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Wednesday, 27 February – 28 February 2024, Residual Special Court of Sierra Leone, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Residual Special Court of Sierra Leone (RSCSL) in collaboration with multiple partners, including the Center for International Law and Policy in Africa (CILPA) hosted a Legacy Conference at their premises in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the 27th and 28th of February 2024. 

More than 250 prominent jurists, diplomats, legal scholars, students, civil society activists, members of the RSCSL Oversight Committee, and other stakeholders from Sierra Leone and abroad gathered to examine the Special Court’s legacy, to share experiences and insights, and to chart a way forward for international justice. 

Keynote speakers included Sierra Leone’s Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Mr. Stephen Mathias. Dr. Jalloh said the old Special Court compound would be developed into a justice sector complex. He reaffirmed the Government of Sierra Leone’s commitment to the Residual Special Court and its mandate. Mr. Mathias spoke about the United Nations’ support to the Court and highlighted its achievements. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan discussed the Special Court’s impact on other tribunals and international criminal justice.

Registrar Binta Mansaray stressed that the purpose of the conference was not to discuss the legacy of the Special Court as such. She noted that the Special Court’s history has been written. “This conference is concerned with the current challenges and conflicts around the world. It is about experience-sharing and looking to the future to see how we will collaborate and coordinate in sharing experiences and solving problems of international justice.”

Some of those who attended the conference came from several “hot spot” countries where violations of international humanitarian law are either ongoing or have taken place in the recent past.

Amb. Beth Van Schaack, Ambassador-a-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Justice Ekaterina Trendafilova, President of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, Sierra Leone’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mohamed Lamin Tarawally, and other distinguished persons, many of whom travelled from three continents, took part in the conference.

During the conference, experts from Sierra Leone, other parts of Africa, Europe and North America participated in six panels to address issues such as judicial capacity building, the SCSL’s hybrid nature and its viability as a model for future tribunals, and the future of international justice.

The experts discussed outreach and witness and victim protection and support, memorialization, preservation and threats to the legacy of the Special Court, transitional justice mechanisms, and the future of residual and investigative mechanisms to carry on the continuing legal obligations of the courts that preceded them.

The conference ended with a tour of the Sierra Leone Peace Museum and Memorial Garden, a legacy of the Residual Special Court, and the Lighting of the Flame of Justice by Justice Renate Winter in front of the Special Court’s courthouse.