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glossary of terms:



Abductions and forced labor - The abduction of civilians by the AFRC/RUF was commonplace. People of all ages were abducted, but young men, women, and girls and boys were preferred targets. The forced labor included work in diamond mines captured by the rebels.


Many people captured by the AFRC/RUF who escaped or were released testified to Human Rights Watch that they were forced to “carry loads” and perform other tasks. The civilians were collected or called upon individually to transport property looted by the fighters. They prepared food for the soldiers and performed any task required of them to contribute to meeting the daily needs of the soldiers.

From the Human Rights Watch report, Human Rights Abuses Committed by Members of the AFRC/RUF.
Acts of terrorism - The term terrorism has no universally agreed-upon definition. Recurring themes include violence with a political or social purpose, an attempt to intimidate, and directing attacks on civilians and other noncombatants. Terrorism is more than simple violence that requires only two parties, an aggressor and a victim. Terrorism needs a third party, who might be intimidated by what happened to the victim.


Acts often described as terrorism have been banned by treaties on international humanitarian law (IHL) and treaties establishing international crimes. These include the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and its two Additional Protocols of 1977. They outlaw terrorism during international and internal armed conflict, insofar as terrorism is understood to mean attacks directed against civilians. Although the term terrorism is often understood to refer to acts by groups that are not part of the State, an important category of terrorist acts is those carried out or sponsored by a State (directly or indirectly), or implicitly sanctioned by a State even when its own police or military forces are not involved, such as in the use of  death squads. 

From the Crimes of War article, Terrorism by Rich Mkhondo.
AFRC - Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (a group of rogue army units who aligned themselves to the Revolutionary United Front), also referred to as "Junta", "SLA" and "ex-SLA".
APC- All People's Congress
Attacks on UNAMSIL personnel - On May 1, 2000 in Makeni, Sierra Leone, RUF militants kidnapped at least 20 members of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) and surrounded and opened fire on a UNAMSIL facility, according to press reports.
From the U.S. Department of State report, Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2001: A Brief Chronology.
CDF - Civil Defense Forces
Collective punishments - Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishments are a war crime. Article 33 of the Fourth Convention states: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed,” and “collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”


By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings carried out in the two world wars.. In the First World War, Germans executed Belgian villagers in retribution for resistance activity. In World War II, Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance. The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resort to “intimidatory measures to terrorize the population” in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices “strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.”  

From the Crimes of War article, Collective Punishment by Daoud Kuttab.
Crimes against humanity - According to the International Criminal Court, crimes against humanity include crimes such as the extermination of civilians, enslavement, torture, rape, forced pregnancy, deportation, persecution on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds, and enforced disappearances-but only when they are part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population. The "widespread or systematic" qualification for crimes against humanity is very important, as it provides a higher threshold and differentiates it from random acts of violence-such as rape, murder, or even torture-that could be carried out, even by soldiers in uniform, but which may not actually qualify as crimes against humanity.
ECOMOG - Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group
ECOWAS -  Economic Community of West African States
Ethnic Cleansing - Literal translation of the Serbo-Croat term 'etnicko ciscenje', which was coined by Serbian fighters in Bosnia and used in mass media reports as early as 1991. The term was most often used in the final phase of combat, to describe taking total control of the conquered territory. According to the U.S. State Department, ethnic cleansing generally entails the systematic and forced removal of members of one ethnic group by another group in order to change (or “cleanse”) the ethnic composition of a region. It includes:  
1. Forced expulsions
2. Looting and Burning
3. Detentions
4. Summary Execution
5. Rape
6. Violations of Medical Neutrality
7. Identity Cleansing
Genocide - According to the International Criminal Court, genocide is defined as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
1. Killing members of the group
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
Looting and burning -  Witnesses, particularly from the eastern suburbs of Kissy, Wellington, and Calaba Town observed pro-government CDF-Kamajor fighters looting property from the homes of civilians who had fled  the fighting. Thousands of civilians moved from the eastern areas to take shelter in the homes of relatives and in camps of displaced people, leaving entire neighborhoods largely unoccupied. Witnesses described the CDF-Kamajors going into these areas ostensibly to search and secure them, but then leaving with bundles of clothes, electrical items, radios, and other items. Once civilians reoccupied their homes, the looting decreased significantly.
From the Human Rights Watch Report:. Human Rights abuses commited by ECOMOG, Sierra Leonean Defense forces and police. 
NPFL -  National Patriotic Front of Liberia
OAU -  Organization of African Unity
OFR -  Operation Focus Relief - First announced by President Clinton in 2000. Intended to provide military training and equipment to African battalions for peace keeping operations in Sierra Leone. Lasted from May 2001 to August 2001.
OHCHR - Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Physical violence - Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons.  
From the Special Court of Sierra Leone indictment of Foday Sankoh.
RUF - Revolutionary United Front.  The main rebel group led by Foday Sankoh.  Special Court prosecutors alleged the RUF was founded in Libya in the late 1980s under the patronage of Muammar Gaddafi.  The organization had only a vague political platform, nominally committed to ending poverty and government corruption. 
SCSL - Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Established in 2002 through a treaty between the United Nations and the government of Sierra Leone.  The SCSL is the world’s first mixed or “hybrid” court.  A similar tribunal is being planned for Cambodia.
Sexual violence – According to human rights groups, throughout Sierra Leone’s nine year conflict there was widespread and systematic sexual violence against women and girls including individual and gang rape, sexual assault with objects such as firewood, umbrellas and sticks, and sexual slavery. In thousands of cases, sexual violence  preceded and followed  the abduction of women and girls and forced bondage to male combatants in slavery-like conditions often accompanied by forced labor. These sexual crimes are most often characterized by extraordinary brutality and are frequently preceded or followed by violent acts against other family members. The rebel factions use sexual violence as a weapon to terrorize, humiliate, punish and ultimately control the civilian population into submission.
From the Human Rights Watch World Report 2001: Sierra Leone
SLA - Sierra Leone Army
SLP - Sierra Leone Police
TRC - Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Established in 2001 to work in coordination with the Special Court.  The commission’s mandate is to establish a history of the conflict and deal with cases and suspects covered by a national
UNAMSIL -  United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone
UNDP - United Nations Development Program
Unlawful killings - Extermination, mass murder of civilian men, women and children, carried out primarily to terrorize the civilian population and punish it for failure to provide sufficient support to the RUF.
From the Special Court of Sierra Leone indictment of Foday Sankoh.
UNOMSIL- United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone
Use of child soldiers -  While the employment of children in war has occurred for millennia,  in recent years the number of children bearing arms  has increased dramatically. The UN Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, estimated that in 1995 and 1996 alone, 250,000 children were serving either in government armies or in opposition forces.


The 1998 Rome Statute for an International Criminal Court lists as a war crime conscription or enlistment of children under the age of fifteen into a State’s armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities.


The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), (which the United States does not recognize) defines a child as a person below the age of eighteen, but sets fifteen as a minimum age for going to war.

From the Crimes of War article Child Soldiers by Anna Cataldi
War crimes - According to the International Criminal Court, war crimes include grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other serious violations of the laws and customs that can be applied in international armed conflict, and in armed conflict "not of an international character", as listed in the Statute, when they are committed as part of a plan or policy or on a large scale. These may include, but are not limited to:  
1. Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment
2. Collective punishments
3. Taking of hostages
4. Acts of terrorism
5. Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, rape, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault
6. Pillage
7. The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples
8. Threats to commit any of the foregoing acts.

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