In May, Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, was sentenced by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) to 50 years’ imprisonment for aiding and abetting war crimes. As the first conviction in recent times of a former head of state by an international court, this sent a clear message that if senior figures commit crimes they can, and will, be held accountable by the international community. The SCSL is currently hearing Mr Taylor’s appeal, which is scheduled to finish in September 2013.
As the second largest donor, the UK continued to provide strong support to the SCSL in its work to tackle impunity and deliver justice to victims of the conflict in Sierra Leone. We made a contribution of £600,000 to the court in March and announced a further contribution of £1 million in December. Securing enough voluntary contributions from others to cover the court’s budget remained difficult, however. In the face of a large funding shortfall for 2013, we supported successful efforts to secure emergency funding of $14 million from the UN in December. This grant is expected to cover the court’s remaining costs until it completes its work.
In 2013, the SCSL will begin the transition to the Residual Mechanism, which will carry out its remaining essential functions after it completes the judicial process, including witness protection and administration for the prisoners. We will continue to play an active role on the court’s management committee to help ensure that the transition goes smoothly and protects the SCSL’s legacy.