SCSL in 11-million dollar funding deficit


Guest post by Geraldine Coughlan

Sierra Leone’s war crimes tribunal faces an 11- million-dollar funding gap as it wraps up the trial of Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor, according to its annual report. The Special Court for Sierra Leone, seated at The Hague, is set to close its doors soon after Mr. Taylor’s trial is completed, which is expected around mid-2011. “As of 30 April 2010, the Court has received pledges of almost 15 million US dollars from a diverse group of regular and occasional donors,” the report said. “Despite these greatly appreciated contributions, the Court faces a funding gap of 11.1 million US dollars to close the Court.” Taylor’s trial on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the 1991-2001 Sierra Leone civil war that claimed 120,000 lives, is the last to be heard by the court. The UN-backed special tribunal was set up to try those who bore the “greatest responsibility” for atrocities during Sierra Leone’s war. The court is the first of its kind to rely entirely on funding from governments, and has received contributions from more than 40 countries. The June 2009-May 2010 report, the eighth year of the court’s operations, said the present completion budget was 26.1 million dollars. “The requirement for 2010 is 20.5 million US dollars… These figures cover Freetown, The Hague and New York offices.” During this period the court achieved several of its milestones, handing down its final verdict in Freetown in October 2009 in which eight former rebels were convicted, allowing it to downsize staff by 40 percent. However, the report said “in spite of significant budgetary reductions …the Court continues to experience serious difficulties in securing adequate funding to complete its mandate.”

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