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USUN Press Release

New York, New York
June 8, 2007


Statement by Ambassador Jackie Sanders, U.S. Alternate Representative, on the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Thank you, Mr. President.

On behalf of the United States, I would like to join others in welcoming the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Justice George Gelaga King, Chief Prosecutor Stephen Rapp, and Acting Registrar Herman von Hebel to New York and to the Security Council. Their briefing today comes at a critical time in the Court's work, with proceedings in three cases still under way in Freetown and the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor that began June 4 in The Hague.

The United States also welcomes the participation in today's discussions of Deputy Secretary-General Migiro. Her presence underscores the importance the UN and members of the international community continue to attach to the successful completion of the Special Court's work in order to bring a sense of justice to the innocent victims of the terrible crimes and atrocities that were perpetrated in Sierra Leone.

The United States has been a strong supporter of the Special Court from its inception. We played an instrumental role in drafting and negotiating UN Security Council Resolution 1315 (2000), which called on the Secretary-General to conclude an agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone to create an independent special court to prosecute persons "who bear the greatest responsibility" for the serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law that were committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996. The successful completion of the Court's work remains a top U.S. priority.

The United States commends the commitment and hard work of the many men and women, a large number of whom are Sierra Leonean, who have been working to ensure that the Special Court fulfills its mandate. The efforts of these dedicated men and women have contributed to a number of important precedents, the most notable of which is the indictment of Charles Taylor, who was then a sitting head of state, on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Additionally, the Special Court for Sierra Leone represents the first test of a new model of international justice - namely, an independent, international court of mixed jurisdiction and composition seated in the country where the crimes were committed. One important aspect of the Special Court's legacy will be the future of this new model of international justice. The efficient and timely completion of the Special Court's work would serve as testimony to the efficacy of the model to meet future needs. Accordingly, we urge the leadership of the Special Court to do everything in its power to address inefficiencies at the Court, and to avoid unnecessary delays in the proceedings, in order to set a solid precedent for the future of this new model.

Mr. President,

The United States has contributed $35 million to support the work of the Special Court since its creation in 2002, and intends to make additional contributions to the Court to ensure that it completes its important work.

More than forty other States also have provided funds to support the Court. The United States welcomes this broad base of past support, but notes that the Court will exhaust the funds currently available to it in a few months. The United States therefore appeals to all governments to help guarantee, through additional contributions, that justice will be served, that impunity will not be tolerated, and that peace and stability can be sustained in Sierra Leone and in the region.


Thank you, Mr. President.

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Released on June 14, 2007

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