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Blood diamonds and war crimes: the conflict in Sierra Leone PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bruno Waterfield in The Hague   
Tuesday, 10 August 2010 11:17

Naomi Campbell gives evidence at the Charles Taylor War Crimes trial in the Hague: Over 120,000 people were killed and two million displaced in Sierra Leone’s civil war which was marked by brutal atrocities, the use of enslaved child soldiers and widespread use of amputation as a weapon of terror.  

 Right from the beginning the Revolutionary United Front, insurgents allegedly backed by Charles Taylor, a Liberian warlord later to become the country’s leader, based their violent strategy on seizing control of Sierra Leone’s diamond mines.

First operating from Liberia the RUF quickly established a reputation for brutality, beheading community leaders and raping women and children to terrorise the civilian population.

The signature terror tactic of the rebels was physical mutilation and an estimated 20,000 civilians suffered amputation, with machetes and axes being used to sever arms, legs, lips, and ears.

The RUF was also became notorious for its Small Boys Units, made up of child soldiers as young as eight who were forcibly recruited and then drugged and sent to fight with AK47 assault rifles. The children became among the most feared units in what became one of the world's most vicious civil wars.

It was an RUF assault on Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown in May 2000 and the taking hostage of hundreds of UN military observers that led to Britain sending 1,500 peacekeepers.

Two years later the conflict had ended after a Western intervention that still remains model military operation for humanitarians.

 

 ................................. More News ....................................

 

Naomi Campbell accused over Charles Taylor trial evidence

 By Joe Sinclair, Press Association - Thursday, 5 August 2010

 

Supermodel Naomi Campbell was accused of being not "entirely truthful" today after telling the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor how she was woken in the night and given a pouch containing "small, dirty-looking stones" following a charity dinner.

Giving evidence to the court in The Hague, Netherlands, Campbell described the proceedings as a "big inconvenience" and said she feared they would put her family in danger.

She told how two men knocked on her door in the middle of night as she stayed at the home of former South African president Nelson Mandela and presented her with a pouch containing gems.

Campbell is alleged to have received the gift after a star-studded party hosted by Mr Mandela in South Africa in September 1997.

The model said she discussed the incident with fellow guests the morning after the charity dinner and was told: "That's obviously Charles Taylor."

Campbell is said to have received a "blood diamond" from Taylor, whose faces charges including criminal responsibility for murder, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers.

The 40-year-old model, from Streatham, south London, refused to take part in the trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague until she was issued with a subpoena.

Taylor is accused of arming and controlling Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel force responsible for widespread atrocities.

The 62-year-old, who denies all charges against him, is alleged to have used diamonds from the RUF to buy arms, which he allegedly shipped from Burkina Faso to the Sierra Leone junta at the Magburaka airfield in October 1997.


Taylor rejects allegations that he possessed or carried rough diamonds. Campbell said she had "read up" on Taylor using the internet and had not wanted to attend today's hearing.

"This is a big inconvenience for me. I really don't want anything to do with this and I care about the protection of my family," she said.

This is someone, I read up on the internet, that has killed thousands of people, supposedly, and I don't want my family in danger in any way."

Prosecutor Brenda Hollis questioned Campbell's account.

She asked the model: "Isn't it correct that your account today is not entirely truthful because of fear of Charles Taylor?"

Campbell replied: "No, that's not correct." The "cross-examination" of Campbell, as a prosecution witness, was branded "totally improper" by defence barrister Courtenay Griffiths QC.

In documents submitted to the court, actress Mia Farrow, who was also at the party, said Campbell had provided an "unforgettable story" of the incident the following morning.

She said: "She told us she had been awakened in the night by knocking at her door. She opened the door to find two or three men - I do not recall how many - who presented her with a large diamond which they said was from Charles Taylor."

Farrow's story was backed up by the model's former agent, Carole White, who said she had even held the diamonds in her own hands. The pair are due to give evidence next week.

Speaking in detail about the gift for the first time, Campbell told the court that she was woken by two strangers and handed a pouch.

Asked what she thought the gift was, she said: "They were dirty-looking pebbles. I'm used to seeing diamonds, shiny and in a box."

She told the court that the men had knocked on her door and said: "There's a gift for you."

She said there were "maybe two or three" stones.

Campbell said she was told the stones were "probably" diamonds.

She "assumed" they were a gift from Taylor, whom she had met for the first time at that night's event.

The stones were in her possession for six hours before she gave them to Jeremy Ratcliffe, the former head of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, she said.

"Once I handed them over... it was out of my hands," she added.

The model insisted she had wanted them to be donated to charity but said: "He still has them so they didn't benefit."

Campbell denied being a "boastful person" and flirting with Taylor during the dinner.

"When I am with Nelson Mandela - and I think everyone in the world feels the same way - my focus and attention is on him," she said.

She was asked to identify her fellow guests. They included Taylor, Jemima and Imran Khan, Mr Mandela and his wife, music producer Quincy Jones and actress Farrow.

The court was shown a photograph of the group, in which Campbell stood alongside Taylor.

Under cross-examination by Mr Griffiths, Campbell denied speaking directly to Taylor, the former leader of Liberia.

"I spoke in general," she said. "I was interested in him. I had never heard of Liberia before. He said that he was the president of Liberia."

Documents from the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, which were presented in court, "categorically" stated that the charity had not received the diamonds, although records showed that Campbell made cash donations in 1997 and 1998.

The war, in the world’s poorest country, officially played out between 1996 and 2002 but the real conflict, and the Liberia backed and Libya trained rebels behind the insurgency, dated back to 1991. Over a decade of fighting, fuelled by the use of “blood diamonds” to fund insurgents, only ended after Tony Blair sent British troops into the country in an intervention later used to justify the invasion of Iraq. {jcomments on}

 

Editorial

26th IPRA Conference in Sierra Leone Ends on a High Note

The International Peace Research Association (IPRA) successfully held its 26th General Conference on ‘Agenda for Peace and Development: Conflict Prevention, Post-Conflict Transformation, and the Conflict, Disaster Risk and Sustainable Development Debate’ in collaboration with the 10TH Dealing With Disasters Series, Northumbria University (UK)and Sakarya University (Turkey) and  the University of  Sierra Leone at the Bintumani Conference Centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone from November 27 to 1st December 2016.

Read more...

Business News

Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, speaks to The Worldfolio about the investment opportunities in Sierra Leone

John D. Okrafo-Smart, Managing Director of Rokel Commercial Bank, speaks to The Worldfolio about the investment opportunities in Sierra Leone and gives his insight into the banking landscape.

Excerpts shared by Sheriff Mahmud Ismail

The Government of Sierra Leone is placing great priority in improving the business climate, enhancing infrastructure and support to private sector development. In line with the government focus, the Central Bank is targeting price stability in support of economic recovery, enhancing monetary policy instruments and liquidity management and also limiting intervention in the foreign exchange market, which will be important to preserve foreign exchange reserves.

The above measures will help in the strengthening of the banking system to support financial intermediation. Commercial banks are thus poised to benefit and take advantage of the improved economic and business environment by offering better services to their customers, including loans and overdrafts and forex to import, thereby creating wealth and boosting government revenue.

Read more...

Media News

Two veteran Journalists, now in the United States have paid a courtesy call on Sierra Leone's Ambassador

Two very respected and veteran Journalists who are in the United States of America for various reasons have called on Sierra Leone’s Amr. Bockari Kortu Stevens not only to appreciate the work of the Embassy, but also to pay courtesy as protocol demands.

Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson, former Lecturer Fourah Bay College, former Director of Information Ministry of Information and Communications, Former Director Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Former Chairman Independent Media Commission (IMC) and stringer French News Agency  etc. is on vacation and Mr. Cyril Juxon Smith Director Information and Communications House of Parliament, former Acting Director General Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) and former UNESCO Media Consultant  is in the United States of America to attend the funeral of his father.

Speaking at the Ambassador’s residence on 4821 Colorado Avenue, Washington DC  Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson said “Thank  you Amr. Stevens for accommodating us in the middle of your tight schedule, and also to discuss with us in a homely spirit.

Read more...

Commentary

Dr. Tam Baryoh’s Only Crime!

Boris Johnson as a Journalist worked at The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers. He edited The Spectator newspaper between 1999 and 2006. He was Member of Parliament for Henley from 2001 to 2008 and was also Mayor of London. He is a member of the Conservative Party and the current UK Foreign Secretary.

Nnamdi Azikiwe was to serve as the first president of independent Nigeria from 1963 to 1966. He opened and edited a number of newspapers in Ghana and Nigeria and later became an active politician. Obafemi Awolowo was a great Nigerian politician. He also was an active journalist and edited The Nigerian Worker, amongst other publications.

There is a clear link between politics and journalism though, there seems to be a very thin boundary, or perhaps, “a reflective door in the firewall, such that with time, politicians and journalists cross the line changing roles and moving from side to side,” argues Aminat Afolabi in a piece, titled ‘Politics and Journalism, the Interwoven Relationship between Them.”

Read more...

View Point

How and Why I endorse Julius Maada Bio for President?

I have

I have endorsed Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio for the SLPP presidential ticket in the March 7 2018 elections because I strongly believe in his project and ability to succeed as our next president if given the opportunity.  Perhaps I need to provide  some context as to how, when and why I took this decision.

Maada Bio is the second presidential candidate I have ever endorsed in Sierra Leone. The first was late president TejanKabbah during the campaigns in the 1996 general elections, which he won. I was then publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Expo Times, which won the best-selling newspaper award from the National Vendors Association that year. At the time, my newspaper was the largest circulation and most widely read newspaper in the country and my nearest competitors were For Di People and Concord Times. When the presidential election campaigns became heated and the battle lines were clearly drawn with the three front-runners, TejanKabbah of the SLPP, Karefa-Smart of the UNPP, and Thaimu Bangura of PDP (SORBEH), For Di People declared for and endorsed Karefa-Smart and the UNPP while Concord Times declared for and endorsed Thaimu Bangura and the PDP. Dr Prince Harding and Banda-Thomas then approached me to endorse and help TejanKabbah of the SLPP, who was then the clear frontrunner according to Opinion polls, to win the elections. 

Read more...

News - Press Release

CrPcEPd Life-saving jingle hits the airwaves

Freetown- 9 October 2017 – A new jingle that forewarns Sierra Leonean about the dangers of residing in disaster-prone communities will be released on 10 October 2017.

The 1:30-second radio jingle, aired twice daily for 70 days will be aired on seven major radio stations across the country.

The radio announcement is in Krio, the country’s Lingua Franca, and Mende, Themne and Kono- the widely spoken languages in Sierra Leone.

When radio-lovers tune in on Tuesday morning and evening for the next 70 days they will be informed about the changes in the weather.

Read more...

Society -Local News

ACC SPEAKS TO MAFFS ON THE PAY NO BRIBE CAMPAIGN

'A nation cannot progress when its citizens allow bribery to prevail over their sense of patriotism', says Simeon D. Sam Crop Officer, Tonkolili Agriculture Office. He made this statement at an awareness raising engagement organized by the Northern Region Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Wednesday 4th October 2017.  

Addressing staff of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) at their Post Office Road Office in Magburaka, ACC Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh said, the Pay No Bribe (PNB) campaign is a sustained approach which gives opportunity to ministries, departments and agencies to deal with bribery issues from within their institutions.

Mr. Saccoh stated that the PNB has enabled citizens to interact with the reporting platform, report incidents of bribery using the PNB channels. Saccoh noted that though Tonkolili is not a PNB district, citizens in that part of the country should be aware of the campaign and could use the platform equally.

Read more...

Development

THE CASE FOR REFORM OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL
  1. In recent years many UN member States have begun urging a change of the Security Council more so by demands of African states led by Sierra Leone.
  2. The main argument for reform is that change is necessary to make the Security Council more reflective of today’s International realities.
  3. Since the Council was created in 1945 more than a hundred and ninety two nations have come into existence and former defeated states in the last World War such as Germany, Japan and Italy have rejoined the World Community. While many developing states have become economic and trade dynamos yet the Security Council still operates on the same basic principles and with the same P5 (permanent Five) UK, USA, CHINA, FRANCE and USSR.

 

Sierra Leone has consistently and with farvour put the case for Africa at every fora upto some weeks ago in New York but it is difficult to assess the response of the UN or the P 5 respectively.

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Politics

PRESIDENT KOROMA SAYS… “I am very proud of Ansumana Usman Koroma”

President Dr Ernest BaiKoroma has informed Sierra Leoneans that, “I am very proud that we have people like Ansumana. We need many more Ansumana Usman Koromas that will go out there as Ambassadors of our country, showing and telling a good story about Sierra Leone.”

Whilst speaking at his Presidential office in Freetown, President Koroma affirmed that, “I am very proud of Ansumana and I am encouraging him to do more by helping his people.”

Read more...
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