For those that have been skeptical President Bashir of Sudan will ever face justice for his actions, this news out of Sierra Leone: Three of the top leaders of the Revolutionary United Front, or RUF, a brutal rebel movement that terrorized Sierra Leone throughout the 1990s, have been sentenced in Freetown, where they were on trial at the internationally administered Special Court for Sierra Leone. Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao, the three most senior living RUF officials, were sentenced to 52, 29, and 25 years respectively. All three were convicted in February of perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and the use of child soldiers. The three were the first to be convicted of forced marriage and of “joint criminal enterprise,” stemming from their role running Sierra Leone’s illegal diamond mines.
Best known for the trial currently underway in The Hague of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, the court has been wracked by financial difficulties, but has nonetheless been able to bring some of the region’s most notorious war criminals to justice. Taylor’s arrest and subsequent prosecution is a powerful example that peace and justice go hand in hand.