Practice Relating to Rule 158. Prosecution of War Crimes
Sierra Leone’s Instructor Manual (2007) states:
IHL principles are the best mankind can get in armed conflict situations … Irrespective of rank, all members of the [Republic of Sierra Leone armed forces] must adhere to these rules religiously to avert prosecution for war crimes at the newly instituted Court Martial.
Sierra Leone’s Geneva Conventions Act (2012) states:
Part 1 – Preliminary
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires –
(i) the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the field, done at Geneva on 12th August 1949;
(ii) the Geneva Convention related to the Amelioration of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of the Armed Forces at Sea, done at Geneva on 12th August 1949;
(iii) the Geneva Convention related to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, done at Geneva on 12th August 1949;
(iv) the Geneva Convention related to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of war, done at Geneva on12th August 1949;
“Protocols” means –
(i) the Protocol, additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I) done on 10th June 1977;
(ii) the Protocol, additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II) done on 10th June 1977.
2. Grave breaches of the Conventions and the First Protocol.
(1) A person of whatever nationality commits an offence if that person, whether within or outside Sierra Leone[,] commits, aids, abets or procures any other person to commit a grave breach specified in –
(a) article 50 of the First Geneva Convention;
(b) article 51 of the Second Geneva Convention;
(c) article 130 of the Third Geneva Convention;
(d) article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention;
(e) paragraph 4 of article 11 or paragraph 2, 3, or 4 of Article 85 of the First Protocol.
(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable on conviction –
(a) in the case of a grave breach which involves the willful killing of a person protected by the relevant Convention or Protocol to imprisonment for life;
(b) in the case of any other grave breach, to imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years and not exceeding twenty five years.
(3) A person who in Sierra Leone commits, abets, aids or procures any other person to commit a breach of the Conventions or Protocols not covered under subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years and not exceeding twenty five years.
(4) A citizen of Sierra Leone who outside Sierra Leone commits or aids, abets or procures the commission by another person of a breach of any of the Conventions or Protocols not covered under subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years and not exceeding 25 years.
(5) Where a person commits an offence under this section outside Sierra Leone, that person may be tried and punished as if the offence was committed in Sierra Leone.
3. Jurisdiction of Courts
(1) The High Court shall have jurisdiction to try an offence committed under section 2.
(2) Act No. 34 of 1961
. A court martial may try a person for an offence which under the Armed Forces of Sierra Leone Act is triable by that court although the offence is also an offence under section 2.
Sierra Leone’s Refugees Protection Act (2007) states:
2. Meaning of “refugee”.
(1) Subject to this section, a person is a refugee for the purposes of this Act, if –
(a) owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, he is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or
(b) not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, he is unable or, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is unwilling to return to it; or
(c) owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, he is compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of origin or nationality; or
(d) he has been considered a refugee under the Arrangements of the 12th May, 1926 and the 30th June, 1928, or under the Conventions of the 28th October, 1933 and the 10th February, 1938, the Protocol of the 14th September, 1939 or the Constitution of the International Refugee Organization; or
(e) he is a member of a class of persons declared under subsection (2) to be refugees.
(4) A person shall cease to be a refugee for the purposes of this Act if –
(a) he has committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity, as defined in any international instrument to which Sierra Leone is a party and which has been drawn up to make provision in respect of such crimes.