Silencing Sexual Violence: Recent Developments in the CDF Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Kendall, Sara and Staggs, Michelle



Prosecutor: After that incident, did anything happen?
Witness: Yes.
Prosecutor: Yes, what happened?
Witness: Kondewa made me into his wife.
This exchange from Trial Chamber I of the Special Court for Sierra Leone does not exist outside the notes of court observers who were present at the public session when it transpired; it has since been expunged from the official court record. The details of this allegation - that the witness was forced to become the “wife” of one of the men on trial - will never be explored, tested or weighed as evidence against the accused. It forms part of a silent group of sexual violence allegations that have been excluded from witness testimony following a series of rulings in one of the court’s three cases currently at trial.

This paper traverses the history of the exclusion of sexual violence evidence in the trial against three members of the Civilian Defence Force, from its initial omissions in the indictments against the accused to its most recent relegation to the realm of forbidden evidentiary territory. It looks at how an initial oversight by the prosecution became the premise upon which the majority of the bench in Trial Chamber I adopted a language of exclusion: all testimony “tainted” by sexual violence was effectively silenced. As a result, nine witnesses in the CDF trial were unable to tell their full stories. This paper argues that they should have been permitted to speak.
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Entry Type : Uncategorized
Uploaded By : International Crimes Strategy Forum (ICSF)
Upload date : Saturday, 3 May 2014

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