The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone has appointed its first Sierra Leonean deputy prosecutor. As Betty Milton reports, Joseph Kamara has the track record that fits him perfectly well in his new job.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, Mr Kamara said he felt “very proud and humble” assuring he would do his best for the court and country.
Under the statute of the court, the president of Sierra Leone appoints the deputy prosecutor in consultation with the UN secretary-general. “I do assure the president, who made the appointment, of my best in prosecuting those responsible for crimes in the country.”
Mr Kamara said his appointment was an indication that Sierra Leoneans could do it and assured the president he would not betray the confidence reposed in him. He said he intended to have an open-door policy “to bridge the gap between the office of the prosecution and that of the public”.
On the issue of his independence and impartiality in prosecuting cases dealing with crimes committed in Sierra Leone since he is also a Sierra Leonean, Mr Kamara said that did not matter. He said he would not look at the individual or the source; rather would be interested in the dispensation of justice which he said was what Sierra Leonean needed. He said the trial would be as smooth as it had always been.
The deputy prosecutor expressed hope that the trial would soon be brought to a close especially that of the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor which resumes in The Hague next week after a recess.
According to the prosecutor, Stephen Rapp, the appointment of a Sierra Leonean reflected the close relationship between the government and the international community.
He commended his new deputy calling him “an individual of outstanding legal ability and integrity.”
He said he looked forward to working with him “to complete the mission of achieving justice for the grave and massive crimes committed against the innocent people of this country.”
Mr Kamara succeeds Christopher Starker who had been in the job since 2005. Until his appointment, he worked in the office of the Prosecutor for 8 years and served as a senior trial attorney and most recently led the prosecution team in the successful prosecution of two former leaders of the Civil Defence Force militia.