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Legality of amnesties in international humanitarian law. The Lomé Amnesty Decision of the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 April 2010

Extract

On 13 March 2004, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) rendered an important decision on the validity of amnesties under international law. The Appeals Chamber of the SCSL ruled that amnesties granted to persons of the warring factions in the Sierra Leone civil war by the so-called Lomé Peace Agreement are no bar to prosecution before it. This decision is the first ruling of an international criminal tribunal unequivocally stating that amnesties do not bar the prosecution of international crimes before international or foreign courts. The following article will briefly discuss this significant and controversial decision for the development of international humanitarian law and will then examine the most important and critical findings of the ruling, after first giving a brief summary of the legal background to the SCSL, the Lomé Peace Agreement and the Appeals Chamber decision (Lome Decision) itself.

Type
Affaires courantes et commentaires/Current issues and comments
Copyright
Copyright © International Committee of the Red Cross 2004

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References

1 The Prosecutor v. Morris Kallon and Brima Buzzy Kamara, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-2004-15-AR72(E) and SCSL-2004-16-AR72(E), Decision on Challenge to Jurisdiction: Lomé Accord Amnesty (Appeals Chamber, 13 March 2004) (hereinafter Lomé Decision).

2 Agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, annex to the Report of the Secretary-General on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, UN Doc. S/2000/915, 4 October 2000 (hereinafter Agreement).

3 McDonald, Avril, “Sierra Leone's shoestring Special Court”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 84, 2002, p. 124Google Scholar; Dickinson, Laura A., “The promise of hybrid courts”, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 97, April 2003, p. 295CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 UN Doc. S/Res/1315 (2000), 14 August 2000.

5 Agreement, op. cit. (note 2).

6 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, enclosure to the Report of the Secretary-General on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, UN Doc. S/2000/915, 4 October 2000 (hereinafter Statute).

7 Article 11(2) of the Special Court Agreement, 2002, Ratification Act, 2002, Supplement to the Sierra Leone Gazette, Vol. CXXX, No. II, dated 7 March 2002 (hereinafter Ratification Act 2002).

8 Statute, Articles 2–5.

9 Ibid., Article 1.

10 Ibid., Article 12.

11 Report of the Secretary-General on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, UN Doc. S/2000/915, 4 October 2000, para. 9 (hereinafter Report of the Secretary-General).

12 Peace Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone of 7 July 1999, Lomé, UN Doc. 5/1999/777 (hereinafter Lomé Agreement), Annex.

13 Lome Agreement, Article XI.

15 Seventh Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, UN Doc. S/1999/836, 30 July 1999, para. 7.

16 Statute, Article 10.

17 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), paras. 22–35.

18 Ibid., para. 24.

19 Ibid., paras. 37–42.

20 Ibid., para. 38.

21 Kooijmans, Peter H., “The Security Council and non-State entities as parties to conflicts”, in Wellens, Karel (ed.), International Law: Theory and Practice – Essays in Honour of Eric Suy, M. Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague, 1998, p. 338Google Scholar.

22 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 41.

23 Ibid., para. 42.

24 Ibid., para. 45.

25 Ibid., paras. 47, 48.

26 Ibid., para. 50.

27 Ibid., paras. 61–65.

28 Ibid., para. 61.

30 The Prosecutor v. Dusko Tadić, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, IT-94-I-AR72, Decision on the Defence Motion on Jurisdiction, (Appeals Chamber, 2 October 1995) (hereinafter Tadić Decision); the SCSL Appeals Chamber mistakenly quotes the ICTY Trial Chamber decision dating 10 August 1995, see Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 57, note 45.

31 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 62.

35 Ibid., paras. 66–74.

36 Ibid., para. 67.

39 Ibid., paras. 68, 70.

40 Ibid., para. 71.

41 Ibid., para. 73.

42 Ibid., para. 82.

43 The Prosecutor v.Anto Furundzija, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia IT-95–17/1-T, Judgement (Trial Chamber, 10 December 1998), para. 155.

44 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 62.

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48 Article 14 Statute.

49 Rule 72(B) (i) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

50 See The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kanyabashi, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR-96–15-T, Decision on the Defence Motion on Jurisdiction (Trial Chamber, 18 June 1997); The Prosecutor v. Momciio Krajisnik, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, IT-oo-39-PT, Decision on Motion challenging Jurisdiction – with Reasons (Trial Chamber, 22 September 2000).

51 The Prosecutor v. Issa H. Sesay, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-2OO4–15-AR15, Decision on the Defence Motion seeking the Disqualification of Justice Robertson from the Appeals Chamber (Appeals Chamber, 13 March 2004).

52 The Prosecutor v. Sam H. Norman, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao, Special Court for Sierra Leone, SCSL-2003–08-PT, SCSL-2OO3-O7-PT, SCSL-2003–09-PT, Decision on the Application for Stay of Proceedings and Denial of Right to Appeal (Appeals Chamber, 4 November 2003), para 27.

53 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 67.

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57 Attorney-General of the Government of Israel v. Eichmann, 361LR18 (District Court of Jerusalem 1961), 5, 12.

58 In re List et al., US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Judgment 29 July 1948, printed in Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10, VIII, p. 1242.

59 See Case concerning Arrest Warrant of 11 April 2000 (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium), Judgment, ICJ Reports 2002, para. 61.

60 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 68.

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63 Agreement, Article 17(2).

64 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 50.

65 Ibid., para. 71.

67 Ibid., para. 73.

68 Ibid., para. 82.

70 Ibid., para. 84.

71 Cassese, op. cit. (note 54), p. 315.

72 See de Aréchaga, E. Jéménez, “International law in the past third of a century”, 159 Recueit des Cours (1978), p. 20Google Scholar.

73 Roht-Arriaza, Naomi, “Special problems of the duty to prosecute: Derogation amnesties, statutes of limitations, and superior orders”, in Roht-Arriaza, Naomi (ed.), Impunity and Human Rights in International Law and Practice, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995, p. 57Google Scholar.

74 Report of the Secretary-General, op. cit. (note 11), para. 13.

75 The Prosecutor v. Dragoljup Kunarac et at., The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, IT-96–23-T & IT-96–23/1-T, Judgment (Trial Chamber, 22 February 2001), para. 496.

76 See The Azanian Peoples Organization (AZAPO) v. The President of the Republic of South Africa, 4 SA 653 (Constitutional Court 1996), para. 53.

77 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 73.

78 Naqvi, Yasmin, “Amnesty for war crimes: Defining the limits of international recognition”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 85, No. 851, September 2003, p. 604Google Scholar; McDonald, Avril, “Sierra Leone's uneasy peace: The amnesties granted in the Lomé Peace Agreement and the United Nations' dilemma”, Humanitäres Völkerrecht, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2000, p. 19Google Scholar; Roht-Arriaza, op. cit. (note 73), pp. 58–59; Tomuschat, Christian, “The duty to prosecute international crimes committed by individuals”, in Cremer, Hans-Joachim et al. (eds.), Tradition und Weltoffenheit des Rechts: Festschrift für Helmut Steinberger, Springer Verlag, Berlin, 2002, p. 348Google Scholar; Gavron, Jessica, “Amnesties in the light of development in international law and the establishment of the International Criminal Court”, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 51, January 2002, pp. 102103CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

79 Gavron, Ibid.

80 Statute, Article 1.

81 Lomé Decision, op. cit. (note 1), para. 50.

82 See Naqvi, op. cit. (note 78), p. 583.