Special Court for Sierra Leone: The First Convictions

  • Julie McBrideEmail author


The turning point in the criminalisation of child recruitment occurred in Sierra Leone in 2004, with the first jurisprudential recognition of the existence of the crime. The Special Court for Sierra Leone was the first international tribunal to address the crime of child recruitment and thus provides a unique forum in which to examine the application and limits of the crime. There is now an emerging jurisprudence on the crime of child recruitment, and it was in Freetown where the first tenuous steps were made. The chapter examines the judgment in the first convictions for child soldier recruitment, Prosecutor v Brima, Kamara and Kanu (The AFRC Case) and the judgment and appeal in Prosecutor v Fofana and Kondewa (The CDF Case). The AFRC case represents the first occasion that an international tribunal was faced with this crime, thus representing a fascinating stage in its development, which reveals the full extent of its inherent challenges. The CDF case raises the critical issue of the place of culture—specifically on the weight to be attributed to tribal traditions—in the development of this crime. The issues and challenges faced by the tribunal in its deliberations are examined. Finally, the contribution that the Special Court has made in the development of the crime is assessed, notably its approach towards ascertaining the scope of ‘enlistment’ and ‘active participation’, as well as the appropriate standard of mens rea to be applied.


Armed Conflict Appeal Chamber Rome Statute Trial Chamber Military Training 
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Copyright information

© T. M. C. Asser press, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the author 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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