Human Rights Law Centre

Bridging the Gap - Ensuring Lasting Legacy of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Court for Sierra Leone

In 2002, Sierra Leone emerged from a decade-long, gruesome civil war.  Widespread and systematic attacks on civilians, murder, rape, torture, mutilation, amputation, abduction, forced marriage and conscription of child soldiers left Sierra Leone's society deeply wounded.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up in 2000 as part of the Lomé Peace Accord with the aim of creating an impartial record, documenting the atrocities which occurred during the civil war.  Its final report and recommendations were published in 2004.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was set up jointly in 2002 by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed since 1996.

International engagement in Sierra Leone's transitional justice is reaching its end.  As yet, few rule of law initiatives have followed on from the work of the TRC and SCSL.  Legacy activities have focussed mostly on the completion of the Taylor trial or other outreach activities, but have not explored in depth the TRC and SCSL's findings in order to effectively integrate their legacy at the national level.

Based on an initial needs assessment of Sierra Leone's criminal justice system, this project aims to increase its capacity to operate according to international human rights standards.  Relying upon the findings of both the TRC and SCSL, it will identify best practices of these institutions in the context of Sierra Leone's transitional justice experience and develop a comprehensive integration strategy to be used by judges, prosecutors, lawyers, legal educators and non-governmental organisations for the benefit of the Sierra Leonean people.

The project will produce the following outputs:-

  1.  A brief report outlining the existing capacity, needs and priorities of the national criminal justice system as a first step for examining a comprehensive national legacy project in Sierra Leone.  To this end, consultative meetings will be conducted with national criminal justice stakeholders.
  2. A Best Practice Guide, based on the TRC and SCSL findings, of human rights standards in criminal justice and an analysis of comparable legacy initiatives.
  3. A knowledge transfer exercise for the integration of the Best Practice Guide at the national level.
  4. A final report, which will include an evaluation of the project's impact and identify priority areas for future action.

 Please follow this link to download the Best Practice Guide

Download the Best Practice Guide Flashcards

Project Team

Project Leader:  Professor Olympia Bekou

Project Manager:  Agnes Flues

Senior Project Officer:  Emilie Hunter

Research Consultants:  Milena Castellnou, Nicola Gregory


The project is funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office - Human Rights and Democracy Programme. 


Human Rights Law Centre

School of Law
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 846 8506