Special Court Hands Over Courthouse and Complex to the Government of Sierra Leone

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Special Court for Sierra Leone
Outreach and Public Affairs Office
PRESS RELEASE
Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2 December 2013

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The Special Court today formally handed over the Court’s landmark courthouse and the surrounding court
complex to the Government of Sierra
Leone, as it takes the final steps
towards closure of the institution.
In a colourful ceremony in front of the
courthouse, Registrar Binta Mansaray
handed an over-sized ceremonial key
to Sierra Leone’s Attorney-General
and Minister of Justice Franklyn Bai
Kargbo.
The courthouse saw the trials of
leaders of the Civil Defence Forces,
the Revolutionary United Front, and
the Armed Forces Revolutionary
Council, as well as the initial
appearance of former Liberian
President Charles Taylor. These trials saw first-ever convictions for attacks against UN peacekeepers,
forced marriage as a crime against humanity, and for the use of child soldiers.
The building will now house the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone.
“We will be the first international court – the very first – in more than half a century to complete our
mandate successfully and to close,” Ms. Mansaray said. “We now hand over to the Residual Special Court
in the knowledge that we have accomplished what has been asked of us.”
Attorney-General Kargbo hailed the Court’s mandate which, he said, had been envisaged as a way to
bring an end to impunity, to break the cycle of violence which took place during Sierra Leone’s civil war
and, he said, to give the people of Sierra Leone “an opportunity to show the world that Sierra Leoneans
prefer peace, development, rule of law, justice and accountability instead of war.”
“The undesirability of impunity and crimes against civilians under international humanitarian law is now
firmly entrenched in the psyche of every Sierra Leonean,” Mr. Kargbo said. “The country continues to
rebuild and make progress with its development in a free, fair and peaceful atmosphere.”
Mr. Giles Norman, the Chair of the Special Court’s Management Committee and the Committee’s
representative for Canada, recalled that the Court’s agreement called for the return of the 11.5-acre site
and buildings to Government after the court had completed its work. “This significant day has come upon
us all,” he said.
“This complex is an internationally recognised monument for international criminal justice, and it is my
pleasure to be here on this significant day to witness its handover to the Government of Sierra Leone,”
Mr. Norman said. “It is our hope that this Courthouse will be used as a tool to enhance access to justice
for the people of Sierra Leone. It is our hope that the legacy of what this Courthouse has achieved is
remembered forever.”
Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice, Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh expressed appreciation for the handing over of the
courthouse. “We are grateful for this wonderful legacy,” she said. “The judiciary of Sierra Leone will
ensure that these courtrooms are well maintained and put to good use, to dispense justice and enhance the
rule of law and our own jurisprudence.”
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice unveiled the new inscription on the side of the courthouse:
“The Special Court for Sierra Leone, upon the successful completion of its mandate, officially handed the
courthouse over to the Government and People of Sierra Leone. Presented to the Chief Justice on 2
December 2013 by SCSL Registrar Madam Binta Mansaray.”
The formal ceremony was followed by a “soft opening” of the Sierra Leone Peace Museum, located
within the court complex.
#END
The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. It
is mandated to bring to justice those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone after 30
November 1996.
INFORMATION FOR MEDIA – NOT FOR ADVERTISING
Produced by the
Outreach and Public Affairs Office
Special Court for Sierra Leone
Mobile: 232 76 655732
Email: SCSL-pressoffice@un.org
Visit our website at www.sc-sl.org

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