The Sierra Leone Web


September 2003

10 September: Nigerian lawmakers visited Sierra Leone this week to assess the current activities of Nigerian troops serving with the United Nations peacekeeping force, UNAMSIL said in a statement. Ado Audu Dogo, who led the five-member delegation from the Federal House of Representatives Committee on the Army, said the group would collect information to make better decisions regarding the Nigerian army.

4 September: The United States is ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sierra Leoneans sheltering in the U.S., meaning that an estimated 2,700 persons now covered under the programme who do not otherwise regularise their status will have to leave the country by May 3. The notice, signed by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, said Sierra Leone no longer meets the conditions for designation under the TPS programme. Designation for TPS must be renewed annually, and the current designation was set to expire on November 2. Those currently covered under the programme, however, will automatically retain their protected status for an additional six months past that date to allow for their orderly departure. TPS was first granted for Sierra Leoneans in the United States in November 1997

Seven children, all members of the same family, were victims of a grenade explosion at the senior staff quarters of Njala University College, BBC correspondent Richard Margao reported on Thursday. According to the report, the children were harvesting sweet potatoes when a shovel used by one of them struck an abandoned grenade. Two of the children were reportedly killed and others seriously injured. (Reuters subsequently reported that three children, two boys and a girl, were killed and seven others seriously injured.) The dead and the injured were taken to the Government Hospital in Bo. "(The casualties) included a five year old girl whose stomach was blown into pieces, and the two legs detached from her body," Margao said. "Her 14-year old brother (is) between life and death at the same Bo Government Hospital, where doctors told me this afternoon that his right arm and leg are to be amputated this evening." The area where the accident occurred has been sealed off to check for more unexploded munitions. Margao quoted police sources as saying U.N. peacekeepers would likely sweep the university campus and its environs for further unexploded ammunition.

The United Nations Security Council has approved the appointment of Gambian Judge Hassan Bubacarr Jallow as Chief Prosecutor for the Rwanda war crimes tribunal in Arusha. Jallow had previously been named to be an appeals judge for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

3 September: A body believed to be that of former RUF field commander Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie has been turned over to the Sierra Leone government for burial, a spokesman for the country's war crimes tribunal said. Officials of the Special Court handed the body over to the chairman of the Freetown Town Council. Court officials alleged that Bockarie, who was indicted for war crimes last March, was killed in Liberia on the orders of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor. Liberian officials sent the body to Freetown in June, but court investigators are still awaiting the results of DNA tests to confirm that the body in fact is that of the former rebel commander. In the meantime, the indictment against him remains in effect.

2 September: The Sierra Leone government has made little progress in implementing institutional reforms and addressing problems such as poor governance, the capacity of the country's security forces, and corruption, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Tuesday. In a report, the ICG said that as the international community begins to scale back its presence in Sierra Leone, a number of issues remain unresolved. UNAMSIL is due to complete its withdrawal from Sierra Leone by December 2004, and the ICG cited concerns that Sierra Leone's security forces will be unprepared to take over responsibility for internal security and protecting the country's borders. While the RUF has been disbanded, the Kamajor militia retains its command structure and claims to be ready to mobilse as necessary, the group said. It also expressed concern that many ex-combatants have not completed training under a reintegration programme that is scheduled to end this December, and that even with assistance many were having trouble finding employment. In the area of governance, the ICG said the government had failed to make significant progress in implementing reforms. "International assistance and advice have promoted reforms in some areas but also allowed the government to relax rather than make necessary, albeit difficult, decisions," the report said, adding: "Especially the U.N. and the British can be credited with bringing peace to Sierra Leone, but its own government will be held accountable if it does not sustain that peace by providing a clear way forward for post-conflict reform and reconstruction."

1 September: Jacques Klein, the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Representative for Liberia, has defended Nigeria's decision to offer political asylum to President Charles Taylor – a move which effectively shields the former Liberian leader from war crimes charges in Sierra Leone. "To be candid, it was the only elegant solution," the Associated Press quoted him as saying. Last month, Klein suggested that Taylor could still pose a threat to the peace process from exile, and warned that if he tried to make good on his pledge to return to Liberia he would be arrested and handed over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone.