The Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Consideration of Gender-based Violence: Contributing to Transitional Justice?
Human Rights Review
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Serious gender-based crimes were committed against women and girls during Sierra Leone’s decade-long armed conflict. This article examines how the Special Court for Sierra Leone has approached these crimes in its first four judgments. The June 20, 2007 trial judgment in the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council case assists international criminal law’s limited understanding of the crime against humanity of forced marriage, but also collapses evidence of that crime into the war crime of outrages upon personal dignity. The February 22, 2008 appeals judgment attempts to correct this misstep. In contrast, the August 2, 2007 trial judgment in the Civil Defence Forces case is virtually silent on crimes committed against women and girls, although the May 28, 2008 appeals judgment attempts to partially redress this silence. This article concludes that the four judgments, considered together, raise the specter that the Special Court could potentially fail to make a significant progressive contribution to gender-sensitive transitional justice.