Human Rights: Abidjan Peace Agreement

ARTICLE 19

The Parties agree that the basic civil and political liberties which are recognized by the Sierra Leone legal system and are contained in the Declarations and Principles on Human Rights adopted by the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, shall be fully guaranteed and promoted within Sierra Leone society.

These include the right to life and liberty, freedom from torture; the right to a fair trial, freedom of conscience, expression and association, and the right to take part in the governance of one's country.

To foster national reconciliation and ensure the full and unrestricted participation of the RUF/SL in the political process, the RUF/SL shall enjoy:

(i) Freedom of the press and access to the media in order that they may be heard and informed.

(ii) Freedom of association, expression, assembly and the right to mobilize and demonstrate freely, and to communicate politically in order that they may organize effectively and set up appropriate infrastructure.

All political prisoners and prisoners of war, if any, shall be released.

ARTICLE 20

To monitor compliance with the basic rights guaranteed in the present Peace Agreement, as well as to promote human rights education throughout the various sectors of Sierra Leonean society, including schools, the media, the police and the military, an independent National Commission on Human Rights shall be established.

In pursuance of the above, technical and material assistance may be sought from the United Nations Special Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and the People's Rights and other relevant international organizations.

The National Commission on Human Rights shall have the power to investigate human rights violations and to institute legal proceedings where appropriate. Further, a consortium of local human rights groups shall be encouraged to help monitor human rights observance.

ARTICLE 21

The Parties undertake to respect the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.

Implementation History

1996

No Implementation

An independent National Commission on Human Rights was not established. None of the above mentioned reforms related to the improvement of human rights conditions were undertaken in 1996. Amnesty International reports that one week after the peace agreement was signed by the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), more than 150 civilians were killed in the north of the country.1 

  • 1. "Amnesty Says Sierra Leone Violence Persists Despite Peace Pact," Africa News, December 12, 1996.
1997

No Implementation

In January 1997, two months after the peace accord was signed, the SLPP government and Kamajors launched attacks against RUF units in northern Kailahun in violation of the accord. Keen argues that the continued actions of the Kamajors (which also included executions of RUF combatants that attempted to resettle in their home villages) was one of the main reasons for why the RUF rejected the 1996 accord and sided with the AFRC in May 1997.2 In April of 1997, RUF members were engaged in hostage taking.3

In May of 1997, Major Johnny Paul Koroma and his soldiers formed an alliance with RUF troops and toppled Sierra Leone's government. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah fled into Guinea.4

  • 2. David Keen, Conflict and Collusion in Sierra Leone (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005),193-197.
  • 3. "Sierra Leone; Amnesty Calls on RUF to Release Hostages," Africa News, April 30, 1997.
  • 4. "Sierra Leone coup leader claims power," The Independent (London), May 26, 1997, 13.
1998

No Implementation

In 1998, the former government ousted the RUF/AFRC government. RUF and the former government returned to full scale civil war in 1998.5

Coding for this case ceased on December 31, 1998.

  • 5. "Uppsala Conflict Data Program," Uppsala University Department of Peace and Conflict Research, accessed June 3, 2011, www.ucdp.uu.se/database.