''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 10 No 3

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Thursday September 26, 2013 - Charles Taylor loses appeal against sentence for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone. He will now serve fifty years in prison. Victory for the victims and a message to all leaders who would want to tread the same path.

Charles Taylor the former Liberian warlord and President has been sent down to serve his fifty year jail term that was served him after he was found guilty on eleven charges relating to war crimes and sentenced to fifty years in jail in April last year. His defence team appealed the sentence believing it was too harsh for a man in his sixties while the prosecution in its appeal demanded an increase - that Taylor be sent down for 80 (eighty) and not fifty years. The prosecution lost that bid but would be more than satisfied that its team got Charles Taylor convicted for those crimes committed against the people of Sierra Leone. Details of today's ruling are available on the website of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and it is from there that we got this bit - Charles Taylor in court - justice is served as he receives 50 years in jail

SITTING in open session; UNANIMOUSLY; WITH RESPECT TO THE DEFENCE’S GROUNDS OF APPEAL; NOTES that Ground 35 has been withdrawn; ALLOWS Ground 11, in part, REVISES the Trial Chamber‘s Disposition for planning liability under Article 6(1) of the Statute by deleting Kono District under Counts 1-8 and 11, and DISMISSES the remaining Grounds of Appeal;....AFFIRMS the sentence of fifty (50) years imprisonment imposed by the Trial Chamber; ORDERS that this Judgment shall be enforced immediately pursuant to Rule 119 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence; ORDERS, in accordance with Rule 109 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, that Charles Ghankay Taylor remains in the custody of the Special Court for Sierra Leone pending the finalization of arrangements to serve his sentence.

The confirmation of the 50-year jail term has been welcomed by many human rights groups and campaigners. Elise Keppler, Associate Director of the Human Rights Watch International Justice programme reacted -

"Upheld today on appeal, Taylor's conviction sends a powerful message that those at the top can be held to account on the gravest crimes. With the conclusion of the Taylor case and 8 others affiliated with the three main warring factions in Sierra Leone, the Special Court has been a major force in bringing justice for the horrific abuses committed during that country's brutal armed conflict that ended in 2002."
Also - for those following the evolution of international law: "The ruling also reinforces that aiding and abetting can be established where there is a substantial effect--as opposed to a specific direction--on the crimes. A recent controversial ruling at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia required 'specific direction', making it harder to establish liability on aiding and abetting by high-level perpetrators."

This item on the website of the Special Court for Sierra Leone reminds us of the charges - Charles Taylor was tried on an 11-count indictment, alleging (as violations or Article 3 Common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II) acts of terrorism, murder, outrages upon personal dignity, cruel treatment and pillage; (as crimes against humanity) murder, rape, sexual slavery, other inhumane acts and enslavement; (as other serious violation of international humanitarian law) the conscription, enlistment or use of child soldiers.

The BBC's Chris Morris reporting from the Hague has noted the mood change in a Charles Taylor who had always wanted to be believed, a Charles Taylor who spoke with deliberate confidence even as he lied in a number of international media outlets about his support for the RUF and the AFRC in Sierra Leone.

"Charles Taylor listened intently in court, as his appeal against his conviction for war crimes was rejected point by point. Dressed in a dark suit and light yellow tie, he began taking notes in the back of a small desk diary. But he wrote less as it became clear that his appeal was going to be unsuccessful. At one stage, there was a small shake of the head as the chief judge outlined the wide range of Mr Taylor's support for rebel groups in Sierra Leone. He stood to hear a summary of the appeal decision, his hands resting on the desk below him. But there was no other visible display of emotion, even when the judge listed some of the horrific crimes for which he has been convicted, crimes that had 'shocked the conscience of mankind'. Charles Taylor has no further grounds for appeal before t

As one of the surviving victims of the atrocities unleashed on vulnerable, defenceless and terrorised victims stated - "We now need to have compensation for the mindless terror visited upon us" - and we do back the call for the international community to set up a fund that would be administered - not by the AFRC/RUF encrusted set up in Freetown under Ernest Bai Koroma - but by a truly independent international body with no links to the corrupt cabal at State House.

Sunday September 22, 2013 - Literary giant Kofi Awoonor killed in Nairobi murder rampage

The people of Kenya, Africa and indeed the rest of the world are still trying to come to terms with the mindless mayhem and carnage unleashed on shoppers at the Westgate Mall in the capital Nairobi on Saturday. The vicious, shocking and murderous attack was said to have been carried out by the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group with reports that the attack was carried out on Kenyan soil because of the country's involvement in the African Union AMISOM forces trying to stabilise Somalia and are seen by Al-Shaabab as an enemy. A Kenyan police officer carries a baby to safety - Photo NYDailyNews

However our security analyst is of the considered opinion that this attack was not hatched, nor carried out by true Somalis who, never mind what differences they could have with Kenya, would never attack a country they see as a second home, a home from home. She believes that the entire operation was planned and carried out by foreign elements within Al-Shaabab, most likely with strong Al-Quaida connections. She adds - "This latest attack is a wake-up call to the international community that the Somalia security question is no longer an "African solution" problem but that it should focus the minds of all international anti-terror forces to bear on Al-Shaabab. "This shopping mall was targeted because they knew it would have many nationalities visiting and shopping at the time and I would not be surprised to hear of a number of nationalities from Western countries."

Canada says at least two of its nationals are dead including a diplomat Annmarie Desloges. The international news outlet, Al Jazeera reports on the death of a Ghanaian literary figure Kofi Awoonor - "Renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor is among the 68 people confirmed dead so far in an attack by Somali fighters on a Nairobi shopping mall, Ghana's president said. John Dramani Mahama on Sunday said in a statement: "I am shocked to hear the death of Professor Kofi Awoonor in the Nairobi mall terrorist attack. Such a sad twist of fate." Awoonor, 78, was killed and his son wounded at the Westgate mall, Ghana's Deputy Information Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu said. He added that Awoonor's son has been discharged from the hospital.

The Kenyan security forces are said to be making preparations for a final assault on the attackers who are believed to be holed up in one section of the building and are being assisted, at least in an advisory capacity, by Israeli and other Western intelligence sources. The BBC's Will Ross is in Nairobi - "It is extremely tense here as people wait to learn the full horror of this attack. That will only be known once the entire building has been secured. Trucks full of Kenyan soldiers have been driving towards the mall. Eyewitnesses saw some of those troops entering the building in an effort to end this siege. But with the government confirming that hostages are still being held, any move will carry great risk. Here, just 200m from the shopping mall, the Red Cross has set up a medical centre to help the injured, including soldiers, who are being rushed out in ambulances. Relatives are registering the names of their missing loved ones and waiting anxiously for news. An attack by al-Shabab had long been feared. This shopping centre was considered a prime target partly because it is frequented by many different nationalities. This horrific attack has sent this city."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has added his voice to the growing chorus of condemnation of the attack with the UN website stating - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack at a shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and urged the perpetrators to be brought to justice as soon as possible. In a televised statement from the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. Ban said the premeditated act targeting defenceless civilians is “totally reprehensible.”  He extended his condolences to the scores of families of those killed and injured in the attack at Westgate Mall in the Westlands neighbourhood of the capital. In a statement last night, the UN Security Council also strongly condemned the attack and reiterated their determination to combat all forms of terrorism in accordance with their responsibilities under the UN Charter.On the official website of UK Prime Minister David Cameron is this message - "The Prime Minister spoke to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta following the shopping centre attack in Nairobi.

A Downing Street spokesman said: The Prime Minister spoke to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, late this afternoon about the attack at Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi. President Kenyatta updated the Prime Minister on the current situation and explained that Kenyan security forces were bringing the situation under control. The Prime Minister passed on his sincere condolences and assured President Kenyatta that our thoughts were with him and all the people of Kenya at this difficult time. The Prime Minister said we were ready to provide any assistance we could. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague who described the attack as cowardly, brutal and callous today confirmed that three of the dead were British and warned that there could be more bad news (meaning that number could get higher) as events unfold and the final count is known.

The Kenya-based Daily Nation states that among the many now identified as killed is journalist Ruhila Adatia-Sood of the Radio Africa group. Another female journalist who survived the carnage confirmed her death in an interview with the BBC adding that her colleague was pregnant at the time of her untimely death.

September 3/4 1997 - Lest we forget the deliberate murder of civilians - Mabaylla remembered.The original AFRC/RUF Mk 1 leader Johnny Paul Koroma

On 3rd September 1997, the inner core of the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil otherwise known as the beasts, held an unusually long meeting at State House during junta rule. No one knew what the main agenda was for that meeting but by the morning of 4th September, almost everyone in Freetown knew what it was. Junta operatives under the direction of one Johnny Paul Koroma had decided on a murderous mission that would have become their own Trojan horse. The slaughter of more than fifty unarmed civilians as they slept in the Mabaylla area in the east of the capital Freetown and then blaming it on ECOMOG forces led by Nigeria. It was meant to put international pressure on the West African giant to pull its troops from Sierra Leone so that civilians who had rejected and refused the junta would be punished for their failure to recognise the murderous regime. With Nigerian troops out, the armed rapists and murderers would have had a field day in doing what they knew best - arson, looting, murder, rape, amputation, abduction and enslavement. Sixteen years to the day, we pray for the sweet repose of those who perished during and after the murderous onslaught and pray that the Good Lord will give the necessary coping mechanism and comfort to those who survived. Long live the people of Mabaylla. We keep on challenging the smoke and mirrors President at State House to investigate the Mabaylla murders but there's no way he'll even voice such an intention given the fact that many of his close associates and confidantes who were the planners and perpetrators during the AFRC/RUF reign of terror are now safely nestled under his protection at State House.

Thursday August 29, 2013 - Save the Children report on the State of the World's Mothers is out and it paints a grim picture of the survival of babies and mothers all over the world. It is an indictment on health delivery systems in both so-called developing and developed countries. Alas our very own country is again in the bottom rung, never mind the trumpets of deception that is soothing music to the ears of the smoke and mirrors occupant of State House.Sierra Leone again in the bottom rung.The new Save the Children report

"More than 1 million babies die on the first day of life – making the birth day the most dangerous day for babies in nearly every country, rich and poor alike. This is one of the major findings of Save the Children’s 14th annual State of the World’s Mothers report. The findings indicate, as never before, that helping babies survive the first day – and the first week – of life represents the greatest remaining challenge in reducing child mortality and meeting the ambitious Millennium Development Goal of reducing 1990 child mortality rates by two-thirds by 2015."...begins the Executive Summary of the State of the World Mothers Save the Children Report for 2013. The report covering a wide range of countries provides a challenge to all health delivery ministries and organisations to take a good hard look at how they operate, what they offer to this vital arm of humanity and we would hope, that will galvanise governments all over the world into positive action. Sierra Leone finds itself in the bottom 10 of this report and rather than have the government's hired hands polluting the ether with excuses and coming up with inane imaginations, would be charitable and truthful enough to see things in their true perspective and state the truth as it is on the ground. We would suggest the report be read and appreciated, more so when the report offers solutions and the way forward in solving such problems.

We are offering these pieces of advice fully aware that in many an instance, their hired hands, parading as journalists and what have you would be quick to jump on the bandwagon of denial and would try to delve into areas in which they are least competent eg interpreting statistical data when the government was slammed in another report some weeks back. We would advise that in wanting to twist the report to suit the eyes and ears of their paymaster at State House that they heed well the repercussions of their joint enterprise. What this means is that if those controlling the peoples' purse can take a second look at this new report, they would easily see that one ticket and expenses for one member of the many delegations which use tax payers' money to fly out of the country on every opportunity, could be used in saving many lives if such delegations and such overseas visits are drastically cut back so that the poor and unconnected would be saved.


Saturday August 17, 2013 - Corruption scenario revisited. How the Freetown Fire Force became another cash cow with disused fire engines from the scrap yards in Holland becoming "state of the art" equipment in Freetown.Diary of the uncaring. While fire fighters are denied equipment, the APC party police is equipped with weapons of war brought in by the same man linked to uncovered financial malpractices.

Let us take you back to what transpired at one sitting of one of the Commissions of Inquiry that was conducted under the rule of a government whose officials some key APC officials and their offspring and benefactors loathe with quite an undefined passion - the National Provisional Ruling Council, the NPRC, that ended twenty four years of APC anti-people pillage and autocratic rule. Let us take you to a session that brought the spotlight on the Freetown Fire Force then headed by one Alusine Mohamed Kamara and a peek into the myriad of strategies/methods the APC kleptomaniacs could deploy in the frenzied campaign to steal the peoples' resources. There's one Khadi mentioned in the report and wonder whether it could be the same individual involved in that multi-million dollar war weapons deal. But back to Freetown and the need for an efficient fire fighting and how fire engines bought for keeping residents of Freetown safe from the ravages of fire were instead deployed far from the city and its environs. Many years on, the APC refuses to learn anything from the past apart from securing ill-gotten wealth from the prying eyes of journalists and the public. We now know, thanks to a photo story by the BBC that even in this century, the 21st, the only equipped modern fire engine the capital could boast of is not at the garage of the Freetown Fire Force, but tenured to the office and home of the smoke and mirrors President, the one and only incorruptible, honest and best leader of the world (as his hired and shameless praise singers would want us to believe) - one Ernest Bai Koroma, DScx5, Phdx4 etc etc. Here's a part of the Commission's report -

"Mr Kamara revealed that at the time the PZ building at Wilberforce Street was burning down, he and his Fire engines were in Binkolo supplying water to the APC Convention held there.  Two vehicles were up there at the Convention. Mr Kamara explained that his vehicles were requested to proceed and spray the roads with water ahead of the former Head of State  and his Ministers when they paid visits to Binkolo not just for Conventions. He once expressed that his vehicles were not fit to travel to the provinces. A reply came that he might very well lose his job for refusing to comply with instructions. He therefore performed these duties under duress. Asked who actually conveyed these directives to him, Mr Kamara said it was Mr E T Kamara." The E T Kamara mentioned was the APC one-time Secretary-General and who was a party to key decisions aimed at furthering their ambition to make the APC the only political entity in Sierra Leone. He was paid the salary of a State Minister from State coffers.


Wednesday July 10, 2013 - Survey by Transparency International shows that corruption is not only on the rise, but that our dear country Sierra Leone is now top of the world in corruption when it comes to that delicate matter of bribes. And as if that is not enough, apologists of the smoke and mirrors administration have been sinking deeper as they try to wriggle out of the quagmire of corruption.State House car used in the kidnap of an Irish businessman in Freetown.Anti Corruption Chief Kamara can only huff and puff. He would not dare bring any of the President's men and women to book. He holds his office at the pleasure of the smoke and mirrors occupant of State House.

It could have been quite amusing had it not been for the sad sorry depicted as operatives paid out of the coffers of the state go beyond the pale in trying to rubbish the recent Corruption Perception Report published by the organisation Transparency International, TI. Suddenly this organisation has become "unreliable, lying, anti-government" but when this same organisation gave the country a notch or two upwards in one report, they were singing the organisation's praise to high heavens "for recognising the glorious efforts of our dear leader and great helmsman Dr Dr Dr Chairman Ernest Bai Koroma". We would not be surprised if they are to accuse TI of being a fully paid up member of the SLPP.

The recent report has advised that "Governments must prioritise the fight against corruption" and if you ask the leader of AFRC MkII, he would be the first to state that Sierra Leone has "the most rigid and effective anti-corruption law" in the whole of Africa if not the world. True - but with great flaws. The President decides who the Chairman should be and he fixes his/her salary, as the Anti Corruption Commission headed by one Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara is well and truly a compromised institution dancing to the tune of the piper at State House, the smoke and mirrors exponent who presides over his vast empire of corruption. Here's what the report reminds us of - "The poor record of some African nations on bribery stands out. Sierra Leone has the highest number of respondents admitting to having paid a bribe - 84% - and seven out of nine of the countries with the highest reported bribery rate are in sub-Saharan Africa. Corruption amounts to a dirty tax, and the poor and most vulnerable are its primary victims. So, how do we counter the effects of public sector corruption?"

So rather than getting all worked up over this report, the government should announce a new determination, a new commitment and a willingness to go by what the 2008 Anti Corruption Act  which if carried out to the letter would go to a large extent in minimising dishonesty, thieving and lying in the affairs of government. What has the government done in addressing the issues raised by the Auditor-General in her report of government financial malpractices in 2011? Sweet nothing. What has the government done in addressing the numerous cases of thieving and financial impropriety as revealed in all our missions abroad? Again sweet nothing!! Here's what the report advises - "Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all aspects of decision-making. They must prioritise better rules on lobbying and political financing, make public spending and contracting more transparent, and make public bodies more accountable. After a year with a global focus on corruption, we expected more governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index results demonstrate that there are still many societies and governments that need to give a much higher priority to this issue."

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