Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Bartram S. Brown
Chapter 10: The hybrid experience of the Special Court for Sierra Leone
Clare da Silva INTRODUCTION The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) is one of a discrete number of ‘hybrid’ tribunals that have been established in recent years. As the name suggests, it was envisioned as a Court for Sierra Leone, established in response to the government’s request, taking into account the special needs and requirements of Sierra Leone and located in the country where the crimes occurred. It is referred to as a ‘hybrid’ or ‘mixed’ tribunal because it was established through joint action of the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone. The SCSL was conceived as an alternative model to the ad hoc tribunals that were created by decision of the United Nations Security Council.1 This chapter will provide an overview of the conflict, the establishment of the SCSL, its structure, the trials and an analysis of the jurisprudence and legacy of the Court. It also addresses the relationship between the Court and the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which operated simultaneously for a brief period. While it is too early to reach definitive conclusions on this ‘hybrid’ model, or the overall contribution of the SCSL, it is clear that it provides a number of important lessons for future mechanisms of international justice. Many of these lessons stem not from the model of the hybrid tribunal itself but from the practical application of this model in Sierra Leone. This chapter draws the conclusion that, in principle, the hybrid structure created a unique opportunity for the...
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