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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

2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul

 

The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

Read more...

Business News

Sierra Leone Embassy & Beijing Chamber Of Commerce for Cultural Industries Launch China-Sierra Leone Hand-In-Hand International Foundation

The Sierra Leone Embassy in China in collaboration with the Beijing Chamber of Commerce for Cultural Industries on Saturday 17th June, 2017 launched the China-Sierra Leone Hand-in-Hand International Foundation with a view of cultivating good citizenship by enhancing social, environmental, cultural and economic wellbeing of communities in Sierra Leone.

It also will among others, serve as a bridge of friendship between the two nations in a bid to promote international culture and art exchanges and contribute to economic development.

Speaking at the event, Madam Kumba Alice Momoh, the embassy’s Chargé d'Affaires   referred to the launch of the China-Sierra Leone Hand-In-Hand International Foundation as “the birth of a new era during a period that Sierra Leone is celebrating 46 years of bilateral relationship with China”

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Media News

44 Journalists in Beijing for China Development Studies and Media Exchange

The 4th session of the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) Program hosted by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) was officially launched on Wednesday 1st March 2017 in Beijing, China. This year’s event is running simultaneously with the China South Asia Center 2017 program. Both programs brought together forty-four journalists from Africa and South Asia.

The program you will give journalists the opportunity to cover major domestic and international events in China such as the upcoming Two Sessions, i.e, the 5th Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and the 5th Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese

People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) (similar to Parliamentary sessions in many countries) in March, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May and the 9th BRICS Summit in Autumn this year.

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Commentary

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT

A PASSIONATE LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT:  44TH EDITION

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT
 Your Excellency Sir,
 It’s been six months since I subscribed to my usual publications of this piece. And this is primarily because I have been out of the country for the entire period, and as such would not normally objectively tender a subscription. I do apologize to my readers for this. So having being in Monrovia, Liberia for the recently concluded ECOWAS Summit, I would like to do some analysis on such a historic august body and gathering of this sub-Saharan/West African region.
 
In resume, among other crucial achievements, ECOWAS, through its military apparatus, ECOMOG, played very sacrificial and invaluable roles in bringing peace, security and democratic governance to both Sierra Leone and Liberia during their past civil wars, and most recently ensuring that the Gambian people’s democratic change of government from the notorious dictatorial twenty seven years regime of Yaya Jarmeh, to the current government of President Adama Barrow, through their tactical robust intervention, overseen by President Helen JohnsonSirleaf of Liberia and other ECOWAS Presidents/actors, was enforced. Furthermore, ECOWAS has also spearheaded the enactment of several socio-political, advocacy and economic treaties in the sub region.
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View Point

WHY SIERRA LEONEANS HATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Honestly speaking Sierra Leoneans are well known for their hospitality all over the world, especially in Africa. But ironically many of them hate each other. But they love foreigners. They have high respect for strangers. But unfortunately they do not have respect among themselves. You can attest this to what is happening in the social media. Where they are showing their pull him down (PhD) syndrome. By castigating their compatriots unnecessarily. Some of them just because of jealousy and envious evil spirit they possess. They prefer to promote foreigners than their own brothers and sisters both in and out of the country.

Day in day out they are insulting each other.They are using all sorts of vulgar languages against each other. And even their own highly respected president in the world, President Ernest Bai Koroma they are insulting him openly. Therefore, it is an open secret that many Sierra Leoneans are not well cultured.

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News - Press Release

WHO Director-General elect welcomes new funding for polio eradication

 World Health Organization Director-General elect, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has welcomed contributions and pledges of US$1.2 billion for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The pledges were made at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta, USA which is being attended by 32 000 Rotarians from around the world. 

“It is humbling to see again the power of this incredible global partnership to generate funding to fight one of the world’s most horrible and debilitating diseases,” said Dr Tedros.

 

 

A proportion of the money pledged will help WHO fund disease surveillance in more than 70 countries and enable it to provide expertise to help countries vaccinate 450 million children per year against polio. The Organization will also provide guidance on vaccination policy and participate in research into vaccine delivery methods, operational tactics and other approaches that can help accelerate eradication.

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Society -Local News

Kambia hosts 41st Africa Child Day celebration

The Ministry of Social Welfare in collaboration with its international and local partners has commemorated the 41st Day of the African Child with residents in Kambia District.

The theme for this year’s celebration is" The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunity "

The ceremony attracted distinguished personalities from across the country and thousands of school going pupils from the district.

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Development

Sierra Leone Collateral Registry to improve access to finance for MSMEs

Minister of Finance and Economic Development and Governor of the Central Bank Monday (June 12) jointly launched the Sierra Leone Collateral Registry, an electronic public database holding information on security interests in movable property.

 

The Registry is an initiative of the Bank of Sierra Leone with technical and financial support provided by the World Bank Group to improve access to finance, particularly for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Established under Part II of the Borrowers and Lenders Act, the Registry is a web based system that allows lenders to search for any pre-existing security interests over movable assets provided as collateral. It facilitates the use of movable assets as collateral that may remain in possession or control of the borrowers and thereby improves access to secured finance.

 

 

 

Movable assets are the main type of collateral that MSMEs, especially those in developing countries, can encumber to obtain financing. Given opportunities in agribusiness among others, the Collateral Registry regime allows farmers and entrepreneurs to unlock significant sources of capital with assets that would otherwise not be looked at by lenders as potential collateral.

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Politics

APC Secretary General Ambassador Yansaneh announces the resolutions at the June 1st NAC Meeting
EBK endorsed to continue as Chairman and Leader,continue to unite and transition the party.
 
Selection or Endorsement of Presidential Candidate who will appoint a Running Mate to be endorsed by NAC.
 
National Executive Officers must have served at regional,district or constituency level to be qualified for selection or election.
 
Must n paid up and active in the last 10 years and paid up for 7 years . 
 
Will sign an undertaken to support whoever is selected or endorsed . 
Read more...
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