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Sierra Leone
26.06.10
Urgent Interventions

Sierra Leone: Victims reparation must be a reality

FORUM OF CONSCIENCE (FOC) – WORLD ORGANISATION AGAINST TORTURE (OMCT)

PRESS RELEASE

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
Torture and other forms of ill-treatment can never be justified under any circumstances

SIERRA LEONE: Victims reparation must be a reality

Freetown - Geneva, 26 June 2010. On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and its member organisation in Sierra Leone, Forum of Conscience (FOC) jointly call upon the Government of Sierra Leone to take concrete measures to respect its commitment with regard to the right of victims to an effective remedy for the human rights violations suffered as well as the right to full redress, including compensation and rehabilitation.

In July 1999, the Lome Peace Agreement put an end to the brutal conflict that broke out in Sierra Leone on 23 March 1991 and made up about 4.5 million direct and or indirect victims as a result of the conflict. Both, article xxvi of the Lome Peace Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report requested the Government of Sierra Leone to set up a Special Fund for War Victims within the shortest delays.

Various attempts of the civil society were undertaken to call upon the State to respect its commitment with respect to the reparation process. On 26 June 2006 in Freetown, FOC, OMCT and Redress (Seeking Reparation for Torture Survivors) organised in collaboration with the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) a Seminar at the Conference Hall of The Bintumani Hotel in order to work out practical issues and urge the Government of Sierra Leone to effectively ensure the reparation of the war victims. Last year, a new workshop, organized by FOC with the support of OMCT, was held in order to remind the authorities about their international obligations.

Unfortunately, the recommendations drawn have only been addressed partially and today, the Government of Sierra Leone must still take concrete measures to meet its commitments.

The victims’ right to reparation for the breach of human rights is a fundamental principle of international law. In a context such as in Sierra Leone, the relationship between reparation and prevention really comes to the fore. On one hand, the cessation and guarantees of non repetition of the facts which occurred during the conflict are part of the prevention but are also important components of reparation. On the other hand, the act of affording reparation, which is an important way in which the rights and dignity of the victim are acknowledged and may be restored, also prevents revenge and recurrence of the trauma caused by the war.

On this specific day dedicated to the victims of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, both organisations recall the Government of Sierra Leone that it must take concrete measures with regard to the reparation process in accordance with human rights standards such as the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Law, and especially:

  • Conduct a nationwide census of war victims;
  • Undertake a study tour of countries with experience in victims reparations to identify and adopt best practices;
  • Put in place of mechanisms for fundraising on a sustainable basis.

OMCT and FOC would like to emphasize on the necessity to make the reparations programme accessible to all the victims, particularly to women in the rural communities and the most vulnerable people.

Contact:
FOC: Rosamond Williams: Tel. +232 76 695426, Email: info@f-o-c.org
OMCT: Orlane Varesano: Tel. +41 22 809 49 39, Email: omct@omct.org


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