Sierra Leone

Australia's further support for prosecutions in Sierra Leone

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Australia will provide a further $100,000 to help prosecute those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations in the West African nation of Sierra Leone.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Greg Hunt, said the funds would be used to increase support for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Mr Hunt said this would bring Australia's total voluntary contribution to the Special Court to $700,000 since 2001.

The court was established by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations and is widely regarded as having made a strong contribution to peace in the country.

'It has so far indicted 11 people on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law,' Mr Hunt said.

'The charges range from mass murder, rape, and acts of terror, to enslavement and conscription of children into an armed force, attacks on UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.

'Australia commends the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and its efforts in bringing those responsible for atrocities to justice,' Mr Hunt said.

The court recently commenced prosecution proceedings against the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The trial, which began on 4 June, resumes tomorrow (25 June) and is expected to last 18 months.

Taylor is facing 11 charges relating to war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international humanitarian law as a result of wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

More than a quarter of a million people died in the wars between 1991 and 2002.

Australia's funding for the Special Court is additional to support for the former UN Mission in Sierra Leone and is part of Australia's strong commitment to peace in Africa.

Media contacts:

John Deller (Mr Hunt's office) on 0400 496 596
AusAID (Public Affairs) on 0417 680 590