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Political Considerations in Sentence Mitigation for Serious Violations of the Laws of War before International Criminal Tribunal

Human Rights Watch Memorandum

On March 12 and 13, the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone will hold hearings on appeals against the convictions and sentencing of Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa. These individuals were convicted on several counts of serious violations of international humanitarian law in connection with acts that they had committed, or had been responsible for, while members of the government-backed Civil Defence Forces (CDF) during Sierra Leone’s decade-long conflict. The upcoming hearings will raise a very important issue for the enforcement of international humanitarian law: whether applicable international legal standards allow factors such as political motivations and the party to the conflict for which a perpetrator fought to serve as a basis for mitigation in sentencing.

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