Truth or Reconciliation Mechanism: Lomé Peace Agreement

ARTICLE VI COMMISSION FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF PEACE

1. A Commission for the Consolidation of Peace (hereinafter termed the CCP), shall be established within two weeks of the signing of the present Agreement to implement a post-conflict programme that ensures reconciliation and the welfare of all parties to the conflict, especially the victims of war. The CCP shall have the overall goal and responsibility for supervising and monitoring the implementation of and compliance with the provisions of the present Agreement relative to the promotion of national reconciliation and the consolidation of peace.

2. The CCP shall ensure that all structures for national reconciliation and the consolidation of peace already in existence and those provided for in the present Agreement are operational and given the necessary resources for realizing their respective mandates. These structures shall comprise:

(i) the Commission for the Management of Strategic Resources, National Reconstruction and Development;
(ii) the Joint Monitoring Commission;
(iii) the Provincial and District Ceasefire Monitoring Committees;
(iv) the Committee for the Release of Prisoners of War and Non-Combatants;
(v) the Committee for Humanitarian Assistance;
(vi) the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration;
(vii) the National Commission for Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction;
(viii) the Human Rights Commission; and
(ix) the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

3. The CCP shall have the right to inspect any activity or site connected with the implementation of the present Agreement.

4. The CCP shall have full powers to organize its work in any manner it deems appropriate and to appoint any group or sub-committee which it deems necessary in the discharge of its functions.

5. The Commission shall be composed of the following members:

(i) Two representatives of the civil society;
(ii) One representative each named by the Government, the RUF and the Parliament.

6. The CCP shall have its own offices, adequate communication facilities and secretarial support staff.

7. Recommendations for improvements or modifications shall be made to the President of sierra Leone for appropriate action. Likewise, failures of the structures to perform their assigned duties shall also be brought to the attention of the President.

8. Disputes arising out of the preceding paragraph shall be brought to the Council of Elders and Religious Leaders for resolution, as specified in Article VIII of the present Agreement.

9. Should Protocols be needed in furtherance of any provision in the present Agreement, the CCP shall have the responsibility for their preparation.

10. The mandate of the CCP shall terminate at the end of the next general elections.

ARTICLE XXVI HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

1. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission shall be established to address impunity, break the cycle of violence, provide a forum for both the victims and perpetrators of human rights violations to tell their story, get a clear picture of the past in order to facilitate genuine healing and reconciliation.

2. In the spirit of national reconciliation, the Commission shall deal with the question of human rights violations since the beginning of the Sierra Leonean conflict in 1991.

This Commission shall, among other things, recommend measures to be taken for the rehabilitation of victims of human rights violations.

3. Membership of the Commission shall be drawn from a cross-section of Sierra Leonean society with the participation and some technical support of the International Community.

This Commission shall be established within 90 days after the signing of the present Agreement and shall, not later than 12 months after the commencement of its work, submit its report to the Government for immediate implementation of its recommendations.

Implementation History

1999

No Implementation

The Lomé Agreement of July 7, 1999 included a provision for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

On July 19, 1999, the European Commission urged the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to support a fair and equitable justice system in the country.1

Nothing concrete took place in 1999 in terms of establishing such a Commission.

  • 1. "Sierra Leone; E.U. Welcomes the Establishment of truth and reconciliation commission," Africa News, July 20, 1999.
2000

Minimum Implementation

The Parliament of Sierra Leone approved the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2000 on February 10, 2000. The Act provided an institutional means of establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in line with Article
XXVI of the Lomé Peace Agreement.2

2001

Intermediate Implementation

As of the end of 2001, the TRC was not established.

2002

Intermediate Implementation

The inauguration ceremony of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the swearing-in of its commissioners took place on July 5, 2002. Seven commissioners (four nationals and three internationals) were sworn in. The Commission was expected to submit its report in one year, or, at most, eighteen months, from the day of its establishment. As outlined by the TRC Act of 2000, its objectives were to (a) create an impartial historical record of the violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict from the beginning of the conflict in 1991 to the signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement in July 1999; (b) to address impunity; (c) to respond to the needs of the victims; (d) to promote healing and reconciliation; and, (e) to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered.3

The commission started its work promptly after its establishment.

  • 3. "Sierra Leone; Truth And Reconciliation Commission Inaugurated Today," Africa News, July 5, 2002.
2003

Intermediate Implementation

The TRC hearings held two weeks of public hearings with individual witnesses in Freetown, starting on April 14, 2003. The TRC also started both public and closed hearings in the districts. There was one week of hearings in each district.

Victims of sexual violence who did not want to testify in public, all children below the age of 18, and perpetrators or ex-combatants who did not want to talk openly gave testimonies during closed hearings. The Commission guaranteed the anonymity of those witnesses. For those who testified on sexual violence, the Commission was composed of female commissioners and female staff members only.

A counselor assisted every witness before, during, and after the hearing.4

  • 4. "Sierra Leone; The Truth And Reconciliation Commission Hearings Summary," Africa News, July 1, 2003).
2004

Intermediate Implementation

The TRC was unable to finish its task within the prescribed eighteen months. The final report of the Commission was given to the President of Sierra Leone on October 5, 2004 and presented to the United Nations Security Council on October 27, 2004. Howard Varney, Chief Investigator for the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission, produced an overview, findings, and recommendations of the report, which was released on November 12, 2004. The final report is over 5,000 pages long and includes the names of responsible persons. Versions for secondary schools and children were also published.

Findings:

The Commission found that the central causes of the war in Sierra Leone were corruption and overwhelming executive control. Colonialism and the subversion of traditional systems also had an effect.
While the majority of victims were adult males, perpetrators also singled out women and children. Forced displacements, abductions, arbitrary detentions, killings, plundering, and looting were the most common violations.

The leadership of the RUF, the AFRC, the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) and the Civil Defense Force (CDF) were responsible for human rights violations against civilians. The leaders of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and the RUF, Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh, respectively, played pivotal roles in the conflict. The RUF was responsible for the highest count of human rights violations in the conflict, followed by the AFRC, the SLA, and the CDF. Successive governments abused the death penalty and misused emergency powers against dissidents.

Recommendations:

The Commission’s recommendations are legally binding. The Commission’s main recommendations concerned the fight against corruption, the creation of a new Bill of Rights developed in a participatory constitutional process, the independence of the judiciary, strengthening the role of Parliament, stricter control over the security forces, decentralization and enhanced economic autonomy for the provinces, a governmental commitment to deliver basic public services, and the inclusion of youth and women in political decision-making.

The Commission recommended the establishment of a reparations program and an implementing agency, in line with an existing suggestion in the Lomé Agreement.

Subsequent Developments:

Reforms:

In November 2007 the United Nations and Sierra Leone's Human Rights Commission urged the government to produce a completion strategy for the implementation of the TRC's recommendations without further delay.
In August 2004, following the recommendation in both the 1999 Lomé agreement and the TRC’s final report, the parliament enacted the National Human Rights Commission Act (PDF-44KB).. It has de facto taken on the role as the Follow-up Committee.

Prosecutions:

The TRC co-existed with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which had a responsibility to try “those with the greatest responsibility” for international crimes during the conflict.

Reparations:

The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) was designated by the government to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Beginning in August 2008, the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations implemented a one-year project aimed at building the institutional capacity to implement the TRC recommendations related to reparations. This project received $3 million USD from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. A total of 29,733 victims have been registered. As of early 2010, amputees, war wounded and victims of sexual violence received a $100 USD interim payment. The NaCSA has started partial implementation of other reparative measures, such as educational support and health care. In 2009,the government launched the Victims’ Trust Fund, which is provided for in the Lomé Peace Agreement of 1999 and the TRC Act of 2000.5

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2006

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2007

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2008

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2009

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.