The devastating eleven-year armed conflict in Sierra Leone was characterized by extreme brutality and widespread human rights abuses against civilians. The majority of the crimes were perpetrated by rebels from the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). However, government forces and their allies, notably the Civil Defense Forces (CDF), also committed serious crimes, albeit on a smaller scale and of a different nature than those by rebel groups. During the conflict, tens of thousands of civilians were killed and up to one-quarter of the population was displaced.
During the war, which lasted from 1991 until 2002, rebels, and to a lesser extent government forces, consistently failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Hundreds of civilians suffered from the signature rebel atrocity of limb amputation while thousands of girls and women were subjected to sexual violence. All sides recruited and used child combatants.