Canada Welcomes Judgment of Special Court for Sierra Leone

(No. 57 - March 4, 2009) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding the judgment delivered by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the trial of leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF):

"The Special Court for Sierra Leone has achieved a significant milestone with its conviction of three Revolutionary United Front leaders for atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's civil war," said Minister Cannon. "This conviction sends a strong signal of accountability throughout the world and is an important step in the fight against impunity."

"We greatly appreciate the commitment and contribution of Presiding Judge Pierre Boutet, a former judge advocate general of the Canadian Forces," said the Minister.

On February 25, 2009, the Special Court found Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao, three former leaders of the RUF rebel group, guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the country's decade-long civil war.

The Minister also called on the international community to continue its support of the Special Court, which is nearing the conclusion of its last case, the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law that occurred during the country's civil war (1991-2001). Canada chairs the UN's Special Court Management Committee, which oversees the non-judicial aspects of the Court.

Since 2002, Canada has contributed more than $10 million to the Special Court, which is funded solely through voluntary contributions. Canada has also provided approximately $1 million a year of in-kind contributions to the Court in legal expertise and investigations training.

The Minister noted that Canada also assumed chairmanship of the Sierra Leone country grouping at the UN Peacebuilding Commission on February 25 and will be working closely with the Government of Sierra Leone and other international stakeholders to support the country's peacebuilding process. Sierra Leone is one of the countries that draw from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, to which Canada has so far contributed $20 million.

For more information, see the related news release "Canada Welcomes Transfer of Charles Taylor to Special Court for Sierra Leone".

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874