July 26, 2012


Human Rights Watch has closely followed the Special Court for Sierra Leone since its inception in 2000. [3] To prepare for this report, Human Rights Watch interviewed over 70 individuals involved with Taylor’s trial, including current and former prosecutors, defense attorneys, and Registry staff members, such as those in the Outreach and Public Affairs team, the Witness and Victims Section, and the Office of the Principal Defender. Human Rights Watch also interviewed Sierra Leonean and Liberian civil society activists, former combatants, members of government, journalists, war victims, and experts on West Africa.

The report does not cite names or positions of certain interviewees to avoid disclosing the identities of those who wished to remain anonymous.

Interviews were conducted in The Hague, London, and Washington, DC in November 2011; in Sierra Leone and Liberia in January 2012; and in New York and via phone and email from September 2011 to June 2012.

In addition to conducting interviews, Human Rights Watch reviewed expert commentary, trial transcripts, and daily reports produced by trial observers with the Open Society Justice Initiative and the War Crimes Studies Center at University of California, Berkeley. Human Rights Watch did not monitor the trial daily, and consideration of the court’s written judgment, which was released on May 18, 2012, and totals over 2,500 pages, is limited in the report.

Finally, the analysis provided of the trial’s initial impact in the region is drawn from interviews. No quantitative or large-scale surveys were conducted.

[3]See, for example, Human Rights Watch, Bringing Justice: the Special Court for Sierra Leone, vol. 16, no. 8(A), September 2004, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/09/08/bringing-justice-special-court-sierra-leone; Human Rights Watch, Justice in Motion: The Trial Phase of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, vol. 17, no. 14(A), November 2005, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/11/01/justice-motion-0; Human Rights Watch, Sierra Leone Trying Charles Taylor in The Hague: Making Justice Accessible to Those Most Affected, no. 2, June 2006, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/06/21/trying-charles-taylor-hague.