How Sierra Leone differs

Sierra Leone provides another good example in criminological terms, showing how close classic war crimes committed by war lords can be to organised crimed7 as President of Liberia, Charles Taylor supported the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone for ideological or economic reasons. He not only used crime middlemen in order to cloak his activities and allow corrupt elites to benefit from the transaction directly or indirectly, he also harboured Al-Qaeda members that had come [1]

to trade in diamonds from Sierra Leone.[2] Two known Al-Qaeda members bought diamonds and tried to buy surface-to-air missiles in Liberia/[3]

On 18 May 2012 the Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted Charles Taylor of all of the eleven charges he faced. Five of these counts charged the accused with crimes against humanity punishable under Article 2 of the Court’s Statute, in particular murder (Count 2), rape (Count 4), sexual slavery (Count 5), other inhumane acts (Count 8), and enslavement (Count 10). Five additional counts charged the accused with violations of Article 3 (common to the Geneva Conventions) and of Additional Protocol II, punishable under Article 3 of the Statute, in particular acts of terrorism (Count 1), violence to life, health, and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder (Count 3), outrages upon personal dignity (Count 6), violence to life, health, and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular cruel treatment (Count 7), and pillage (Count 11). The remaining count charged Taylor with conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities (Count 9), a serious violation of international humanitarian law punishable under Article 4 of the Statute.

Nevertheless, despite all similarities, the Taylor case in Sierra Leone was tried by an ad hoc special court as part of an armed conflict within a civil war setting, so cannot really be compared to the reported cases of organised crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina tried by a national court.

  • [1] 2 K 00 3595 10 K (2 December 2010), p. 2ff.; No. X-K-10/889-1 (27 August 2010); No. S1 2 K 3356 10 K(11 May 2011); No. X-K-10/872 (5 August 2010); No. X-K-10/889 (1 September 2010); No. X-K-08/645-2 (9February 2010); No. X-K-08/638-2 (8 February 2010); No. X-K-08/638-3 (8 February 2010); No. X-K-08/645-1 (26 January 2010); No. X-KZ-08/645-1 (21 May 2010); No. X-K-08/638-1 (14 January 2010); No. S12 K 003350 11 Kz (20 June 2011). The SBiH also referred to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime: cf. SBiH, No.X-K/07/486-2 (15 May 2008), p. 1. 64 This term should not be confused with transnational (organised) crime; see Reichel, Handbook ofTransnational Crime & Justice, p. xiii, cited in note 15 above. 65 On the definition of the conflict of jurisdictions, see Arndt Sinn, Conflicts of Jurisdiction inCross-border Crime Situations, Gottingen, V&R, 2012, p. 598; on the differentiation between conflictsof jurisdictions in the broader and narrower sense, see AnwK-StGB/Zoller, Rn. 10ff., cited in note62 above. 66 Cf. Art. 17(1)(a) ICCSt: ‘unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution’. 67 Gail Wannenburg, ‘Organized crime and terrorism’, (2003) 10 South African Institute oflnternationalAffairs Journal (2), Winter/Spring 2003, pp. 77-90.
  • [2] Douglas Farah, ‘Liberian is accused of harboring Al-Qaeda’, Washington Post, 15 May 2003,, accessed 23 March 2016.
  • [3] D. Farah, ‘Report says Africans harbored Al-Qaeda’, Washington Post, 29 December 2002, The Al-Qaeda operatives were Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and Fazul Abdullah Diam.
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