Saturday, 5 February 2011

Special Court for Sierra Leone Rules in Wikileaks Challenge

In December, this blog reported on US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks concerning the Special Court for Sierra Leone. In January, defence counsel for Charles Taylor filed a motion attacking claiming that this showed interference by the US Government in the proceedings. Last week, the Trial Chamber dismissed the motion. See: SCSL-03-01-T-1174Decision on urgent and public with Annexes A-N Defence motion for disclosure and/or investigation of United States Government sources within the Trial Chamber, the Prosecution and the Registry based on leaked USG cables.
The judgment concludes:

CONSIDERING that the First USG Cable does not indicate that the USG has any influence over any organs of the Court;
CONSIDERING moreover, that as the United States government raises concerns in this cable about the effect on the fragile peace in Liberia should Taylor be acquitted in The Hague or given a light sentence, it is clear that it does not have any influence over the final outcome of the trial;
CONSIDERING that while it is of concern to the Trial Chamber that the United States government may have received information from “contacts” in Chambers, the Registry and the Prosecution, the Second USG Cable does not demonstrate whether these “contacts” have any relationship with the USG capable of interfering with the independence or impartiality of the Court or any organ of the Court;

One of the Wikileaks cables had said 'Moreover contacts in the Prosecution and the Registry suggest that Justice Sebutinde may have a timing agenda. They think she, as the only African judge, wants to hold the gavel as presiding judges when the Trial Chamber announces the Taylor judgment.' In last week's decision, Judge Sebutinde recused herself. A declaration is announced to the decision in which she says: 'I declare that while I am completely innocent of the allegations contained in the USG Code Cable and consider myself to be impartial and free of bias in relation to the issues at stake in this Motion, it is my considered view that in order for justice to be seen to be done, I should not participate in the deliberations or decision relating to this Motion.'

No comments: