Sierra Leone. After UNAMSIL disarmed the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) rebel movement and government-loyal militias, totaling about 47,000 men, the ten-year civil war was declared in January. According to Countryaah website, national day of Sierra Leone is every April 27. Sierra Leone signed an agreement with the UN to set up a special court in Freetown for war crimes committed since the end of 1996, when the RUF broke a peace agreement.
Judges were appointed by both the UN and the government, with the UN-appointed judges in the majority. The government also decided to appoint a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose mission was to investigate the many abuses of the war, analyze the violence and contribute to healing the deep social trauma. In addition to killing nearly 200,000 people during the war, tens of thousands of women were subjected to sexual abuse. Thousands of children were robbed and forced to become soldiers. Thousands of people were mutilated.
RUF leader Foday Sankoh was brought to trial in March. The case was repeatedly updated and expected to be transferred to the UN Court in 2003. He was charged with having his bodyguards shot to death about twenty people who demonstrated outside his home in May 2000.
Already during the first months after the end of the war, the atmosphere changed significantly in Sierra Leone. As people began to trust peace and gained new faith in the future, the relocation to shattered villages quickly increased. Fields that lay in the trough were put back into use. Approaches to reconciliation appeared in many places.
In May, general elections were conducted under peaceful and orderly forms. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah got just over 70% of the vote in the presidential election and his Sierra Leone People’s Party got a superior majority in parliament. RUF participated as the RUFP party but was only supported by about 2%.
The successful peace process released large sums of aid. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank wrote off $ 950 million of Sierra Leone’s foreign debt, also intended as a counterpart to the government’s efforts to improve government finances. Growth was estimated at 6–7% for 2002 and inflation was kept at a manageable 5%.
The UN extended its mandate for UNAMSIL in September but decided to gradually reduce its strength.
The population includes groups of darker black color, such as the Mande, etc., and groups of lighter colored Fula, coming from the interior. The Negroes of the interior are mostly pagans, but the Susu and a great many Fula are Mohammedans and a large part of the population of Freetown is nominally Christian. The secret societies of the pagan tradition, however, remain a notable feature. The Negro Kru keep themselves very aloof from others. The government has planted 496 km. of railways with a gauge of 76 cm. These railways currently constitute a burden on income. In addition to the capital Freetown, joined by shipping lines with Europe, Falaba (about 6000 residents), In the territory of the protectorate, has some importance.
The government is that of a British crown colony, with a governor appointing an executive council, which is assisted by a legislative council chaired by the governor. He appoints 11 official members and 3 other members are elected by the population of the colony; then there are five other unofficial members and 3 among the very principal leaders of the protectorate. In the colony there is the common English law, modified according to local needs. The protectorate is divided into two provinces, each of which is headed by a European provincial commissioner Indigenous leaders have courts with jurisdiction over many issues, but the most important affairs are entrusted to the district commissar’s district courts or the provincial commissioner’s court.
The first attempts at colonization failed and in 1791 a company was formed which in 1807 ceded its rights to the British crown. About 1872 the region of Falaba passed under English protection and the protectorate was delimited by an agreement with France (1893-95). In 1898 a serious revolt broke out against the English and the Europeanized Africans. Slavery was gradually abolished and is now said to be extinct. A number of Europeanized Africans have played an important role in the government, and one college is affiliated with the English University of Durham.
Until recently, Sierra Leone’s products were mainly vegetables: palm oil, palm kernels, kola nuts, ginger and piassava; but in 1926 deposits of platinum and hematite were discovered and in 1928 also of gold. The exploitation of these fields has begun. Imports consist mainly of manufactured items of cotton, coal and tobacco; the regulations enacted have reduced the import of alcoholic beverages to minimum proportions.