Effective, Efficient and Fair? An Inquiry into the Investigative Practices of the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Tuyl, Penelope Van



This report began with a series of troubling insights into Prosecution investigative protocol at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (the Special Court or SCSL). During the summer 2007 trial session of the Prosecutor v. Sesay, Kallon, and Gbao, Trial Chamber I called a voir dire to determine the admissibility of post-arrest statements made by the first accused, Issa Sesay, during eleven days of custodial interviews in March and April of 2003. During the voir dire, documentary evidence and Prosecution witnesses confirmed, among other things, that for days immediately following his arrest, Mr. Sesay was isolated in Prosecution custody, questioned at length outside the presence of counsel, offered the prospect of an insider deal without fully understanding the charges against him, and subjected to various forms of off-the-record pressure and inducement.3 The deeper the Court inquired into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Sesay’s arrest and interrogation, the more evidence of irregularities it revealed. These revelations were compounded by the defensive, evasive, and internally inconsistent testimony of senior investigators, through which they impeached their own credibility. When taken together and considered alongside the testimony of the accused, the voir dire proceedings raised some serious questions about the work quality and oversight provisions maintained within this powerful section of the Special Court.

The voir dire offered a rare opportunity for outside observers to scrutinize the OTP’s internal operations and to judge how well this particular institutional model serves the fair, efficient, and effective administration of justice. This report seizes upon that opportunity by using public court filings, insights from past and present OTP personnel, and the official record of the voir dire to craft a limited analysis of one section within the OTP—the Investigations Section.
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Entry Type : Uncategorized
Uploaded By : International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF)
Upload date : Saturday, 3 May 2014

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