AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - “The commencement of the work of a Special Court for Sierra Leone is another step in the process of a return to normality” says Catholic Bishop of Makeni

Thursday, 11 March 2004

Freetown (Fides Service)- “This is another step in the process of a return to normality for Sierra Leone” Bishop Giorgio Biguzzi, Bishop of Makeni, told Fides referring to the official opening yesterday, 10 March, of a Special Court to judge war crimes committed in the civil conflict 1991-2001. “Now that the troops have been disarmed and reinserted into civilian life and security has been restored, at last the time has come to take the aspect of justice into consideration ” the Bishop said. “The message launched by the Court is that crime never pays and that those responsible for atrocities against the helpless people will have to render account to justice”.
“From the point of view of the Christian community, this is not seeking revenge it is confronting those who were in power at the time and used it not for the good of the people but to promote with violence their own interests with their actions. In this sense Sierra Leone can be an example for the rest of the world: crimes against humanity will not go unpunished ”.
“Now that the country has once again found peace and security, the main problem for the people is unemployment ” Bishop Biguzzi said. “The economy is still very fragile, especially in agricultural sector, prices of consumer goods, most of which are imported, are very high and people cannot afford to buy them”. “Through its Justice and Peace Commission the local Church has started programmes to educate people with regard to their rights, particularly in the economic field” the Bishop of Makeni recalls.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up by the Sierra Leone government and the United Nations to judge cases of serious violation of human rights during the civil war 1991-2001, in which the United Revolutionary Front RUF fought government troops led by Sierra Leone’s President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, re-elected in May 2002 in the first general elections since the end of the civil war. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 11/3/2004, righe 30 parole 381)