Statement by the Registrar of the Special Court, Freetown.
This morning at 7:45 a.m. an operation began to move two detainees of the Special Court, Sam Hinga Norman and Issa Hassan Sesay, to Senegal for medical treatment.
The two detainees were airlifted by U.N. helicopter from the Special Court’s helipad and flown to Lungi International Airport. From there, they were flown by plane to Dakar.
Today’s operation was made possible by an agreement concluded in September between the Government of Senegal and the Special Court. The agreement provides for the provision of medical services for detainees which cannot be provided locally.
I wish to thank the Government of Senegal for their assistance to the Special Court, and to all who worked to bring about the agreement. In addition, I thank the United Nations, the UNMIL Mongolian Guard Force and the Government of Sierra Leone for providing logistics and security for today’s operation.
The Rules which govern the treatment of detainees in international courts forbid the public disclosure of medical information on detainees for reasons of privacy. We have previously said that neither suffers from any life-threatening condition and that continues to be the case.
The medical procedures in each case are considered routine. The two detainees will be returned to the Special Court once the treatment has been concluded.
SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE
OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR
Freetown, 17 January 2007
Statement by Special Court Prosecutor Stephen Rapp.
The Prosecutor was introduced by Mr. Lovemore Munlo, Registrar of the Special Court
Thank you, Lovemore, for your kind introduction. Thank you also to the Sierra Leone News Agency for hosting this event. It is wonderful to be here with you all and I am very pleased that my first press conference as the Prosecutor of the Special Court is with you, the journalists of Sierra Leone. I wanted to be sure that before I spoke with the international press, I first met with Sierra Leone’s domestic reporters so that I could tell you personally how important I believe the work of the Special Court is to the people of this country, and to its future.
First, please let me tell you a bit about myself. I am originally from a small town in the state of Iowa, in the United States. In my early career I worked in private practice, on the staff of the US Senate in Washington, DC and as an elected representative in Iowa. In 1993 former President Bill Clinton appointed me as a United States Attorney for Northern Iowa, where I served until 2001. I then joined the Prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. There I acted as the Senior Trial Attorney of what has been called the “Media Trial.” The defendants in the case were accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity by virtue of the terrible hate speech they spread over a radio station and through a newspaper. I am very proud of the convictions we secured in that case. After the trial, I became the Chief of Prosecutions at the ICTR, a position I held until coming here to the Special Court.
Becoming the Prosecutor is truly a dream come true for me. I am honored and humbled to be part of such an important endeavor in the history of this country, an endeavor that I believe is marking a turning point for Sierra Leone. Since the end of the war, the international community, the government of Sierra Leone and the people of this nation have been working to create a more stable, prosperous and just society. The Special Court is certainly not the only part of this effort, but it is indeed a crucial component. The Court is both a concrete example and a symbol of this turning point. For many years there was chaos, now there is order. Where once there was volatility and violence, now there is peace. Where once wicked men shattered many thousands of lives, now impunity no longer reigns.
This Court also represents a greater hope for the international community as a whole. In the words of the United Nations Security Council, it is part of an effort “to end impunity, establish the rule of law and promote respect for human rights and to restore and maintain international peace and security.”
The Court has recently reached a significant milestone with the completion of the trial phases of the CDF and the AFRC cases. In the coming months the judges in these cases will render their verdicts. The RUF trial continues in May with the presentation of the Defense case. Finally, the trial of Charles Taylor will begin this year in The Hague. The Court’s Outreach Program has capitalized on the Court’s domestic location to communicate the Court’s message to every corner of the country and ensure a maximum number of citizens learn about what is happening in the case. For this reason, some are concerned about the decision to move the trial of Charles Taylor to The Hague. While I support this decision as necessary for the stability of the region, let me say how important I believe it is that the Taylor trial be brought home to the people of Sierra Leone. Every effort is and will be made to ensure that Sierra Leoneans have transparent access to this trial. Each case at the Special Court is heard, argued and decided upon in the name of the people of Sierra Leone, and the many miles between here and Mr. Taylor will not change that.
Let me say once again how pleased I am to be with you today and how honored I am to be part of this significant chapter in the history of Sierra Leone. I will be happy to take your questions.