The transcripts of the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia. More…

  • Did I note that the witness has some papers before her?

  • Yes.

  • If you could just pass them temporarily to the Madam Court Attendant. They should not be with you at this point.

    Proceed, Mr Bangura, please.

  • Good afternoon, Madam Witness.

  • Please state your name for the record?

  • And can you spell your names, please?

  • C-O-R-I-N-N-E. Dufka is D-U-F-K-A.

  • 50.

  • Please state your address. You don't need to go into the details, but just the city and the country where you reside?

  • You are a senior researcher working with Human Rights Watch, correct?

  • Where is your present station of work?

  • What position do you hold at your present station of work?

  • I am a senior researcher for the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. I am in charge of all of our research and advocacy efforts for West Africa.

  • At the moment which countries in West Africa do you have a presence, or does your work cover?

  • Our work covers Nigeria, Niger, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone.

  • Now, you graduated with a bachelors degree in social work from San Francisco State University in the United States in 1979, correct?

  • That is correct.

  • You then went on to study for a masters degree at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1984, is that correct?

  • What was your field of specialisation for your masters degree?

  • Clinical and psychiatric social work.

  • Your Honours, Berkeley is spelt B-e-r-k-e-l-e-y:

  • Did you do any further academic studies at tertiary level after this?

  • Would I be right to say then that by your academic qualifications your area of specialisation is the field of clinical social work?

  • That is correct.

  • You first worked as a clinical social worker for a period of about ten years across a number of countries in Latin America, is that right?

  • Yes, in the United States as well as in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico.

  • Can you give the Court how much time you spent in these countries - each of these countries - over the period?

  • Okay. The majority of my work was in the United States, in the San Francisco area, where I worked in social work in the areas of psychiatric social work within the hospital setting and medical social work within the hospital setting as well as in drug and rehabilitation counselling. In Mexico City, in 1985, I worked in doing trauma counselling for those who had suffered the Mexico City earthquake in 1985, then in Nicaragua I worked in 1979 with refugees from that country's armed conflict and in El Salvador I worked for some years working with refugees and internally displaced persons.

  • Now from 1988 through to 1999 you worked for Reuters news agency as a photojournalist and you were principally in armed conflict areas, is that right?

  • And would you like to specify some of the countries that you worked in during that period?

  • Yes, I worked in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Bosnia, Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC then known as Zaire, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Somalia among others.

  • Could I ask that initials are actually spelled out so that we all know what they refer to?

  • Ms Dufka, in this case you mentioned "DRC". Would you like to give the full words - full meaning of the words - for DRC?

  • Yes, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • Thank you. And this period of your work spanned close to about 12 years, is that right?

  • Now more specifically you were a photojournalist by your title, but what was - what did your job entail specifically?

  • I was responsible for providing photographic coverage primarily to situations of armed conflict, but also other news developments. I also assisted news reporters with Reuters in collecting information on the ground.

  • And of course Reuters is a news reporting agency, is that correct?

  • That is correct. It is one of the three biggest wire services in the world.

  • In 1999 you took up work with Human Rights Watch Africa Division as a researcher, is that right?

  • Now, where were you first posted?

  • I was first posted to Freetown, Sierra Leone. My first work with Human Rights Watch was to open a field office in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in April 1999.

  • Now, could you describe your duties as a researcher at the time?

  • My duties consisted of documenting human rights violations occurring in the context of the Sierra Leonean armed conflict. My first area of specialisation was concentrating on abuses committed by all sides during the 6 January 1999 rebel offensive against the capital, Freetown.

  • Now, did you undergo any training to prepare you for this new role? You had been in clinical social work before and then you had also been a photojournalist and now you find yourself in a different work environment as a researcher for a human rights organisation. Now, did you get any training to prepare you for this role?

  • Yes, prior to being posted to Sierra Leone and at various intervals since then I received training in Human Rights Watch methodology and principles that underlie our work.

  • Can you be a bit specific as to the sort of issues that you went into during your training?

  • Yes, I received training on the components of and how to conduct a broad based human rights investigation. I received training on specific aspects of interviewing, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and women. In addition, aspects needed to identify command responsibility, components of doing advocacy and other various aspects of our methodology and principles. I also received at that time guidelines on Human Rights Watch's principles, which include objectivity, fairness, a high standard of proof and the importance of maintaining confidentiality of our sources.

  • Now, are you able to draw any parallels between your previous two lines of employment and your new role as a researcher in a human rights institution?

  • Yes, in my work at Human Rights Watch my training as a clinical social worker particularly with respect to methods of interviewing have been utilised, as well as my work as a journalist. Clearly, there the importance of reporting both sides of a story, emphasising neutrality and objectivity, came in very useful in my work in conducting investigations with Human Rights Watch.

  • Now apart from taking a year off your work with Human Rights Watch and that was between 2002 and 2003, you have continued to work with this organisation, is that right?

  • And the years 2002 - the year between 2002 and 2003 you spent working with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, is that right?

  • That is correct, from October 2002 to October 2003.

  • More specifically with the Office of the Prosecutor, is that right?

  • What was your role in that office?

  • My role was as a senior human rights adviser. The work consisted of providing orientation to members of the Prosecution team and investigation team on the history of the Sierra Leonean armed conflict and the context within the armed conflict - the context within which the armed conflict took place. I assisted in compiling documents from a wide variety of sources which had been written on the Sierra Leonean armed conflict. I also assisted in obtaining leads and information which could be useful to the Office of the Prosecutor, as well as in conducting investigations with witnesses.

  • Thank you. Now, you have told this Court already that your present position is a leader of the West Africa team, or West African team, based in Dakar of Human Rights Watch, is that correct? Can you explain, you know, the extent of your responsibilities in this position as head of a team leader of a team?

  • Yes, I direct a team of three to five researchers. I direct all research and advocacy efforts done by my team in the countries within which we work. I speak on behalf of the team on human rights developments in West Africa, I edit all of the materials coming out of my team of researchers and I do public speaking on various different countries and the human rights developments within those countries.

  • Thank you. Now when did you take this appointment, or when did you get or rise to that position of leader of the team?

  • Would that be after - just after - you left the Special Court?

  • Now, can you tell this Court what it means to be leader of a team; I mean taking into consideration the structure of Human Rights Watch as an organisation?

  • Human Rights Watch, which as some of you may know is dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide, is divided up into various different divisions both regionally, the Africa division, Asia, Europe and Americas, as well as thematically focusing on children's rights, women's rights, rights of refugees and the displaced, rights of gay and Lesbians and others.

    So, my work is focusing as head of the West Africa team. The Africa division is the largest division and we work in some 15 countries within Africa, so I am responsible for all of our work in West Africa, that is directing research, deciding what our priorities should be, reviewing the work plans of my researchers, assisting them with investigations and also conducting investigations myself. I am also - I have remained responsible for Human Rights Watch's work in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and as well Niger, and as I mentioned supervising all of our work in the other countries within which we work in West Africa.

  • Now on an annual basis Human Rights Watch as an organisation produces a report, is that correct?

  • Yes, every year we produce what we call our world report, which includes chapters summarising the human rights developments in each of the countries within which we conduct research.

  • And do you have any specific responsibility towards production of that report as team leader of West Africa?

  • I write the Sierra Leone and Liberia chapters and edit and supervise the production of the other chapters concerning West Africa.

  • Now, would you like to comment on the work generally that Human Rights Watch does?

  • Uh-huh. Human Rights Watch, as I mentioned, is one of the world's two largest human rights organisations. It is dedicated to protecting and promoting human rights worldwide. We advocate for those who are responsible and implicated in human rights abuses to be held accountable in accordance with fair trial standards.

    Our work is grounded in, and founded on, in-depth investigations which we conduct. There are a number of factors that we take into consideration in doing our work and this is for all researchers, across all divisions. We conduct - our investigations are based on interviews with a broad spectrum of sources. There is an emphasis to corroborate, whenever we can, those are sources and then there is a rigorous analysis to identify human rights abuses and patterns of human rights abuses and then come up with recommendations, that we include in all of our reports, to bring an end to those patterns of human rights abuses.

  • Now, you have just mentioned that you then come up with recommendations. Obviously these recommendations are then included in the reports which you produce, is that correct?

  • And then how does Human Rights Watch make known its recommendations, its findings and recommendations?

  • Following an investigation, that material, after it has gone through a very rigorous vetting process to ensure balance, fairness, to ensure that the findings are consistent with Human Rights Watch's principles, guidelines and methods, then that material is organised into a number of different types of written documents. These include reports, shorter briefing papers, press releases, Op-Eds and letters to various different protagonists.

  • And what is the focus as you address these - your reports, or press releases and the material you produce, what is the focus usually?

  • The focus is to first of all expose patterns of human rights abuses and then to make recommendations to those individuals and groups, state and non-state actors, as well as regional organisations, the United Nations and others, including businesses, civil society, who can impact positively on human rights situations, that is ultimately our aim is to bring about improvements in the human rights situation that we have documented.

  • Now, you mentioned vetting and you talked about a rigorous vetting process. I hope I am correct in what you said. Can you describe what that vetting process actually entails?

  • Yes, once a report is produced, or once any written document is produced, it goes through a series of edits and vetting, first by the division. So, in my case all of my materials would be vetted by someone within the Africa division, most notably the deputy director. That then comes back to me to respond to their comments and questions. After that it goes to the head of our programme division, who does another edit looking at a number of other factors, including balance, objectivity, fairness. It then comes back to me and then it goes to our legal and policy division to ensure that the positions we have taken, the characterisations of human rights abuses and crimes, are consistent with legal standards and legal characterisations.

  • Now, you were appointed as a researcher in 1999 and posted to Sierra Leone. Was there a need for your organisation to make this appointment at that time?

  • My appointment to Sierra Leone was first identified as being important following the events of 1998. It was at that point that Human Rights Watch began to try to find funds. We are dependent upon funds received from individual donors to be able to conduct work in Sierra Leone. Human Rights Watch does not work in every single country in Africa, we do not have the funds to be able to sustain that activity, and so we are selective in the countries that we choose to engage in.

    Following the atrocities that were committed in 1998 in Sierra Leone, Human Rights Watch decided that Sierra Leone was a priority. At that point they obtained funds and, once those were available, went through a recruitment process and I was chosen to head up that office.

  • Now, prior to 1999 when you started work in Sierra Leone, had there been any presence of Human Rights Watch in Sierra Leone?

  • Yes, there had been one consultant who had been dispatched to Sierra Leone and had produced one report on the 1998 events. After that report specifically then Human Rights Watch realised they wanted a more consistent engagement in the country.

  • So in effect Human Rights Watch's presence in Sierra Leone dates back to about 1998, is that right?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, your initial portfolio, that is the scope of your job or duties at the time of your appointment, was to cover or research human rights developments in Sierra Leone, is that right?

  • In 2000, which is just a year later, this portfolio was expanded, is that not right?

  • That is correct. It was expanded to cover the human rights situation in Liberia, specifically in Northern Liberia, so I began, from 2000, to document war crimes committed within the context of Liberia's second armed conflict which began in 2000.

  • Did this expansion cover any other countries apart from Liberia?

  • Yes, later I began working in Cote d'Ivoire, beginning in 2000, following a violent episode which followed the 2000 elections in Cote d'Ivoire, and then also in Guinea, specifically in relation to cross-border attacks into Guinea which began in 2000 and continued into 2001.

  • Now, during your career with Human Rights Watch from 1999 to present, you have been part of a team that has produced quite a number of reports, is that right?

  • And some of those reports you have yourself authored, is that right?

  • Would you like to discuss some of the publications that you have produced with Human Rights Watch since you have been with them?

  • I have authored at least eight full reports and numerous other shorter reports and press releases and briefing papers. These are included at the end of my CV, but they include "Getting away with murder, mutilation and rape", the first report that I produced for Human Rights Watch in 1999; they include "Back to the Brink", a report about human rights abuses in Liberia; they include a briefing paper on sexual violence, which I wrote in 2001; a report on abuses against Liberian citizens trying to flee into Guinea; abuses by the LURD, which I wrote in 2002; and a report on the election violence in Cote d'Ivoire, "The political manipulation of ethnicity". There are numerous others which I have listed in my CV.

  • As well, there are other reports which have been produced which you assisted in producing but did not yourself author, is that correct?

  • Yes, that is correct.

  • Was there any publication on the human rights issue in Sierra Leone before you joined the organisation?

  • Just the one report, "Sowing terror", which was released in July 1998. Again, I did not author that report.

  • Now, as a senior researcher and team leader of the West Africa team, part of your duties include to be the official mouthpiece of Human Rights Watch, West Africa, is that correct?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, could you comment on how you have performed this role, especially lately? In what circumstances do you have to perform the role of speaking officially for your organisation?

  • Part of our methodology in getting our information disseminated is to issue various different publications, as I have mentioned, distribute those very widely to national and international media houses and organisations and then conduct interviews in which we detail, and in some cases summarise, the findings of our reports.

    Since joining Human Rights Watch in 1999 and usually following the release of every document that we produce, I have done numerous interviews with newspaper, radio and to a lesser extent television. This has continued and is a key part of the job that I do with Human Rights Watch. I am very often asked to comment on human rights developments on various countries in West Africa and about various different types and forms of human rights violations.

  • Now, you mentioned earlier that Human Rights Watch maintains certain standards of fairness of objectivity and of confidentiality in the investigation and production - investigation of human rights abuses and, indeed, production of your work. Now, can you comment on how vigorously you adhere, if at all, to these standards?

  • Yes, every researcher has to adhere very vigorously to those standards: a high standard of proof, confidentiality of our sources, objectivity, neutrality and fairness. In most armed conflicts there are abuses committed by all warring sides. This is true all over the world and so we endeavour, whenever possible, to include that information in the documents that we produce and our investigations always seek to create a balanced view of abuses committed by both sides. That doesn't mean that at times one side is more - is implicated further in abuses than the other side, but nevertheless we always try to investigate both sides of an armed - or indeed all of the different sides of an armed conflict. And, as I mentioned, that is also one of the criteria for our - that those involved in vetting our reports look for, is balance, to ensure that we included information on the conduct of all warring factions in a given armed conflict.

  • Now, you have mentioned that one of the reports that you yourself authored since you joined Human Rights Watch is one titled "Getting away with murder, mutilation and rape". I believe that came out in 1999, is that correct?

  • Now, as an example, could you give us - explain to this Court how you applied those standards of fairness, those standards of objectivity and confidentiality to that research work?

  • Yes. We, or rather I, conducted hundreds of interviews from a wide variety of sources, victims and witnesses, hospital officials, government officials, medical workers, those who worked in the morgue, people within the neighbourhoods, Imams, religious personnel, members of national and international organisations, taxi drivers, market women, people from all different walks of life, to try to obtain as much information I could about abuses committed by all sides.

    In that report we characterised the rebel forces as being responsible for the vast majority of abuses committed during the 6 January offensive. However, we also included a section on the very serious and numerous atrocities committed by the Nigerian led ECOMOG force, as well as the Civil Defence Forces and members of the Sierra Leone police. With respect to the ECOMOG, the Nigerian led ECOMOG forces, we documented over 180 executions of rebels and rebel collaborators that occurred during that offensive.

  • Now, do you hold a membership of any professional body or association?

  • Have you earned any recognition for your work over the years?

  • Yes, I have received a number of awards, both in recognition of my work in exposing war crimes and human rights abuses in Sierra Leone as well as my work as a photojournalist. In 2003 I was a honoured as a MacArthur fellow. This is a program run by the MacArthur Foundation which recognises some 30 or 35 professionals for the contributions they have made to their field. In my case it was to the field of human rights, specifically in relation to Sierra Leone. Previous to that I won, in 1997, the International Women's Media Foundation Courage in Journalism award and then I also won, in 1997, the Overseas Press Club award, the Robert Capa gold medal for war reporting, war photographer, and a number of others for my work in covering the Rwandan genocide, as well as the armed conflict in Liberia and other places.

  • Now, in the course of your duties with Human Rights Watch you attend conferences and represent your organisation and speak to the values that your organisation stands for, is that correct?

  • Would you like to comment on some of the engagements that you have had, or that you regularly have, as team leader of Human Rights Watch, or as a senior researcher?

  • Yes, I am regularly asked to participate in conferences, usually organised by universities, to discuss my work with Human Rights Watch. I usually accept two or three of these invitations each year. Given the workload that I have, I can't accept more. For example, last year I presented two papers at a conference at Emory University, E-M-O-R-Y, in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, and the topic was consolidating peace in West Africa. I have also spoken in a number of different universities, including Brandeis in the United States as well.

  • Have you published any material other than your contribution to Human Rights Watch publications?

  • I published two articles in a book called "The war crimes: What the public should know". One was on the phenomena of disappearances, and I wrote about my knowledge and experience of that phenomena in El Salvador, and I also wrote a small chapter or piece on the use and recruitment of child soldiers.

  • Now, since 1999 your research work has focused more on Sierra Leone and Liberia. Are you able to trace historically any link between these two countries in terms of human rights situations at the time, from about 1998 - in fact, going back from your previous experience, but then you could also comment on the situation up to 1999?

  • Part of what we do in our investigation is to do background research into the historical, cultural, economic context within which abuses take place. Indeed, in each report we include what we call a background section in which we use various elements of history to try to contextualise some of those violations within the historical, social and economic context that they take place in. So, of course as part of my work with Human Rights Watch I have read numerous books and chapters in books and professional articles, or academic articles, on the history of the Sierra Leonean and Liberian armed conflicts. That was also the - I endeavoured to conduct further research into that in a project I researched in 2004 which was called "Youth poverty in blood", which looked at the phenomena of mercenaries' activity in West Africa. So, I have also researched the links, the very complex web and links that exist among West African nations which have often provided logistical and personnel to support an armed conflict in one country or the other. So, it is an area of ongoing research that I have - that I continue to do.

  • Now, you took up work in Sierra Leone in 1999, but do your links with that country go back before that date?

  • Yes, they do. The first time that I went to Sierra Leone was as a photojournalist with Reuters in 1995. The focus of that report was on what we would call - what we classified as a war induced famine in the Bo and Kenema areas. I then returned in 1997, in May, to cover the coup by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. I then covered the ECOMOG and Kamajor offensive which dislodged the AFRC and RUF from power in Freetown in February 1998 and then, of course, from 1999 I was then based in Sierra Leone with Human Rights Watch.

  • Now, in relation to Liberia, where your mandate got expanded once you took up your duties with Human Rights Watch, when was your earliest connection with that country?

  • Similar to my experience with Sierra Leone, my first trip to Liberia was as a photojournalist. I spent some six weeks there in April 1996 covering the episode of violence in Monrovia. I then returned in 1997 to cover the elections, and then the next time I returned was as Human Rights Watch to conduct human rights investigations.

  • During these missions to Liberia, did you at any point have the chance to meet with the accused?

  • I never met with the accused. I went to his house in Kongo Town in April, or it might have been early May, 1996, as part of a team of Reuters reporters and perhaps a few other journalists were there. I was never introduced to him, but I was in a room in which an interview with him was conducted by these journalists. Then also I was at the place where he cast his ballot in 1997, but of course there were thousands of people there.

  • Now, outside Sierra Leone and Liberia your work, research work, has had a widening interest in human rights situations in other countries, is that correct, within West Africa?

  • And could you comment on that interest and how much of it has taken up your attention?

  • Well, since working in Sierra Leone I expanded my work, as I mentioned, to Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire. We have recently expanded our work also to Niger and we will work in a few other countries this year. The team was very small and was only one or two people in 1999 and now we have some five people in our team. We cover a wide variety of human rights abuses depending on the country that we are covering and the particular context.

  • Now, what is your fluency with languages?

  • I speak English obviously, Spanish, French and Krio. Sierra Leonean Krio, sorry.

  • Have you testified in any Court before, or in any formal proceedings?

  • Yes, in January of 2007 I was a witness for a case in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and then in 2006 I was a witness in a case of the Dutch government versus Gus Kouhoven.

  • Your Honours, Kouhoven, I think the name has come up before, but I should try and spell it again. It is Gus is G-U-S, Kouhoven is K-O-W-O-H, K-O-U-O-H - can you help with the spelling?

  • I have seen it spelt a few different ways, so K-O-U-H-O-V-E-N, I believe.

  • Right. So, Ms Dufka, your testimony here today is based on your experiences and your expertise as a researcher in human rights, on human rights development, in Sierra Leone and in Liberia, focusing on the war periods in those countries, is that correct?

  • Now, based on your experience on human rights development in Sierra Leone, you were approached by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, by the Prosecution, to prepare a report for this trial, is that right?

  • That is correct.

  • And what was the focus of that report?

  • I was approached to prepare a report which characterised human rights developments in Sierra Leone and Liberia from 1998 through the end of my engagement and so that would have been approximately 2003/2004.

  • And when did you prepare this report?

  • Last year. I was asked to prepare that report some time at the beginning of 2007 and then I submitted the final report in May 2007.

  • Your Honours, may the witness be assisted by the Court Manager to be shown the document in tab 1?

  • Yes, Madam Court Attendant, please show it to the witness.

  • It will be enough if the front cover of that document is shown to the public. Ms Dufka, is that the report which you produced or prepared for the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Court?

  • Yes, that is the cover of the report.

  • I believe you have the full report before you as well?

  • Now, the report provides a resume of yourself which is consistent with the facts that you have discussed with this Court this morning, is that correct?

  • That is correct.

  • And that resume, is it, is in the appendix, the first appendix of the report, is that correct?

  • Appendix 1. Could the witness be shown page - appendix 1 which is on page, Court Management numbering, 9718. That is your resume, is that correct?

  • Your Honours, I --

  • Please proceed, Mr Bangura.

  • Your Honours, I move that document identified by the witness be marked for identification at this stage.

  • The report or the document headed "Report of Corinne Dufka, Human Rights Watch, to the Office of the Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, 13 May 2007" will be marked as MFI-1.

  • Madam President, can I just point out that the numbering that I have, which is the stamped numbering, is different from the numbering at the top of this document. It may be that others are following from what I thought was the official Court numbering, which is 00031534 for the benefit of anyone who does not have the handwritten numbering.

  • I believe that numbering that my learned friend has referred to is what is given to documents that are in the possession/custody of the Prosecution and there is an evidence unit that gives those numbers. There is about eight digits, I guess.

  • Well, the document I have has got a handwritten number 9680 and that appears to be the situation with my learned colleagues. So, if Mr Munyard has a different numbering then we are going to be at odds with each other and so we need to have consistent numbering.

  • I think it should be relatively easy to manage, but I just want the Court to know that if there are any hiccups it is because we are operating on different numbering.

  • I am at a loss, but I believe the Defence were served with the official version of the documents that we are using here, which would be the same as what your Lordships have and the numbering on those pages would be the Court Management numbers. I am not so sure, it may be that previous disclosure of this document to the Defence was at a time when they had not been filed and the numbering on it would have been the numbers given to the document by the evidence unit. It may be that --

  • That sounds a little odd, because if Mr Munyard has an ERN number then it would be the official number. Perhaps - we are approaching the lunch break. Perhaps I can ask Court Management to assist the parties in reconciling these numbers so we are all talking about the same document and the same page numbers.

  • Can I say I certainly would not welcome any more paper added to the avalanche that we are labouring under at the moment. If we can manage by comparing the numbers, I will be content.

  • I have noted that and so has Court Management.

  • Thank you. Shall I proceed, your Honour?

  • Please do so, Mr Bangura.

  • At page 7, that is as paginated by yourself, Ms Dufka, of the report - may I enquire from my learned friend: Would it be all right if we proceed at this stage by the numbering, page numbering, inserted by the author? Would that be all right for all parties?

  • Yes, I am quite content.

  • Page 7 of the report, you have described the methodology used in your research, is that correct?

  • That essentially reflects the standards that you have discussed this morning that applied - that Human Rights Watch applies to the production of its work and its reports, is that correct?

  • Now, to a very large extent you have relied - you have based - this report is based on facts and details and findings which are already contained in other reports that were produced by Human Rights Watch, is that correct?

  • Yes, the report that I produced for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Office of the Prosecutor, is based entirely on my own research and the research of a number of other researchers for Human Rights Watch; all of whom followed the same rigorous research methodology as required by Human Rights Watch.

  • In effect, principally your report, which incorporates all the other reports that you have just mentioned, contained firsthand accounts from persons who had witnessed events, or they had been victims of those events, is that correct?

  • Yes, it is. My report for the Special Court, as well as every document that I have produced and others at Human Rights Watch have produced, are based primarily on the accounts, the detailed accounts, of firsthand witnesses and victims, and I would like to point out that often one victim, or witness, has information not only about what happened to them, but about what they witnessed happen to others, often members of their own family, village and community.

  • Can you give the Court an idea of how, for instance, you went about identifying these victims? You have given us a broad range of people that you may have interviewed. Some may be victims and some may be only witnesses to the events, but how did you - in your research, how would you normally go about identifying these victims?

  • We identify victims and witnesses through a number of sources and a number of ways. Sometimes it is through word of mouth, through informal discussions with people we come across, or sometimes it is through press reports which we consider a lead. We never rely only on a press report. We consider that is a lead to be able to help guide us to the original source of that information. We rely on patients in hospitals. We rely on international organisations who might have internal reports, or public reports that have leads in them. I often received leads from people who lived around where a particular incident happened, from public transportation workers who were driving to and fro and often had the occasion to witness various different atrocities, from refugees and refugee camp leaders. So, these are just a number of the sources that we rely on for leads. Again, once we have those leads then we identify, or serve them to identify the actual victim and witness themselves.

  • Now, may I refer you to pages 11 to 18 of your report? This is basically for notice, just referring to those pages. Now, you have at page 18 - starting, sorry, from page 11. Starting from page 11, you have documentation of crimes against civilians in Sierra Leone, is that correct?

  • That is correct.

  • Now, can you identify for the Court which one of the earlier human rights reports that you relied on in support of this part of your report?

  • Yes, that was "Sowing terror: Atrocities against civilians in Sierra Leone", which was released by Human Rights Watch in July 1998. As I mentioned, this report I did not research and/or write. This was done prior to my engagement with Human Rights Watch.

  • And you did not take part in the production of this, you have said?

  • No, but I am familiar with the findings and, as I mentioned, the researcher, whom I know, who conducted this investigation followed the same methods and it is underscored by the same principles of Human Rights Watch.

  • Can the witness be shown the document in tab 5, please:

  • Now, just for identification purposes, Ms Dufka, the document shown to you is entitled "Sowing Terror: Atrocities against civilians in Sierra Leone". Is that the document that you have referred to which is sourced - which you used to source this part of your report?

  • Yes, it is.

  • Now, did you use, or did you refer to, any other documents produced by Human Rights Watch to source this portion of your report?

  • Now, let me refer you to appendix 2 - sorry, no, pages 18 to 21.

  • Okay, can I have my own notes and versions of these reports at this point?

  • We would rather go by the versions that are before the Court at this stage.

  • It is the same version. It is just that since I am dealing with a lot of information I have highlighted so that it will make my presentation more concise. It is the same exact version, but only with --

  • Madam President, with great respect it does not sound as though it is the same exact version if it has got annotations, markings and anything of any sort and so I object.

  • Well, Mr Bangura seems to agree with you. He has made no effort to have it before the witness and I agree with Mr Bangura and yourself.

  • I am sorry, is a witness not allowed to have - an expert witness not allowed to have their own notes?

  • There is a ruling, Ms Dufka. Please don't challenge me.

  • I am sorry.

  • You will use the versions of the report with the Court that has been filed.

  • And the witness has not yet been determined to be an expert.

  • Mr Bangura, to which document are you referring?

  • I am referring to MFI-1, I believe, the first document that we identified, and I am referring the witness to pages 18 to 21 of that document:

  • At page 18 and through to 21 you have documented crimes against civilians in Liberia, is that correct?

  • That is correct.

  • Right. Now, could you say which one of Human Rights Watch's reports, that you have spoken widely of here this morning, you used to source this part of your report?

  • That would be "Back to the Brink", a report that we published in 2002.

  • Mr Bangura, I note the time and so if your next question is short, all right. If it is long, we will break now.

  • I will probably just end at this stage and we will pick it up from this point when we get back.

  • Thank you, Mr Bangura.

    Madam Witness, this is the lunchtime adjournment. We take one hour lunch break. As you are under oath I would remind you that you should not discuss your evidence with anyone until it is completed. We will adjourn to 1.30. Please adjourn the Court. I am sorry, I am allowing you an hour, 2.30.

  • [Lunch break taken at 1.30 p.m.]

  • [Upon resuming at 2.30 p.m.]

  • Mr Bangura, just before you resume your cross-examination I will check what the situation is about the numbering of these pages. Has anything been sorted out? Mr Munyard, it was everybody's problem, including yours.

  • Madam President, I've been in purdah since the Court rose and so the Court Manager wasn't able to speak to me until about two minutes ago. We'll try and make sure that we're all working from documents that have the same page numbers, but all I rose to do earlier today was to make it plain to the Court that if any confusion did arise that was the reason. I am confident that we can deal with these sorts of problems in a practical way.

  • I have no doubt at all that we'll be able to resolve it without any trouble. Mr Bangura, please proceed.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • Good afternoon, Ms Dufka.

  • We shall pick up from where we left off but just before that, your Honours, I believe a second document was identified by the witness and I haven't yet moved the Court for that document to be marked for identification. I believe that document was --

  • That's the document which on the front page has, the top heading "Sierra Leone" and a subheading "Sowing Terror."

  • Correct, your Honour. It came from tab 5. Your Honour, may I apply that this document be marked for identification.

  • It will be marked for identification as MFI-2.

  • That is correct, your Honour.

  • Thank you. Please proceed, Mr Bangura.

  • Ms Dufka, just before the break I believe another document had been shown to you which you identified. Is that correct?

  • I'm sorry, are you referring to a document other than "Sowing Terror".

  • Yes.

  • And other than my reports?

  • I'm not clear on what that document is.

  • Okay. I may probably be trying to jump the gun.

  • Mr Bangura, my recollection is the last document shown to the witness was Human Rights Watch report with the large heading. It has now been marked MFI-2.

  • Yes, I recall now, your Honour. I think I was going to show the witness another document and that's where we finished up.

  • May I ask - Ms Dufka, you did - I did draw your attention to pages 18 to 21 of your report which is MFI-1. Is that correct?

  • And you did confirm for the Court that this section of your report covers human rights abuses or crimes against civilians in Liberia. Is that correct?

  • I'm sorry, can you repeat the page number?

  • Pages 18 to 21.

  • Okay, thank you. Yes.

  • And the question was which one of the human rights reports, Human Rights Watch reports, you had used to source your report, this section of your report?

  • Yes, that would be "Back to the Brink" which was published in 2002 and a few other shorter documents including a press release and perhaps another - some sort of other advocacy document. I don't recall which one it was.

  • May the witness be assisted and shown the document in tab number 15, please.

  • Do you recognise the document shown to you?

  • And that's one of the documents that you used to source this part of your report. Is that correct?

  • That is correct.

  • Now you mentioned other documents, there may be press releases and some other documents of some other description. Are you able to recall any at this point?

  • Not specifically the dates that they were released. I believe there was one shortly before and shortly after this one. Perhaps if I could look at the list of publications in my CV I could be reminded.

  • One of them was a document entitled "Liberian refugees in Guinea: Refoulement, Militarisation of Camps and Other Protection Concerns", published in November 2002. That is one.

  • Can I ask that these documents be identified if they are in the large bundle by their tab reference, please?

  • That would indeed be helpful.

  • I was going to go into that after the witness identified the number of documents that she's used to source her report, but if it makes for tidiness I shall refer to them as they're referred to by the witness.

  • I'm sorry, should I wait?

  • Your Honours, I did not want to disturb the flow of - the witness's flow and recollection.

  • Can you go on to the next one, please?

  • There's just one more at any rate which is Human Rights Watch letter and press release from July 29th 2002, "Liberia: Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Liberia."

  • I'm just getting to that. Your Honours, the witness has referred to document in tabs number 21 and 22. May I ask that these documents be shown to the witness in the order in which they have been referred to. First the document in tab number 21.

  • 21 is correct. 22 is not. This one refers to recruitment of ex-child soldiers in Cote d'Ivoire.

  • I'm sorry, your Honours. That's my error. It's 21 and 20. It's going backwards. It's 21 and 20. Madam Court Manager, please, it's 21 and 20.

  • Yes. This is the document I mentioned.

  • So in addition to the document - well, the earlier document you referred to, "Back to the Brink", you also sourced this portion of your report with these two other documents. Is that correct?

  • That's correct.

  • Your Honours, I respectfully ask that the documents, I will refer to them one after the one, be marked for identification. First the human rights report - the document in tab number 15.

  • That is the document "Back to the Brink, War Crimes By Liberian Government and Rebels." That will be MFI-3.

  • And next is the document in tab number 21.

  • Document entitled "Liberian Refugees in Guinea: Refoulement, Militarisation of Camps and Other Protection Centres" will be marked for identification 4.

  • And the third in the series will be the document in tab number 20.

  • That is the document entitled "Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Liberia." That will be marked for identification MFI-5.

  • Thank you, your Honour.

  • Now I would like to refer you, Ms Dufka, to appendix 2 of your report and that's on page --

  • 9721 as marked by Court Management. Now this part of your report provides a list of some of the - your earlier publications for Human Rights Watch which you have referred to already in this Court. Is that correct?

  • Now can you just identify for our purposes here which ones of these you produced yourself and if there are any that you did not and let the Court be - let the Court be aware?

  • Should I read through them or just note the ones where I didn't produce them?

  • The ones that you produced and you could speak on those that you did not produce as well. Basically just identify the ones you produced?

  • All right. The first one, "Rebel Atrocities Against Civilians in Sierra Leone" is based on my own research and writing. "Sierra Leone: "Getting Away Murder, Mutilation and Rape" I researched and wrote. "Sierra Leone: Government Bombing Causes Civilian Deaths" I researched and wrote. "Sierra Leone: New Evidence of Atrocities in Sierra Leone" I researched and wrote.

    Moving on to the next page now, "Sierra Leone: Sexual Violence Within the Sierra Leone Conflict" I researched and wrote. "Liberia: Back to the Brink, War Crimes By Liberian Government and Rebels" I worked with one other researcher from Human Rights Watch on that report. We researched and wrote that together. "Liberia: Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Liberia", I researched and wrote that. "Liberian Refugees in Guinea, Refoulement, Militarisation of Camps and Other Protection Centres" I worked with one other researcher with that who assisted with research and writing.

    On to the third page, "Cote d'Ivoire: Ex-child Soldiers Recruited For War", I researched and wrote that. Human Rights Watch report "Youth, Poverty and Blood, The Lethal Legacy of West Africa's Regional Warriors" I researched and wrote. "Sowing Terror, Atrocities Against Civilians in Sierra Leone", I did not research that nor did I write that. "We'll Kill You If You Cry, Sexual Violence in the Sierra Leone Conflict" I assisted with the research but I did not write that report.

  • Thank you. Now at pages 24 to 26 of your report, this is part 2, you deal with the topic "The Subregional Dynamic of West African Conflicts." Is that correct?

  • And in that part of your report you try to identify certain common patterns that are apparent in conflicts in not only Sierra Leone and Liberia but in countries within West Africa that have been embroiled in conflict. Is that right?

  • Now are there any common patterns that you identified?

  • Yes, that is dealt with in another part of my report as well.

  • Should we refer to that now?

  • Yes, I'd like you to refer the Court to the report that you produced that supports your findings in this research?

  • Just refer to the report?

  • Okay. That report is "Youth, Poverty and Blood" which was released in 2005.

  • Your Honours, that document is in tab 23. Could the witness be shown the document in tab 23, please.

  • Yes, this is the report I just referred to.

  • Your Honours, I move that document be marked for identification.

  • The document entitled "Youth, Poverty and Blood, The Lethal Legacy of West Africa's Regional Warriors" is MFI-6 marked for identification.

  • Now in this work that you produce you, as mentioned earlier, you identify certain patterns in conflicts not only in Sierra Leone and in Liberia but in other West African countries. Is that correct?

  • Now from the point of view of pattern of abuses which are perpetrated in these conflicts was there any common thread that you were able to establish in these situations of conflict?

  • Would you like to discuss your findings?

  • Yes. Firstly I would like to speak for one moment, if I may, about the motivation for conducting the research in that report. There were a number of factors. One of them was trying to understand the roots of the exceptional brutality which has characterised the conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and elsewhere in the region. Secondly, I was trying to identify the methods, if any, of mitigating those violations, that is what kind of oversight the commanders from the various different state and non-state actors exerted upon the military forces to mitigate human rights abuses. Thirdly, I was trying to identify what kind of failures of the state, that is of the governments which had reigned in Liberia, Sierra Leone, particularly the role that they had played, the role that the betrayal of their own populations had played in fomenting the roots which gave rise to armed conflict in the region.

    That research was based on interviews with some 60 former combatants, primarily from Liberia and Sierra Leone, who had fought in at least two armed conflicts within the region. That was the criteria for me interviewing those individuals. The findings were numerous. They are in - illuminated in the entirety of that report, but in general what I found was that there was a striking lack of distinction in terms of the fighting forces between military and civilian targets, there was a tendency to met out very lethal collective punishment against populations which were believed by one warring faction or the other to support the opposing force. Also there was very little effort on the part of the command structures to either instill discipline or hold accountable members of warring factions which had been implicated in human rights abuses.

    I also found that very few of armed combatants had received any kind of training in the laws of war. Also notable was that a high number or a high percentage of those who had joined the first armed conflict had done so after having been forcefully recruited, but that subsequent conflicts they joined voluntarily, primarily with the motive of achieving some sort of financial reward. The report also went into failures of the disarmament program to address some of the needs of former combatants.

  • Thank you. Ms Dufka, the report, as you've noted, or as it states, came out in April 2005. Correct?

  • But your research on this subject reflected periods before this time. Is that correct?

  • I'd be grateful if my learned friend wouldn't lead on issues like this. We're already straying into territory way beyond this indictment, for example disarmament processes, and I'd be grateful if this examination-in-chief or direct examination, whatever you want to call it, is restricted to issues that go to the matters this tribunal has to decide.

  • Yes, Mr Bangura, there has been leading before, it's not been objected to but there is an objection lodged now and I will uphold that objection. You must not lead on these issues.

  • I take the point, your Honour.

  • Did this report reflect on periods before the date on which it was produced?

  • Yes, it was looking at the trajectory that the 60 combatants had gone in their careers, if you will, as armed combatants. Going from the early 80s, 1980s, until 2004, I would say, 2004. And that research has continued and manifested in other documents I have produced on cross-border recruitment of Liberian ex-combatants by the Ivorian government.

  • In your research did you come up with any findings to do with root causes of these conflicts or common causes - common root causes to these conflicts?

  • Yes. Very generally the governments within the countries from which these young combatants hailed have been characterised by state failure, massive corruption, inequitable distribution of resources and impunity and this has resulted in cycles of poverty and war and other forms of social discontent.

  • Your Honours, I respectfully move that this document be marked for identification. That's the document from tab 23.

  • Sorry, which document are you referring to, Mr Bangura?

  • I'm sorry. The document in tab 23, your Honour, Human Rights Watch report West Africa, "Youth, Poverty and Blood."

  • We've already marked it for identification as MFI-6. This is the front cover, isn't it, to make sure we're talking about the same thing?

  • That's right, your Honour.

  • In part 3 of your report, and that runs from page 27 through to page 30, the caption there is "Liberia's Involvement in Sierra Leonean Armed Conflict", you provide eyewitness accounts of the presence and involvement of Liberians in the war in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. Is that correct?

  • Now which of your earlier publications for Human Rights Watch did you rely on as sources for these findings?

  • These interviews noted here were done in the course of my research for "Youth, Poverty and Blood."

  • When you say these interviews?

  • The interviews on pages 27 and 28 of my report to the Special Court, Office of the Prosecutor.

  • All right, thank you. You have stated that an important feature of Human Rights Watch reports is to make recommendations in these reports and these recommendations are directed at various parties found to be responsible in some cases for the atrocities that are committed. Is that correct?

  • Now how is this information usually - the findings in the reports, actually brought to the attention of the parties that are named in them?

  • As I mentioned earlier, the wide dissemination of our reports is an important strategy for us aimed at making known the findings of our reports. Now part of that strategy is sending the report to the parties in question, that is the state and non-state actors as well as various other actors who are involved in either the perpetration or the support of groups which are involved in the commission of human rights abuses. What that means is that generally speaking we send the report - a copy of the report to the government and/or one of the UN or diplomatic missions in the United States or England or the various different capital which happens to have a relationship with the given country. In other words if it was Cote d'Ivoire they would be sent to France. In the case of Liberia and Sierra Leone we generally try to send those reports to the diplomatic missions in the United States and the United Kingdom.

    Also we, as I mentioned, send our reports to journalists, international and national journalists, and then rely on and usually experience a wide dissemination within the media of the findings of our report, usually in the form of an article or a radio or television report characterising the findings.

    So it is primarily in those two ways that we disseminate and make known our information. Often that is followed up with meetings with key actors who we believe could influence in a positive way on the improvement of human rights.

  • You mentioned somewhere in your report that between 1989 and 2006 there were as many as 72 different publications from Human Rights Watch on the human rights development in Liberia. Is that correct?

  • And as regards Sierra Leone there were - between 1997 to 2002 there were as many as 73 reports produced by Human Rights Watch regarding the situation as well in Sierra Leone. Is that correct?

  • Now with regards --

  • Mr Bangura, you're definitely leading there, so I've already --

  • Madam President, if Mr Bangura is going to lead, and he shouldn't, then would he at least lead accurately. I don't know whether this witness is saying that there are 73 reports or 73 documents. She has distinguished between reports, press releases and letters already. Is that what she's talking about or is it reports? It's not clear from Mr Bangura's leading question.

  • I re-emphasise Mr Bangura, you've been told not to lead in this particular - and you've not been released from that, so please do not lead.

  • Your Honours, the position is that the witness has produced her report for the Court and at this stage I am dealing with the report that this witness has produced and in the interests of economy of the Court's time, your Honour --

  • Number one is justice and a fair trial. You will not lead until you are told you can.

  • I will abide by the rule, your Honour.

  • Ms Dufka, you did mention a short while ago a certain number of documents that have been produced by Human Rights Watch regarding the human rights development in Liberia. Is that correct?

  • Yes, I had earlier defined documents that Human Rights Watch produces as a number of different type of document. I said reports, briefing papers, press releases, op-eds and letters. These are all documents. I didn't distinguish - necessarily go into more detail than that. In the course of Human Rights Watch's engagement with Sierra Leone we have produced - I believe it's either 72 or 73 and in the case of Liberia it's 73 or 72. I can't remember because I don't have it in front of me. I did not write every single one of those, as I've mentioned. I have detailed here many of those that I have written, but that list that is included in the report is not exhaustive.

  • Now as regards the documents that were produced in relation to Liberia are you able to say if at all whether they were brought to the attention of the relevant authorities referred to in the reports, specifically here the government of Liberia?

  • I cannot say definitely that every single one of those documents was sent directly to the government of Liberia. What I can say, it is our usual practice to send those reports to the government either in the country if that is possible and feasible given logistics or to the diplomatic missions in the respective countries.

    Now I can further say that whilst I was researching human rights conditions in Liberia it was difficult getting reports into Liberia. The mail system was dysfunctional, email wasn't up and running as it is now and fax machines were spotty. I know we attempted on a few occasions to get reports into Liberia, that is delivering them. I do not believe that they were successful. So to the best of my understanding those reports were sent to the Liberian mission in the United States.

    I also want to be clear on the fact that sending them to the diplomatic mission in the United States was not my responsibility seeing as I was based in Freetown. That would have been the responsibility of individuals working within the Africa division and the communications divisions in New York and Washington DC.

  • Now it is the case - in any of the reports that were produced is there any reference or any recommendation that was made - here I'm referring to reports produced on Sierra Leone, is there any part of any recommendation that referred to the government of Liberia at any stage?

  • Yes, I recall one of our reports, I cannot recall which one, but I do recall that there was a recommendation on Liberia respecting an arms embargo to the rebels in Sierra Leone.

  • And you say you would not recall which of those reports?

  • I'm sorry, I can't recall which one.

  • Could the witness be shown the document in tab number 2.

  • It wasn't in this one.

  • Do you - in the recommendation section of that report is there any reference there to the government of Liberia?

  • No, in that case it might have been "Sowing Terror."

  • Can the witness then be shown MFI-2.

  • Is there a reference in the recommendations in this report to the government of Liberia?

  • And that could be found on --

  • Page 8 of the report.

  • Your Honours, page 8 of document MFI-2. Could that page be put up on the monitor, please.

  • Now, would you like to read the portion of that - the recommendation there that refers to the government of Liberia in relation to events that were occurring in Sierra Leone at the time?

  • Okay.

    "The government of Liberia should respect the international arms embargo against the AFRC/RUF and assure that Liberia is not used as a point of supply or transit for combatants, arms, ammunition, food or other supplies to support the AFRC/RUF. To this end, President Charles Taylor should facilitate border monitoring by ECOMOG. The government should investigate, arrest and hold accountable anyone on Liberian territory engaged in arms trafficking or other support to the AFRC/RUF."

  • Now this recommendation would be based on a finding in the report of matters that are raised in it. Is that correct?

  • Yes, in principle and I believe that report does make reference to interviews that were conducted in and around refugee camps in northern Liberia in which the interviewees noted interaction between Sierra Leonean rebels and Liberians.

  • Now to your knowledge was this report, in the context of - within the context of your explanation recently about how distribution of your reports is done, to your knowledge would you know whether this document was brought to the attention of the government of Liberia as they are named in there?

  • As I mentioned that would be the intent of our organisation, to ensure that a copy of this report is delivered to the embassy, Liberian embassy in the United States in Washington DC or the UN mission - Liberian UN mission in New York. As I mentioned, this was before I joined Human Rights Watch so I cannot say with 100 per cent certainty that that was the case, but that is usually the procedure. Of course that's the objective of our organisation, is achieving change and improvement in the human rights situation so we try at all - by all means to ensure that our reports are widely distributed, particularly to the protagonists in an armed conflict.

  • Still with document MFI-2, and that's "Sowing Terror", may I refer you to pages 11 to 18 of your report - your report I'm referring you to.

  • And we shall be dealing with MFI-2 in the process. Come back to the findings of the "Documentation of Crimes Against Civilians in Sierra Leone" and you have told this Court already that this part of your report is sourced by primarily the document MFI-2. Is that correct?

  • That is "Sowing Terror." Now this section of your report - the report itself came out in 1998, July 1998. Is that correct?

  • Madam President, I rise at this point to - because this illustrates very well the principles that I raised in my objection. Pages 18 onwards of this section of this report which is now being asked about are headed "Documentation of Crimes Against Civilians in Liberia." What has that got to do with this indictment that charges the accused with crimes in Sierra Leone?

  • Your Honours, I may have misstated the pages but I was referring to pages 11 --

  • My notes are it was pages 11 to 18 and pages 11 --

  • I'm sorry if I've misheard that and only heard the last bit which is 18.

  • And page 11 the heading is "Crimes Against Civilians in Sierra Leone".

  • In that case I will sit down, but I'm sure you take my point when we reach page 18.

  • It has been noted, Mr Munyard. Mr Bangura, you've crept into leading again.

  • I did not understand my learned friend's objection as relating to leading.

  • Mr Munyard has corrected himself and there is no objection on record at the moment, but he has prophesied one.

  • Now we did say that the report came out in July 1998?

  • Now what period - what was the background to this report coming out at that time in the context of the war in Sierra Leone?

  • Are you referring to a background section in our report or in general the background of the research?

  • The background which could very well be a background section in your report, but the background to the situation at the time the report was prepared?

  • Okay. All of our longer reports - all of our reports include what we call a background section which endeavours to provide some of the recent history and the context within those - within which the abuses that we later document in the report take place. This report of course had a background section in which we gave a brief history of the war in Sierra Leone as starting in 1991, the motives for the war, the underlying dynamics and so on. From there we lead into the findings of the report with respect to the events which occurred primarily after the RUF and AFRC were dislodged from political power, that is from Freetown, Kenema and other towns in the primarily south and retreated up into the north. So the report details and concentrates on abuses committed from February when the AFRC/RUF were dislodged from Freetown until approximately June 1998.

  • Now who conducted investigations for this report?

  • This report was researched and written --

  • You may not call the name of the author if that's confidential?

  • It's in the report. It's researched and written by an individual named Scott Campbell who was a consultant for the Africa division of Human Rights Watch at that time.

  • As you've said this was before you joined the organisation?

  • Now the title of the report is "Sowing Terror, Atrocities Against Civilians in Sierra Leone." Does the title depict anything about the nature of the atrocities that were caused or were being caused at all in Sierra Leone at the time?

  • Yes, the title "Sowing Terror" was chosen by the author after having noted through the scores of interviews which he conducted for this research that the element of fear and terror among the civilian population was a very prominent feature. He went on to describe in the report patterns of very serious human rights abuses by all sides, but primarily by members of the rebel factions once they had been dislodged from the political power and moved into northern Sierra Leone.

    It described - and I don't know if I have mentioned this before with respect to Human Rights Watch reports, but one of the features of our reports, one of the objectives of our work, is to use the voice of the victim and witness themselves as they have experienced the abuse in question. We feel that this lends credibility to our work because we are including a written version of what the victim or witness said. So this report, like nearly all of our reports, includes numerous testimonies taken during the research of victims and witnesses to very serious atrocities.

    The element of terror was noted in a number of these interviews. The notion of the random nature of targeting individuals was one of those elements that lent itself to civilians feeling terrorised, as well as the sheer number of people who were effected as well as the targeting of all different ages and ethnic groups and types of people, as well as targeting individuals without asking any questions or trying to even determine what their political or other orientation might have been, as if that might have protected them in some way.

  • Thank you. Now the report focuses on a number of locations in Sierra Leone where these human rights violations took place. Is that correct?

  • Yes. This report concentrates on events which took place in Kono District. There are a number of particular places that are noted in the report. Shall I list them?

  • Yes, please do. Could we try and spell them as you list them?

  • Sure. These include Koidu Town, that is K-O-I-D-U. It includes Tombodu Town or village, T-O-M-B-U-D-U. Sinekoro, S-I-N-E-K-O-R-O. Jagbwema Faiama, two words, first word is J-A-B-W-E-M-A, second word F-A-I-A-M-A and the last is Njaiama Sewafe which is N-J-A-I-A-M-A, second word S-E-W-A-F-E, among others. One of the others was Gbense, GBENSE.

  • And these are locations, as you've said, within Kono District. Is that right?

  • To the best of my knowledge.

  • Now the report catalogues a number of human rights abuses that were committed against civilians in these areas. Is that right?

  • Would you like to briefly name - go through those abuses that are catalogued?

  • Yes. I would also like to preface that by saying that, as in all of our reports, this report documented abuses by both warring sides. The vast majority, as has been noted, were committed by the AFRC/RUF which I will note just now. The others were committed by the Civil Defence Force militias, primarily the Kamajors and to a lesser extent ECOMOG.

    So with respect to the AFRC/RUF rebels the types of atrocities included mutilations. Mutilation of hands, fingers, feet, ears. The mutilation appeared to be an effort to punish civilians for their alleged or perceived support of the government. Then there was widespread rape of girls I believe as young as 10. I can't recall now the youngest interviewee in that report, but it was around that age. And abduction of large numbers of civilians, including girls and women for the purpose of sexual slavery and boys and men for the purposes of forced recruitment into the military service.

    It also includes accounts of disembowelment of the foetuses from pregnant women as well as razing of villages, particularly in Tombodu, and massacres and extrajudicial executions in again Tombodu as well as Koidu Town.

    With respect to the Civil Defence Force militias, primarily the Kamajors which are allied to the Mende ethnic group, they also committed very serious human rights violations but on a much lesser scale. This is noted in our report. These violations were primarily focused at combatants or perceived combatants. They included the execution of RUF and AFRC prisoners including in particularly horrific ways, like by putting tyres around them and burning them or burning them alive and then disembowelling them. It also included - the report included a number of reports of cannibalism by the Kamajor militias. The CDF also engaged in the use and recruitment of child soldiers.

    With respect to ECOMOG it noted that the ECOMOG shelling of Freetown during the process of dislodging the rebels was at times indiscriminate and resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

  • Are you able to say in what context the crimes that were committed by these forces, especially the RUF and AFRC which you have mentioned committed the greatest quantities of these crimes, are you able to say in what context they committed them?

  • These atrocities were committed within the context of two operations, two military operations, which had - which were loosely called Operation Pay Yourself during which there was also quite massive looting and pillage of the civilian population. I forgot to mention that when I was cataloguing the abuses. The other one was Operation No Living Thing. Those were the - that was the context. As I mentioned before, these abuses were committed after the RUF and AFRC had been dislodged from political power and they appeared to be blaming the civilian population in a form of collective punishment for having lost political power.

  • And these two operations that you mentioned occurred within the time frame of the research and production of this report. Is that correct?

  • Yes. They were launched roughly February/March 1998 and then at least in Kono, which was the focal point of this investigation, appeared to come to an end in late April or May when the ECOMOG and Kamajor forces retook Koidu Town. It also noted the number of civilian wounded as being about 507. I think if I can remember correctly about 425 or so wounded civilians had been treated in three of Sierra Leone's hospitals and the rest had been treated in Guinea. These interviews - the vast majority of the interviews of victims and witnesses were conducted not in Sierra Leone but in refugee camps in Guinea and Liberia.

  • Now you - in cataloguing the crimes that were committed against Sierra Leoneans and not just limiting yourself to the period covered by this report that we've just discussed, that is "Sowing Terror", you have in your report also referred to another report which we have identified already. That's "Getting Away With Murder, Mutilation and Rape"?

  • Your Honours, I'm referring to MFI - I'm not so sure we have identified that. It has not been identified as yet. I am referring to the document in tab number 2. Could the witness be shown the document in tab number 2, please.

  • Yes, that is "Getting Away With Murder, Mutilation and Rape", a document I researched and wrote.

  • You have in fact spoken of this report already?

  • Yes.

  • Your Honours, I wish to respectfully ask that this document be marked for identification.

  • It's the document in tab number 2.

  • Yes. The document entitled "Getting Away With Murder, Mutilation and Rape, New Testimony from Sierra Leone" will be marked for identification MFI-7.

  • Now you state in your report that between 1999, that's when you took up office with Human Rights Watch, and 2001 you interviewed over 400 individuals in your research work generally. Is that correct?

  • And some of these that you interviewed would be in relation to the report "Getting Away With Murder, Mutilation and Rape." Is that correct?

  • That's correct.

  • When was that report produced?

  • The research for that report was done in April, May and part of June 1999 and then it was written in June and released in June.

  • And could you give the Court some background to the period - the background to the writing of that report, the period that it --

  • Yes. That report was an attempt to reconstruct in human rights terms what occurred in what we characterised in the report as the most intensive and concentrated period of human rights abuses in Sierra Leone's armed conflict. In the months leading up to this - the research and leading up to the offensive in January 1999 the rebels had moved across Freetown from the east, through Kono, Makeni, down into Masiaka, Waterloo and then down into Freetown. We include some of that background in our background section as well as the other information we usually include in the background section. But this report --

  • Can I pause you for one moment. When you say the rebels, which group are you referring to when you say the rebels?

  • Well, we refer to the rebels in different ways in this report. We usually refer to them as RUF. There were elements of the SLAs or, rather, the AFRC, Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. At that point when this research was done and the report written the rebels were in the process of beginning a dialogue and negotiation process and they referred to themselves as one block, as the RUF rebels. But they are referred to in different ways also depending upon how they're identified by the victims and witnesses, which is sometimes RUF, sometimes SLA, sometimes AFRC, juntas and simply just rebels.

  • Yes, you were giving us a background to this report?

  • Yes. The report was based on several hundred interviews with victims and witnesses. I spent, as I mentioned, some two months conducting the research, in many cases going house to house, street to street through downtown Freetown as well as in the outer lying neighbourhoods where the majority of atrocities were committed.

    In addition I interviewed government officials from the health ministry, from the housing ministry, morgue officials, military officials and other national and international organisations. There was a very, very broad spectrum of individuals interviewed for the production of this report, but the vast majority were victims and witnesses as you will see in the report which is full of scores of testimonies of those who suffered human rights abuses by all sides.

  • Now I think you started, but I'm not sure - you started giving the Court some background in terms of the phase of the fighting in Sierra Leone within which the report - on which this report focuses. I'm not sure whether you completed that?

  • Yes. It appeared from the research to suggest that the rebels had - that their attack on Freetown was an attempt to retake political power that they had lost in 1998. They had started by launching a series of offensives against towns in the east and north of the country, as I mentioned primarily or most importantly Kono, Makeni, Masiaka and then Waterloo, before they came into Freetown.

    The report includes the events of the takeover of great areas of Freetown, including, as I mentioned, downtown and the suburbs of Calaba Town, Wellington and Kissy and then the ensuing three week occupation of those areas by the rebel forces.

  • Now you discuss quite a number of atrocities or human rights violations that were committed during this period. Is that correct?

  • Would you like to just simply discuss broadly which ones that you identify in this report?

  • Yes. As I mentioned, the offensive marked the most concentrated and intense period of human rights abuses in Sierra Leone's war. It brought to the capital city the same types of atrocious acts that had been committed in other parts of the country and some of which have been referred to in our report "Sowing Terror." It was characterised by systematic, widespread perpetration of numerous classes of human rights abuses against all different ages of people and both men and women and children of all ages.

    The abuses included murder and numerous massacres. I documented numerous massacres of civilians by the rebel forces. These included a massacre of some 60 individuals who had been sheltering inside a mosque in Kissy on January 22nd. The killing of some 19 - yes, excuse me, an attack on a family on January 6th, the first day that the offensive occurred, in which all six children and one grandchild of a family had been gunned down. The killing of some - the January 19th attack on a church in Wellington in which 12 people were gunned down and a January 21st attack on a compound, a family compound, in Kissy in which some 17 individuals had been killed.

    The killing occurred in numerous different ways and people appeared to have been targeted at random. They were killed in churches, in mosques, in houses where they were sheltering. They were - including children, including infants were thrown into burning fires. People were - people's houses were set on fire and then rebels posted themselves outside so that they could not attack - they could not escape. I documented cases of people being thrown out of their windows of the third or so storey of a building.

    Of people being mutilated. We documented 97 mutilations. This was a quite common feature of this offensive. 97 mutilations including 26 double arm amputations. We documented some 11 or 12 amputations of children, including the youngest one about a year and a half.

    Also there was widespread and systematic sexual abuse against girls and women in which there were rebel operations that were - appeared to be launched by the rebels to go out into the communities, driving around from house to house, picking up girls including many who were 13, 14, 15, 16 and then taking these girls back to rebel bases throughout Freetown where they were subjected to repeated and often brutal forms of sexual abuse including individual and gang rape and sexual slavery.

    I also document cases of women having objects put in their vaginas including burning wood, umbrellas. The hospital records indicated two cases of women who had been shot through their vaginas and died subsequently.

    We also documented violations of medical neutrality where rebels went into the main hospital, Connaught Hospital, and kicked patients out of their beds and threatened doctors and nurses with death if the wounded combatants expired and then made that hospital their base and then destroyed and looted medicines.

    I documented massive looting and pillage. I heard untold numbers of testimonies of civilians who were hit with wave, after wave, after wave of rebels coming in and looting and stealing from them. Many people were killed in the context of these raids. When they could not produce money or goods to give to the rebels they were often shot and killed. The same was the case if mothers and fathers refused to give up their sons or their daughters to the rebels for the purpose of abduction.

    Speaking of abduction, there were - it's hard to say how many people were abducted from Freetown when the rebels were pushed out of the city by ECOMOG in late January. It was over a thousand according to government records and according to UNICEF records they'd registered some 500 - over 500 children and then the ministry of gender and children's affairs registered some 1,500 people who were missing. Many of those remained with the rebels for quite a long time. So --

  • In the abuses, the crimes that were committed, did you catalogue any instances of amputations?

  • Yes, I've spoken about the amputations, that we had 90 - we catalogued 97 cases of amputation including 26 cases of double arm amputation. Those figures were derived from my interviews with every hospital in Freetown and most of the clinics and then scouring through medical records as well. Now those were the amputees who survived. I also interviewed morgue workers and street cleaners charged with cleaning up or removing bodies from the streets who identified individuals with one or more amputated arms among the dead that were then buried in mass graves.

  • Could you speak to any patterns. I appreciate you have mentioned patterns in the commission of some of these crimes, but can you speak further to any patterns which emerged in the commission of some of these crimes?

  • Well, one of them was the use of terror, similar to what I spoke about with reference to the 1998 offensives in the north. The use of terror was a prominent feature as described by numerous victims and witnesses. First of all the random nature of these attacks served a create an ambience of complete and utter terror; people never knew when it was that they would be attacked and for what. People were attacked as they were going out of their houses trying to obtain food for the day, as they ran from the rebels, as they sought shelter, sometimes they were pulled from their houses. There were no apparent reason for the targeting, nor did there appear to any kind of questioning to even ascertain the details of that person's life. They were being blamed for having supported President Tejan Kabbah, however very often they weren't even asked a single question before their arms were hacked off or they were shot.

    Also the rebels made use of games - of games and techniques to maximise terror. For example, forcing a father or a mother to decide which one of their children would be killed, putting people in rooms in a house and then assigning a time, the 9 o'clock room, the 9.30 room, the 10 o'clock room, the 10.30 room and then taking people out at random and executing them.

    They also would - on one occasion I documented a massacre of some 30 individuals in which - killed after the rebels had dressed up in the uniforms of ECOMOG soldiers whom they had killed or captured and they went into an area soliciting a positive report from the population in which case they caught them, in parenthesises, and proceeded to execute them.

    I documented cases of people going out to try to pick up the body of a loved one who had been killed and then falling into an ambush by the rebels who had positioned themselves around the dead bodies of these individuals.

    Also setting people alight in houses. I had neglected to mention that but it is a pattern. There were numerous testimonies I took of parents and other family members who lost loved ones in a fire where the house was set alight and then they were unable to go in and rescue their loved one. There was one father who lost his four and six year old child, he wasn't able to go rescue them and then was forced to sit there and listen to the screams of his children. Another case of people being set alight in a house and then the rebels positioning themselves outside and picking them off as they tried to escape from the fire. So these were the types of patterns and the use of terror that we documented, I documented.

  • Now did you identify any particular groups that may have been targeted during the course of this violence?

  • Yes, we identified three groups - as I mentioned, the vast majority of victims were targeted seemingly at random. However, there were three groups that did stand out as having been targeted. One of them was Nigerian nationals who appear to have been targeted because of the component of ECOMOG which at that point was dominated and led by Nigerians.

    The massacre in the church in Wellington that I mentioned was committed because there were two Nigerian missionaries who were in that church with all the rest of those people, I think it was - I can't recall the number now. I think it was - 12 people were killed in that massacre, including the two Nigerians. The rebels came in and were talking to the people and the two Nigerians remained silent and it appeared that the rebels had information about the Nigerians having taken refuge in that church and then proceeded to kill all of them including a journalist and his three children. So Nigerians was one group.

    Then the second group was policemen, unarmed, off duty police officers. We documented - and police records indicated that 10s of them had been killed. The exact number is in the report, I can't recall it.

    And then the third group was journalists and that was to a lesser extent, but there were nevertheless a number of Sierra Leonean journalists who appear to have been targeted during the offensive

  • Did your research indicate at all whether or not there were commanders that were identified and if so did it indicate what role they played in all of this?

  • We - my research did not identify a strict command - line of command with respect to the commission of these atrocities. What I can say, however, is that commanders - is that many of the incidents and atrocities appeared to be well organised. Many of them - many of the witnesses noted the presence of someone who appeared to be a commander, they weren't able to specify at what level of commander. Many of the girls who were rounded up for the purposes of sexual slavery and abductees that were rounded up for the purposes of forced labour and sexual slavery and recruitment were taken to command centres.

    So there appeared to be certainly knowledge and some involvement of commanders. Also the wide scale nature of these abuses would make it very difficult to argue that commanders did not know that these atrocities were going on.

  • Did you want to say something --

  • Yes, also there were very few instances, although there were a few, but there were very few instances of either a commander or a rebel trying to stop an abuse from being committed.

  • Now did any evidence come out from your research pointing to planning or premeditation?

  • Yes. There was one incident I was going to mention that at the Rogbalan mosque where warning was given two days before that massacre. Again there were some 60 civilians killed in that incident. They were harbouring - sheltering inside this mosque in Kissy.

  • Can I ask you to spell the name of that mosque?

  • Okay, R-O-G-B-A-L-A-N.

  • Yes, continue please?

  • That was in Kissy. Yes, I probably interviewed maybe 10 witnesses to that massacre and what they explained was that the rebels were coming to that place every day, abducting girls and women who were among those sheltering in the mosque and one of those days that was two days before the massacre was committed some rebels came and told people that there would be a massacre, that they were going to come in and kill them. But that was, you'll recall, when the withdrawal from Freetown had already started, when ECOMOG was pushing very hard on the rebels. ECOMOG had, I believe, received reinforcements and were pushing from downtown Freetown into the suburbs of Kissy and Calaba Town, so people did not flee because they felt that they simply had no place to go, there was firing all around them and so on.

    That incident involved two groups of rebels that came and positioned themselves around the mosque, some came - one group came inside and started firing at people in the men's section, in the women's section, whilst the other group was outside popping or shooting at people as they tried to flee. So that's one that appeared premeditated.

    Also some of the women and girls who had been abducted and raped told me that when they were abducted they - those abducting them said this is a nice one for the commander, we're taking this one for the commander or that one for the commander. Then they of course went back to a rebel headquarters - ad hoc rebel headquarters. One of them at that time was in the brewery in Wellington and in a number of other places. State House is an another of the command centres too where scores of girls and women were taken for the purposes of sexual abuse

  • Did your research identify names of particular units which suggested anything at all as to the nature of the crimes that they committed?

  • Yes, there were - that's in my report as well. I noted a number of operations that appeared to be specifically designed to do or to commit certain types of atrocities. For example the Burn House Unit, the Cut Hand Unit, the Kill Man No Blood Unit, the Born Naked Squad. That one doesn't refer to a type of abuse but - well, yes it did. The Born Naked Squad were the ones who stripped their victims before killing them.

    But people did describe those units or there were a few cases of civilians being kept in one place and saying, "We're keeping you here until the Cut Hand Squad arrives", so they were kept there for however long it took for the Cut Hand Squad to arrive and then when they did then that is when the amputation took place.

  • Now you have said that the entire episode of events occurred within a three week period. Is that correct?

  • Within a three to four week period, yes.

  • And could you describe, as much as you're able to, the flow of events over that period right from the beginning?

  • Yes. First of all I can say we documented atrocities being committed from the first day of that offensive, that is January 6th, for example the killing of the man's - this couple's six children and one grandchild was on the evening of January 6th, until the very end of January. So atrocities were committed throughout the entirety of that offensive.

    However, certain atrocities were quite constant throughout. Namely, abduction and sexual abuse. They were quite constant throughout that period. Others, for example the massacres and the amputations, appeared to be concentrated from the 17th, 18th onward. That is once the rebels appeared to be under military pressure from ECOMOG who were trying to dislodge them from the suburbs of Freetown.

  • You started earlier and I believe in the course of your explanation you have mentioned quite a number of locations, but I don't know how exhaustive you have been in mentioning the locations that were mainly at the centre of most of these abuses?

  • Okay. Yes, we documented atrocities - all different types of atrocities taking place in the many neighbourhoods of Freetown and the suburbs. In downtown Freetown, if I can recall correctly, we have Pademba Road, Upgun - do I need to spell these?

  • Yes, please.

  • Okay. Pademba Road, P-A-D-E-M-B-A and then the second word is road, R-O-A-D. State House --

  • I think that flows.

  • Okay. Upgun, U-P-G-U-N. Kissy Road, K-I-S-S-Y. PZ, P as in Peter, Z. And then the neighbourhoods of Calaba Town, C-A-L-A-B-A and then town. Kissy, K-I-S-S-Y. Wellington, W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N. Let me just look through my notes to see if I have forgotten any. Brookfields.

  • Can I just check whether the witness is looking through her report or if she's looking through notes which she has already been told she shouldn't be consulting with.

  • That's true, Ms Dufka. You mentioned the word notes just now --

  • I'm sorry, I meant my report.

  • Yes, please go on?

  • Yes. This is on page 14. Kru Bay, K-R-U and then bay. Susan's Bay, Kingtom.

  • There are probably others, but anyway, that's --

  • Now did you in support of the findings that you made in the report, were you able to obtain any figures to support some of the information you had got from people you interviewed?

  • Yes, I consulted widely, as I mentioned, with hospital records, government ministries and UN organisations, among others. So some of those statistics are included in this report and of course many more in the full report of "Getting Away With Murder, Mutilation and Rape."

    But a few that perhaps are worth noting are the numbers of abducted individuals. For example on page 14 you can see the ministry of social welfare registered 573 adults who had either been abducted or gone missing and UNICEF had classed as abducted some 1,500 children.

    I also went to the housing ministry to register the destruction of homes. I had neglected to mention that as the rebels withdrew, and as it was clear that they were going to lose the capital, lose control of the capital, they set large areas of Freetown on fire. So the housing ministry identified or registered as destroyed some 5,788 homes and residential buildings. Entire city blocks had actually been burned. Then the hardest hit neighbourhood was Calaba Town which had suffered some 80 per cent of residential structures had been left in ashes.

    Then the ministry of trade, industry and transport noted that eight of Freetown's factories had been set ablaze resulting in what they estimated was a loss of 500 jobs.

    Also in terms of the death figures, I couldn't come up with a very definitive number for those civilians who had been killed in part because there were also a lot of rebels who had been killed and many of them were buried in mass graves. Many, many people I talked to had just buried them family members in the compound within which they lived. So there were a number of figures floating around but I think one could safely say that at least 2,000 civilians had been killed during that January 6th offensive. The government put the number quite - they put the number of those that they had buried in mass graves at around 5,000. Then in terms of those that the hospital treated and so on, a number of those statistics I didn't include in my report to the Office of the Prosecutor but they are included in the longer report

  • May I refer you now to page 15 of your report. At page 15 and continuing you have also referred to other episodic events in the war in Sierra Leone which are covered by Human Rights Watch reports or publications. Is that correct?

  • Yes, but I also perhaps had neglected to say a word about the ECOMOG atrocities that were committed, if I may.

  • Could you please - you had talked about the one group being primarily or mainly responsible for these atrocities and you also mentioned that there were other groups, but there was one group which you identified as the rebels?

  • That's right, yes, the vast majority of abuses were committed by rebel forces but also members of the Nigerian led ECOMOG peacekeeping force in some cases together with Kamajor militiamen and/or members of the Sierra Leone police were involved in executing or the execution of RUF prisoners and suspected collaborators. I had mentioned earlier we documented 180 of those cases. The majority of those were perpetrated by Nigerian ECOMOG peacekeepers or soldiers. We noted or documented that many of those among the 180 had been ordered or perpetrated in the presence of officers up to the level of captain, that many of these rebels or suspected rebels had been wounded before they were executed.

    One particularly egregious event occurred on January 11th in Connaught Hospital, that's Freetown's main public hospital, in which ECOMOG troops stormed the hospital and inside found - you'll remember that was a rebel headquarters. They stormed the hospital and they found some 28 rebels including two child combatants who were either wounded or had already surrendered and they were executed on the grounds of the hospital and in the environs of the hospital.

    Most of the killings by ECOMOG were committed at check points and in mop up operations. We also noted some looting and, as I mentioned, a few executions committed by the Civil Defence Force.

  • Thank you. I was going to refer you to page 15 of your report and to a few more incidents, or rather episodes in the conflict in Sierra Leone which are covered by reports produced by Human Rights Watch. On page 15 you refer to - that's the second half of the material presented there, you refer to 1999 rebel attacks against towns of Masiaka and Port Loko. Is that correct?

  • Yes.

  • Now what if any is the source in human rights publications for this episode of the conflict in Sierra Leone, was any material produced at all?

  • Yes. These incidents were documented in a press release that I wrote and which was released in May 1999.

  • Your Honours, may the witness be shown the document in tab 10.

  • Yes, this is the press release in question.

  • Your Honours, before we speak to the contents of this document may I respectfully ask that the document be marked for identification.

  • The document named "Rebel Atrocities Against Civilians in Sierra Leone" will be marked for identification MFI-8.

  • That's correct, your Honour.

  • As you have pointed out, this document was prepared or produced in May of 1999. Is that right?

  • Yes, that is correct.

  • And can you give the Court some background to the preparation of this material at the time?

  • Yes. The material in this release was based on 20 civilians who I interviewed mostly in the - in hospitals in Freetown who described several attacks on villages in the Port Loko and Masiaka area. That's M-A-S-I-A-K-A and Port Loko is P-O-R-T L-O-K-O. These villages - these areas, they're two towns and the attacks occurred on numerous villages around those two towns.

  • Do you know which district in Sierra Leone these two towns fall?

  • I believe in - well certainly Port Loko is in Port Loko, and Masiaka, I'm not sure if it's Port Loko or Bombali.

  • In the context of the conflict in Sierra Leone at the time what was the background to the events that you catalogue here?

  • These attacks appear to have been committed by rebels as they were in the process of withdrawing from - or rebels who had withdrawn from Freetown in late January/early February, had based themselves further away from the capital, some 30 kilometres away from the capital. The attacks around Port Loko had happened actually before and after an actual attack on the town of Port Loko in early May and then the attacks around Masiaka had happened in the course of skirmishes with ECOMOG over territory to actually - trying to consolidate their territory in those areas.

    So I interviewed, as I mentioned, 20 civilians and they described numerous group killings, a few decapitations, amputation of hands and ears and scores of abductions. In one particularly disturbing incident in a village near Masiaka there were witnesses to 57 civilians being burned to death, put down on the road and then had mats put over them that were set alight.

    During - in the course of that research I also documented a number of individuals who'd had both of their hands - I think it was six or seven double amputees which I interviewed in the hospital. And also one of the individuals from a village called Madigba which is M-A-D-I-G-B-A described how 12 civilians from that village had been hacked to death in the early morning of May 11th.

  • Now who were principally responsible for these atrocities [overlapping speakers]?

  • They said rebels - RUF/AFRC rebels. As I said, when civilians describe their attackers they call them by a number of names including RUF, AFRC, rebels and so on.

  • Now let me refer you to page 16 of your report, and again another one of the episodic events in the course of the conflict. I'm referring there to the - after the first two bullet points the incidents in Kambia and Koinadugu Districts, 1999 and 2000 rebel attacks. Do you recall the context in which these incidents occurred?

  • Yes. Following the breakdown of the - well, some of these attacks occurred in late 1999 shortly after the peace agreement was signed but nevertheless where there continued to be rebel activity in the northern parts of Sierra Leone, and others further down the page were committed after the breakdown of the May 2000 peace accord in which there were episodic abuses including amputation, forced recruitment - amputation but on a much lesser scale, and forced recruitment of children and adolescents and other serious abuses, killings and rape and so on that occurred in a number of the primarily northern districts of Sierra Leone.

  • And which particular towns bore the brunt of these attacks?

  • Well, I can say that the districts involved were - well some of the attacks occurred in Lunsar, in Makeni, in Kabala and also in the Okra Hills. So in Port Loko District, in Bombali District, in Koinadugu District.

  • Mr Bangura, before we move on could we have some spellings, please.

  • Could we first of all go back to the towns. I think you started off with districts and then towns and then you went back to the districts. Could we take the districts and then we will talk about the towns specifically in those districts, as much as you are able to?

  • Okay. So Kambia is K-A-M-B-I-A. Koinadugu is K-O-I-N-A-D-U-G-U. Port Loko I've already spelled.

  • Sorry, this is for districts, I believe?

  • And Bombali I mentioned. I didn't include that in the report but that's one of the other districts. Bombali, B-O-M-B-A-L-I. Another one is Tonkolili which is T-O-N-K-O-L-I-L-I.

  • Now which towns did you mention that fall within these districts?

  • Okay. Makeni, M-A-K-E-N-I. Lunsar, L-U-N-S-A-R. If we come to other towns I'll spell them.

  • We had the Okra Hills as well.

  • Yes, I'm sorry. O-C-C-R-A and then hills, H-I-L-L-S.

  • I've seen a spelling that was slightly different, O-K-R-A. I don't know whether that would be a more accepted version of it.

  • So did Human Rights Watch produce any publication at this time covering these events?

  • Yes and I'd have to see the list to - there was a publication in - I think it was May or June 2000 which - it was actually a letter to the United Nations which highlighted a number of these atrocities that we had documented.

  • I was going to refer you to a document if that jogs your memory. We have it in our tab 13 and that document is titled Human Rights Watch letter and testimony, "Evidence of Atrocities in Sierra Leone"?

  • The date on that?

  • It's 13 November 2000.

  • Okay.

  • Does that jog your memory?

  • Yeah, I think that's it.

  • Could the witness be shown the document in tab number 13, please.

  • Yes, this is the document.

  • Your Honours, I move that the document be marked for identification.

  • The document entitled "Evidence of Atrocities in Sierra Leone" is marked for identification MFI-9.

  • That's correct, your Honour.

  • Now could you broadly just speak to, and you don't need go into any detail, just the specific atrocities or crimes that were committed in the context of these attacks that you have referred to here?

  • There were - we documented - I documented several recruitment operations by the rebels based in Makeni primarily who recruited - who tried to recruit numerous primarily young men including some children from the villages around Makeni as well as from villages around the town of Kabala and this was in - this was after the May 2000 breakdown of the peace process and in anticipation of, according to the witnesses, further military actions by the rebels including cross-border raids into Guinea. That's according to the witnesses and the victims who were actually recruited themselves.

    In one case in Kabala during a recruitment operation in numerous villages there were some 40 civilians, mostly young men, who were rounded up and tattooed with the letters "RUF" by a rebel commander on their chest. The tattooing was done with a knife. I interviewed 12 of these young men and girls, that included three adolescent girls. These had managed to escape after they'd been tattooed. Okay.

    Also there were a number of rapes that we documented during that time. That was in August 2000. Then there were other incidents of - like I said, one or two cases of mutilation or amputation, but again that had really come down after 2000, the numbers had really come down on the crime of mutilation and amputation.

    Also I documented the execution of three individuals and the gang rape of another and one amputation in July, a family who'd been targeted in the Kono District for having defied the rebels in the context of diamond mining. Supposedly they were accused of having hidden some of the diamonds that they were supposed to be mining and handing over to rebel commanders

  • Now just in more general terms, you mentioned the marking or tattooing of young men with the letters "RUF". Now generally, given your exposure and experience to the conflict in Sierra Leone, how widespread was this practice?

  • It was not particularly widespread. I documented numerous cases of it both - we call it tattooing, but it's really cutting into the skin the letters "RUF" and others that were "AFRC". You know, I interviewed in addition to this case a number of other cases over the years.

    I can say there was a program run by an American aid agency which involved plastic surgeons who came to Sierra Leone after 2000 or 2001 to try to perform plastic surgery on these boys and girls and men and women to try to remove or lessen the extent of this tattooing.

  • Thank you. Now from page 17 through to 18, I'm reading from after the first bullet point, I'm looking at --

  • Is that the report, Mr Bangura?

  • Yes, of the report, your Honour, I'm sorry.

  • You mention - I'm looking at three different subheadings there. You mention three different situations which are also covered by Human Rights Watch reports, two of them are on page 17 and the third is on page 18. I want to deal with them all in one.

    Now the first one is May/June 2000, "Sierra Leone Government Attacks on Rebel Held Territory." The second one is 2000 to 2001, "Guinean Military Attacks Against Civilian Targets in RUF Territory." The third one is 2001, "Kamajor Atrocities in Kono and Koinadugu Districts."

    Now these are also evidence of atrocities or violations of the human rights of civilians in Sierra Leone, but they would seem to suggest that different groups were involved in these cases. Is that correct?

  • Yes, and I would add that these three press releases deal with abuses against civilians and rebel combatants by warring factions that were not rebel factions. In this case the Sierra Leonean government, the use of the helicopter gun ship, the Guinean military and air force and then by Kamajor militiamen.

  • And the context, just in a few sentences, to each of these please, just give the context?

  • Okay. The findings from May and June 2000 are contained in the press release that we did in which we documented several helicopter gun ship attacks by the Sierra Leone government helicopter, I think it was an Mi-24, which perpetrated what we characterise as indiscriminate attacks against the civilian populations living within the rebel held towns of Makeni, Magburaka, that's M-A-G-B-U-R-A-K-A, and Kambia Towns.

    I documented a number of air raids or attacks by the helicopter gun ship which resulted in at least 30 civilian deaths and 50 civilian wounded. The gun ship was attacking crowded market places and lorry parks and the witnesses I interviewed maintained that there were very few RUF casualties in these raids. That was one.

    The second one occurred in the context of the cross-border raids by RUF and/or Sierra Leonean rebel forces and Liberian government forces across the border into Guinea which occurred in late 2000 and early 2001. The motive for those attacks appeared to be punishing Guinea for its support for Liberian rebels.

    So in response to that in late 2000 and early 2001 the Guinean military, including the army and the air force, launched attacks into Sierra Leone rebel held territory and in the process of doing that they committed numerous serious human rights violations. So I spoke with witnesses to 12 attacks all within areas of RUF control who described collectively the deaths of 42 civilians including 11 children.

  • Can I pause. Your Honours, I am watching the clock. Could the witness be able to briefly round up on the point that she is on before the tape runs out?

  • Let's try and do that, Mr Bangura.

  • Yes, I think you got to the third one?

  • Yes. So I just want to say that that one involved - so indiscriminate air attacks by the Guinean military and also it involved a number of rapes, killing, including a cases of amputation of rebel combatants by the Guinean army, a very serious violation, and also the disappearance and summary execution of a number of captured RUF.

    The third one involved attacks against villages by the Kamajor militias in Kono and Koinadugu Districts. The context briefly was the Kamajors who had been living within Guinean refugee camps left those camps to launch an offensive against Sierra Leone and in the process they killed numerous civilians, at least 24 civilians including nine women and nine children.

  • Thank you, Ms Dufka. I believe this is a convenient time, your Honours, to end for today.

  • We will therefore adjourn until tomorrow at 9.30. Ms Dufka, in accordance with the usual procedure of the Court I remind you that you have taken the oath and that you should not discuss your evidence until all of your evidence is finished.

  • [Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 4.29 p.m., to be reconvened on Tuesday, 22 January 2008 at 9.30 a.m.]