Court is back in session.
Defense counsel Terry Munyard continues his cross-examination of prosecution witness Corinne Dufka.
Def: I want to go back to your 1999 report. On the basis of your interviews, would you say that the RUF was the primary force behind the invasion of Freetown on January 6, 1999?
Wit: When I used “RUF”, it to referred to all rebels at that time, including the RUF, AFRC and West Side Boys. Victims referred to them in the report by various names, including “sobels”, SLA, and juntas. In the 1998 report, HRW referred to “RUF/AFRC”. The reason this report refers to all rebel factions as RUF is because at the time this report was researched and published, the negotiations were going on at Lome, Togo. At Lome, all of these factions were referred to as “RUF”. In terms of the orchestration and design of the offensive, I was unable to ascertain at that time, which faction was most responsible.
Def: How many people did you interview prior to your June 1999 report on the January events?
Wit: It was based on a few hundred interviews.
Def: How many witnesses and victims?
Wit: Something like 150.
Def: You accept that the SL TRC interviewed many more than that?
Wit: Of course.
Def: Would you defer to their view who was most responsible for the January 1999 invasion of Freetown?
Wit: I don’t know to what extent they interviewed insiders.
Judge Doherty: That’s not an answer.
Def: Would you defer to the conclusions of the TRC as to who was primarily responsible?
Wit: No, not necessarily.
Def: The TRC spent years going into these issues?
Wit: I don’t know if it was years. I think the investigation stage was a year, maybe a little more.
Def: Longer than you looked into it.
Wit: Yes, but I don’t know to what extent they relied on insiders.
Def: You documented some atrocities by ECOMOG and the Civil Defense Force and the SIerra Leone Police Force. Are you aware of a place in Freetown called Aberdeen Bridge and that 40 or more bodies were found below that bridge, executed by ECOMOG or other pro-government forces?
Wit: Yes, I am. I researched a lot around that bridge.
Def: I want to ask about something on pages 18-19 of your report to this court. Under the heading “documentation of crimes against civilians in Liberia” you say you conducted at least 300 interviews with witnesses and victims, and on the next page, you write that you took “at least 61” testimonies from victims of war crimes in Lofa County. What does “at least” mean?
Wit: I conducted interviews for a number of publications. Sometimes I file interviews in different folders, for example a folder on Liberia and another on sexual violence. Sometimes when I count the interviews, I forget to count some in other folders, so I say “at least”.
Def: The next page is all about incidents in Liberia. Some of it is about matters after Jan 2002?
Def: Why did you list those here in the section on Lofa?
Wit: Those interviews are in Monrovia and Grand Bassa County in 2003.
Def: This includes matters after Jan 2002.
Wit: I was confused on the page. Let’s start again.
Def: All of this page deals with events inside Liberia. Some of them took place after Jan 2002?
Def: So they’re all outside the geographical scope of the indictment, and some outside the temporal scope?
Prosecution objects that the witness may not be aware of the scope of the indictment. Judge Doherty asks the defense to clarify.
Wit: When I was asked to prepare the report, I was asked to include information about war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia.
Def: Were you aware of the scope of the indictment – time and place?
Def: (Refers to another document) This is an HRW report on Liberia, not on Sierra Leone. On page 11 you touch on Sierra Leone and the Liberian conflict. What you say there is that there was a growing number of Liberians crossing into Sierra Leone, and that LURD was establishing a supply-line along the Liberian border. Then you mention that as of Feb 2002, the UNHCR had registered 10,000 Liberian refugees in SL. Then you discuss something that happened in Feb 2002. The whole of this report is about Liberia. On page 13 of the report, you discuss US military assistance to Guinea – it’s role in supporting LURD. In June 2001 the Bush administration notified Congress it would provide 3 million dollars for military training in Guinea. So there we’re talking about events in Guinea and Liberia. It refers to “State Department sources”. It states that the US was pressuring Conte to curtail support for LURD. The whole report is about Liberia, with reference to Guinea?
Def: It is not about incursions into Sierra Leone.
Wit: I agree.
Def: And the focus is in particular about what’s happening in 2002?
Def: I don’t dispute there’s material on 2001, but the focus is 2002?
Def: Are you aware of the provision of the training of Guinean forces by US Marines at around that time?
Wit: Yes, very much.
Def: (Referring to two additional documents) The first is a document on Liberian refugees in Guinea. What is this word “refoulement” in the title?
Wit: Refoulement refers to the sending back of individuals seeking protection in another country to their country of origin.
Def: Then we see a section on LURD links to Guinea. Some of those trained by the US became elements of LURD, didn’t they?
Wit: I have no evidence of that, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Def: This report broadly references events in 2002?
Wit: Yes. There was increased fighting in Lofa County, so more people were seeking refuge in Guinea.
Def: In this document, you’re dealing essentially with events in 2002?
Def: You write about HRW’s concern about the abduction of Liberian nurses by LURD rebels based in Voinjama. This is all 2002?
Def: Back to your report for this court, you were asked about pages 24-26. Under the heading “state and non-state actors” you summarize various groups. On the next page, you refer to “the MODEL – Movement for Democracy in Liberia”, 2002-2003. This is an organization didn’t emerge until 2002?
Wit: Yes. They split from LURD in 2002.
Def: This was after Jan 2002, the period of the indictment?
Def: You deal with the government of Liberia, 2002-2003 on that page. You say the government of Liberia supported the creation of two rebel groups to fight in Cote d’Ivoire, after the scope of this indictment?
Def: You were asked about patterns of behavior and you were referred to your HRW report “Youth, Poverty and Blood”. On page 34, half way down, you set out four bullet points about the origins of various militias. The first point is that the populations of SL and Liberia have suffered bad governance, impunity, etc. All of those propositions applied to that region, in Africa, and other parts of the world world?
Def: There’s nothing unique about those factors in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Wit: Broadly, I’d agree with you. Every situation is unique to an extent.
Def: (Referring to another document) This is Youth Poverty and Blood published in 2005 based on interviews with 60. Did you interview anyone from Cote d’Ivoire?
Wit: Some lived along the border with Cote d’Ivoire.
Def: On page 13 of that report, the final paragraph, you say that since 1989 many of the fighters have fought in conflicts in the region. You list a number of countries there. You say anecdotal reports suggest 500 NPFL and also ULIMO troops were involved in the SL conflict . Where do these anecdotal accounts come from?
Wit: Interviews with military personnel. In SL, I also interviewed a Kamajor official about fighters who went to LURD. The numbers for NPFL and ULIMO came from interviews with ex-combatants.
Def: What are the academic accounts to which you refer?
Wit: They’re not footnoted.
Def: What is it you’re saying about these 500? Was this the total number involved over the history of the conflict, or what?
Wit: It’s a conservative estimate based on interviews I conducted. This section just tried to give a general sense of the numbers involved.
Def: Would it be appropriate to describe that figure as an informed guess?
Wit: Yes, that’s probably fair. I would add the the point of the report was not to come up with the numbers.
Def: On page 37, dealing with the LURD. You say previous research by HRW suggested that while LURD was responsible for systematic human rights violations, these were less widespread than those committed by the government of Liberia. The forced recruitment of young men is not unique to Liberia – and has been common throughout Africa?
Def: When you say 500, are they NPFL or are they Liberians? Can you help us distinguish between the two?
Wit: We describe in this report the individual motivations for ex-combatants to cross borders. We also discuss the objectives of one country to become militarily involved in another. Our research shows that people went after they were recruited, not individually. My sense is it was an organized effort.
Def: Do you distinguish between individual Liberians and the NPFL?
Wit: I was referring to NPFL.
Def: On page 42, there’s a section through to page 47 dealing with events in 2003-2004, possibly 2005?
Def: At a time beyond the scope of this indictment, in countries beyond the scope of this indictment?
Def: Can you tell us about the West Side Boys?
Wit: Yes. It was a splinter group of the AFRC. It included elements of the RUF. In the process of their operations, they increased their numbers through forced recruitment. They split from the RUF in 1999 and took up base in the Okra Hills area of Freetown, some 30 miles from Freetown. We documented numerous atrocities by them. My understanding is that in May 2000 the Kabbah government briefly used them to help defend Freetown from an expected rebel advance. They were eventually disarmed.
Def: They were a mercenary group?
Wit: Perhaps you could describe their behavior that way.
Def: Have you heard of a group called the Black Revolutionary Guards?
Wit: Yes, but I can’t remember where I heard it.
Def: (Referring to another document) This deals with sexual violence within the SL conflict. On the second page of four, you list occasional efforts of the RUF to make rape a crime and publicly executing its members after they’d been convicted of rape. You said that rebels committed a pattern of sexual violence. That’s not a pattern, that’s an incidence, isn’t it?
Wit: I would call it a pattern.
Def: It’s the same category of people?
Def: You also say that sexual violence is a weapon, an act of violence targeted at someone’s sexuality. That’s true in war or peace, isn’t it?
Wit: The terror associated with it could have a military objective to control territory.
Def: You said in your evidence that you didn’t document sexual assaults by ECOMOG. (Refers to a page in the report)
Wit: We documented numerous cases of sexual exploitation by ECOMOG.
Def: The report “We’ll Kill You if You Cry”. Here it says you documented incidents of sexual violence by UN peacekeepers. Most ECOMOG soldiers were in UNAMSIL?
Def: Broadly speaking it was the same peacekeeping force?
Wit: It changed over time. I think it was about half Nigerian, half Pakistani.
Def: Regarding your report for the court. About notice to the Liberian government, you write that an internet search for official responses from the Liberian government to HRW reports showed that Taylor and others in the government were aware of the criticism. All of these examples are from 2002?
Def: Do you know where this Reuters report appeared?
Wit: It’s hard to say.
Def: There’s no way of knowing how accurate this quote is?
Wit: Having worked at Reuters, I can say they pay special attention to making sure quotes from government officials are accurate.
Def: You don’t know what the question was to which President Taylor was responding.
Wit: The article says it was a response the HRW response, but I can’t say what specifically he was responding to.
Def: President Taylor was being asked questions, it would appear?
Wit: Yes. It doesn’t specify if this was obtained by phone, an individual interview, or a written response to a query. But Reuters is a very reputable news agency.
Def: Can you show us where in the document it talks about President Taylor’s response to the HRW letter to the UN Security Council?
Judge Sebutinde notes that the defense has a bad copy and refers him to another.
Def: You deal with two other government spokesmen. We don’t know how reliable these reports are, or whether these officials were given a copy of the report to respond to?
Wit: That’s right. But the fact that they’re calling the report is a lie would indicate familiarity with it.
Def: Perhaps the journalist put the contents of the report to the officials?
Wit: I can’t assume they had copies of the report.
Def: Are you aware from any HRW work of the consequences of the disagreements between RUF and NPFL fighters in late 1992?
Wit: Yes. The disagreements resulted in “Operation Top 20” to expel from SL the NPFL combatants involved in misconduct and abuses in SL.
Def: What was the state of the relationship immediately after that?
Wit: Immediately after that there was acrimony. Later there was cooperation again.
Defense counsel is listening to whispered words from Charles Taylor.
Def: There’s another element in the picture at that stage, another fighting force?
Wit: I don’t know what you’re referring to.
Def: Who else was active at that stage?
Wit: The former AFL turned ULIMO, the SLA, there were sobels.
Def: ULIMO became the strongest of those groups and took control of Lofa County?
Def: There was a complete buffer between the area controlled by the NPFL and RUF at a later time?
Wit: I can’t speak to the military situation at that time, or the extent of control of a military force, particularly in Liberia.
Defense counsel has no further questions.