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The sensitive and highly charged nature of proceedings underscores the importance of adequate security for both the facilities and the staff, particularly judges and prosecutors, at the Special Court.  The location of the court in Sierra Leone poses new challenges not present at either the ICTR or the ICTY due to the court’s proximity to the population most closely tied to the court’s work.  Given existing inadequacies within the Sierra Leonean security sector, the country’s history of political instability, and current regional dynamics, we believe that the continued engagement of an international force able to provide security for the court is indispensable. 

The use of an international peacekeeping mission, the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), to provide security for the court facilities has heretofore helped ensure adequate security.138  Indeed, concerns have been raised that the Sierra Leonean army continues to be “in no position” to ensure security.139  In March 2004 a Western diplomat pointed out that, “the army is having problems handling basic functions,” and Special Court staff explained that “the Court is not viable for security without an international military presence.”140 

With the impending drawdown of UNAMSIL, Security Council Resolution 1537 was passed, allowing a needed extension of UNAMSIL’s mandate and continued provision of security to the Special Court by this force.  The resolution provides that: 1) the mandate of UNAMSIL will be extended through September 30, 2004; 2) the U.N. secretary-general will adjust the timetable for UNAMSIL’s drawdown, “to ensure a more gradual reduction in its military strength;” and 3) a “residual UNAMSIL presence” of up to 3,250 troops will remain for an initial six-month period commencing on January 1, 2005.141  The tasks of the residual force will be determined on September 30, 2004, although the U.N. secretary-general’s report on this issue suggests that security for the Special Court is foreseen.142  Human Rights Watch urges the Security Council to continue to extend the mandate of UNAMSIL, or create some other residual international force, to provide security for the Special Court throughout the entirety of its operations.                                                                                                                                                     

[138] Special Court security personnel also provide judges and some prosecutors with constant armed protection. 

[139] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Special Court staff, Freetown, March 3, 2004; Human Rights Watch interview with Special Court staff, Freetown, March 5, 2004.

[140] Human Rights Watch interview with diplomat, Freetown, March 2, 2004; Human Rights Watch interview with Special Court staff, Freetown, March 3, 2004.

[141] United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1537 (2004), S/RES/1537.

[142] United Nations Security Council, Twenty-first report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, S/2004/228.

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