June 2001 as part of the initial reintegration assistance to support the resettlement and maintenance of ex-combatants and families for the immediate period following demobilisation and discharge. This payment significantly helped to bridge the critical gap between demobilisation and reintegration, especially in areas that had been inaccessible to any form of services.

NCDDR initiated registration and payments in Phase III in October 2001. By the end of April 2002, a total of 53, 767 ex-combatants registered and received the cash benefit nationwide.

Reintegration Support ( 2000-2003)
The social and economic reintegration component of the DDRP for the ex-combatants has always been considered as the most important challenge for Government and all key partners in a post-disarmament and demobilisation phase. NCDDR commenced the delivery of reintegration opportunities at the beginning of January 2000, albeit an a limited basis.

The early phase of the reintegration programme (i.e. the first half of 2001) was fraught with considerable problems, including inaccessibility to over 50% of the country, limited economic opportunities, concentration of government and other NGO services to only the Western Area, Bo and Kenema Townships and focus on relief activities by all agencies. On the whole, security was very tenuous and fragile.
NCDDR used that period to further elaborate a framework of assistance, preliminarily determine beneficiary preferences and service delivery mechanisms for effective implementation. The instruments for appraisal of partners and projects were also established.

As of 5th March 2003, a total of 56,715 ex-combatants had registered for reintegration opportunities. A total of 23,693 have completed various reintegration programmes, while 12,164 are engaged in on-going programmes.

There is a remaining caseload of ex-combatants who are still to access reintegration opportunities.

Profile of Ex-combatants' Preferences and Assistance Framework
On the basis of the preferences revealed by the ex-combatants registering for programme opportunities and analysis of the in-country capacity, NCDDR identified five key support areas to them namely:

:Formal Education :Vocational and Skills Training Agriculture
:Public Works, Job Placement and Employment.

NCDDR is continuously working with ex-combatants and partner organisations to explore all initiatives that provide meaningful support to ex-combatants. This profile changes over time as ex-combatants get more information on availability of opportunities. Therefore, it is reviewed on a periodic basis taking into consideration security and local economic initiatives.

A framework of assistance has been developed to guide programme and project development in the various sectors. This has been accomplished in collaboration with relevant line ministries to ensure that programmes in all sectors are within the technical guidelines of each ministry.

Social Reintegration
NCDDR continues to pursue the social reintegration of ex-combatants in order to facilitate their peaceful return to their original homes or localities of choice, and participate fully in all traditional and social events in the communities without inhibitions. This has quite sensitive and challenging, considering the level of atrocities of the war. The programme is contending with latent animosity against ex-combatants from the larger society.

The challenges are manifested in various forms. For example, ex-combatants are constantly reminded about the belligerent days and associated atrocities. This led to occasional outbursts in the communities in the past and was compounded by the refusal of some excombatants to hand over premises to their rightful owners in some major settlements around the country.

There are still a few areas of concentration of ex-combatants in the country, which are receiving the attention of the authorities. These ex-combatants have refused to return to their home communities for various reasons, ranging from fear to shame. Some have lost all family and community ties that will support their resettlement into normal society.

NCDDR has employed various strategies alongside the opportunities generated for economic reintegration to provide pertinent information and raise awareness in the larger society about the need for peaceful co-existence with ex-combatants. Radio discussion programmes, soap operas, live drama performances, and documentaries, community sensitisation sessions by community-based organisations, press conferences and technical co-ordination committees have all been utilised for that purpose.

With the re-establishment of central and local authority and control in every district, some of the problems associated with ex-combatants excesses are being addressed. NCDDR will continue to work with these structures increasingly to ensure that longer-term solutions are applied to some of their social problems during the next one year.

Current Challenges

The current challenges of the NCDDR include the following critical issues that influence its service delivery rate, social cohesion in communities, and the stabilisation of security throughout the country.

i)    Implementation Capacity
Limited in-country implementation capacity and slow pace of deployment of existing capacity to the recently accessible districts remain two major challenges facing the delivery of reintegration services. Kailahun District in the Eastern Region has been mostly affected due to the increasing level of conflict in Liberia as well as being the last district for the completion of disarmament and demobilisation. The programme envisages increasing presence of service providing agencies as well as national recovery efforts as critical developments that will enhance delivery of reintegration assistance in the districts in the border areas.

ii)    Increasing Cost of Engagement
One of the consequences of limited in-country capacity is the increasing cost of engaging credible agencies to deliver reintegration assistance. This is against the backdrop of limited funding and other measures of cost reduction in the scope of services, which the programme has initiated. Many of the agencies willing to operate in the Kailahun, Kono and Pujehun Districts either require large overhead cost which the programme is unable to provide or have not had a presence in the district for the past ten years and therefore require significant establishment costs.

iii) Slow Expansion of Employment Opportunities
Slow expansion of employment opportunities for trained ex-combatants remains a critical challenge in the implementation of reintegration programmes. Most excombatants who have been provided with short-term reintegration assistance are searching for opportunities for employment. Economic activities in the country need to expand sharply to provide for sustained opportunities in employment. The role of the private sector in job creation as well as in provision of outlets for delivery of services must be a major driving force for successful reintegration in the long term.

iv) Reconciliation
Promoting and fostering reconciliation among the divergent population groups (internally displaced persons, refugees, ex-combatants) in communities in the country remains a crucial challenge that impacts on short and long term national recovery. In response to these concerns, NCDDR and its partners have facilitated the return of ex-combatants to their home communities and mediated for social acceptance through a network of referral and counselling officers, information dissemination and supporting community initiatives for reconciliation. Furthermore, NCDDR views ex-combatant participation in economic reintegration activities as an integral part of the daily socialisation process.

Phase Out Plan
NCDDR plans to complete the reintegration mandate by end of 2003. Registration by excombatants who need support has been completed and the validation and placement of the remaining ex-combatants into various opportunities will be the major thrust of the programme in the next three months. By the end of June 2003, all outstanding excombatants are expected to be placed in projects of their choice. The second half of the year will be a wrapping-up phase for the Executive Secretariat, while supporting the transition of the ex-combatants to normal society.

The specific strategies to be adopted to complete the process will include:

(i) Flexible Delivery Mechanism: the programme focus for the next half year is to encourage deployment of agencies to regions and districts of high concentration as reflected in the registration figure as well as explore flexible delivery arrangement where difficulties are encountered in identifying credible partners. This may include the option of financing directly ex-combatant groups or associations in certain sectors without impacting negatively on programme quality.

(ii) Cost-Sharing Arrangement with Other Parallel Programmes: one of the major constraints for the programmes is the financing of the establishment cost for agencies identified for deployment in the regions and districts which have remained inaccessible throughout the conflict particularly Kono and Kailahun. Limited financing implies seeking out co-financing arrangement with programmes ready to support reintegration activities in these districts.

(iii) Information Sharing and Linkages - with potential and actual agencies involved in community reintegration and development programmes to consciously design and implement all inclusive programmes.

(iv) Gradual Withdrawal of NCDDR - withdrawal in a phased manner, starting in districts with less reintegration challenges in 2003. Referral and counselling capacity will be maintained at regional level to support more difficult cases.

Whilst planning an exit strategy, there are a couple of transition issues that confront NCDDR. Since the commencement of the reintegration programme, over 14,000 ex-combatants have already graduated from the short-term support projects. There will be over 56,000 by the time we complete the programme. Although same are participating in rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in various communities, unemployment among them is a real possibility if our economy does not grow fast enough to create more durable opportunities.

In that regard, NCDDR will work within the framework of Government's National Recovery Strategy, which incorporates a broad range of multi-sectoral programmes implemented by other government agencies, UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector. Ex-combatants would need transition to such initiatives in a timely fashion in order to avoid disillusionment among them and the wider community who need similar services for sustainable livelihood. Supporting and facilitating smooth transition from targeted to community-based initiatives will be a major area of focus for NCDDR in the next six months. The existing linkages with NaCSA and other institutions with a more medium to long term mandate for community recovery programmes will be strengthened as part of this strategy.

Link To The TRC
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established as an accountability mechanism to consolidate the peace process. In pursuit of this goal the Commission is taking statements from community members including ex-combatants, to be later followed by voluntary public hearings. These initiatives are meant to reduce tensions in communities and foster reintegration and reconciliation efforts. The role of local actors and community organisations in explaining the function of the TRC as a societal healing mechanism is vital. NCDDR as part of its social reintegration mandate has worked very closely with such local actors, CBOs and communities at large to promote reconciliation between ex-combatants and the wider civilian communities. This is in line with efforts being pursued by the TRC to consolidate the ongoing peace process.

By all accounts NCDDR's programmes have been executed largely in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation that presumably make way for peaceful co-existence between former fighter and other members of society. In terms of the activities that characterised social reintegration efforts, NCDDR has actually played the role of forerunner to the TRC.

9 July 2003
2 State Avenue Freetown
Mr Franklyn Bai Kargbo Executive Secretary
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Braokfields Hotel

Dear Mr Kargbo


I refer to your letter dated 3 July 2003 (Ref. TRCIFBKI20) and should state that NCDDR was ready to testify at a public hearing on the theme "Militias and Armed Groups" on 20 June 2003. This date was postponed by a telephone conversation (Bishop Humper/Dr Kai-Kai) as it coincided with the state opening of the Second Parliament. ! am now forwarding to you as requested, ten copies of our presentation already prepared on "Militias and Armed Groups" for your Commission.
Meanwhile, the second presentation on the theme "Promoting Reconciliation and National Reintegration (including Reparations) is being prepared and ten copies would be forwarded to you soon. I would also like to confirm that both papers would be presented on Monday 4 August 2003 at a public hearing. Please receive assurances of our co-operation at all times.
Yours sincerely. ...

Dr Francis Kai-Kai
Executive Secretary

National Committee for Disarmament,  Demobilisation and Reintegration (NCDDR)  (Executive Secretariat)

Executive Secretariat NCDDR
2 State Avenue Freetown
20 June 2003

On behalf of H.E. the President and staff members of the NCDDR-Executive Secretariat, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Chairman, Commissioners and staff members of the TRC for their monumental contribution to the consolidation of the hard won peace in our beloved country, Sierra Leone. We had made a written submission to you earlier and I am here today to make a specific contribution on the theme "Militias and Armed Groups" in our conflict. NCDDR is slated to do another contribution in the thematic area "Reconciliation and National Reintegration" on 4 August 2003. We are equally committed to be here to perform that national duty.

The NCDDR was set up in July 1998 to address the concerns of all stakeholders for the orderly transition of combatants involved in Sierra Leone's decade old conflict from their state of war to a state of peaceful co-existence in post-war communities. The programme was carefully designed to focus on this overarching objective and it involved comprehensive disarmament and demobilisation of all combatant groups and provision of support for their social and economic reintegration.

Our work with ex-combatants from all the factions over the last five years has given us a unique perspective of the various armed factions, which we are pleased to share at this TRC Hearing. Our presentation will cover three main areas:

a)    Typology and characteristics of the Groups
b)    Motivations of each Group
c)    Problems encountered during disarmament and demobilisation. (A special presentation will be made on the theme: "Reconciliation & National Reintegration" in due course as already stated).

We shall conclude with an overall assessment of the disarmament and demobilisation of armed factions in the country.

From the inception stage of our institution in 1998, we had tried to determine the various groups to be targeted for the programme. Three main armed groups were identified, namely, RUF, AFRC/ex-SLA and CDF. Each group had its own characteristics, in terms of structure, recruitment procedure and geographic concentration.

The RUF was the major belligerent group in Sierra Leone's war. They were organised on the basis of an armed Guerrilla Group trying to gain territory and power forcibly. They had several companies, battalions and brigades all over the country. RUF recruited their membership forcibly through abduction of potential victims (mainly young boys and girls of school-going age and the unemployed youths in general). Their movement which originated from Liberia spread from Eastern and Southern Sierra Leone towards the Northern and Western parts of the country. Their activities covered over 90% of the territory of Sierra Leone.

The AFRC/ex-SLA were disgruntled former SLA mainly in Freetown, but also found in various SLA Units around the country. They rebelled against the state and staged a Coup d'Etat in 1997. They joined forces with the RUF to form a junta regime (and a people's Army) in the country and ruled until February 1998. Both groups were removed from power through an ECOMOG intervention. Internal disagreements in their leadership and ranks led to a violent split among them, with the RUF going back to the bush with some elements of the ex-SLA. The AFRC/ex-SLA had various unrecognised paramilitary elements associated with them at various times - e.g. the West-Side Boys of Okra Hills in the Port Loko District, children and other relatives of soldiers at and around the Military barracks in Freetown, convicts and ex-convicts from the prisons and a small number of civilian sympathisers. Although the Group was largely urban-based (Western Area and Provincial Units of the SLA), the membership resorted to bush guerrilla tactics when they were ousted from power in 1998. They went into disarray and split up into small but potent units that frequently disturbed the peace process in the Western flank of the country until the final disarmament phase in 2001. The overall motive of the ex-SLA elements was to return to the national army as a means to cover up their crimes and other misdemeanours.

The CDF was largely a group that came into existence spontaneously - largely to defend the communities ravaged by rebel forces. They were made up of civilians of various shades and occupations in both rural and urban areas. They were later organised at Chiefdom and District levels to defend their communities against attacks from the RUF and later elements of the SLA ("SOBELS") and AFRC/ex-SLA. The concept of civil defence, largely based on traditional hunting organisation, spread across the country through various informal groupings of elders and traditional authorities. They adopted various names based on the part of the country they were organised (Kamajors in the South and East, Kapras/Gbethis/Tamaboros in the North, Donsos in the East/Kono and OBHS in the Western Area).

These groups had different objectives and motives, which influenced the path and nature of the Peace Process in this country. The RUF initiated the rebel war with the clear objective of taking over power from the civilian authorities in Freetown. They went for power at all cost with the aim of changing the socio-political order in favour of the so-called "masses". This influenced the approach they adopted and the relationship with civilians wherever they overran and established their authority. The result has been a major disaster for every community in Sierra Leone over the last twelve years.

The AFRC/ex-SLA also wanted power as demonstrated by the Coup d'Etat they staged in 1997. They were influenced by the perceived "successes" of their bosses in the former NPRC - the military Regime that handed over power to the civilians in 1996. But more importantly, they were not satisfied with the perceived level of recognition accorded them by the civilian regime (vis-a-vis the CDF). Some were dissatisfied with their superiors and had the perception that the latter deprived them of every benefit meant for them. Most of the civilian elements in this group felt deprived and were almost always disgruntled at state authority. Some of them thrived on chaos and looting of properties during upheavals in the past.

The CDF, as their name suggests, did not espouse lust for power at the outset for themselves. They fought primarily and largely to defend their own communities in the early years of the war. In the latter years of the NPRC regime, there were very strong suspicions among the populace that elements in the SLA were behaving like rebels (so called "Sobels") and even allegations of complicity. After the transition to civilian rule in 1996, the CDF later openly expressed political support for the democratically elected government following the Coup d'Etat of the AFRC in 1997. This remained the case until the disarmament and demobilisation of all warring factions between 1998 and 2002.
The CDF took over local administration in many parts of the country that they occupied in the war years especially after the flight of local chiefs to safety.

The NCDDR encountered several challenges with ex-combatants during the disarmament and demobilisation processes. In the disarmament phase, we encountered difficulties with all the factions which contributed to a slow down and phasing of the process. I will summarise a few of these below.

i) Securing the commitment and compliance with the provisions of the Lome Peace Accord of July 1999 from the fighting forces, especially the RUF, was an uphill task for all stakeholders to the peace process. This manifested itself in the refusal to completely cease-fire, provide information on troops and heavy weapons and their locations. This lack of compliance created problems for the peace process in general and planning and implementation of the DDR programme in particular. This resulted in a prolonged period of stop-and-go for the process as every opportunity was used during the lull in activities to re-group, relocate weapons and gain territory.

ii) The lack of trust among the Leadership of the factions also posed a serious challenge. The feeling of mistrust was mutual among them and significantly influenced the level of commitment to any agreement reached, activities and deadlines proposed and adopted to advance the peace process at the National Committee meetings chaired by H.E. The President.

iii) To obtain the accurate number of combatants on all sides was also a big challenge. We needed to know this to enable us plan and budget for the DDR Programme. Faction leaders generally exaggerated the number of their troops. The initial figure of 45,000 combatants was proposed based on assessments of the military strengths of the different groups by ECOMOG Peacekeepers in 1998. This turned out to be off target by the end of the disarmament phase of the programme. Over 72,000 combatants were disarmed by the end of Phase III in January 2002. (See table 1 for details).

iv) The command and control structure was very rigid among the factions, especially the RUF. This gave strong influence to some difficult and recalcitrant local commanders, who were used to block the smooth implementation of the disarmament process in some parts of the country.

v) Disagreements were experienced on a continuous basis, especially over the weapons criteria used by the NCDDR. All groups, especially the CDF, posed a big challenge as attempts were made to include more of their civilian followers in the process because of the perceived benefits associated with the DDR Programme.

We shall now share some regional/district dimensions of the problems NCDDR encountered during the disarmament period.

a) During Phase II of DDR Programme implementation (July 1999 - May 2000), following the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement, the lack of commitment and political will of the RUF led to major disruption of the Programme. This culminated in attacks on personnel and property at the Demobilisation Centres in Makeni and Magburaka in May 2000. During this period over 500 UN peacekeepers were taken hostage by the RUF in Port Loko and Lunsar. This brought about security setbacks for the programme and the peace process in general.

Phase III of the DDR was launched on 18th May 2001 with thecommencement of disarmament in Port Loko and Kambia Districts. Subsequently, the disarmament exercise wasm implemented simultaneously in two districts at a time following this pattern - Kono and Bonthe, Koinadugu and Moyamba,Tonkolili and Pujehun, Bo and Bombali and Kenema and Kailahun. The districts that posed greatest difficulties during the disarmament and demobilisation exercise are described below:

b) Kono District and Tongo Fields area in Kenema District experienced delays in the commencement of the disarmament exercise with several intermittent deferment tactics adopted by particularly RUF commanders who repudiated orders for disarmament of their fighters. This delay largely had to do with strident mining practices and operations embarked on by RUF combatants and some CDF elements.

c) In Makeni, Bombali District, during the third phase of the disarmament exercise, the programme encountered major difficulties with RUF commanders when they refused to use a rehabilitated centre for demobilisation at the St. Francis Secondary School Compound. The programme was forced to identify and use an alternative site after spending huge sums of money for the previous rehabilitation work. The uncompromising stance led to over a month's delay in the commencement of the exercise in that district. The reality was that the high command of the RUF was now based in Makeni and for all practical purposes, they felt disarming their fighters at that stage of the programme would erode their power base. Consequently, they resorted to delaying tactics to slow down the process in that part of the country.

d) Disarmament in Kailahun district, the last stronghold of the RUF also posed some major challenges prior to its commencement. RUF, still had unresolved political demands such as release of their Leader - Corporal Foday Sankoh, provision of RUF party offices at regional headquarter towns, active inclusion into the political process etc. They thought that giving up Kailahun District would be tantamount to their demise as a political-cum-military force in the peace process in Sierra Leone. The interpersonal wrangle between those RUF commanders willing to disarm and those who were unwilling heightened. This led to an open defiance to the authority of the then interim leader, Issa Sesay. Eventually the conflict was amicably resolved and disarmament started in early December 2001 with no major hitches till its completion about a month later.

In effect, every district experienced some delay in the conduct of the exercise and this had to do primarily with the rigidity in the application of the weapons criteria. Every faction wanted to have more of their combatants and followers registered into the programme without meeting the criteria laid down by NCDDR.

Notwithstanding these setbacks as outlined above, the disarmament process overall went on successfully. The process was enhanced by continued sensitisation at every stage by UNAMSIL and NCDDR.

Demobilisation, as a process of breaking the command and control structures and civilianising the ex-combatants, was expected to immediately follow their disarmament. NCDDR also faced considerable challenges in this area. However, we were able to provide encampment for over 70,000 ex-combatants at district level for an average period of two weeks under considerable pressure. Apart from being fed and cared for regularly, we gave them orientation sessions in different aspects of civilian life as part of their preparation for return to their communities. This included sessions in Reconciliation, Psycho-Social Counselling, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Civic Education, Personal Development/Job Finding Techniques and Re-entry Plan/Home coming. Before they left these camps, NCDDR provided the ex-combatants transportation assistance to facilitate return to their home areas or communities of choice.

During the period of demobilisation, we were able to learn more about the different groups. In general, we are in a position to say that ex-combatants did exhibit aggressiveness, impatience, disrespect and high expectations for self-profit during and after this encampment phase. However, there was considerable variation among the groups in these aspects.

The AFRC/ex-Soldiers were generally very violent and responsible for problems in camp management whenever their number was significant. Since they were uncontrollable, we had to frequently involve the military to impose some level of discipline, especially in the Lungi and Port Loko camps. Some of the more experienced and matured ex-soldiers in the ranks of the AFRC were however very eager to leave the camp and return to the army. They refused to complete the civilian demobilisation processes and referred to themselves as "service-continue personnel". These ex-soldiers therefore occupied the limited camp space permanently and slowed down the intake of disarmed ex-combatants and the disarmament process by extension.
The RUF ex-combatants were much younger, brainwashed and difficult to understand. They remained apprehensive in the camps, very disciplined, but sometimes confused. This was largely a result of their previous command structure and the harsh punitive measures meted out to them in the "jungle". They showed signs of war fatigue and willingness to be counselled. The majority were forcibly recruited as the RUF war machine rolled across the country. Most of the commanders refused to be encamped as they occupied homes of displaced civilians in most of the towns they controlled at the time. They however paid frequent visits to "oversee" the processes in the centres. These commanders also showed considerable signs of apprehension about the future of the peace process, having given up their weapons of control.

The CDF joined the process from a position of strength since they were all in their normal communities and, above all, pro-Government. Apart from the very high expectations of gain they had from the DDR process, they used this advantage to attempt all kinds of tricks to influence the procedures. In some locations, they tried to inflate their numbers and dictate the pace of the process. However, our robust and neutral procedures could not be subjected to this kind of influence. We had occasional problems with the large numbers we had to process in a limited timeframe at the demobilisation Centres.

Let me end this part of our presentation with a summary profile of the militias and armed groups. The average participant is a male in his mid 20's and of rural extraction with some level of experience in traditional agricultural activities. He has a wife or partner and an education level characterised by low functional literacy and lack of the ability to write or read English language and minimal numeracy skills. In addition, he expects the DDR to be the single source responsible for his reintegration. (See Annex B)

One question that has continued to exercise the minds of people within and without the country is whether all the groups have been successfully disarmed and demobilised. NCDDR and UNAMSIL are quite positive and unequivocal about the comprehensiveness of the processes and procedures we put in place and utilised to get all known armed factions and groups to give up their weapons and to dismantle their war formations. UNAMSIL and NCDDR declared end of disarmament in January 2002, prior to H.E the President's historic declaration of end of the decade old war on 18 January 2002. Following this declaration, we also supported the design and implementation of a Community Arms Collection and Destruction (CACD) Programme. It was implemented by the Sierra Leone Police with support from UNAMSIL. This helped to mop up the remaining arms and ammunition that could not be used to join the DDR Programme.

On demobilisation, we have been under no illusion that this would normally take some time to effect. At the end of disarmament. all groups still maintained some level of command and control and others retained some communication equipment. This was made possible by the phased district-by-district approach we used to disarm and the concentration of former fighters in specific locations. The ex-RUF was particularly caught up in the North and East of the country, where most of them did not originally come from. The ex-CDF were in their home locations and the relationships and hierarchy among them remained almost intact. The ex-AFRC were mainly in the Western area and continued to have strong links to the national army and some disaffected civilians.

NCDDR and UNAMSIL have continued to monitor their situation since the declaration of end of the war in January 2002, while maintaining constructive dialogue with the leadership of the each disarmed group. In collaboration with numerous partners, we have been vigorously providing social and economic reintegration support to individual ex-combatants from each of the groups across the country. These activities have contributed substantially in reducing the level of control over individual ex-combatants and in sustaining the peace generally.
Political and social developments in the last one year, especially recent developments and events, do indicate that demobilisation is at an advanced stage in Sierra Leone The last presidential and parliamentary elections, the TRC processes, the Special Court activities and the extension of government authority law and order throughout the length and breadth of Sierra Leone are all factors that have helped to dismantle any residual command and control structures among the erstwhile armed groups. Reconciliation remain the key challenge at all levels.

Let me conclude this presentation by emphasising that the NCDDR was set up to help transition the armed groups from their combative existence to civilian life. Indeed, we have largely succeeded in accomplishing this objective. We do not have any known organised armed group existing on the soils of Sierra Leone that is threatening the State and society.

We have provided an annex that summarises key events along the road to complete disarmament and demobilisation of the militias and armed groups in Sierra Leone from 1998 to January 2002.
As ex-combatants are mostly youths, it was clear to us at the outset that they could not be purged and abandoned. Rather, they had to be rescued from years of wastage. NCDDR had to look for strategies to transition these people to normal society, keeping in mind that this same society has been devastated and further impoverished by the decade old war.

Our next presentation on 4th August 2003 will elaborate the short-term targeted socio-economic reintegration programmes developed and implemented for erstwhile militias and armed groups (ex-combatants) as NCDDR's contribution to national reintegration and reconciliation.

Finally, I would like to conclude this session by proffering the following recommendations for consideration by the TRC in the quest for long-term peace-building and reconciliation in Sierra Leone.

1. There is need to take a hard look at our national army in its present form. This vital arm of national security is vigorously striving for professionalism and defence of our territorial integrity through intensive training and retraining programmes, broad based and neutral recruitment procedures and investment in infrastructure and occasional community services. However, it has not yet gained the confidence required from the broad mass of people, who continue to remember the immediate past.

The simple reason for this is that the national army has some officers and men in their ranks who were not only associated with the militias and armed groups, but also may have committed crimes against civilians that have neither been forgotten nor forgiven. It is our humble view that this situation be seriously looked at by the commissioners with a view to promoting genuine reconciliation of the Army with the people.

2. Sierra Leone's post war political landscape is undergoing change and this will be the case for a long time in the future. However, we are of the view that those political parties that derive the bulk of their membership and representation almost exclusively from the armed groups and militias involved in the conflict should be encouraged to re-think. Perhaps they should be encouraged to broaden their membership. Otherwise, we see the potential for old wounds to persist and negatively impact on our body politic.

3. Government has developed a very reasonable national recovery strategy and governance programme that are acclaimed by the people and supported by the international community. There is need to accelerate implementation of these programmes, especially those that will generate jobs for the unemployed, whose ranks are being swelled by former members of militias and armed groups. Their effective engagement is our present and long-term challenge.

Thank you for your attention.

Faithfully submitted.
Executive secretariat



July 1998: NCDDR established and an Executive Secretariat set up by Government
September-December 1998: Phase 1 of disarmament programme
January 6: Invasion of Freetown by rebel forces and disruption of disarmament programme
July 7: Lome Peace Accord signed between Government of Sierra Leone and RUF rebels.
20 October 1999: Symbolic Disarmament of all factions and launching of Phase II of the disarmament programme by H.E. the President
May 2000: Disarmament stalled when the RUF resumed hostilities.
July 2000: Consultative Meeting of stakeholders in Freetown to review the DDR programme.
November 2000: 1st Abuja Ceasefire Agreement
April 2001: 2nd Abuja Ceasefire Agreement
15th May 2001:15th meeting of Joint Committee (GOSL-RUF-            UNAMSIL) on DDR at UNAMSIL Headquarters, Mammy Yoko Freetown.
18th May 2001: Commencement of Phase III of the DDR Programme. Group disarmament commenced in two districts simultaneously per month.

1.   Port Loko/Kambia
2.   Kono/Bonthe
3.   KoinadugufMoyamba
4.   Bo/Bombali
5.   Tonkolili/Pujehun
6.   Kenema/Kailahun
7.   Western Area

October 2001-April 2002: Registration and payment of reinsertion benefits to 53,767 ex-combatants.
January 2002: Country-wide Disarmament and Demobilisation Complete.
January 18: His Excellency the President declared end of the Rebel War at a Symbolic Arms-Burning Ceremony in Lungi, Port Loko     District. This ceremony was relicated in Makeni and the 19th and Bo and Kenema on the 23rd January 2002.

SEX: 92% of the ex-combatants population are male and 8% are         female.
AGE: The average ex-combatant is in the age range of 20 and 36 years
CHILDREN: 9.4% are children (below 18 years of age)
ORIGIN: Mostly of rural extraction with some level of experience in traditional agricultural activities.
FAMILY DEMOGRAPHY: He has a wife or partner and dependants
EDUCATION: Has a low level of formal education with low functional, literacy and unable to write or read English language.
SKILLS AND EXPECTATION: Has minimal numeric and functional skills and expects DDR programme to be the single source responsible for his reintegration.

Executive Secretariat    20 NCDDR
20 June 2003


In June 2003, we see a country at peace. Last year, the country had its first peaceful, democratic election in more than a decade. Armed soldiers no longer lined the streets of the cities; opposing factions have been demobilized and, for the most part, disarmed. People are conducting business and going about their lives without fear, talking of a future of hope for the nation and for their livelihoods. And perhaps most telling fact is that the refugees who had fled Sierra Leone during the fighting are returning to their homes.
One of the major reasons for this transition from civil war to the present days of peace, stability and democracy is the success of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), which was deployed in 1999, in extremely dire circumstances. Although this peacekeeping force faltered initially, it eventually became what is widely acknowledged as one of the UN's most successful peace keeping missions.

But let me say that "success" is a subjective term, and especially if we apply it to an ongoing mission. Nevertheless, even if we apply the term in a narrow sense: Prior to May 2000, the country was engulfed in civil war. In June 2002, there was no war, the country conducted its first peaceful democratic elections since 1996, and refugees who had left the country a few years earlier have begun returning home. In those terms, UNAMSIL has been a successful mission.

>    We began with UNSCR 1270 - this set the force up to work alongside the MILOBs and ECOMOG.

>    We then moved onto UNSCR 1289 - this introduced the concept of Chapter 7 operations and a robust set of Rules of Engagement.

>    UNSCR 1346, - recognised that the RUF was no longer or had any legitimacy.

>    UNSCR 1389, - required UNAMSIL to support the elections, and finally,

>    UNSCR 1436, - sees a return to normal rule of law and has laid upon UNAMSIL the task of reducing the force size, with an increasing role for CIVPOL.

In all the above, UNSCR - 1289, was the key UNSCR; heralding a new philosophy to underpin a UN mission, it adopted a far more robust approach to security, invoking Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.    It authorised new tasks, most notably:

>    To facilitate the free flow of people, goods and humanitarian assistance along specified thoroughfares.

>    To coordinate with and assist, in common areas of deployment, the Sierra Leone law enforcement authorities in the discharge of their responsibilities.

And most importantly it:

>    Authorizes UNAMSIL to take the necessary action to fulfill the additional tasks set out above, and affirms that, in the discharge of its mandate, UNAMSIL may take the necessary action to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel and, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, to afford protection to civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

>    In support of this resolution UNAMSIL was also issued a robust set of Rules of Engagement, which were designed to enable the Force to deal properly with the desperate security situation. In short, it was recognised that the UNAMSIL must enforce the resolution.
You will note that, although UNAMSIL may have moved from enforcing the peace, through to peacemaking and now, finally, to peacekeeping, Chapter 7 remains in being.

UNAMSIL has to keep its mandate if it is to deter a return to the past. It achieved deterrence by demonstrating that it has the military capability and the willingness to use it. Because the situation remains on a knife-edge; it is far easier to operate below the Chapter 7 mandate than it would be to apply for an extension of military powers should the need arise - which hopefully will not.


As per Lakhdar Brahimi, Under Secretary General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary General's Preventive and Peace Making Efforts, "United Nations peace operations entail three principal activities: Conflict Prevention and Peace Making; Peace Keeping; and Peace Building. Long-term conflict prevention addresses the structural sources of conflict in order to build a solid foundation for peace. Where those foundations are crumbling, conflict prevention attempts to reinforce them, usually in the form of a diplomatic initiative. Such preventive action is, by definition, a low-profile activity; when successful, it may even go unnoticed altogether."

a.    Peace Making.    This stage addresses conflicts in progress, attempting to bring them to a halt, using the tools of diplomacy and mediation. Peacemakers may be envoys of governments, groups of states, regional organizations or the United Nations, or they may be unofficial and non-governmental groups. Peacemaking may even be the work of a prominent personality, working independently.

b.    Peace Keeping. It is a 50-year-old enterprise that has evolved rapidly in the past decade from a traditional, primarily military model of observing ceasefires and force separations after interstate wars, to incorporate a complex model of many elements, military and civilian, working together to build peace in the dangerous aftermath of civil wars.

c.    Peace Building. This is a term of more recent origin that defines activities undertaken on the far side of conflict to reassemble the foundations of peace and provide the tools for building on thosefoundations something that is more than just the absence of war. Thus, peace-building includes but is not limited to reintegrating former combatants into civilian society, strengthening the rule of law improving respect for human rights through the monitoring, education and investigation of past and existing abuses; providing technical assistance for democratic development; and promoting conflict resolution and reconciliation techniques.

Sierra Leone is now at the juncture between peacekeeping and Mr. Brahimi's third phase of peace operations: i.e, Peace Building. It must be realized that "victory" means more than defeating an enemy. Victory means a long-term commitment to demobilizing and disarming combatants and then to reintegrating them into society so they would no longer pose a military threat to the stability of the country. Victory also means winning the trust and support of the civilian population and working with the civilian population to help them develop and restore good governance at the local and national levels.

1991 - Start of Civil War. Foday Sankoh and RUF capture towns on border with Liberia
1992 - Captain Valentine Strasser ousts President Momoh in coup. Announces plan for multi party elections
1995 - RUF laid siege to Freetown
ECOMOG established to restore peace
May 95 - Mar 96 - Executive Outcomes (EO), South African-based private military company, defends Freetown and trains elements of SLA
1996 (Jan) -  Strasser ousted in coup by Julius Maada Bio
1996 (Feb) - Kabbah elected President
1996 (Nov) - Abidjan Accord signed with Foday Sankoh/RUF
1997 (May) - Kabbah deposed by J P Koroma / RUF. Kabbah flees to Guinea.
ECOMOG deploys
1997 (Oct) - UN Security Council sanctions against Sierra Leone 6 months peace plan agreed upon by ECOWAS and Koroma (in Conakry) -- Called for supervision
of ceasefire by ECOMOG and UN observers
1998 (Feb) - ECOMOG drives rebels from Freetown
1998 (Mar) - Kabbah returns to Freetown
1998 (Jun) - Nigeria announces withdrawal from ECOMOG.
1998 (Jul) - UNOMSIL established for period of 6 months
1999 (Jan) - RUF/Sankoh seize parts of Freetown. 5,000 dead; tens of thousands dismembered/raped; 150,000 people displaced
1999 (May) - Lome Ceasefire Accord
1999 (Jul) - Lome Peace Accord: Rebels included in government and assured they (including Sankoh) would not be prosecuted for war crimes
1999 (Oct) - UN authorizes UNAMSIL (6,000 military personnel including 260 military observers)
1999 (Nov/Dec) - First UNAMSIL troops arrive: 133 Kenyan soldiers plus 4 ECOMOG battalions that were converted to UNAMSIL (Rest of troops arrive over period of months) ECOMOG troops are attacked outside Freetown
2000 (Feb) - UN votes to increase UNAMSIL strength to 11,000 and expands mandate to Chapter VII
2000 (Apr/May) - UNAMSIL troops are attacked in east. Several hundred captured. RUF captures 13 armored personnel carriers and begins advance on Freetown.
2000 (May) - Rebels surround Freetown. 800 Brits and 5 warships rrive to evacuate British citizens and help secure airport. Foday Sankoh captured.
UN votes to increase UNAMSIL strength to 13,000
2000 (Aug) - 11 British soldiers taken hostage by militia group called West Side Boys
2000 (Sep) - British Forces rescue UK hostages (Operation BARRAS)
- India/Jordan announce withdrawal from UNAMSIL (4,800 troops)
- RUF attacks in Guinea.
- ECOWAS deploys 1796 Peace keepers at border convergence of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
2000 (Nov) - Abuja I Ceasefire Agreement
New UNAMSIL Force Commander (Opande) arrives in Sierra Leone
2001 (Mar) -    UNAMSIL deploys to rebel-held territories UN grants increase in force level to 17,500 (includes 260 military observers and 60 civilian police)
2001 (May) - Abuja II Ceasefire Agreement
• Disarmament of rebels begin
• RSLAF begins deploying to rebel-held territories
2002 (Jan) - War declared over
• Disarmament of 45,000 rebels complete
• UN agrees to set up war crimes court
2002 (May) -    Kabbah wins National Elections

In February 1998, the Government of Sierra Leone, backed by the ECOWAS and the UN, instituted a framework to undertake the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants of the SLA, RUF, CDF and AFRC. DDR became part of the peace process in Sierra Leone.

a.    The first phase was undertaken from September to December 1998. The DDR program to be implemented was initially designed to be executed by the Government of Sierra Leone with the assistance of ECOMOG and the UNDP, targeting all persons who belonged to any of the armed groups that participated in the civil war following the coup of May 25, 1997, a total of about 75,000 combatants (10,000 ex-SLA / AFRC; 55,000 CDF; 7,000 RUF and 3000 child combatants as well as 300 disabled). It targeted about 45,000 combatants (6,000 SLA; 15,000 RUF, 15,000 CDF, 7,000 AFRC and 2,000 paramilitary elements). Only about 3,200 combatants were disarmed, mostly ex-SLA / AFRC who surrendered to ECOMOG. The process was interrupted following the deterioration in the security situation and a rebel attack on Freetown on January 6,1999.

b.    The second phase was implemented in the framework of the Lome Peace Agreement signed on 7 July 1999 and Security Council's resolution 1270 (22 October 1999) which established and mandated UNAMSIL to carry out the disarmament of combatants. Accordingly, the program was to represent a multi-agency effort, through an agreed Joint Operation Plan involving the Government of Sierra Leone, ECOMOG, UNAMSIL, UNICEF, the World Food Program and other agencies and donors. A total of 18,898 were disarmed. This phase was interrupted by the resumption of hostilities in May 2000, which also resulted in the taking of over 500 peacekeepers hostages by the RUF.

c.    The third, and most significant phase, was undertaken from 18 May 2001 through to 6 January 2002. A ceasefire was signed in Abuja on 10 November 2000, and an agreement reached on 2 May 2001 between the Government of Sierra Leone and the RUF to resume the disarmament. Accordingly, the disarmament was simultaneously re-launched in Port Loko (CDF) and Kambia (RUF) on 18 May 2001.

                    11th March 2003

Dear Bishop,

Subject: Background to the Sierra Leone conflict

      I have been requested by the SRSG, Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji to forward the attached document on UNAMSIL's perspective on the above to you as requested in your two letters of 29 November 2002 and 25 February 2003.

Wishing your Commission the very best in its efforts to achieve its goals and best regards.

                    Yours sincerely,

Peter Tingwa Chief, Political Affairs Section
Bishop J.C. Humper
Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Sierra Leone Conflict

Sierra Leone conflict in continental context
1.    The Sierra Leone conflict is one of the many post-independence conflicts afflicting several parts of Africa.

These conflicts have come about as a result of several reasons: artificial boundaries inherited from colonialists where same ethnic groups have been divided into several countries or dissimilar and mutually antagonistic people have been forced together; failure of the new states to democratise; bad governance; deliberate exclusion of others from resources and power; and general disappointment of the people with their lot when the good times promised to reign after independence failed to materialize.

2.    Many of these conflicts are intractable (Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi) as they are rooted in history, culture, tradition or religion. They also have wrought destruction and stymied the growth of those countries. In comparison, the Sierra Leone conflict is not one of the worst in terms of human and material destruction when compared to the others (Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Somalia or Rwanda) where over one million lives were lost and untold material destruction was wrought. It is also not long in comparison.
Additionally, in Sierra Leone, war has been forgotten. Apart from civil violence (strikes, riots), Sierra Leone has not seen concerted armed conflict since the 1898 Hut Tax Rebellion of Bai Bureh. Generations have thus grown without violence and the traditional culture of war has receded in the past.    Moreover, natural resources are plentiful for any communities to fight over. This is, unlike in some parts of Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia), where community wars have continued over scarce resources; thereby maintaining the culture of war. This culture prevents warriors from wanton destruction of human lives. For example, as a warrior, it is considered more honourable to kill the person than to mutilate him as had been the case in Sierra Leone. Finally, as is the case in most of the African conflicts, the causes of the Sierra Leonean are largely endogenous. External actors have, as elsewhere, only come in at later stages to exploit them for their own ends.

Causes of the conflict

3.    The causes of the conflict in Sierra Leone could broadly be divided into endogenous causes comprising such factors as political, bad governance, corruption, the army and the involvement in the Liberian conflict. The exogenous factors include interference of non-Sierra Leonean individuals or other countries in the politics and diamond trade of the country. A brief outline of these factors are given in the subsequent paragraphs.

Political factors
4.    Right from the word go, the exercise of politics by politicians was marked by lack of adherence to principles and objectives. Criss-crossing of floors and splintering of parties became a regular feature of the conduct of politics in the country. This led to proliferation of political parties where at times, like in 2000, there were 22 political parties. It also created a conducive atmosphere for the bribery of politicians.    In such a situation, party discipline became a major casualty and patronage flourished. Thus the political parties became morally weak and are already compromised when they take control of the government.

5.    Democracy and smooth transfer of power was also afflicted from infancy when, in 1967, the military intervened in the process. Since then, the army considered itself material for the country's political leadership and became coup-prone, with all ranks aspiring for that leadership. This is unlike the other countries where the ambition to take political leadership resides mainly in the officer corps.

6.    The institution of one party system in 1971 and the suppression of freedom under that system suffocated the growth of democracy and good governance. This suppression also nurtured the rebellious attitude amongst the youth, making it easier for them to embrace demagogues like Foday Sankoh who had promised to overthrow the system violently. Hence these disgruntled youth provided a ready pool for the rebels to recruit from.

7.    The abolition of local government system and its replacement by officers appointed by the centre (Freetown) led to marginalization of the rural people.    This, coupled with the centre's co-option of the traditional chiefs, increased the alienation. These two acts amounted to marginalization and made many rural people to be receptive to the propaganda of the rebels and more tolerant to their presence.

Bad Governance and corruption
8.    The abuse of public trust in the exercise of authority, the fair distribution of resources, dispensation of justice and efficiency in performance of duties were eroded as a result of the reigning patronage in the over-arching political system. As a result many people, even as of today, look back nostalgically to the colonial days. Under such circumstances accountability and transparency disappeared and were replaced by ingrained corruption centring on nepotism, patronage and theft of public funds.    In view of this, a dichotomy developed between the marginalized youth and rural people on one side, and a few Freetonians on the other. These few Freetonians, comprising government officials, politicians, business people etc and working in cahoots with foreigners, diverted sufficient public funds to build expensive houses on dangerous hill slopes in Freetown; or purchased houses in London or America. In their world, success and status were measured by having a house/home or family living in London.

Neglect of the Army
9.    In Africa, same as elsewhere, a leader neglects his army at his own peril. In Sierra Leone, having so much of its professionalism eroded by a bad recruitment policy based on political patronage, the army increasingly became alienated. By the time it was expected to contain the rebels, it was demoralized and poorly equipped. Hence, coup d'etat again became an attractive option. But as we all know today, that did not resolve the rebellion whose causes were multiple. Even now that peace has been restored, the issue of the army is not yet fully resolved.

Involvement in Liberia
10.    As is known, offering the use of ones territory for attack on another, allowing dissidents to form a fighting group or allowing a dissident group to launch an offensive from ones territory are hostile acts which usually invite retaliation. The offer of the use of Lungi Airport for ECOMOG operations in Liberia was considered a hostile act by Charles Taylor who interpreted ECOMOG's intervention as being aimed at robbing his NPFL of total victory. Even more grave in his view was President Momoh's action in allowing ULIMO to be formed in Freetown, and then allowing them to cross and attack his positions in Cape Mount and Lofa-Counties. The President unfortunately forgot to take any measures in case Charles Taylor retaliated.

Hence when Taylor retaliated by sending Foday Sankoh and a few rebels into the country on 23 March 1991, the military was ill-prepared to stem the incursion.

Imported revolution
11.    As mentioned earlier, there are two external factors that caused the war: the exporting of revolution and its fuelling by illicit trade in diamonds and its trade.  During the cold war years, the idea of "revolution" was embraced widely by the Africans but perceived differently. To some it was to introduce the socialist system, to others it was to overthrow a colonial or an older system. Amongst the young, it was especially appealing since it added a new dimension to the normal growing phenomenon of youthful rebellion. Peddled by Colonel Muamar Gaddafi, leader of Libya, several youth from Africa including Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh, fell for it. They in turn took it back to their countries with the determination to bring it about. This, coupled with their disgruntlement, several youths in Sierra Leone were enticed to join the rebellion to bring about the revolution. In this, the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campaore became the link and conduit between Gaddafi and the would-be revolutionaries for both moral and material support.

Vultures in the diamond business
12.    As mentioned earlier, diamonds and diamond trade were not the causes of the conflict in Sierra Leone but they fuelled it after it had started. The rebels came to find out that it could sustain them in terms of livelihood as well as the supply of arms. President Taylor also came to find that it was useful for him. While the traders, both local and international, found out that they could make enormous profits in the trade without going through the legal channels of regulations and taxes.    For the rebels, the control of diamond areas, its mining and export soon came to supersede the revolutionary ideas for which the conflict began.

Roles, actors, institutions and countries
13.    As can be seen in the above paragraphs, the Sierra Leoneans are the primary actors in the conflict. These include: the series of governments and political leadership who failed to tackle the factors which ultimately caused the conflict; the army and its other ramifications of AFRC, West Side Boys and demobilized ex-SLA who aspire for political power and who are ready to rebel against authority; the dissatisfied youth groups who swelled the ranks of the RUF and who still could swell the ranks of any new insurgency if their plight is not addressed; the ex-combatants of the RUF, particularly those who still regard Foday Sankoh as their leader; the CDF whose organisational structure remains intact and the risky idea of converting them to some kind of territorial defence force; and the civil society and the media who could continue to play watchdog roles in making sure that the other players fulfil their roles credibly.

14.    As could also be seen, external actors include: countries such as Libya which have the wherewithal to spend money on their objectives in this country; and the middle role players (conduits) like the Presidents of Burkina Faso and Liberia. On the conflict resolution side, the role players include the institutions of African Unity, ECOWAS, Mano River Union (MRU), other friends of Sierra Leone like Britain and the United Nations. In this regard, it is to be mentioned that ECOWAS, the UN and Britain played very significant roles in resolving the past conflict. Donors, multilateral or bilateral, also are key players who could ensure that the peace achieved is consolidated through support of sustainable development programmes.

Preventing recurrence of the conflict
15.    In order to achieve this, all the causes of the conflict listed above must be addressed with a view to either eradicating or minimizing them. Ensuring security, providing good governance, fighting corruption, rehabilitating the economy and services, controlling the diamond business, respect for rule of law, human rights and fair and prompt justice must be undertaken. All these must be underlined by a determination to achieve national reconciliation in view of the acrimony and prejudices that have come to exist amongst the people as a result of the war. It is pleasing to note that efforts are underway on all fronts to address these issues.

Assisting the victims
16.    All Sierra Leoneans are victims of the conflict. That is, if they have not suffered physically, they have suffered psychologically through trauma. For children, the post conflict suffering is worse because they did not only lose their learning years but for many of them their family ties as well. For the communities, many were rendered helpless and were forced to be refugees or internally displaced persons. Hence to assist all Sierra Leoneans, a comprehensive rehabilitation programme is required, very much like the Marshall Plan for Europe after the world war. Little contributions as garnered from appeals or round table donors' conferences would not do. Therefore, a substantial support to the current national recovery programme is a must. For the very helpless victims of the war such as the amputees, abandoned children and the aged, special long-term assistance programmes must be arranged. In this regard, it would be most appropriate to first rely on the African traditional methods of extended family and its support system. Relatives of these victims should be supported so that they can look after them. Institutionalisation of these victims should be the last resort.

Reconciliation and reintegration of perpetrators
17.    Similar to the case of helpless victims, traditional and indigenous methods and practices should be adopted as much as possible for reconciliation and eventual reintegration into society. Usually in African traditions, when all or both sides have agreed to end a conflict, retribution is not foremost. It is forgiveness and forgetting that is sought, after all sides have told their side of the story and acknowledged their mistakes.

This is very similar to what is currently being done by the TRC. Compensation may be made but not viewed as retribution.   

Unearthing of bodies, the persons of whom are assumed to have joined to the ancestors down there, are unheard of.  Hence for reconciliation in Sierra Leone, a judicious mix of the traditional ways and modern methods of TRC and Special Court should be employed.

18. Reintegration of ex-combatants and reconciliation should go hand in hand. The current NCDDR short-term reintegration programme aimed at stabilizing this volatile and potential group as well as giving them employable skills. Several questions have been raised as whether this did not amount to rewarding the perpetrators instead of assisting the victims. This however is not the case as peace is not free. It has a price.    Without this, idleness will follow and this will breed frustration; and as we know, frustration was one of the factors that caused the conflict.


In appearing before you today, I am mindful of the nature of the work of the Commission, in particular, investigating the activities, people and events that have taken place within your Country in recent years. However, in asking me to speak before you today I would hope that you would recognise that for us, UNAMSIL, we were neither present nor established when many of the events that you are examining, took place. As such I would not comment on what made people do what they did or indeed why they did it. I would, however, only present the factual view of what happened and an assessment of things that have since changed.

I therefore intend to cover from my view, the Civil War, as a factual series of events focusing especially on the Armed Groups and Militias. And in conclusion, as a Soldier, I will highlight some key areas that I believe cover the "so what has changed, can it happen again" and "what elements in your society must you, as Sierra Leoneans address, if you are to prevent it ever happening again".

With this I straightway come over to the specific topic of today i.e, Militias and Armed Groups in Sierra Leone Civil War. Firstly, lets see which were the main militant groups in this war.


RUF -    In the late 1980s, a number of radicals attracted to populist conceptions of political action were recruited in Sierra Leone to form the RUF in order to pursue the politico - economic objectives. Among its pioneers was Foday Sankoh
CDF -    Although it is usually referred to as the CDF, implying a homogenous unit, but it was actually a conglomeration of a number of traditional tribal militia hunter groups. The most prominent of these were the Kamajors, predominantly from the south and east of the country and of the Mende tribe. Although there had been some unity between these groups, they formally came together to form the CDF in June 1997.
AFRC -    In 1996, President Kabbah announced his plan to reduce the size of the Armed Forces and intentions to select his Presidential Guards from the Kamajors. In May 1997, Major Johnny Paul Koroma of SLA, led a successful coup d'etat against the government. AFRC was formed. Resulted in complete break down of law and order.
WEST SIDE BOYS - AFRC supported the GoSL to fight against RUF during May 2000 crisis. But on 15 July 2000, AFRC and SLA got split at LUNSAR due to GoSL's    marginalisation of AFRC members. The disaffected members of the AFRC formed the WEST SIDE BOYS (WSB) to pursue their objectives. So it was primarily a splinter group of AFRC.

Many of you will already be aware of the recent history of Sierra Leone. But it is important to highlight a few critical points from the 1990s because they provided the environment for many of the problems that we are currently seeking to resolve today.

The civil war started in 1991 when the Revolutionary United Front of around 100 men crossed into the country from Liberia. Led by FODAY SANKOH, the RUF began its campaign of terror during which about 50,000 people died, about half a million forced abroad as refugees and around the same number displaced within Sierra Leone itself.

In 1996, President Kabbah and his government were elected to a 6-year term in office. They tried to negotiate a peace settlement with the RUF. This aim was fundamentally undermined by the state of the Sierra Leonean Army. Over the subsequent years, SLA managed to lose the confidence of the general population since, it was no longer serving the interest of the people. To fill the vacuum left by a discredited army; there emerged civilian militia forces. which were later to be unified to form the Civil Defence Force or the CDF.

Facing this situation the government concluded a peace agreement in Abidjan in November 1996. But this proved to be a short-lived attempt.

In May 1997, there was a military coup by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). The AFRC was formed out of the SLA. It also invited SANKOH to join the government.

In August 1997, ECOWAS sanctioned the use of forces in Sierra Leone, with the aim of reinstating the Kabbah government.

In February 1998, ECOMOG succeeded in expelling the AFRC and RUF from Freetown.

At this stage the UN first became involved; under UNSCR - 1181,-70 military observers were sanctioned. They were tasked with monitoring the security situation.

In January 1999, the RUF launched an attack against Freetown.

In May 1999, there was another peace accord, this time called the Lome Agreement. However, it was also similar in outcome like the earlier `Abidjan Accord'.

As a consequence there was UNSCR - 1270, which resulted in deployment of a UN force of 6,000. The UN's task was to focus on the process of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration and support to humanitarian agencies. Security was left to the 12,000 strong ECOMOG force.

As the Nigerians left in May 2000, the RUF seized the opportunity and took about 500 UN troops as hostages.

In May 2000, the UK launched its independent action, which ostensibly was to evacuate its citizens, but culminated, in September, in the well-publicised action against the West Side Boys, which as described earlier was an off- shoot of the AFRC.

There followed a period of instability which saw Guinean Troops in action against the RUF, but at least the UN hostages were finally released in Sep 2000.

The UNAMSIL mission was also subjected to significant enhancements by a succession of UNSCRs: culminating in March 2001 with UNSCR -1346. This increased the number of UN troops to 17,500. It also substantially strengthened the mandate given to us while at the same time Chapter 7 was invoked for UNAMSIL.

Now 1 come over to some details regarding emergence of these armed groups and militias.

I do not intend to dwell on the well known genesis of the RUF or the early years of its ideological or military training. I will just suffice to say that ------

The RUF took its roots in Sierra Leone at Bomaru in Kailahun District and Mano River Bridge, Pujehun District, in 1991. Envisaging support in a border region opposed for many years to the government of the APC, the reaction of the civil population amongst whom the RUF hoped to foster their `revolution' was ambiguous, notwithstanding the fact that these two border districts had been the scenes of violent political opposition to the APC regime.

My discourse of RUF now brings me to the first key area that you must recognise as being central to your future, Diamonds:
Alluvial diamond mining and the rich pickings of a parallel smuggler's economy had attracted the unemployed and youth to these areas, despairing at the malaise of economic and political exclusion but bristling with an overwhelming determination for self-advancement and prosperity. Here was a reserve army of fighting men who were attracted by the simplistic 'emancipation' rhetoric of the RUF's ill-defined ideas, and motivated by the acquisition of wealth through looting, and of authority by wresting control from both the local and national political authorities whom they blamed for their predicament and the agony of the nation as a whole.

The RUF's consistent 'political' message to recruits was simply that the country was immensely rich in mineral wealth controlled by a few with political connections, that the time for reasoned debate had passed, and that lasting solutions to the country's chronic economic and political problems could be found only through an explosion of destructive violence. It was fairly successful in garnering support from the alienated and uprooted youth engaged in diamond mining.

The lesson for you today in Sierra Leone is that without regulation of the diamond areas, proper controls, strong SLP and government authority and a crackdown on corruption and smuggling, little would change. You must support your Governments efforts in this area.

RUF infiltrated the diamond-rich areas not so much as a way of establishing operational bases deep within Sierra Leone, but as a way of looting the rich bounty in such areas. Lack of proper state control in these areas enabled the RUF to conveniently establish themselves there and then exploit the local population for their vested political / economic interests.

After the formal disarmament and demobilization of RUF was completed in January 2002, it chose to seek a political course for itself. It was allowed to participate in the May 02 Elections as RUFP, however it could not win any seat in the said elections.

As I said earlier, CDF was actually a conglomeration of a number of traditional tribal militia hunter groups. The most prominent of these were the Kamajors, predominantly from the south and east of the country and of the Mende tribe. The Kapras were mostly of the Temne tribe and operated in the south west of the country and in Port Loko, whilst the Tamaboros were the largest of the tribal hunting groups in the north of the country. Although there had been some unity between these groups, they formally came together to form the CDF in June 1997. The Kamajor leader, Sam Hinga Norman, was appointed de facto leader for the CDF.  During the civil war, CDF retained its tribal links and traditional hunting methods, with black magic and rituals forming an important part of their operations. The CDF was also provided with training and arms by a number of Private Military Companies (PMCs)

The Kamajor intervention appears to have had a decisive impact on the war. What made this decisive difference to the campaigns against the RUF from 1994 onwards was the mobilization of a mass civil defence movement with superior local knowledge of the terrain. Units were organized in such a way that combatants were posted only in their own chiefdoms, to ensure loyalty and bush knowledge superior to that of the RUF.

The Kamajors were so effective that the RUF had to admit that their enemy was the Kamajor, and not the army. It forced the RUF to resort to a series of appalling atrocities intended to break the cooperative link between rural civilians and the civil defence militia. However, the RUF headquarters camp, the Zogoda, and several other key camps in the southeast were overrun in September - October 1996, and several thousand RUF combatants were also brutally killed or put to flight. Under the terms of the Lome Peace Accord, the CDF was disarmed and demobilized, a process that was formally completed on 17 Jan 02.

CDF is accredited to have supported the SLA in repelling the RUF, however it also became synonymous to the tortures and other brutalities of war crimes as the RUF. In spite of the ceasefire they are also known to have continued fighting and attacking / killing the RUF members in many instances / areas. Nevertheless, due to their support to the SLA / Government, the members of the CDF must have been hopeful of more rewards and heavy share in the government after the civil war was formally over. Some of their expectations may or may not have been met, but that's the political aspect of the issue and I will therefore, not like to venture into it any further.

Although the official headquarters of the CDF were closed on 27 Apr 02 following the completion of the demobilization process, the force itself has never formally been disbanded. It is presumed that some sort of regional organization and a coherent C2 structure of CDF still remain. The current national organization of the CDF is not openly available, and it is suspected that the wider CDF does not have the cohesion across tribal boundaries that existed during the civil war, when opposition to the RUF proved a strong unifying factor. The activities of the various CDF factions are now more focused on welfare and amenities for their personnel, and the provision of local security in areas where SLP coverage is minimal. However, though the national CDF organization is not active, it is likely still to exist at least in the outline, and can be reactivated in the event of a united cause.

In 1996, due to certain misgivings about the state of SLA, the Government announced its plan to reduce the size of the Armed Forces. In May 1997, Major Johnny Paul Koroma, led a successful coup d'etat against the government, took control and formed the AFRC. In June 1997, Major Karoma also invited the RUF to join the junta. Foday Sankoh was declared as an ideological leader of the coup however, the law and order situation could not be improved. In February 1998, Nigerian troops launched an assault on Freetown and removed the junta within a week. In January 1999, AFRC again launched an offensive on Freetown along with the RUF. It supported the SLA during the May 2000 crisis while Koroma continued attempts to legitimize himself and recant the past atrocities. In Dec 2000, Koroma disarmed 96 ex-AFRC combatants known as his Security Force.

AFRC supported GoSL in its fight against the RUF during May 2000 crisis. However, on 15 Jun 2000, AFRC and SLA got split at LUNSAR due to GoSL's marginalisation of AFRC members. Disaffected members of the AFRC now formed the WEST SIDE BOYS (WSB) to pursue their objectives and established Bandit OP in OCCRA HILLS. UNAMSIL (JORBAT 2) got deployed to MASIAKA for WSB disarmament on 10 Jul 2000. On 22 Jul 2000, Op THUNDERBOLT was launched and Masiaka came under UNAMSIL control. On 10 Sep 2000, UK launched Operation BARRAS and defeated the WSBs. Later combing up was done by the SLA and the CDF.

The spark that ignited the armed conflict in Sierra Leone came in March 1991. Over the next decade, the violence continued despite regional attempts to broker peace. Numerous agreements, elections and ceasefires were negotiated over the years, only to be derailed by more violence, coups and general destabilization. To give you the right perspective, I would like to briefly discuss the Lome Agreement and Abuja Agreements I and II.

After a series of incoherent interventions by major powers and regional powers. The Lome Agreement was signed in July 1999. It led to the withdrawal of ECOMOG and to the replacement of the observer mission (UNOMSIL) with a UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMSIL) in October the same year. The agreement called for a ceasefire, the inclusion of RUF members into the government, reconciliation and reconstruction, pardon and amnesty of members of the RUF (including its leader Foday Sankoh), humanitarian efforts, and certain military commitments, such as disarmament.


RUF broke the Lome Agreement in May 2000 when it took around 500 UNAMSIL peacekeepers hostage. After the hostage fiasco, there was an effort once again to negotiate with the RUF. The Abuja Ceasefire Agreement (known as Abuja - I) was signed in November 2000 with a goal of revitalizing the peace process. The agreement demanded various military tasks to be completed by the RUF, such as the return of all weapons and equipment that were taken from UNAMSIL in May 2000.

However, it was not until the agreement was reviewed in May 2001 that the peace process moved rapidly forward. The Abuja Ceasefire Review Agreement (Abuja II), facilitated by ECOWAS, led to the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the RUF and the CDF. In addition, Abuja II also pressured the RUF to give the Government of Sierra Leone the opportunity to expand its authority throughout the country.

It may be appropriate to highlight here, that the behaviour of these groups had sometimes been disruptive and sometimes constructive for peace. All groups played their part in fuelling the civil war but perhaps other things aside; without their cooperation in the international peace making efforts, and a willingness towards disarmament and reconciliation, today's peace would have not been possible.

After I have chartered chronologically the rise of the two main protagonists in your Civil War and their two main off shoots. What I will now cover from my perspective is something on the impact this war has had on the Sierra Leone society.

Over the course of the Civil War, forced displacement effected more than half the population estimated at 4.5 million. Between 20,000 and 75,000 people were killed and thousands mutilated. Dislocation of people, the brain drain compounded by the war, and destruction of schools have exacerbated the educational crisis in the country, which has a literacy rate of about 20 per cent only.

I need not dwell upon the significant and repugnant nature of the infliction of most barbaric and inhuman atrocities by all sides in this conflict, because these are all well known. It is well documented that "all militant groups" used terror tactics such as mass rape, torture, mutilation and massive intimidation etc to avenge, punish or deter individuals. Though time may provide some healing for some victims, however, the psychological scars will remain for long.

The civil war devastated a country that was already impoverished, deeply indebted and suffering from years of mismanagement and failed development initiatives. In most parts of the country, there was already increased vulnerability to malnutrition and disease. The war curbed agricultural production drastically, cut government revenues from mining and saw the destruction of hundreds of schools, health clinics, and administrative facilities. 'The miseries of Sierra Leone nation just got multiplied with this war.


As I have highlighted earlier, the illegal diamond mining financed the rebellion in Sierra Leone. Before the war, corruption and mismanagement in the diamond sector was one of the main reasons why Sierra Leone became, according to UN figures, the poorest country in the world. With the breakdown of state structures and ineffective state organs, wide corridors were opened for trafficking of arms and ammunition, all of which eroded national / regional security and facilitated crime within the country. The war in Sierra Leone was fought more, over economic resources than over any ideology.

The diamonds remain and are at the core of your stability as a Country. And indeed, the same groups of young, unemployed, illiterate and illegal miners are still in the diamond fields of southeast Sierra Leone. They must be catered for effectively if you are not to see the rise of another group, possibly just criminal in its early days but later seeking to take over and prosper at the expense of the people.

So you must educate, develop and provide for the population in the mining areas. Generate the income from diamonds, reinvest it in the people of Sierra Leone and you will remove the frustrations of the people and give them hope; which is so very important.

Effective participation of members of Sierra Leone civil society, the media and other parties is necessary to meet concerns of accountability and transparency of overall government resource management policy and operations, prevention of corruption in sales of diamonds / valuation practices, and for fostering effective and equitable reconstruction and development practices related to resource use and income.

In the past, lack of accountability of office holders, abuse of administrative and judicial powers, mismanagement, corruption and inefficiency compounded poverty and economic / social exploitation, and mass illiteracy exacerbated political, economic and social tensions. This is what all the militant groups were able to play upon.

The reassertion of strong governmental control throughout the country, while always dependent on security factors, must remain one of the primary aims of the government and in this respect I would commend your President in taking his Cabinet out to the people. Education, trust, involvement and a sense of belonging must be encouraged.

The UN's disarmament program was declared successfully completed on 17 January 2002. While there remain slight suspicions of some hidden arms caches here and there, UNAMSIL is fairly satisfied that the majority of the weapons, especially heavy weaponry, have been forfeited during this process. After the completion of UN's disarmament program on 17 January 2002, the reintegration part of the program was commenced. However, UNAMSIL has continued its efforts to rid the Sierra Leone society of remaining arms through its initiatives of CACD. While CACD - I has already been completed, CACD - II is still in progress.

As far as UNAMSIL is concerned, the reintegration process of ex combatants remains a critical benchmark to the stability of the country. Accordingly with the help of all working partners, NCDDR is reviewing and readjusting its operations in order to speed up the delivery of reintegration opportunities and address the challenges it faces to facilitate the reintegration of all registered ex combatants into the community through community reconciliation and recovery efforts within stipulated time frame in spite of all handicaps.

The ability of GoSL to project its will and authority upon all parts of the country and administer effectively continues to improve. All districts have individuals occupying the key posts concerned with health and education. Posts concerned with ministries such as agriculture, public works, social welfare and youth and sports have also been filled. The effective functioning of the various offices at district level, however, remains handicapped due to lack of resources, trained staff and allied infrastructure. The same is likely to improve with sustained Government efforts, which indeed are ongoing.

Analysis of the effectiveness of the SLP nationwide has identified a fair improvement in their capacity, though at a very slow pace. The gradual expansion of police cover is continuing across the length and breadth of the country. However, the conditions of the buildings and the supporting infrastructure is still inadequate till this time. The effectiveness of SLP also remains constrained due to handicaps of resources and manpower in which considerable improvement is still required. Provision of adequate resources will improve-their efficiency and at the same time affordable housing and realistic pay and allowances package to its rank and file should be viewed as vital issues requiring urgent resolution, to save its members from indulging in corruption.

The RSLAF is gradually transforming into an effective arm of the state security apparatus although there are many challenges that remain. Perhaps key amongst them is the improvement of their overall reputation in the general population and winning over their confidence once again. The normal tale -of inadequate resources and training also limits the ability of the hierarchy to develop the structures and concept of the operations as per their choice. However, I assure you that RSLAF has come a long way forward, they are doing a good job in the present sensitive circumstances and will surely come up to the expectations of the Sierra Leone nation. The true test of both SLP and RSLAF will indeed come when UNAMSIL draws out its forces and these two arms of the state authority are called upon to fill the vacuum so created.

A key aspect of winning and sustaining a lasting peace necessarily involves fostering accountability and justice for wartime atrocities, and reconciliation among combatants and civilians. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Special Court rightly provide the two main venues for healing these wounds. Both these institutions have the capacity to contribute dramatically to the stability and longevity of peace, justice and democracy in Sierra Leone: The vital aspect of 'reconciliation' among ex combatants of past warring factions will have to be addressed side by side, by promoting good will among past rivals and exploiting common values.

Finally let me remind you that the Armed Groups about whom we are talking today, had a hardcore of supporters and activists, but ultimately they were able to feed upon the failed expectations and frustrations of the unemployed youth within the country. Both this disillusioned youth and diamonds sustained the very conflict for so long. While I have talked already about diamonds, I would like now to dwell a little on the Youth of Sierra Leone.
The youth are an enormous resource, which could play a major role in the revival of Sierra Leone `s economy and bright future. In this context, the involvement of youth in gainful activities remains a major development challenge for the GoSL.

To ensure lasting peace in Sierra Leone, it is imperative that the problems facing the youth should be identified and addressed in a timely manner. Some of these problems are:
a.    Relative marginalisation of youth in routine state affairs.
b.    Reintegration programmes which do not include all categories of youth, resulting in friction with authorities and other stakeholders.
c.    Limited vocational training opportunities for the youth.
d.    Lack of adequate employment opportunities.
e.    Their exclusion from local and national level decision making process, leading to their disenchantment with the existing systems.
f.     High illiteracy rate.
g.    Wide spread war -related trauma and stress across the country.
h.    Lack of counselling and sensitisation services.
i.     Lack of social and recreation amenities, thus leading to idleness and other crimes.
J     High exposure to political violence and intimidation as a tool far economic survival.
k.    Child labour, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancies, domestic violence and drug abuse.

As earlier indicated, it should be recognized that the youth have tremendous potentials in the economic, social and political development of the country. While the youth can be engaged in meaningful development causes, others may prove to be a menace to peace as their intentions are not too clear. The possibility, that this disillusioned youth, can easily be manipulated by various interest groups should not be overlooked. The combinations of political activism by certain youth groups in the country and popular disillusionment can seriously affect Sierra Leone's long-term stability.

The idle youth of Sierra Leone is desperate for work. This youth with a reservoir of discontentment and frustration can easily be led to drug abuse, petty crimes, armed robberies and other anti state activities. So what should be done to avoid all this?    In spite of all limitations of resources and allied economic difficulties, the problems of Sierra Leone Youth will have to be addressed on priority to avoid emergence of more RUFs and CDFs in the future.

Some recommendations in this regard are:
• The Government should urgently consolidate its authority in diamond mining areas and rather assertively regulate all activities there.
• There is urgent need to ensure that all youth organizations in the country confine to permissible activities only in pursuance of their duly recognized objectives.
• There should be continuous consultants with the youth to engage them in dialogue on how to tackle the numerous problems facing them. Government representatives should be encouraged to ensure continuous interactions with the youth so that desperation does not     descend on them and they do feel involved in routine affairs / decisions.
• Seminars and workshops should be organized to sensitize all youth groups on the national youth policy, human rights issues, rule of law and other matters of interest,
• The youth should also be encouraged to participate in sports as part of peace building.
• Extensive sensitization campaigns must also be launched by the Government and all civil agencies to keep the pulse of the youth in check and at the same time mould their minds to make them think positively and constructively.
• Education should be accorded due priority by the Government in its long list of nation building tasks.

To conclude I would only say that, today there is no active fighting in Sierra Leone, and there is peace all over but the struggle to make it lasting and durable is not yet over and will continue for some time. The Sierra Leone nation will have to keep striving hard to build their wonderful country from the rubbles of decade long unfortunate civil war.

The international community has invested a lot of time and effort in Sierra Leone. It was this effort that brought back peace in this country and made the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections possible. However, the difficult task of rebuilding the state institutions and changing the war ravaged socio - psychological landscape of the country will have to continue, otherwise all the effort that have gone in so far will largely go wasted and Sierra Leone will remain a breeding ground for war, chaos and illegal commercial activities.

The time is indeed ripe to use this period for consolidation of the peace process, for getting over the internal problems amicably and not letting the regional turmoil affect its relative calmness.

I thank you all for a very patient hearing. Now if you have any questions, I will he pleased to answer thern.

Statement submitted by Honourable Ambassador Dauda Sulaiman Kamara on behalf of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party to hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the Theme, " The role of External Grouping and International Actors:

b. The International Community
c. Mercenaries"

Mr Chairman and Members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is with a high sense of responsibility and honesty that I sit before you on behalf of the All Peoples Congress (APC) Party to make a brief statement on the role of External Groupings and International Actors in the Sierra Leone civil war, as they relate to ECOMOG, the International Community and Mercenaries.

Mr Chairman and Commissioners, my statement will focus on the first sub-theme of ECOMOG. In this respect, may I humbly refer you to the main submission of the All Peoples Congress Party to the TRC in the month of March 2003. I allude in particular, to the chapter bearing the heading "The AFRC and Foreign Military Intervention."

Mr Chairman and Commissioners, to talk about the role of ECOMOG in the Sierra Leone civil war is to talk about the part played by the Economic Organisation of West African States (ECOWAS) of which ECOMOG is an interventionist outfit. I believe that, of interest to the TRC will be to ascertain whether that interventionist outfit, ECOMOG, intervened in Sierra Leone on the basis of due process of International law as spelt out and defined by ECOWAS Protocols and Treaties. I note that persons who are competent in respect of Protocol andTreaty interpretations have been invited to testify to this Commission and we hope they will be helpful in this respect. We will only wish to note in passing that questions of legitimacy will continue to arise in relation to Nigerian Military intervention in Sierra Leone beginning June 2nd 1997.

Mr Chairman and Commissioners, let me at this point inform you that at the material time of the AFRC coup, I was on leave in Sierra Leone, having been recalled home from my post as Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany by the NPRC Junta which overthrew the APC Government. Before my recall from Germany, I had served for varying periods in the Republic of Guinea and the United States of America with multiple accreditation to other countries.

Less than twenty-four hours after the announcement of the coup that purported to overthrow the Government of President Kabba, armed soldiers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces came to my residence at Juba to inform me that the Chairman of the newly proclaimed AFRC wanted to see me and that they were under orders to collect me. I went with them. My meeting with Chairman Johnny Paul, whom I was meeting for the first time, was brief. He had called to inform me of his intention to appoint me as Foreign Minister in his proposed cabinet to be announced that day.

My candid response to him was that I did not wish to be Foreign Minister under those fluid circumstances but would advise the setting up of a Task Force of eminent Sierra Leoneans to review the situation quickly with a view to resolving it through negotiations that had already begun with some foreign Diplomats. I advised against the naming of a Cabinet.

Most amazingly, the Chairman and his colleagues agreed with me. I returned home. Within a few hours, an announcement came through the SLBS radio informing the nation of the setting up of a task force which named Mr Charles Margai, Dr John Karimu and myself among others as members. I was encouraged by that development and hurried back to the barracks for an early meeting of the Task Force. To my surprise none of the other members named in the Task Force turned up.

The Task Force idea having failed, I came up with another suggestion: to involve President Lansana Conteh of Guinea immediately, since President Kabbah himself had fled to Guinea. Lansana's early intervention, I thought, would be crucial. I requested the use of a helicopter to go to Conakry. It was provided. Early in the morning of June 1st 1997 I left for Guinea. President Lansana Conteh was on his way out to the OAU Conference convening in Harare. But arrangements were made for my delegation to meet senior members of his Government who received us very cordially. The substance of my message was to get President Conteh to make an immediate intervention by meeting with the new Junta before their positions hardened. The indications were that he would be willing to do this. I returned to Freetown rather hazardously at about 10 PM. I was required to report in the morning of June 2nd 1997. Unfortunately, that report was to have no effect following the Nigerian bombardment of that morning. Direct foreign military intervention in the Sierra Leone crisis had begun! Was it ECOMOG? If so on whose authority?

With the loss of over 80 people, mainly civilians, the events of June 2 shocked the nation including Nigerian military personnel who were caught off guard resulting in the capture of over 300 of their soldiers by the combined forces of the SLA and the RUF. They were eventually released on the insistence of some of us who believed that the crisis would be resolved peacefully.

My next proposal to the Junta was the re-activation of the Abidjan Peace Accord which President Kabba and Corporal Foday Sankoh had earlier signed. I thought that would provide a basis for negotiation as it would immediately bring Foday Sankoh on board, who was in detention in Nigeria. The green light was given, and off I went to Abidjan for a meeting with President Konan Bedie who was very receptive and positive about reactivation of the Abidjan Peace Plan. From Abidjan, I proceeded to Ghana where I had a three-hour meeting with President Jerry Rawlings. The positive result of that meeting was that he was the only ECOWAS Head of State who sent his Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Victor Gbehu, to visit Sierra Leone and to assess the situation on the ground. I also went to Burkina Faso, but was unable to meet with the Head of State of that country.

There is no doubt that these initial moves laid the foundation for a negotiated settlement of the Sierra Leone crisis. It is also important to mention that these moves stalled the formation of a Cabinet by the Junta. In fact, they did not announce a formal Cabinet until well over a month following the overthrow of President Kabbah. There was indeed, a good chance of negotiating the junta out of their position.

As all of this was going on, skirmishes continued between Nigerian Military Personnel and local Forces. Yet no formal meeting of ECOWAS Heads of States was convened on the Sierra Leone situation with a view to determining a common cause of action in the name of the Authority of ECOWAS. This is why the impression was generally held that initial Nigerian Military intervention in Sierra Leone was on the instance of the late General Abacha, acting on a request from President Kabba to restore him to power. As many would recall, President Kabbah himself publicly acknowledged this fact in a BBC radio interview after the bombardment of 2 June 1997.

However, at the level of Foreign Ministers, a Committee of four was set under the Chairmanship of Mr Tom Ikimi of Nigeria. The others were the Foreign Ministers of Guinea, Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Committee held two meetings with representatives of the AFRC in Abidjan on 17 -18 July and on 29-30 July. Considerable hopes of a breakthrough were raised especially at the second meeting at which the AFRC delegation had presented a positive position for the consideration of the Committee of Four. While this was being studied, the AFRC announced in Freetown that they intended to stay in power until the year 2001. At that point, the talks broke down as the AFRC was deemed not to be negotiating in good faith. It was at this point also that my role as facilitator of dialogue on the Sierra Leone crisis came to an end. I hurriedly addressed a letter to Chairman Johnny Paul Koroma copy of which I attach to this statement.

It took three months from the time Nigeria fired her first shot in Freetown, on 2nd June 1997 before a formal meeting ECOWAS Leaders was convened to determine a common position of the Authority on the Sierra Leone crisis. Only then did the APC acknowledge the legitimacy of ECOMOG military intervention in Sierra Leone. The ECOWAS Authority recommended a three pronged approach to the Sierra Leone crisis: Negotiation, Sanctions/Embargo and the use of Force. All three measures were to be pursued simultaneously.

Unfortunately, the use of force was the most preferred of the three options by some members of the government who believed that war was the only solution to the problem.

It was the view of the APC that the use of force would inflict terrible sufferings on the helpless civilian population, destroy our weak and scarce infrastructure and at the same time embroil the ECOMOG intervention force in a painful, long-lasting guerrilla war in which there would be no winner. This was the view that prevailed in our Party following the overthrow of our government by the NPRC in 1992. President Momoh humbly accepted his overthrow if that would end the civil war. For holding this view against military intervention in 1997, members of our Party were deemed as collaborators and were selected for severe punishment by ECOMOG and local intervention forces. But events eventually proved us right, for there is no denying the fact that foreign military intervention in Sierra Leone, by whatever name you call it, led to the escalation of the war beyond any one's imagination.

In conclusion, Mr Chairman and Commissioners, I wish to make reference to a few hard lessons we as a nation must learn from the terrible crisis we went through. One is that we should never seek to change an elected government through violence. Secondly we should avoid running away from our problems when they arise. The rather precipitate departure from Sierra Leone of eminent people of influence in the wake of the AFRC Coup, only provided the Junta boys an opportunity to settle down in the false belief that their coup had succeeded. Thirdly that we must develop implicit trust in our selves and in our capacity to provide home-grown solutions to our problems. I dare say that it is this latter case that is contributing considerably to the success we are making in peace and nation building.

Mr Chairman and Commissioners, I thank you for your attention.

Dated the 30th day of June 2003

His Excellency
Major Johnny Paul Koroma
Chairman of the Armed Forces
Revolutionary Council and
Head of State of
1st August 1997

Dear Mr Chairman,

The apparent collapse of the Abidjan Peace Talks have not determined my departure for London to see my family. I shall never desert my country in time of need. I want to assure you that I shall continue to play my role in an effort to resolving the current crisis in Sierra Leone peacefully. I had taken the decision to travel to London well before leaving Freetown for the Abidjan Peace Talks and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was duly informed. I have since provided the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the AFRC's Public Relations Officer with my contact address and telephone number in London in case it became necessary to contact me there.

Yes indeed, the Peace Talks collapsed not so much because of your ill-timed broadcast, but more so because of the specific mandate of the Committee of Four to restore Constitutional Order to Sierra Leone only with the return of ex-President Tejan Kabbah. It was obvious to me that if the AFRC refused to accommodate the requirement of that mandate in any compromised form, there was bound to be difficulties with our negotiations somehow. It was for that reason, Mr Chairman, that at the level of our Committee in Freetown, we judged it necessary to propose Tejan Kabbah as Head of a National Unity Government which should also include you and Corporal Foday Sankoh. But we made this proposal conditional to the approval of the people through a National Conference. Regrettably, this proposal was rejected by Council leaving the delegation little room for negotiation. Again, Council changed the composition of the delegation by dropping the majority of those who participated in the first dialogue and replacing them with unexperienced military Members of Council whose appearance in the Conference Room dressed in full military combat outfit and rayban glasses reminiscent of the NPRC days did not seem to make many people comfortable. All of these factors coupled with the bullying manner of the Nigerian Foreign Minister led to the rather discomforting conclusion of the negotiation.

In the midst of all this, the delegation has been stunned by the apparent disappearance of its Leader, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs since yesterday morning. What has happened to him? Did he jump ship? Was he abducted or is he simply resting quietly somewhere after what has indeed been a rough Session? No one knows at this point, but I have advised the delegation to stay calm as we await news from Abuja where the Ministers of the Committee of Four went to report to Abacha.

I have not heard the official details of your yesterday's Broadcast to the nation which as already pointed out above, unfortunately came at a very delicate point in our negotiations. Among the points highlighted at the Conference was the fact that the AFRC has announced a transition period of four years. If this is true, I must tell you, Mr Chairman, that such a period would be unacceptable not only to the International Community, but also to the majority of the people of Sierra Leone. You must realise that Sierra Leoneans having just gone through the agonies of the NPRC which they forcibly voted out of power in anger and disappointment, will be totally unprepared to suffer yet another military rule for another four years. They are unlikely to cooperate with you fully. For me personally, I have been working on the distinct understanding and belief that your rule would be as brief as possible - not more than six months in accordance with the gentleman's agreement already reached earlier between the AFRC and the Ghanaian delegation. This is what I have been selling while playing my role as Ambassador/Facilitator of Dialogue. If indeed the AFRC has resolved to stay in power until the Year 2001, I have to inform you that I will be unable to play any more my role as Facilitator of Dialogue because the basis for such moves would have been destroyed and I would have lost credibility.

For long I have been preaching the principle of 'Give and Take' in finding solutions for our current impasse - a principle in which there should be no loss of face for anyone, for you, Kabbah, Sankoh, ECOWAS and everyone involved. This is what I think the people really need in view of the factured and impoverished nature of our country. The people would prefer to see cooperation at this point in time among all former adversaries and aggrieved persons - in the Military, RUF, Militias, Kabbah, Sankoh, a11- every body! This idea was already being accommodated by the Committee of Four as a way forward in our negotiations.        ..

If this arrangement can be accepted by the AFRC as their fall back position in the negotiation then the AFRC will not only be the greatest beneficiary, but would also win the admiration of our country's men and women. Along these lines, it should be possible to re-open the dialogue with ECOWAS and I would wish to assure you of my willingness to fully come on board again once the road to such a dialogue was re-opened.

The state of Sierra Leone is too fragile to withstand sanctions and embargoes. The people will turn against the AFRC Government when they are hungry; and if they do, you will be the loser. Now you are in a position to influence events by cooperating with the Leaders of the Subregion in the formulation of a Government that should bring together all forces for peace. History shows that each time Sierra Leone has run into political crises, Governments of National Unity emerged. This was so with the Government of the late Dr M A S Margai, who became Sierra Leone's First Prime Minister as Head of the United Front. Siaka Stevens also took the reins of power on the basis of a National Government. This is the time for one and I would ask you not to deny the people of Sierra Leone such a Government which holds the best chances for peace in the country.

With my best wishes.

Yours sincerely,


The Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) views the role external groupings and international actors played in Sierra Leone's ten year war as very significant.

Such roles were both positive and negative. Our party's position is that external groupings and international Actors did help to fuel the war in the first place. Nonetheless the party takes full cognizance of the important role other well meaning and legitimate external groupings and international actors played in bringing to an end a violent and savage epoch in our national life that spanned a whole decade.

For the purpose of this presentation therefore, we shall start with those groupings and  actors that impacted negatively thus precipitating the war.

These, we shall label the negatives.



It is the SLPP's fervent belief that the Libyan exported green book political philosophy, known as the juche theory sewed the seeds of revolution in the 1980's. This induced our tertiary institutions to become hot beds for political upheaval and agitation culminating in the 1985 imbroglio at Fourah Bay College, leading to a Nation wide student strike.

Following the expulsion of a number of lecturers and students, including the college's student Union President Alie Kabba, a good number of these young revolutionaries ended up in Libya where they were trained in guerrilla warfare.

It is no hidden secret that, due to the widespread discontent with APC misrule, our institutions of higher learning gave birth to the RUF through the active support of the Green Book Study group - a Libyan political export.


The international dimension to the causes of the 10 year war, the SLPP believes, were established at the very onset of hostilities. It is the party's firm conviction that the RUF campaign could not have been so prolonged had it not been for the bases provided them in neighbouring Liberia.

The then authoritative We Yone Newspaper of April 13, 1991, stated in a front page story captioned: "Taylor invades Sierra Leone", that the Liberian warlord not only harboured Sierra Leonean dissidents but waged an active campaign to cause this nation "to taste the bitterness of war", in pursuit of revenge. Taylor, was angered by Sierra Leone for playing host to the West African peace keeping Mission ECOMOG. The peacekeeping force had been assembled to halt the carnage in Liberia, which itself had
been unleashed by Taylor in 1989, just days before the dawn of the turbulent `90s.

Throughout the war, Taylor's role was so glaring that today he is an indicted international war criminal.


The grand external and/or international conspiracy against Sierra Leone was further established by the exposure of Burkinabe involvement.

The government owned Daily Mail of June 1991 paraded the pictures of six Burkinabe rebels who had been captured whilst fighting alongside the RUF.

The front page story that went with the picture, captioned. "Inspector General Displays Captured Burkinabe rebels" read!.
"The Inspector General of Police, Mr James Bambay Kamara, today displayed at police headquarter 6 Burkinabe rebel captives.
"The Burkinabe's led by a captain Ndola Wasando were captured in Kailahun while fighting alongside RUF rebels".

Thus, so early in the war, the negative involvement of international actors in the conflict had been established.


Our peace loving SLPP totally abhors the practice by Nations harbouring armed dissidents of neighbouring countries to wage cross border wars. This practice, so prevalent in Africa, is responsible for Africa's many wars.

That is why the SLPP views as a grave miscalculation the decision by the then APC Government, to allow ULIMO to open and operate a base in Sierra Leone.
In an editorial captioned "A GREAT MISTAKE." the Globe Newspaper of November 18, 1991 stated:
"The Liberian armed faction, ULIMO, now has and operates an office on Bathurst Street in Freetown.
"This is a grave mistake. No responsible government must allow any armed group to wage war on a neighbouring country using their soil as a base.

"The consequences can be dangerous".

Although the NPRC government continued to play host to ULIMO, and coordinated military operations together with the faction's armed units, ULIMO was to later play a negative role in the conflict. They later joined forces with the AFRC junta, which unleashed nine months of unprecedented terror on this nation.


The war in Sierra Leone triggered a staggering demand for narcotic drugs. While the use of cannabis had been tolerated by earlier regimes, in order to incense youths to terrorize political opponents, harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine were not yet in popular use. A major market for these harder drugs, was however created by the war. It attracted a lot of unsavoury characters that had the necessary international contacts to access supply of these poisonous ware. International drug barons made good business out of the war. "The negative impact of drugs in the ten year war was responsible for the level of bestiality the war degenerated to," reported News Storm of March 9, 1993. The war also attracted yet another group of international operators, the arms dealers. The ready market the Sierra Leone conflict created for their wares of death, was too good to be missed. The illegal arms cartel was only too eager to cash in on the bonanza. Our combatants thus graduated from using stones, sticks and machetes to guns, RPGs and bombs.

The role of these international arms dealers was first brought to light before the out break of the war. The new national Newspaper of February 6, 1991 highlighted the active illegal arms transactions on the borders between Sierra Leone and Liberia on one hand and Guinea and Sierra Leone on the other.

The war was to attract yet another notorious international actor, the diamond scavenger and smuggler. These were attracted in droves and featured on all sides of the divide. The News Storm of September 17, 1993 stated.
"The number of diamond houses has risen sharply in places like Bo and Kenema, mostly operated by foreign nationals.

"It is interesting to note that even as the security situation degenerated, more and more diamond dealers were attracted to the front line.
"The lure of diamonds attracted even terrorist organizations, such as the Al-Quaida. This fact was brought to light in a BBC TV 3 documentary, which showed Kono youths identifying the pictures of some Al-Quaida operatives.

The documentary was aired in February 2003.

The role diamonds played became so notorious that it led to the coinage, Blood Diamonds, and caused the international community to put a moratorium on diamonds originating from conflict zones.


Not all international groups or external actors impacted negatively on the war in Sierra Leone.

It is in recognition of this fact that the Kabbah led SLPP government, has since coming to office, pursued a vigorous foreign policy to win support from the international community in the pursuit of peace and stability. Thank God, for it because of President Kabbah's foresightedness in signing the Lome Peace Accord of July, 1999, and his embracing of the intervention of the international community, that today we enjoy relative peace and stability - an environment that makes the sitting of this very commission possible.

Our party pays acknowledgement to the positive role played by some External Groups and International Actors. These groups include the following:
1    International Security firms
2    Regional and continental organizations
3    United Nations
4    IMATT
5    The British Government
6    Tegloma


International Security firms, contracted by the various governments during the war, played positive roles in bringing peace and security.

For a reasonable period of time Executive Outcomes helped secure the diamond fields of Kono. Sand Lines, another security firm, contributed significantly to the ousting of the AFRC junta, in February 1998, bringing to an end an unprecedented reign of terror. Similar security outfits helped to secure the rutile leases in Moyamba and Bonthe districts.


The SLPP is cognizant of the immeasurable role played by ECOWAS the ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES in helping to restore peace in Sierra Leone. Without the input of the ECOWAS created ECOMOG peacekeepers here, this nation could have been stateless today.

We as a party salute and pray for all those serving men and women of ECOMOG who sacrificed their lives to save this nation. We especially remember the late Gen Sani Abacha and the -late Brigadier Maxwell Khobe for their contribution to the restoration of the constitutionally elected government of Sierra Leone and all Nigerian, Ghanaian, Guinean and Gambian troops that constituted ECOMOG. They sacrificed themselves to save us our nationhood.


The O A U now known as the African Union also played a significant role diplomatically throughout the war and served as one of the moral guarantors of the Lome Peace Accord. The organisation's support to democracy in Sierra Leone was witnessed by its contributions to the 1996 and 2002 Presidential elections.


Since 2000, Sierra Leone has played host to the largest ever UN peacekeeping force in the world. The role of these peacekeepers is immeasurable. The UN mission virtually won this nation the peace it now enjoys, which would otherwise not have been possible. The mission continues to guarantee security and stability through its, one time, more than 17,000 man strong peacekeeping force.

UNAMSIL also engaged in various social interventions to nurture the peace, such as distribution of relief items, medical assistance and the construction of schools.

Indeed Sierra Leone will always remain thankful to the World body. Britain and the international Military and Technical training team also played positive roles, in securing the peace in Sierra Leone. By championing the restructuring and retraining of the national army to the status of a, better professional institution, the British proved themselves worthy friends of this nation. Many thanks to DFID.


Sierra Leoneans living in the Diaspora also made positive contribution towards the democratic process in Sierra Leone, the ending of the war and the restoration of the elected government in 1998.

Tegloma, which means carry it forward, was one such organisation established in the USA, Canada and Europe. It played an active role in bringing the attention of the international community to the crisis in Sierra Leone.

The organisation also raised funds to help Sierra Leoneans who were forced into exile as a result of the war and helped bankroll the exiled government in Guinea in 1997/98 in its efforts to return.

Our party is thankful to these patriotic brothers and sisters who even though abroad had not abandoned their country of origin.

TO    Mr Franklyn Bai Kargbo
Company    Exec Sec SL TRC
Pax no    00 232 22 235916
From    Simon Gilbert
Date    3 July 2003

Subject:    Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Dear Mr Kargbo,

Please find attached a written response from the De Beers Group with reference to the invitation from the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

Simon Gilbert

Corporate Affairs
The Diamond Trading Company A Ds Boom Group Company
17 Gharterhouse Street, London EC1 NJ $RA, UK Tel +44 (0) 20 7404 4444 Fax +44 (0) 20 7831 0653
Direct phone 029 7430 3508

3rd, July 2003
Mr Franklyn Kargbo
Executive Secretary
Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Block A
Brookfields Hotel
Sierra Leone

Dear Mr. Kargbo,

Thank you for your letter inviting De Beers to attend and present to the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (SLTRC) on Monday, 30 June 2003, in Freetown.

De Beers has the highest regard for the work of the Commission and is willing to co-operate with the SLTRC, wherever possible, and to provide constructive and effective assistance to the Commission in fulfilling its mandate.

We have considered the issues you would wish us to address in light of both the mandate of the Commission and the fact that we closed our diamond buying activities in Sierra Leone in 1984 (many years before the start of the armed conflict in Sierra Leone).

Consequently we have same reservations about whether we are the most appropriate organisation to respond to some of the issues raised in your letter. Nonetheless, we take this opportunity to provide you with written answers to the questions and issues raised in your letter to which we are able to respond. However, if for any reason you are of the view that our responses do not fully address the issues, we would, of course, use our best endeavours to provide further information that you specifically require.

TEL +44 (0)2074044444 FAX + 44(0)2078310663

For ease of reference, we take each of the matters listed in your letter in turn (and where relevant, we have made suggestions that we hope will assist you and the Committee):

1. De Beers confirms that it closed its diamond buying activities in Sierra Leone in 1984. We understand that the Commission's mandate relates to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone during the 1990s. We are therefore unclear about the relevance of De Beers' operations prior to 1984 to the armed conflict.

2. Since 1984 the company's activities in Sierra Leone have been limited to prospecting as follows:

(a) On 16th August 1994, the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone granted a two-year off shore prospecting licence to The Diamond Corporation Sierra Leone Ltd (Dicosil), a wholly owned subsidiary of De Beers. Under the terms of the licence, Dicosil acquired a 15,800 square kilometre concession off the coastline of southern Sierra Leone and subcontracted Debmarine to undertake the survey (MV. "Douglas Bay"). The prospecting licence expired in August 1996 and was not extended, after Debmarine terminated its eighteenmonth survey of the continental shelf off the coast of Sierra Leone.

(b) March 1997 - De Beers officials visited Sierra Leone and met with the Government officials, indicating De Beers' intent to re-open offices in September 1997. De Beers submitted an application for an exploration licence in north-eastern Sierra Leone. The application was approved but not taken up due to the war.
De Beers ceased its diamond buying activities in Liberia in 1985.

3. From statistical data issued by the Government Gold and Diamond Office and other references published in reports such as the UN Report of the Panel of Experts appointed pursuant to UN Security Resolution 9306 (2000), articles by NG0s, such as the recent report published in April 2003 by the UK NGU, Global Witness, entitled, 'For a Few Dollars More', both of which I am sure the Commission is already aware, that diamond smuggling has been and remains an issue for the Government of Sierra Leone. De Beers has not been actively buying diamonds in the region for the past 18 years thus we have no direct knowledge of diamond smuggling from Sierra Leone to neighbouring countries-

4. The World Diamond Council (WDC) was formed to represent the industry on a1l matters relating to the conflict diamonds issue and is best placed to give a fuller explanation of the issue and its repercussions on the international diamond industry. We are pleased to have been actively involved in the negotiations leading to the establishment of the Kimberley Process and in seeing it through to its successful conclusion. However we are only one of a number of members of the WDC and just one of the many significant players in the Kimberley Process. It would therefore be presumptuous on our part to speak or be seen to be speaking far the industry as a whale an this matter when we do not have the mandate to do so. We would suggest that the WDC is the most appropriate organisation for these purposes and have attached the contact details of Mr EliIzhakoff, its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

5. De Beers is fully committed to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in every respect. National legislation supporting the Kimberley Process has been passed in all countries in which De Beers operates. De Beers of course operates in accordance with these laws.

6. The Kimberley Process is first and foremost an inter-governmental process and agreement. The World Diamond Council, of which De Beers is a member and the NGO's have been invited to attend plenary meetings as observers only. We are just one of the players in the Kimberley Process and do not possess the mandate to give an authoritative description of the workings of the scheme, and its impact on the Sierra Leonean diamond industry. We would suggest that, for a comprehensive view on the history, aims, objectives, day to day workings of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, its impact on and relevance to Sierra Leone, the best source of information would be the Chairman of the KPCS, Mr Abbey Chikane, (contact details are attached to this letter).

7. Through the good office of the UK Government's Department of International Development (Dfid) and the United States Agency for international Development (USAID), De Beers has been involved in looking at ways in which the diamond industry in Sierra Leone can be re-developed. De Beers has recently accepted an invitation from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Mines to facilitate training in diamond valuation far the Government Diamond Office in Freetown. This follows our pledges of assistance to governments and other agencies during the Kimberley Process negotiations.

We are sensitive to the fact that government agencies are the primary drivers of this work and would therefore suggest that USAID, DFID and other government agencies might be the best source of advice and recommendations.

We hope you find our initial responses and suggestions useful. As we are sure you will appreciate, we would wish to focus on providing the Commission with effective assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is any further information you believe we ran provide to assist the Commission with fulfilling its mandate. We reiterate our commitment to co-operate with the Commission and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Simon Gilbert
Public & Corporate Affairs De Beers Group
Encs: Annex 1

Annex 1
Mr Eli Izhakoff Chair
World Diamond Council
580 Fifth Ave
New York, NY USA 10036
Tel - (212) 575 8848
Fax - (212) 840 0496
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mr Abbey Chikane
Kimberley Process
    South African Diamond Board
Gauteng 2023
South Africa
Tel - (011) 334 8980
Fax - (011) 334 8898


The role of the British Government

The British Government is delighted to see the TRC up and running. We have always believed that the TRC is a vital tool to help in the healing process after a decade of  death and destruction.

The British Government has already provided the TRC with a large dossier outlining British policy at every stage of the conflict. These are public documents which are available on the FCO website and Hansards. There is therefore very little to add today.

It would be useful to recall that the sole objective of the British Government's involvement throughout Sierra Leone's long crisis was the restoration of peace and democracy. We fought hard to achieve both of these. The restoration of peace and democracy were the guiding principles that determined our policy. The key postconflict objective of the British Government is to help Sierra Leone rebuild its institutions and infrastructure destroyed in the course of a decade of war. With strong and democratically accountable institutions, Sierra Leone should never again experience such a terrible time. We are conscious of the fact that the very heart of Sierra Leonean society has been damaged and hurt by the long crisis. Our support for the work of the TRC therefore goes without saying.

There are certain key moments in the decade of war which are worth a brief mention. No sooner had the RUF rebellion begun than Junior Officers mounted a coup against the APC government. The British Government worked tirelessly to return Sierra Leone to civilian rule. We even gave scholarships to the Junta leaders to study in the UK as a means of persuading them to step down. We supported the efforts of civil society and others through funding for the Bintumani I and II Conferences, which decided on the sort of democratic system that Sierra Leoneans wanted. We were heavily criticised by outsiders at the time for pressing for elections when the RUF rebellion was still in full swing and some parts of the country were inaccessible. But Sierra Leoneans wanted to get the military out. Our logic was simple. We supported the holding of elections in 1996 as a means of drawing the RUF into the political process, Unfortunately, they refused to take part and began their campaign of chopping off limbs to prevent people voting.

The elections, the first multi-party elections to be held in Sierra Leone since the mid 1960s, brought President Kabbah to power. The British Government supported his decision to open peace talks with the RUF. This eventually resulted in the first peace agreement, The Abidjan Accord, signed in Nov 1996.But it soon became clear that the RUF leadership had no intention of abiding by its terms. Soon afterwards, the military struck again, ousting President Kabbah's government which went into exile in Conakry. The British High Commissioner, Peter Penfold also moved to Conakry. This unusual move was a sign that the UK Government was serious about supporting democracy. The British government worked tirelessly thereafter to have the democratically elected government restored to power. We succeeded in getting the UNSC to impose an arms embargo on the junta and gave material and financial assistance to the EC0M0G force which intervened to enforce peace and provide security. Happily, the democratically elected government was restored in February 1998. But elements of the Army were by then disloyal and worked in collusion with the RUF rebels which continued the pattern of maiming and killing innocent Sierra Leoneans.

The British Government again supported the government when President Kabbah decided to open new peace talks with the RUF.The Lome Agreement of July 1999 was signed. The UK Government was not a signatory, nor one of the moral guarantors. The Lome Agreement's terms were generous, offering the RUF ministerial posts and other privileges in return for an end to the rebellion. These concessions were controversial inside Sierra Leone, as was the blanket amnesty offered to the RUF. But they were seen as the price for peace.
The Lome agreement provided for a UN Peacekeeping Operation to monitor the peace and provide security. The British Government lobbied hard to get the force up to the size required for the job. But in May 2000 the RUF took UN peacekeepers hostage and threatened to overrun Freetown. The British Government's response was swift and robust. British troops were sent to Sierra Leone to secure the airport and other key points while the Royal Navy sent ships as a back up. This action averted the threat to the democratically-elected government and put the RUF on the back foot.

There is one final point we should make. It took us and others in the international community some years to realise that the RUF was not a wholly indigenous movement. It was only in the late 1990s that it was fully realised that Charles Taylor was behind the RUF, was using the RUF, and exchanged Sierra Leone diamonds for guns with the RUF leadership. Once this relationship was fully understood, the British Government worked hard to get the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Liberia in an attempt the break the Taylor/RUF relationship. The RUF rebellion continued far beyond its natural life because of the support it received from Taylor - and his allies.

The British Government wishes the TRC well in its work. We look forward to its Report. We are committed to the peaceful and successful future for Sierra Leone. Thank you for giving us time to say a few words about British policy towards Sierra Leone during the conflict years.

Embassy of the United States of America
Freetown, Sierra Leone


On behalf of my government, permit me to express appreciation for this opportunity to briefly address an institution of great significance to the future of this country and to the possibilities for the entire region to live in peace and provide for the well being of all its citizens. There is a well known saying that those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. No one would conceivably want this country or any country to repeat the horrors that have been its history for far too long.

The United States is proud to count itself among the strongest supporters, both morally and materially, of two institutions created to assist Sierra Leoneans in their efforts to address the past and to avoid further tragedy. While the Special Court and this Commission are independent of each other, they are inextricably bound together in a national and international effort to come to grips with the truth, the truth that will end the cycle of impunity that for too long has been permitted to be the standard response to the most reprehensible of actions in many parts of Africa and the truth that will permit those who suffered and those who caused them to suffer, often the same persons, to come to personal terms with their experiences and actions. We have listened with great interest to the testimony to date before this Commission and in many cases have been inspired by the courage and simple honesty of so many who have recounted their experiences despite the obvious pain involved in the retelling. We wish to commend the Commissioners, both national and international, as well as the dedicated professional staff who have combined to effectively develop this forum and have guided it in a manner calculated to "create an impartial historical record . . ., to address impunity, to respond to the needs of the victims, to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered" as required by the Act of Parliament that established the Commission.

It is to the final point of that quotation, "to prevent a repetition," that I would like to very briefly address myself. At the end of these proceedings, it will be the heavy responsibility of the Commissioners to produce a report that is worthy of the courage demonstrated by so many average citizens who have endured pain and risk to testify, to dare to tell their stories irrespective of consequences in the hope of finding closure, compassion and reconciliation. In so doing, those people demonstrated great faith in the integrity of the Commission and those who have chosen to support it. I hope and trust that the final product will be consistent with that great faith.

Yet the most brilliant and honest of reports will be for naught if it is not used to motivate and assist Sierra Leoneans and their friends in answering one simple but terrible question - why did this happen?    It is only by beginning to answer that question that Sierra Leoneans can hope to identify the actions essential to preventing a repetition. I imagine that the final report will faithfully reflect the experiences of those who testified at hearings as well as the research and investigations conducted by the Commission. But it must not be an end in itself. It will only be successful to the extent that it serves to assure that what has happened to Sierra Leone over the past eleven years and for decades before that is never repeated. To achieve that objective it must be a catalyst to a continuous and long-term process of introspection, by Sierra Leoneans and by their friends in the international community. It must also lead to a credible and therefore independent National Human Rights Commission to support this introspection and concrete action to attack any future abuse or forgetfulness with respect to the lessons of the past. It must aid Sierra Leoneans in their thinking about their own values and what role those values played in the horrors that have occurred. Sierra Leoneans must ask questions that no outsider can pose and contemplate answers that no outsiders could conceivably provide. International partners must at the same time also ask themselves hard questions. Did we fail to read properly the signs of impending disaster? Did we fail to do enough to influence the course of events? How can we best continue to contribute to the work of this Commission and whatever successor institution there may be?

Too often in the past the international community, faced with the horrors such as those experienced by Sierra Leone, has said "never again" and yet it has happened again. We fervently hope that the proceedings and results of this Commission will serve as a landmark in our collective efforts to assure that indeed, this will never, ever happen again.