Amnesty: Lomé Peace Agreement

ARTICLE IX PARDON AND AMNESTY

1. In order to bring lasting peace to Sierra Leone, the Government of Sierra Leone shall take appropriate legal steps to grant Corporal Foday Sankoh absolute and free pardon.

2. After the signing of the present Agreement, the Government of Sierra Leone shall also grant absolute and free pardon and reprieve to all combatants and collaborators in respect of anything done by them in pursuit of their objectives, up to the time of the signing of the present Agreement.

3. To consolidate the peace and promote the cause of national reconciliation, the Government of Sierra Leone shall ensure that no official or judicial action is taken against any member of the RUF, ex-AFRC, ex-SLA or CDF in respect of anything done by them in pursuit of their objectives as members of those organizations, since March 1991, up to the time of the signing of the present Agreement. In addition, legislative and
other measures necessary to guarantee immunity to former combatants, exiles and other persons, currently outside the country for reasons related to the armed conflict shall be adopted ensuring the full exercise of their civil and political rights, with a view to their reintegration within a framework of full legality.

Implementation History

1999

Intermediate Implementation

Immediately after signing the Lomé Agreement, President Ahmad Kabbah addressed the House of Parliament on the signing of the Lomé peace deal, which included an amnesty provision. He granted a blanket amnesty to rebels, as well as the release of more than 65 political prisoners, including RUF leader Foday Sankoh. “The prisoners were among a group of civilians and military officers held in detention for their role in the ousted military junta which rule the country in 1997... The President told Parliamentarians that such a move in granting amnesty to the political prisoners was a difficult one but that in the interest of peace it was worth making."1

Troops received a complete amnesty for any crimes committed from March 1991 up until the date of the signing of the agreement.

There was widespread criticism of granting a blanket amnesty. The United Nations, serving as one guarantor of the agreement, signed the agreement, “with the explicit proviso that the United Nations holds the understanding that the amnesty and pardon in article IX of the agreement shall not apply to international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law."2

  • 1. "Sierra Leone; President Orders Release Of Political Prisoners," Africa News, July 9, 1999.
  • 2. "Report of the Secretary General on UNAMIN," S/1999/836, July 30, 1999, p. 2.
2000

Minimum Implementation

Amnesty to rebels was granted and political prisoners were released in 1999. After the resumption of fighting, however, it was said that, “it would be possible to prosecute people who have committed crimes since that date, including Foday Sankoh. Moreover, it is sometimes argued that RUF failure to respect Lomé terms has rendered the amnesty null and void, thus enabling prosecution also of earlier crimes."3

Human Rights Watch pressed that crimes committed since July 7, 1999 not be covered under blanket amnesty.4

On August 14, 2000, the Security Council voted unanimously, “to create a special court to prosecute rebel leaders responsible for killing and maiming tens of thousands of people during Sierra Leone's civil war."5 The government of Sierra Leone welcomed the “decision by the UN Security Council to set up a special court to try violators of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean criminal law."6

  • 3. "Sierra Leone: Time for a New Political and Military Strategy," International Crisis Group, ICG Africa Report No.28, Freetown/London/Brussels, April 11, 2001, p.21.
  • 4. "Sierra Leone; Sankoh, JP urged to deal with cease-fire violators," Africa News, January 26, 2000.
  • 5. "U.N. to Create Genocide Tribunal; Court Will Prosecute Rebel Leaders Who Led Violence in Sierra Leone," The Washington Post, August 15, 2000, Section A, p. A06.
  • 6. "Sierra Leone; Government Welcomes War Crimes Court," Africa News, August 16, 2000.
2001

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.

2008

Minimum Implementation

No further developments observed.