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10 - Special Courts and Truth Commissions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2020

Charles C. Jalloh
Affiliation:
Florida International University
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Summary

Sierra Leone was the first country to simultaneously deploy what are traditionally thought of as alternative post-conflict justice mechanisms: a special tribunal to prosecute crimes, and a truth and reconciliation commission to promote national healing and reconciliation. This chapter assesses the important Special Court jurisprudence on this topic and its implications for other post-conflict situations in Africa and around the world. In the first part, the chapter compares the similarities, and differences, in the mandates of the two institutions. The author then discusses how the TRC began its operations in 2002 at the same time as the Special Court was carrying out its investigations and issuing indictments against suspects accused of committing international crimes within the tribunal’s jurisdiction. Second, the chapter addresses the question of hierarchy and primacy between the two institutions: with the TRC being a domestic program and the Special Court maintaining an international authority. Finally, the chapter addresses the attempted testimony of a key SCSL defendant, or rather lack thereof, at the TRC and the tussle between the two bodies regarding protection of the fair trial rights of the suspects and the implications for future similar situations.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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