Father Chema Briefly Cross-Examined; Defense Challenges Expert Status of Corinne Dufka



The Hague


January 21, 2008


The Prosecution continued its examination of Father Chema and his experiences with child soldiers.  Defense Counsel Andrew Cayley conducted a brief cross-examination of Father Chema, noting the prevalence of the use of child soldiers within many countries.  After strenuous objections from Defense Counsel Terry Munyard over the expert status of Prosecution witness Corinne Dufka, a Senior Researcher for the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, the Special Court permitted Dufka to testify.  Taylor took notes and highlighted documents throughout the day, at times speaking and gesturing with his Defense team.


Prosecution Finishes Examination of Father Chema


During the Court’s morning session, Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra completed her examination of prosecution witness José Maria Caballero, also known as Father Chema:

  • Father Chema testified that children who arrived at St. Michael’s Lodge were normally between the ages of 14 and 16.  He explained that the children committed atrocities as soon as they were old enough to carry weapons (between the ages of 7 and 8). 
  • Father Chema explained that social workers would ask the children to draw pictures that Doctor Millares, a psychologist at St. Michael’s Lodge, interpreted.  The social workers asked the children to explain to other children what they drew in an attempt to understand what happened during their time as child soldiers.  A number of these drawings were published in a book entitled, “I Didn’t Want To Do It.”  All of the drawings in the book were done by children conscripted by the RUF. 
  • Father Chema translated to the Court captions from the book that accompanied various drawings.  These captions included statements from the child soldiers: “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”; “I learned to use weapons and I wounded and maltreated people of all ages.  I learned to steal money and loot”; “Before I became a rebel I was obedient and quiet.  I learned to take drugs, to kill, to loot and burn houses.”
  • Father Chema explained that the purpose of St. Michael’s Lodge was to reunify children with their families.  A team of social workers would try to find a child’s family and see if they would accept the child back into the family.  The process involved multiple parties (families, communities, and NGO’s) and continued beyond delivery of the child back to his or her family.  It was difficult for child soldiers to re-integrate into their families and communities.  Children whose families could not be found or whose families rejected them stayed in foster or group homes, obtained apprenticeships, or lived on their own with supervision.
  • Father Chema informed the Court that most of the children who attended St. Michael’s Lodge have been rehabilitated (approximately 95 percent).  Some children were not rehabilitated because they could not overcome their drug addictions, and some children ran away from the program and went back to their commanders.  Girls who were in the program were difficult to work with, and many became prostitutes on the beach in Freetown.  
  • Father Chema testified that Foday Sankoh visited St. Michael’s Lodge in May 2000.  Sankoh gathered the children around them and told them, “I am your father, you are my children.”  They prayed and sang the RUF anthem.  When Father Chema approached and told Sankoh that St. Michael’s Lodge was a private institution and he had no right to be there, Sankoh accused Father Chema of misusing government money to run St. Michael’s Lodge.  Sankoh said he was going to send a commission to investigate.  One of the social workers took pictures of Father Chema talking to Sankoh that a Spanish journalist later published in a book entitled, “Save the Child Soldiers.”

Cross-Examination of Father Chema 


Defense Counsel Andrew Cayley conducted a brief cross-examination of Father Chema:

  • Father Chema agreed that the use of child soldiers is not unique to RUF forces, Sierra Leone, or Africa. 
  • Father Chema could not answer Cayley’s question about whether arguments between AFRC and RUF child soldiers reflected divisions between AFRC and RUF forces at large.
  • Cayley elicited that Father Chema did not review or sign his first or second statement at the time they were given, and that his second statement contained corrections that were later added when he reviewed the statement.
  • Referring to prosecution witness Stephen Ellis’ report, Cayley argued that it is more or less traditional in many rural areas of West Africa for adolescent boys to assume the position of warriors as part of their initiation into adulthood, and that it is not clear to what extent the use of child soldiers by the RUF is unique.  Father Chema agreed but also noted that the vast majority of the child soldiers who fought for RUF did not do so on a voluntary basis.
  • Cayley asked Father Chema about his previous testimony that the children had reported seeing helicopters come to their bases with weapons and drugs.  Father Chema had testified that the children did not know where the helicopters came from and that these helicopters were white.  Father Chema confirmed that the UN uses white helicopters, but he also noted that the Red Cross and other international organizations use white helicopters.  
  • Father Chema testified that the Office of the Prosecution had paid him 120,000 Leones to cover his costs of travel for meetings with the Prosecution.
  • Father Chema confirmed that some children lied about their reasons for being at St. Michael’s Lodge.  Although he noted that social workers usually caught children pretending to be child soldiers, he accepted that his report might include some inaccuracies.

Admission of Additional Evidence


The Court began its second session by admitting into evidence a report by Jessica Alexander, “Children Associated with Fighting Forces in the Conflict in Sierra Leone.”  Over the stated disapproval of Defense Counsel Terry Munyard, Presiding Judge Doherty allowed Alagendra to read the executive summary of the report in the interests of the public record and public consumption.


Objections to Prosecution Witness Corinne Dufka


Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura proceeded to call Corrine Dufka as the next Prosecution witness.  Defense Counsel Terry Munyard objected to both the witness and her tendered report on five grounds.

  1. Dufka is not an expert in the sense usually understood by this and other Courts’ jurisprudence, as well as common law.  An expert witness is not a witness that puts forward basic factual evidence in a summary form.  
  2. Dufka’s report and its annex violate Taylor’s fundamental rights under Rule 17 of the Special Court’s Statute.  These materials were previously not granted judicial notice under Rule 94 and denied entry into the record under Rule 92bis(B), which allows the admission of evidence that is reliable and if its reliability is subject to confirmation.  Munyard argued that the Court is unable to determine the reliability of the materials contained in this report and its annex because it is not hearing the testimony of those giving firsthand accounts.  In addition, some of the attachments to the document do not contain any indication of their source.  
  3. According to Munyard, Dufka’s evidence goes to the ultimate issues of the case that are for determination by the Court.  A witness may not usurp the functions of the Court.
  4. The scope of Dufka’s document goes beyond the territorial and temporal scope of the indictment.
  5. Defense Counsel Munyard ultimately contested Dufka’s impartiality and independence.  Dufka’s advocacy raises questions about her impartiality.  He noted that Dufka worked for the Office of the Prosecution in this case from October 2002 to 2003.  At least 18 of the witnesses Dufka interviewed will be called in this case.  In addition, Dufka has given interviews and made public comment indicating that she believes the accused is guilty of the crimes alleged.

Bangura replied to each of these assertions in turn. 

  1. It is premature at this stage to make determinations of expert qualifications.
  2. With regard to reliability and that Dufka is presenting evidence that is not within her personal knowledge, Bangura noted that Dufka’s expertise stems from her line of work and involves first-hand interviews that are later analyzed in a report.  According to Bangura, it is premature to make this determination without hearing the witness.  This is a secondary question that the Court should only assess at the end of the day when it determines the weight of the evidence.  The Prosecution vowed that it will demonstrate Dufka’s methods were reliable.
  3. Dufka’s statements do not go to the ultimate issues of the case, but rather form a part of the Prosecution team’s efforts to build enough evidence to satisfy their burden of proof and prove that Taylor is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  
  4. The evidence may go beyond the strict territorial and temporal scope of the indictment, but speak to the context and background that gave rise to the events in question.
  5. Bangura referred to jurisprudence from the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) to conclude that a witness having walked with the Prosecution does not exclude that person as an expert.  [pdf] Prosecutor v. Ljube Boskoski & Johan Tarculovski, Decision on Motion to Exclude the Prosecution’s Proposed Evidence of Expert Burgess and His Report and Prosecutor v. Radoslav Brdjanin, Decision on Prosecution’s Submission of Statement of Expert Witness Ewan Brown.  He also noted that Dufka’s public statements go to the weight of her testimony and that Defense Counsel can cross-examine Dufka to test her objectivity.

With regard to the fifth point, Munyard responded that the Boskoski & Tarculovski judgment does not involve an individual who worked for the Prosecution, but rather a fully qualified police officer and investigator who was an expert in the management of police functions.  Munyard contrasted this individual with Dufka, who is a mere “report writer”.  He then introduced [pdf] Proseutor v. Karemera et al., Decision on Prosecution Prospective Experts Witnesses Alison Des Forges, Andre Guichaoua and Binaifer Nowrojee, an ICTR judgment on the same issue, and noted that decision is a “rather more substantial document than Boskoski.” 


The Court ruled that without hearing the witness, any decision was premature.  The Defense team’s ability to cross-examine sufficiently addresses any concerns.  The Court deferred any decision on the admission of Dufka’s report.


Prosecution Examination of Corinne Dufka


Bangura conducted the direct examination of Dufka, a Senior Researcher for the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch specializing in West Africa.  Dufka entered the courtroom wearing glasses, a black turtleneck, and a strand of pearls.  She carried with her a stack of documents, which Presiding Judge Doherty ordered taken away.  Presiding Judge Doherty later refused to return the documents when Dufka requested a copy of her reports containing her handwritten notes.


Dufka obtained her Bachelor’s degree in social work from San Francisco University and studied clinical and psychiatric social work at University of California, Berkeley.  Before working with Human Rights Watch, she was a social worker in the United States and Latin America and a photojournalist for Reuters, covering conflict situations in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  She began working with Human Rights Watch in 1999 when the organization decided to open a field office in Sierra Leone following the January 6, 1999, rebel offensive.  From October 2002 to 2003, Dufka worked in the Office of the Prosecutor for the Special Court of Sierra Leone as a senior human rights adviser.  


As a Senior Researcher for Human Rights Watch, Dufka directs a team of three to five researchers.  In addition to conducting research, investigating, and writing, Dufka oversees the work of her team.  Dufka emphasized the training and methodology inherent in all Human Rights Watch reports, which embody objectivity, fairness, high standard of proof, confidentiality of sources, and balanced reporting.  According to Dufka, Human Rights Watch reports are the product of a wide range of sources, corroboration, analysis, and rigorous vetting.


Corinne Dufka’s Report Submitted to the Special Court


Dufka prepared a report for this trial covering the period of 1998 to 2003/2004.  Dufka noted that the report adheres to the Human Rights Watch standards noted above and consists of her own and other researchers’ interviews and research.  The report consists of first-hand victim and witness accounts.  


Bangura proceeded by asking Dufka to explain her research and whether it included reliance on additional documents.  Of the numerous documents cited in Dufka’s report submitted to the Court, only one did not include either her research or writing.  “Sowing Terror: Atrocities Against Civilians in Sierra Leone” was written shortly before Human Rights Watch hired Dufka to open a field office in Sierra Leone.  Dufka confirmed that although she is not the author of the report, it was subject to the same rigorous requirements as all other Human Rights Watch publications.

  • Sowing Terror
    Dufka explained that “Sowing Terror” is based on the period when the AFRC/RUF were dislodged from power (February to June 1998).  She explained the fear and terror among the civilian population during this time, stemming in part from the random nature of targeting individuals, the sheer number of individuals affected, and the targeting of all ages and all types of individuals without any determination of political or other affiliation.  The AFRC and RUF committed the vast amount of abuses, including mutilations (of the hands, fingers, feet, and ears), rape, abduction, disembowelment of fetuses, razing of villages, massacres, and extrajudicial killings.  These abuses occurred during two military operations, “Pay Yourself” and “No Living Thing.”  CDF atrocities took place on a much lesser scale, including the execution of AFRC/RUF prisoners in horrific manners, cannibalism, and the use of child soldiers.  ECOMOG atrocities included the indiscriminate shelling of Freetown.  These abuses took place primarily in the Kono District, including Koidu town, Tombudu town/village, Sinekoro, Jabwema Faiama, Njaiama Sewafe, and Gbense.
  • Youth Poverty and Blood
    Dufka spoke of the sub-regional dynamic of West African conflict, explained in “Youth, Poverty and Blood: The Lethal Legacy of West Africa’s Regional Warriors.”  Preparation for the report included interviews with 60 former combatants primarily from Sierra Leone and Liberia who participated in at least two armed conflicts in the region.  Some of the common patterns of abuses included a lack of distinction between military and civilian targets; lethal, collective punishment against civilians believed to support opposing forces; little effort by the command to limit or hold accountable members of warring factions; minimal training of the laws of war to combatants; forceful recruitment; and the failure to address the needs of former combatants.  Common root causes of these conflicts included state failure, massive corruption, impunity, and inequitable distribution of resources. 
  • Getting Away With Murder, Mutilation, Rape 
    Getting Away with Murder, Mutilation, Rape” is based on Dufka’s interviews with over 400 individuals.  The report chronicles abuses committed during the invasion of Sierra Leone in 1999 by rebels attempting to regain political power.  The report includes the takeover of many parts of Freetown and the ensuing three-week occupation of those areas by rebel forces.  The abuses included indiscriminate murders, such as the killing of individuals in their homes or in places of worship, as well as throwing individuals out windows, mutilations and double-arm amputations, extreme sexual violence, such as penetration with burning wood or umbrellas, massive looting, and pillage.  Common patterns included the random nature of violence to create an “ambience of complete and utter terror.”  According to Dufka, many of the atrocities appeared to be well organized and some were premeditated.  The wide scale of the atrocities would make it difficult to argue that they were unaware that abuses were happening.  In addition, there were special units devoted to committing abuses, such as the “burn house unit,” the “cut hand squad,” and the “born naked squad.”  These abuses took place in Freetown (Pademba Road, State House, Upgun, Kissy Road, PZ) and the neighborhoods of Calaba Town, Kissy, Wellington, Brookfields, Kru Bay, Susan’s Bay, Kingtom, and others.  ECOMOG committed some atrocities, but most ECOMOG killings were committed at checkpoints and in mop-up operations. 
  • Back to the Brink
    Dufka’s report also relies on information from “Back to the Brink:  War Crimes by Liberian Government and Rebels,” as well as two short documents: “Liberian Refugees in Guinea:  Refoulement, Militarization of Camps, and other Protection Concerns” and “Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Liberia.” 
  • Rebel Atrocities Against Civilians in Sierra Leone
    The material in this press release (found here) stems from interviews with 20 civilians in Freetown hospitals who described attacks in Masiaka and Port Loko.  Rebels committed these attacks when they withdrew from Freetown in late January or early February 1999.  Rebels killed, raped, mutilated, abducted, and set civilians on fire.
  • Evidence of Atrocities in Sierra Leone
    This letter to the UN highlights atrocities committed in late 1999, shortly after the peace agreement, as well as atrocities committed after the breakdown of the May 2000 peace accord.  There were amputations on a lesser scale, several recruitment operations, cross-border raids, rapes, and some mutilation.  These atrocities occurred primarily in the Kambia, Koinadugu Districts, Port Loko, Tonkolili, and Bombali Districts.  There were attacks in the towns of Lunsar, Makeni, Okra Hills, and others. 
  • Additional Human Rights Watch Reports
    Additional reports provided information from three situations:  (1) indiscriminate helicopter attacks by the Sierra Leonean government in May and June 2000, (2), Guinean military launched attacks into RUF-held Sierra Leonean territory in 2000 and 2001, and (3) Kamajor attacks against villages in 2001.   

Publication and Dissemination of Findings in HRW Reports


Dufka told the Court Human Rights Watch published 72 or 73 documents on Sierra Leone and 72 or 73 documents on Liberia between 1989 and 2006.  


Dufka stated that although it was not within the purview of her responsibilities to ensure delivery of the report to relevant parties, it is Human Rights Watch’s usual practice to send these reports to the governments in question if this is practical or feasible.  Dufka also noted that “Sowing Terror” included a specific recommendation to Liberia regarding the arms embargo against AFRC/RUF to ensure that Liberia was not used as a point of supply or transit for combatants, arms, ammunition, food, or other supplies to support the AFRC/RUF.  The report specifically called for “President Charles Taylor [to] facilitate border monitoring by ECOMOG.”


Presiding Judge Doherty’s Concern over Bangura’s Questioning


Presiding Judge Doherty warned Bangura numerous times throughout the proceedings to avoid leading questions.  At one point in the proceedings, Bangura stated that he was attempting to guide Dufka through numerous documents in the interest of economy.  Presiding Judge Doherty vigorously noted that justice and a fair trial precede economy interests.


The trial will resume tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.