Sierra Leone News & Current Events

International Court Convicts Charles Taylor; Democratic Elections Resume

 

The trial of Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, on charges of crimes against humanity began at a UN criminal court at The Hague in 2007. He was charged with abetting the violent rebel group in Sierra Leone's civil war that was responsible for atrocities, which included hacking off the limbs of civilians, sexual slavery, conscripting child soldiers, and even cannibalism. In April 2012, after deliberating for more than a year, the court, comprised of three judges from Ireland, Samoa, and Uganda, convicted Taylor of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his support of the rebels. His conviction is the first by an international court since the Nuremberg trials.

In June 2007, three former rebel leaders were convicted of crimes against humanity by a UN-backed court. Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Borbor Kanumurder were found guilty of rape and enlisting child soldiers. It was the first time an international tribunal ruled on the recruitment of children under age 15 as soldiers.

In September 2007 elections, the governing party suffered a surprising defeat when opposition leader Ernest Koroma, of the All People's Congress (APC), defeated Vice President Solomon E. Berewa, of the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP), 55% to 45%. The elections were Sierra Leone's first since the United Nations peacekeeping force left the county in 2004. Koroma was reelected in November 2012 to a second and final term. It was the first election held without UN supervision, and the results were deemed fair.

The UN Security Council lifted the last sanctions on Sierra Leone in September 2010, having determined that the government had gained control over the country from the rebels and that the rebels had been disarmed and had been integrated into the national army.

In April 2012, after deliberating for more than a year, the war crimes court at the Hague convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone's civil war. His conviction was the first by an international court since the Nuremberg trials. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

 

Ebola Outbreak Kills Hundreds

 

An outbreak of Ebola hit Sierra Leone in March 2014. By early December, it is estimated to have killed about 1,660 people in Sierra Leone, and there were about 7,635 suspected and confirmed cases of it in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is the worst outbreak since the virus was first identified almost 40 years ago. In order to contain the virus, Sierra Leone instituted a 3-day lockdown on the country and an army police, soldiers, and about 30,000 volunteers went door to door looking for victims.

See also Encyclopedia: Sierra Leone .
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Sierra Leone