Too narrow a mandate

20 September 2004 by our correspondent

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in its report published on 8 September, urges the Special Court for Sierra Leone not to limit its prosecution to the thirteen people it has indicted so far (of who only nine are in custody).

"The indictments issued to date reflect an inappropriately narrow interpretation of the court's limited mandate," says the American human rights organisation, whose specialist on Sierra Leone, and co-author of the report, Corinne Dufka, worked as an investigator for the office of the prosecutor for a year. HRW notes that when the court was created in Freetown, "it was generally understood that the Special Court would try no more than twenty to thirty persons". Donor countries were concerned to avoid a proliferation of indictments in order to fulfil a mandate that was strictly limited in time and money. But now the concern is quite the opposite: will the Special Court ultimately only try nine individuals?

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