11:30 Father Chema completes his testimony

Court is in session.Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra continues her direct examination of prosecution witness, Father Jose Maria Caballero, also known as Father Chema.Pros: On Friday, you testified that the children were 14-17 years old.  Was that their age when they came to you, or when they fought?Wit: That was their age when they came to us.  They started fighting at ages 7-8.Through a series of qustions, his account continues as follows: They mentioned that some of their training camps were Camp Lyon at Zagoda, where Foday Sankoh was present, Camp Burkina, Camp Kangari Hills where Gibril Massaquoi was, Northern Jungle behind Kabala, Camp Rosor.I always spoke in Krio with the children.  We used drawing as a therapy.  At first a psychologist interpreted the drawings, then our social workers did.  The children were given a topic to draw about.  They were asked to explain to other children what it was they drew.  It could help explain what had happened to them.  We tape-recorded the presentations and sometimes took notes.  We kept the drawings and published a book of them to help explain to the public what happened to the children.  The English translation of the Krio book title is “I didn’t want to do it”.  All of the drawings in the book were done by children who were with the RUF.  (Prosecution refers the witness to a drawing.)  The witness says drawing shows a child with someone in charge of an ammunition room and a person with an RPG on the roof.  He was 11 years-old when he was abducted by the RUF, spent three years with them and was 17 when he made the drawing.  The next drawing is by a child who was 13-years old when he was abducted by the RUF, spent two years with the RUF and was 15 when he drew this.  The child’s explanation states: “I cannot forget.  I was captured by Rambo, a famous fighter whose name is very well known in Sierra Leone.  He took me to Liberia together with other people to be trained and later to fight against our enemies.  I took drugs to feel secure.  The training was hard and difficult.  Many people died.  The 6 of January 1999, we entered the city with heavy weapons and the commander in charge was Sam Bockarie (Mosquito) and Rambo.  Because I was not afraid, I was promoted to Leftenant.  I still remember all these things.  I have problems concentrating on my studies.” (Refers to another picture.)  The next picture is drawn by a boy who was abducted by the RUF at age 12 and spent one year with the RUF.  His explanation states: “My boss at at Camp Lion was Target.  The RUF soldiers didn’t like him because he was smart.  Target shot and killed a rebel named Tama Bodo.  Tama Bodo had miraculous powers that allowed him to appear and disappear at his wish.  He was the one who helped us in the successful attacks launched by the rebels near Koindugu in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone.  However, my boss saw him fighting.  Target shot and killed him.  The rebels organized a rebellion and summarily killed Target.  I loved Target.  He was good to me.  I was not able to hide my feelings and started shouting.  The people who rebelled against my boss wanted to kill me.  This fact comes to me over and over.”  (Refers to another drawing.) This was drawn by a boy kidnapped by the RUF when he was nine years-old and who spent nine years with the RUF.  His explanation: “I will never forget the day they kidnapped me and took me to camp called Sagoda.  Foday Sankoh was there.  I will never forget the day Sagoda was attacked.  They attacked us from four sides, but with the tactics we’d learned, we repelled the attacks.  They ran out of ammunition and couldn’t turn back.  We surrounded them and killed them.   I cannot forget these things.” (Refers to another drawing.) This was drawn by a boy who was ten years-old when he was abducted by the RUF.  His explanation of the drawing: “I learned how to loot and to take things from people by force and threatening.  I learned how to use drugs: cocaine, blue boat and marijuana.”  (Refers to another drawing.) This was drawn by a boy kidnapped by the RUF when he was 12.  His explanation: “I was trained how to use weapons.  I also smoked and drank.”  (Refers to another drawing.) This was drawn by a boy who was 10 when captured by the RUF.  His explanation: “I learned to use weapons and I wounded and maltreated people of all ages.  I learned to steal money and loot.”  (Refers to another drawing.) This boy was 11 when captured by the RUF and spent three years with them.  The explanation: “During one week they trained me how to prepare an ambush.  I also shot from a helicopter into the city of Lunsar. I drank, raped and killed everybody I wanted to.” (Refers to another drawing.) This was drawn by a boy who was 13 when captured by the RUF.  His explanation: “I learned to use weapons.  This is a bazooka.  It is very difficult to use – very big.  Up it fires bullets and down bombs.  Below is my commander, Rambo.”  (Refers to another drawing.) This was drawn by a boy who was 9 when captured by the RUF and spent 9 years with them.  His explanation: “I learned how to assemble weapons and use them.  I learned to fire them.” (Refers to another drawing.) This is by a boy who was 6 years-old when captured and spent over 8 years with the RUF.  “Before I became a rebel I was obedient and quiet.  I learned to take drugs, to kill, to loot and burn houses.  This drawing shows how I burned and destroyed houses.”At St. Michael’s, we tried to reunify the children with their families.  We had a team of social workers that would go to the area or village to try to find the family.  If they could find the family, they would ask the family if they were ready to take the child back, and if they were, they would also talk with community groups.  If everyone agreed, the social workers would take the child back.  We took information from the children.  We received a hand-over certificate signed by the family and the agency involved if it was outside the Western Area. The ministry of social welfare kept a database.  Following the handover, an NGO would follow-up with the families.  The children still needed counselling.  They would visit them in their houses, schools, or training workshops.  It was not easy for children to re-adapt to civilian lives.  They were used to having slaves in the bush, but at home they’d have to get water, food, and wash their clothes.  One particular child reunified with his family in Freetown.  Sent for water at a public tap, he moved ahead of a long line of people waiting.  When they complained, he said “you don’t know who you’re dealing with”.  They beat him up.  An NGO worker had to go to counsel the family and community. For children whose families couldn’t be found, or whose families rejected them, they stayed in foster families, group homes, or supervised independent living for older children. Foday Sankoh came to St. Michael’s Lodge in May 2000.  It was a Sunday and children were at the beach with social workers.  I heard all the children running in the compound.  I saw them saluting someone I couldn’t see.  When I approached, I saw Sankoh addressing the children.  He made them pray, then they sang the RUF anthem.  He told them “I am your father, you are my children.”  I approached and told Sankoh that this was a private institution and he had no right to be there.  He accused me of not taking care of the children.  He got angry and started threatening me.  He said I was stealing government money and he was going to send a commission to investigate.  There were armed people with him in a vehicle.  They left.  One of the social workers took some pictures of us talking. A Spanish journalist published that picture in a book.  The English translation of the Spanish title is “Save the Child Soldiers”.  (Witness identifies a picture in the book as being a photo of the incident with Sankoh.) The children at St. Michael’s Lodge were aggressive and violent when they first came.  Many were on drugs.  They calmed down over time through work of the social workers. 
Most of them – 95% of them – have been rehabilitated.  Many have professional skills, or are married with children.  We have children in college or finishing secondary school.  Few never made it because they couldn’t quit the drugs.  Many of them are in the streets, involved in petty crime.  Some are in Pademba Road prison in Freetown.  Some children ran from the program and ran back to their commanders.  After January 2002, some crossed into Liberia and were fighting there.  I know that two of them went to Ivory Coast to fight. Other children told me about them.  Girls who were in the program were much more difficult to work with.  It was difficult to discuss abuse.  Many couldn’t adapt to their families and their new lives.  Many became prostitutes on the beach in Freetown.  I see many of them there or at Victoria Park.Prosecution has no further questions.Defense Counsel Andrew Cayley will now cross-examine Father Chema.  The defense is handing out copies of previous statements made by Father Chema to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).Def: You stated on Friday and today that most of the children you had in the program had been in the RUF.  You also had children with the AFRC?Wit: Yes.Def: The CDF or Kamajors also used children?Wit: Yes.Def: At one stage, at least in April 1992, the SLA itself made use of children?Wit: Yes.Def: All fighting forces made use of children?Wit: Yes.Def: In many other parts of Africa, children have been used as child soldiers?Wit: Yes.Def: In Angola, the DRC, Uganda?Wit: Yes.Def: And around the world, like Burma, Lebanon?Wit: Yes.Def: (Referring to the report of prosecution witness Stephen Ellis).  Ellis addressed the use of child soldiers.  He wrote that although the NPFL made use of other use of coercion, it did not abduct child soldiers on the scale of that used by the RUF.  It is traditional in many rural areas of West Africa for adolescent boys to assume the position of warriors as part of their initiation into adulthood.  It is not clear to what extent the use of child soldiers by the RUF represents an innovation. Are you aware that there was an historically embedded practice in using children as soldiers?Wit: That’s right, but there’s a small difference.  I only recall one child telling me that he joined voluntarily.  The others were forced.Def: But there was a historical practice of using children in armed fighting units?Wit: Yes.Def: Are you right that you made five statements to the OTP over four years?Wit: Yes.Def: (References a statement from July 2003).  This was your first statement.  Did you sign it?Wit: I don’t recall reading through it or signing it.  I think I signed at the second interview.Def: (References a statement from May 2007).  You met with Brian Huthinson, Shymala Alagendra, and Mohamed Bangura.  How did you get there?Wit: I drove in my vehicle from Madina (ph.) Def: Did you read these notes and sign it?Wit: I read the notes the third time I came.  They gave it to me to read and make corrections.Def: I want to go through the changes you made.  Corrections regard the dates of his stay in Kenema.  What accounts for the need for corrections?Wit: I could give more detailed information at the second interview because I’d had an opportunity to review my notes from St. Michaels.Def: When did you arrive in The Hague?Wit: Last Wednesday.Def: How much time did you spend with Ms. Alagendra of the OTP to prepare for your testimony?Wit: Two hours.  We also had met in Freetown, the last time was January 7th.  It was to inform me that I was coming to The Hague, make travel arrangements, and read through my statements to refresh my memory.  I was only told that questions would be based on the statements I’d given.Def: Regarding your first statement of July 2003, it says you had only RUF and AFRC children, that they had to be kept apart.  The RUF children thought they were the real fighters.  Was there fighting between children who had been with the RUF and those with the AFRC?Wit: Yes, several times.Def: Did this reflect divisions among the adults in the two groups?Wit: I don’t know.Def: You spoke on Friday of groups arriving in November 1999.  One group had been led by Issa Sesay?Wit: It was the group that arrived in October.  One part was led by Sesay, one by Superman. Def: By November you had one group that had been with Sesay, and one group led by Superman?Wit: Yes.Def: And they fought each other because of a split between Superman and Sesay?Wit: I think so, yes.Def: You had to call on UN soldiers?Wit: Yes.Def: On Friday you said children explained to you that he’d seen a helicopter.  You said that the children told you that helicopters came to their bases with weapons and drugs, and that they didn’t know where the helicopters came from.  You said that the helicopters were white?Wit: Yes.Def: The UN used white helicopters?Wit: Yes, but not only the UN.  Other international orgs used white helicopters.Def: You said you traveled to Freetown for five hours to meet with the OTP.  Did they pay you?Wit: They paid the fuel only.  I think it was 120,000 Leones for each trip.Def: On occasions when children arrived, they wouldn’t tell the truth?Wit: Yes.Def: Is it fair to say that some children probably never told you the truth?Wit: Probably.Def: So your statistics may have some errors?Wit: It could be.  The statistics include plus/minus signs to reflect ambiguities. Def: You accept that because of their untruthfulness, there may be some inaccuracies in your report?Wit: Yes, it could happen.  Sometimes we learned that a child in the program wasn’t really a child soldier, but was only in the program for the benefits.Def: Regarding Sankoh’s visit in May 2000, did he ever send a commission to investigate?Wit: No.Defense has no further questions.  Prosecution has no questions on re-direct examination.Judge Sebutinde has a question for the witness: You read the explanations from the book.  Were those your interpretations or those of the children?Wit: Those were the children’s explanations.  We tape recorded them and I translated them into Spanish for the book.Judge Doherty asks about about discrepancies in some of the statistics on the child soldiers whose drawings appeared in the book.Wit: There were a couple of typos, perhaps.Prosecution seeks to enter into evidence all documents used during examination of the witness.Judge Doherty thanks Father Chema for his testimony and excuses him.Court adjourns for the mid-morning break until 11:30.  Our live-blogging will continue at 12:00, as the prosecution calls its next witness.