To All Parties Involved in the Present Conflict in Sierra Leone:
· Despite the apparent intransigence of the AFRC/RUF and its leaders' willful disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law, Human Rights Watch continues to call on all parties to the conflict in Sierra Leone to immediately cease from committing human rights abuses, including killings, rape, and mutilation of civilians. Combatants should respect the laws of war, particularly those norms related to the protection of noncombatants and civilian infrastructure.
· All parties should desist from the recruitment, forced or otherwise, of child soldiers. The AFRC/RUF in particular should cease abductions of civilians for use as soldiers, laborers, or other reasons. The AFRC/RUF should halt gender-based violence and the abduction of women and girls as sexual slaves.
To the Sierra Leonean Government:
· Perpetrators of atrocities against civilians should be held accountable for their actions. This should be achieved through arrest, prosecution, and, where appropriate, punishment according to international humanitarian and human rights law.
· In order to establish principles of accountability and the rule of law, respect for due process should be enforced by an independent judiciary. This will be extremely important in the ongoing trials of fifty-nine civilians accused of collaborating with the AFRC/RUF regime, as well as for upcoming court martial trials and the future treatment of war criminals. International observers should immediately be brought in to monitor the ongoing trials. In order to strengthen the neutrality and independence of the judiciary, the government should consider incorporating international judges into its judicial system, in particular for cases regarding war crimes.
· The government should immediately ensure that the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program underway incorporates human rights concerns. Particular attention should be paid to (1) the humanetreatment of captured and surrendered combatants; (2) psychological and social preparation for the reintegration of combatants into communities; and (3) training in human rights and humanitarian law for those combatants wishing to enlist in the new Sierra Leonean army. Demobilized combatants suspected of having committed war crimes or human rights abuses should be screened by the government in compliance with international standards, and investigated and prosecuted where appropriate.
· The government should follow through on its commitments made to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, including to stop the recruitment of children under the age of eighteen and to create a Joint Task Force to oversee the demobilization and reintegration of child combatants from all sides.
To the Liberian Government:
· The government of Liberia should respect the international arms embargo against the AFRC/RUF and assure that Liberia is not used as a point of supply or transit for combatants, arms, ammunition, food or other supplies to support the AFRC/RUF. To this end, President Charles Taylor should facilitate border monitoring by ECOMOG. The government should investigate, arrest, and hold accountable anyone on Liberian territory engaged in arms trafficking or other support to the AFRC/RUF.
· The Liberian government, through the Liberian Repatriation, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation Committee (LRRRC) and its security forces, should cooperate with UNHCR in the development and implementation of a program to screen and separate combatants from civilian refugees. This program should be in accordance with international refugee law and UNHCR's guidelines on the application of the exclusion clauses to the 1951 Refugee Convention and to the 1967 Protocol.
· Individuals suspected of having committed a war crime, crime against humanity, or any other crime which would exclude them from protection under international refugee law, should be investigated, and where warranted, prosecuted for the violations they are accused of in accordance with international standards of due process.
To the Guinean Government:
· The Guinean government should facilitate the maximum possible access for humanitarian organizations to refugee camps in the Guéckedou area.
· The Guinean government should maintain its generous asylum policy for refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia, while taking actions to ensure local Guinean border authorities immediately cease to demand money or seize property from Sierra Leoneans who seek to enter Guinea.
· The Guinean government should give UNHCR full and unimpeded access to border entry points and allow UNHCR to monitor access to asylum procedures; conduct prima facie refugee status determination screening; and participate in pre-screening to identify refugees who may be suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or other such crimes which would exclude them from international refugee protection. The latter should be done with a view to investigate and prosecute where appropriate in accordance with international standards.
· Individuals suspected of having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, or any other crime which would exclude them from protection under international refugee law, should be held accountable for the violations they have committed in accordance with international standards of due process.
· The Guinean government should allow UNHCR full and unimpeded access to places of detention for refugees and asylum seekers.
· The Guinean government should continue to work closely with UNHCR to register all refugees and issue them identification cards. Police and military should immediately cease the arbitrary arrest, extortion, and harassment of refugees who do not have identification cards.
· The government should maintain the arms embargo against the AFRC/RUF and assure that Guinea is not used as a supply or transit point for arms, ammunition, food or other supplies to these forces. Authorities should arrest and hold accountable any Guinean military personnel or civilians found to have violated the arms embargo to the AFRC/RUF in Sierra Leone or those involved in trade with AFRC/RUF forces.
To the United Nations:
United Nations Security Council
· The United Nations should integrate human rights into its programs and further expand the capacity of the human rights office of UNOMSIL. This should include adequate resources and additional staff to monitor and report publicly on the human rights situation throughout the country, implement technical assistance programs with the government of Sierra Leone, and provide support and training to Sierra Leonean human rights groups.
· UNOMSIL should carry out its mandate of assuring that ECOMOG respect international humanitarian law during the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program. It should further monitor ECOMOG's respect for international humanitarian and human rights law during all of its activities, especially military operations.
· The U.N. Security Council should call upon Liberia to not allow their territory to be used in support of the AFRC/RUF activity in Sierra Leone. It should urge the Liberian government to take all measures necessary to assure that present and former Liberian military or rebels are not supporting AFRC/RUF in Sierra Leone. Such measures should include the deployment of ECOMOG and U.N. military observers in the border area.
· Similarly, the Security Council should call upon all governments to respect the international arms embargo against the AFRC/RUF and, in particular, assure that Liberia is not used as a point of supply or transit for arms, ammunition, food or other supplies to or from the AFRC/RUF.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
· Refugee camps most at risk should be relocated to secure, accessible areas a safe distance from the borders of Guinea and Liberia, as soon as the availability of resources permits this. Where not already developed, plans for relocation should be designed and implemented as soon as possible.
· UNHCR should maintain a permanent presence at border entry points to Guinea and Liberia in order to monitor access to asylum determination procedures for those fleeing Sierra Leone; conduct basic screening to determine group-based prima facie refugee status; and conduct pre-screening of those suspected of having committed a war crime, a crime against humanity, or any other such crime which would exclude them from international refugee protection.
· UNHCR should seek access in writing and in practice to all detention centers in Guinea and Liberia where asylum seekers and refugees are held, including those where refugees suspected of being former combatants are held. UNHCR should monitor conditions of detention and ensure, to the extent possible, that its own guidelines on detention of asylum seekers are applied.
· UNHCR should seek a presence at screening interviews to identify refugees who are suspected of committing crimes that would deem them undeserving of international refugee protection. UNHCR should monitor screening for exclusion and ensure necessary safeguards. UNHCR should advise the governments of Guinea and Liberia on fair and just criteria and procedures for the application of the exclusion clauses, according to international refugee law and its own guidelines.
· In collaboration with the governments of Guinea and Liberia, UNHCR should ensure that an efficient and effective registration program for Sierra Leonean refugees is in place in both countries. Registered refugees should be provided with identity cards.
· UNHCR should provide refugees in Liberia and Guinea with accurate, neutral, and objective information about security conditions in Sierra Leone, to enable refugees to make informed choices about repatriation.
· UNHCR should rapidly implement an evaluation of the psychological and medical needs of the large numbers of refugee victims of psychological and physical trauma. In particular, UNHCR should respect and implement its own guidelines regarding assistance and protection for women who are victims of rape, sexual violence, or survivors of trauma. UNHCR and other relief agencies should have qualified personnel to implement these guidelines and programs and promote a general awareness and sensitivity to these issues among refugees and local authorities.
· Special considerations in programming should be made to protect the large numbers of vulnerable refugees among the new Sierra Leonean caseload, including unaccompanied children, unaccompanied women, single parents, victims of atrocities, the elderly and the infirm. Funding should be provided for the implementation of education programs for reconciliation, conflict resolution and human rights education in refugee camps, especially for youth.
To ECOWAS and ECOMOG:
· While its record in Sierra Leone has improved from past performances, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should closely monitor ECOMOG's respect for international humanitarian and human rights law in all aspects of its mandate, especially while conducting military operations, as well as during its retraining of the new army and its implementation of the DDR program. In accordance with international humanitarian law, ECOMOG should take measures to reduce the toll of its military operations on civilians and civilian structures.
· ECOMOG should produce accurate, neutral and objective information about security conditions in Sierra Leone to enable refugees to make informed choices about repatriation.
To the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and other Members of the International Community:
· In order to end cycles of violence in Sierra Leone, the international community should maintain a strong focus on Sierra Leone and assure that respect for human rights and the rule of law are foundations of the newly reinstated government.
· The arms embargo against the AFRC/RUF should be strictly enforced. States, arms dealers, private security firms or others found in violation of the embargo should be held accountable. The international community should state unequivocally that no group or individual associated with abuses committed by the AFRC/RUF will receive any international support.
· Members of the international community should respond to UNHCR's $7.3 million emergency appeal for assistance to Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea and Liberia. Funds are needed for food, shelter andsanitation, medical, educational, psychological and social services, the relocation of camps, transportation and logistical support.
· Donors should also respond to bilateral requests for assistance in addressing Guinea's environmental and infrastructure damage resulting from the refugee flow. International donors should provide funds in response to OCHA's request for $11.2 million to meet humanitarian needs in Sierra Leone. Without these funds, the UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies will not have the human or financial resources to provide basic assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons, and other Sierra Leoneans affected by the crisis.
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