Australia will increase its support for efforts to bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the African nation of Sierra Leone.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Greg Hunt has announced that a further $100,000 will be provided to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Mr Hunt said this would double Australia’s contribution to $200,000 this year and bring our total support since 2001 to $800,000.
The Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations established the Special Court to try those most responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law after 30 November 1996.
‘Our latest contribution to the Special Court will help sustain its operations in the critical period until it completes trial action, which is forecast to be in early 2010,’ Mr Hunt said.
‘The recent Presidential elections in Sierra Leone have enabled the peaceful transfer of power to a new administration.
‘This is a remarkable achievement after the appalling civil war between 1991 and 2001. The Australian Government is pleased to have contributed to Sierra Leone’s stability through support for the Special Court.’
The Special Court trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for alleged complicity in atrocities committed by Sierra Leonean rebels is underway. The Court has pursued nine indictments of people on charges including mass murder, rape, enslavement, conscription of children into an armed force and attacks on UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.
Mr Hunt said the Court is widely regarded as having made a strong contribution to peace in Sierra Leone. ‘It recently convicted five former militia leaders for crimes including the recruitment of child soldiers,’ he said.