Court is now in session.
Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continues his direct examination of prosecution witness Corinne Dufka:
Pros: I want to ask about the issue of boys and girls abducted and forcibly recruited into the fighting forces in Sierra Leone. Did you get any indication of their ages?
Wit: In general, for the events which I documented in 1998, I would say the ages of recruitment were from very young ages. There were people from 5 years old, even younger, abducted with their parents. Abductions into the fighting forces – 12, 13, 14 was not uncommon. There were children of that age working in the rebel camps doing other jobs such as washing and cooking.
Pros: We were looking at atrocities against civilians in Sierra Leone and discussing documents that had been produced, depicting these atrocities. Amongst the material you researched and produced, was a report on sexual violence?
Wit: Yes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) produced three documents on sexual violence against women and girls in Sierra Leone. I researched and wrote one of them. I researched another one that was written by a consultant. A consultant wrote “We’ll Kill You if You Cry” from 2003. I researched and wrote “Sexual Violence within the Sierra Leone Conflict” from February 2001. In addition there was a press release from May 2000 that covered events around that time. The report “We’ll Kill You if You Cry” covers sexual violence from the beginning of the Sierra Leone conflict in 1991 through 2002. There were scores of interviews with women and girls of all ages and ethnic groups. I conducted interviews, as did the consultant who wrote the report.
Pros: Were there various phases of the war in Sierra Leone?
Pros: Were there detectable patterns in sexual violence?
Wit: Members of the rebel factions were primarily responsible for sexual violence. We documented sexual violence during rebel attacks and after women and girls were brought to bases. It documents sexual slavery, rape, gang rape, rape with foreign objects like wood, umbrellas, mutilation. Women were subjected to extraordinary violence. Many of the girls went on to become combatants themselves. Many bore the children of male combatants. It tells of the difficulties they had during reintegration. Thre report documented abuse by CDF and a few abuses by UN personnel. I don’t believe it documented sexual violence by ECOMOG. The abuses were concentrated in rebel-held areas. (Lists them.) There were numerous examples during the invasion of Freetown in January 1999. The report discusses that abuses were often committed preceding or following other serious war crimes committed against girls and their families.
Pros: (Refers to pages of witness’s report) This portion of your report discusses crimes committed against civilians in Liberia. You indicate that you conducted a wide range of interviews with persons involved in Liberia?
Wit: Yes. The interviews were conducted in 2001-2002. In 1999 there were a number of cross-border attacks, from Guinea and Sierra Leone into northern Liberia. The interviews were primarily conducted in refugee camps in Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Defense objects, saying this portion of the report is irrelevant because the court is established only to try cases of crimes in Sierra Leone. This is on Liberian soil and is not about the conflict that this tribunal is concerned with. Prosecution replies: This part of the evidence is relevant because it supports one of the modes of liability for the crimes of which Taylor is accused. There has already been evidence before the court that the accused was associated with Sierra Leonean rebels, not only in Sierra Leone, but also in Liberia. To understand the dynamics of the conflict in Sierra Leone, we need to understand the conflict in Liberia. Cross-border attacks involved troops staged in Sierra Leone. All of this effort had to be coordinated by somebody. This evidence shows to what extent peoples associated with the rebels were involved in this plan. Judge Doherty overrules the objection and says the matter will go to weight.
Pros: How widely did you conduct the interviews you’ve referred to?
Wit: I conducted interviews in refugee camps in SL and Guinea.
Pros: You were interested in the period 1999-2002?
Wit: Yes. In 1999, the LURD was in the process of organizing themselves to launch an armed conflict in an attempt to unseat then-President Charles Taylor. There were cross-border attacks in 1999, in August I believe and again later that year, from Sierra Leone and Guinea. The attacks intensified in 2000 and went on until 2003. The LURD and later MODEL, a splinter group, was in response to numerous grievances among the Mandingo and Krahn ethnic groups in Liberia. We became involved in 2000 after refugees from primarily Lofa County began coming into Sierra Leone. I received reports of serious atrocities committed by pro-government troops, so I began interviewing refugees. They related numerous accounts of atrocities. Abuses were committed by both sides. We documented that the majority of those abuses were committed by the pro-government forces, including the ATU, Armed Forces of Liberia, and Special Security Services. Liberian rebels committed war crimes too. Lofa County borders Sierra Leone and parts of Guinea. We believe that Lofa was the center of many of these atrocities because it had strategic importance for both the Liberian government and the Liberian rebels. The rebels had support of Guinea. We identified patterns between the military operations and human rights abuses, as a result of the frequent changing of hands of towns and villages in Lofa County. We noted the common pattern of collective punishment against Lofa-based ethnic groups, primarily the Gbandis. Mandingos were also targeted.
Pros: Which factions were involved in the fighting?
Wit: On the rebel side, the only faction was the LURD. On the government side, there was the AFL, ATU, SSS, Army Division, Marine Division, Jungle Fighter Unit.
Pros: In this section, you mention that HRW produced some documents relating to this situation?
Pros: Were these reports brought to the attention of the governemnt of Liberia at the time?
Wit: I believe we followed the same procedure of sending them to Liberian government offices in New York and Washington. One document was the report “Back to the Brink”. We also issued a number of press releases and letter – one in July 2002, and one on Liberian refugees in Guinea.
Pros: You mention that the government of Liberia reacted to this report and these press releases?
Pros: So there was some notice of the violations?
Wit: Yes. Liberian officials denied the allegations in news articles, which showed they knew about HRW’s documents. There were statements from Reginald Goodridge, and I believe in one case from Charles Taylor himself. Monie Captan as well, who was foreign minister. They spoke with Reuters and Agence France Presse.
Pros: (Refers to another section of the witness’s report) In this section you discuss Liberia’s involvement in Sierra Leone’s conflict and show involvement of the Liberian government from the beginning.
Judge Doherty cautions the prosecutor to avoid leading the witness.
Pros: What do you present in this section?
Wit: I present the involvement of Liberians in different episodes of the Sierra Leonean conflict. Part is based on my research of Liberian mercenaries, very early, mostly in Kailahun district. I interviewed two such combatants. One notes the high percentage of Liberians among the attackers on a village at the start of the war in Sierra Leone. The RUF, involving Liberians and Sierra Leoneans then recruited more Sierra Leoneans. There was some tension between the Liberian and Sierra Leonean combatants due to the attacks on Sierra Leoneans by Liberian elements.
Pros: Can I ask you to read these accounts?
Defense objects: The purpose of the witness preparing this report is not then to come to the witness desk and read the report out loud. Judge Doherty: I agree. There’s no need to read the report.
Pros: You moved on from that stage of the conflict in Sierra Leone and went on to document involvement of Liberians in later stages of the conflict?
Wit: Yes. Other instances of Liberian involvement I heard from victims. This included involvement of Liberians in the commission of atrocities. 9 victims I interviewed about the Freetown invasion identified their attackers as Liberians. They were involved in massacres, the burning alive of a girl in Kissy, and a massacre in a mosque, and three separate incidents of limb amputations. I took testiomony from a fighter with the CDF forces who described the brutal killing of a Liberian female combatant by his unit in Tongo Fields. She was an RUF commander. A woman in Port Loko told me that one of the rebels present during killings there was a Liberian whom she overheard saying “we don’t do this in my country”.
Pros: You make the point that Sam Bockarie moved to Liberia in 1999.
Defense objects that the prosecutor is asking a leading question. Judge Doherty again warns the prosecutor to stop asking leading questions.
Pros: Do you make other references to Liberian involvement in the war in Sierra Leone?
Wit: Yes. I’ve noted the presence of Liberian combatants in Sierra Leone, as have other HRW reports.
Pros: At some stage was there a problem within the leadership of the RUF?
Wit: Yes. In December 1999, Sam Bockarie fell out with Foday Sankoh. At that point, it has been estimated that 500 RUF combatants moved to Liberia and were incorporated into other units, including the Anti-Terrorist Unit.
Pros: Do these accounts rely on HRW reports?
Wit: Several of the instances are documented in HRW reports, but not all. HRW can’t include every account in its reports.
Pros: (Refers to a section of the report) This part covers joint RUF-Liberian attacks on Guinea.
Defense objects that this section goes beyond the temporal and geographic scope of the indictment. It does not concern this case. Prosecution replies that this shows involvement of RUF fighters in these attacks demonstrates control of these fighters. We say the accused had command of the RUF forces. He was part of a common plan that was executed by these forces. The fact that these incidents were outside of Sierra Leone does not preclude the court from hearing the evidence, which helps to show how the accused was part of a common criminal enterprise. Defense responds that if it demonstrates involvement in a common criminal enterprise, that would be outside of Sierra Leone. Judge Lussick tells the prosecutor that he’s failed to reply to the objection that the events are outside the temporal scope of the indictment. Prosecutor Bangura: it shows context. We see in these activities the role of the accused as a commander. The evidence suggest the RUF fought upon the orders of the accused. To establish that command responsibility, the evidence doesn’t have to be restricted to events within Sierra Leone. Judge Lussick: What about the temporal scope? Prosecutor Bangura: The timeframe of the indictment is 1996-2000, but the events to which we refer occurred in 2001. Judge Sebutinde: that’s precisely the point of the objection. Prosecutor Bangura: These matters outside the timeframe of the indictment go to show the context in which a lot of these crimes were committed.
The judges are conferring.
Judge Doherty: We uphold the objection and do not allow that question.
Prosecutor Bangura: There’s quite a lot covered within this part of the report.
Judge Doherty: It is outside the temporal scope of the indictment and is not admissible.
Pros: In the effort to understand the dynamic of the conflicts in the region, you interviewed ex-combatants?
Wit: Yes, combatants from Liberia, Sierra Leone and a few Guineans.
Pros: What indication did you have of the role of Sierra Leoneans in these conflicts?
Wit: About half of those I interviewed were Sierra Leoneans. They fought in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast. There’s a regional dynamic. Governments of the region have tried to destabilize their neighbors. At any given time you had one group supporting a proxy group attempting to overthrow neighboring governments.
Pros: You write about Sierra Leoneans fighting in Lofa. How did they get involved in that conflict?
Wit: The RUF were integrated into Liberian pro-government factions after Bockarie fell out with Sankoh in December 1999. RUF were involved in Lofa County in 1999 in response to the “Mosquito Spray” incident. Then in 2000-2001 the RUF was involved in attacks on Guinea.
Pros: Were there indications of whom they were taking command from?
Wit: In the Guinea operations, the combatants noted several commanders. We didn’t identify the chain of command. All characterized it as a joint operation between Liberian pro-government and Sierra Leonean rebel groups. Mosquito was mentioned, Benjamin Yeaten – the commander of the Liberian SSS, a commander named Paleto.
Pros: You mentioned Mosquito having forces in Liberia. Was there any indication of other RUF units coming from Sierra Leone, not under Mosquito?
Wit: Other units came from Tongo Fields and Kailahun. There were meetings in Sierra Leone and Liberia ahead of the attacks to plan them. One ex-combatant I interviewed said he’d spoken with his commander, who had received orders from Charles Taylor. A few of them mentioned that Benjamin Yeaten had issued orders. They’d received orders to commit atrocities against the Guinean civilian population.
Judge Doherty: What time frame does this evidence relate to? I remind you of our ruling on temporal jurisdiction.
Wit: We conducted the research in 2004. The attacks into Guinea were conducted from 2000 into 2001.
Pros: Returning to a few issues we’ve already covered regarding atrocities against civilians in Sierra Leone, you mentioned amputations. You document some of the incidents of that?
Wit: A number of HRW documents from 1998 deal with that.
Pros: You gave interviews on this?
Wit: Yes, I did media interviews?
Pros: And you took photos of some of the victims?
Pros: (Asks that witness be shown two pictures) Can you talk about these photos?
Wit: The first is of a 12-year old girl who had suffered an amputation in May 2000, I believe in Kambia, but certainly in an area under RUF control. This is a girl who was probably 13. She was with girls in Kissy in January 1999, rounded up and taken to hill where their hands were amputated. Her account is in my report, in a section discussing the targeting of children for crimes. She was in her house and when people were asked to come out by the rebels, they picked out these adolescent girls for amputation.
Pros: I’d like to show you two short video clips, then ask you questions based on it.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard says the defense team has been provided with transcripts of the video clips but not the clips themselves. Defense does not object to parts of the video in which the witness speaks, but does object to other individuals shown in the video who are not witnesses in the case. Prosecutor Bangura responds: We only want to show clips from the video. The video has been disclosed to the defense. Defense: We have no objection to the clip in which the witness appears, but do object to the second clip. Prosecutor Bangura: The second clip has already been admitted into evidence, and we’d like to have the witness comment on it. Defense: On what basis is the witness to comment on a piece of evidence already before the court?
The judges are conferring.
Presiding Judge Theresa Doherty: The witness can be asked questions on the content of the second clip.
Pros: The first clip is from “Soldiers of Fortune” aired on ABC in 2000. (Clip runs: It shows a camp for amputees in Freetown; narrator says 60% of amputations were conducted by soldiers, not rebels; witness is shown at the camp, and she says the civilians were betrayed by their army; perpetrators from the SL Army have been recruited into the new SL Army; witness appears, saying Human Rights Watch is concerned about the lack of screening of recruits for past abuses; clip shows the amputee football club. Clip ends.)
Court is now adjourning for the mid-morning break. Proceedings will resume at 11:30. With the half-hour delay to the media center, our live blog will resume at 12:00 (11:00 in Sierra Leone and Liberia).