Speaking further at his Upper Brook Street office in Freetown, Mr. Tommy maintained that on June 22, the legal team filed an application with the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone under Section 28 of the Constitution seeking redress for violations of the constitutional rights of nine Sierra Leoneans who are the plaintiffs in the suit.
“This is a truly remarkable effort to address the impunity gap that still exists for years of human rights violations during the war years in Sierra Leone. The plaintiffs including rape and torture victims and mothers of civilians who were summarily executed, have waited for nearly twenty years to see the first genuine effort aimed at giving them a sense of closure. I am truly happy for them but at the same time excited that this matter will be heard by the highest court in Sierra Leone,” CARL Executive Director Ibrahim Tommy said.
He commended the bravery and determination of the plaintiffs to seek justice and that he is confident justice will be done. He however called for full-scale accountability process in relation to breaches of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed against the civilian population in that period.
Responding to questions from the press, Mr. Tommy disclosed that each of the plaintiffs is demanding compensation of $100,000 apiece and that it is the Government of Sierra Leone which they are giving the task to apart from paying them compensation to also order an investigation and prosecution of all perpetrators in ECOMOG at the time in question.
According to Mr. Tommy, there is nowhere in the past war history in Sierra Leone where ECOMOG troops were called in to testify either at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) or at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He informed journalists that the issue at stake has to do with human rights abuse which he said should not be politicized because any sober leader anywhere in the world will not take pride in openly or absently permitting or acquiescing human rights violations.
He hoped that the Supreme Court would look into this landmark case as soon as chance permits, noting that the plaintiffs and their legal team are hopeful that after the 21 days notice action would be taken. He added that it is also possible for the government of Sierra Leone to approach the plaintiffs for an out-of-court settlement if it wishes to and if the plaintiffs allow it. He noted however that the tricky part would be whether the plaintiffs would be ready and willing to forgive and forget the violations they suffered and settle for compensation and allow the perpetrators to go scot-free.