International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Breaking News:Judges Grant Prosecution’s Request To Use “Fresh Documents” In Cross-Examination

The Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today granted the prosecution’s request to use new documents in cross-examination in order to impeach or challenge the credibility of Mr. Taylor and his testimony as a witness in his own defense. On November 10, the prosecution sought to use “fresh evidence” in the form of new dicuments which had not been submitted as part of the prosecution’s case and had also not been raised in Mr. Taylor’s direct-examination. Mr. Taylor’s defense objected, calling it a “trial by ambush.” The judges asked the prosecution to make a formal application for use of those documents and the defense be given the opprotunity to respond. After filing of motions by the parties, the judges delivered their ruling today granting the prosecution’s request … Continue Reading


News Just In: RUF Appeals Judgment Handed Down in Freetown Today, Upholds Sentences

The Special Court for Sierra Leone wrapped up its Freetown-based trials today when the Appeals Chamber handed down its  judgment on the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) case.  It upheld the Trial Chamber’s February 2009 convictions and final sentences of the three defendants in that case: former RUF interim leader, Issa Sesay; senior RUF commander Morris Kallon; and former RUF security chief Augustine Gbao.

Each of the men had originally faced 18 counts against them for crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.  Among other things, the charges had included terrorism, sexual slavery, murder, rape, the conscription, enlistment and use of child soldiers, and attacks on peacekeepers.  The Trial Chamber had originally convicted Mr. Sesay and Mr. Kallon on 16 counts of war crimes … Continue Reading


Charles Taylor’s Defense Case Resumes Today

Stay tuned for Alpha’s update on the first day back in the courtroom, with the resumption of the defense case of former Liberian President, Charles Ghankay Taylor. Today Mr Taylor continues testifying in his own defense.  He is expected to continue on the stand until early 2010.

Back with more soon.


Your Questions Wanted During The Recess

Dear Readers,

We just found out today that the Charles Taylor trial is now in recess until October 26 — but just because the courtroom action has stopped, it does not mean that we have to end our conversations here on this site for three weeks.

Alpha and I thought this would be a great opportunity to invite readers to ask questions about issues arising from the trial to date — legal issues, procedural issues, anything you want, really, in relation to the trial — Alpha and I will do our best to get answers to you.

We already have a couple of questions which we are working on – Noko4 has asked about the Liberian travel bans and John Thompson has asked about the … Continue Reading


Delay in Posting Comments This Weekend

Dear Readers,

Just a quick note to let you know that the posting of comments will be delayed this weekend.  I am away with limited access to the internet until Tuesday. Sorry to slow down the conversation as it is so lively at the moment, but I promise to post your comments as soon as possible, hopefully at least a few times over this weekend.  Please still keep your comments coming! There are a lot of interesting discussions happening right now prompted by Mr. Rapp’s interview.

I look forward to hearing from you. Lovely weekend to all.


Prosecutor Rapp’s Answers to Your Questions: A three part series starting tomorrow

Dear Readers,

Tomorrow we will post the first of a series of three posts from our Q & A session this past weekend with Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Mr. Stephen Rapp.  We’ll post the second on Thursday and the third on Friday this week. 

In the meantime, some readers had asked about why Mr. Rapp chose Monrovia for his farewell press conference last month.  As it turns out, he actually conducted his final one in Freetown today — if you are interested, here is a press report from Sierra Leone:,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=6571&cntnt01returnid=15.

Mr. Rapp will take up his new post with the US State Department in Washington DC as the US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes next week.

Meanwhile, we hope Mr. Griffiths feels … Continue Reading


Update from the SCSL on Outreach in Liberia and Video Archiving

Dear Readers,

A number of people have asked questions related to (1) the list of radio and television stations to which the Taylor footage is being sent in Liberia and (2) the possibility of an archive for the daily live feed, or hosting the videos on YouTube.

Mr. Moriba, the Special Court’s press and outreach officer in The Hague, is kindly on the case for us again. He has asked his colleagues in Freetown to send him the list of radio and television stations in Liberia who receive the video summaries from the Special Court, as well as the times they are aired.  We will post them here as soon as we hear anything.

Unfortunately, he said, it is not possible to put the … Continue Reading

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Interview with Chief Prosecutor, Stephen Rapp – answers coming soon

Dear Readers,

Mr. Rapp spoke with us on the weekend and answered a good number of readers’ questions. His time was limited as he was in between flights at the airport, so we did not get through all questions.  But we tried to ensure that almost everyone who submitted questions got at least one of their questions answered.  For those whose questions remained unanswered, you will get priority when the next interview opportunity arrives – just remind us.

Can you give me a day or two to get it all transcribed from my tape recorder and then post it?  I know people are eager to hear what Mr. Rapp had to say.  I will try to get through it as quickly as possible.




Q & A for Prosecutor and Defense Counsel – Your Questions Wanted

Dear Readers,

I’m delighted to let you know that both Mr. Stephen Rapp, chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Mr. Courtenay Griffiths, the lead defense counsel for Charles Taylor, have both agreed to do a “questions and answers” interview with us.  Mr. Rapp has agreed to be interviewed this coming weekend, while Mr. Griffiths has agreed to be interviewed after Mr. Taylor has finished testifying.

We want to open up the floor to you, readers, to submit your questions for either or both Mr. Rapp and Mr. Griffiths.  For Mr. Rapp, we will be taking questions right up until this Friday. (We will open up the floor to questions again for Mr. Griffiths closer to the time of … Continue Reading


Technical Problems with Live Feed, Live Streaming to Liberia

Dear Readers,

A  number of people experienced frustration with the live feed of the Taylor trial this week.  I checked with the Special Court as you had requested.  Kindly, Mr. Solomon Moriba helped us with some of your questions related to the live feed problems and also the question a reader asked about streaming the trial to Liberia.  Here is what he told us:

“Yes indeed, there is a problem with the streaming but the IT staff are working to fix it today. I hope it will be OK on Monday. Sorry for the inconvenience.

With regards to streaming to Liberia, we explored so many ways to have it in place even during the prosecution’s phase, but the IT
infrastructure on the … Continue Reading