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Cablegate: Un/Sierra Leone Special Court: Legacy Project

VZCZCXRO7091
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA RUEHTRO
DE RUCNDT #0373/01 1151546
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241546Z APR 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4163
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 1038
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 9021

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000373

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNSC KJUS KDEM PGOV SL XA
SUBJECT: UN/SIERRA LEONE SPECIAL COURT: LEGACY PROJECT
CONSULTANT AMBASSADOR MELROSE (RET.) BRIEFS MANAGEMENT
COMMITTEE

1. SUMMARY: Former U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone Joe
Melrose (Ret.), currently serving as a consultant to the
Sierra Leone Special Court on legacy issues, briefed members
of the Special Court Management Committee on April 22
regarding possible uses of the Court facilities in Freetown
once the trials have been completed. Basing his initial
analysis on a March 8-14 trip to Freetown and his meetings
with various Sierra Leonean Government officials, Melrose
suggested that the Court building and several adjacent
structures could be used simultaneously for different
purposes, including the rental of certain office space to
various UN agencies or NGOs to generate revenue to offset at
least part of the approximately 750,000 USD in annual costs
needed to maintain the Court complex. Sierra Leone
Ambassador Kanu indicated that the GOSL has not, as yet,
expressed its preference for the Court's eventual use,
pending its careful analysis of the options that Melrose has
identified. Options Melrose presented may include use of the
Court by ECOWAS, the AU or the ICC; conversion of adjacent
buildings to house the Special Court's archives accessible to
researchers and scholars; establishment of a transitional
justice or rule of law center; and/or creation of a legal
training center or law school. END SUMMARY.


MULTIPLE USES,
IDEALLY SELF-
SUSTAINING
--------------

2. Given the historic hybrid nature of the Special Court and
the widespread perception of the Court's symbolic legacy of
addressing the terrible atrocities committed in Sierra Leone,
Melrose suggested that the future disposition of the Court
site had special significance not just for Sierra Leoneans
but for many in the region. Melrose said the ideal future
use of the site would incorporate international, regional and
domestic purposes, while at the same time preserving the
historical value of the Court's numerous achievements. This
could be done by considering various uses of the Court
building itself and the adjacent structures. However, a key
obstacle will be the high annual overhead costs to maintain
the property - approximately 750,000 USD to pay for fuel,
replacement parts and maintenance of the generators needed to
supply a constant flow of electricity in a city where a
reliable source of electrical power is a luxury.

3. For this reason, Melrose said he thought it would be
important to use at least part of the Court site to generate
revenue by renting the offices now occupied by the Prosecutor
(OTP) to UN agencies operating in Sierra Leone, or to NGOs.
The income derived from such rentals could then be used to
offset at least partially the high annual maintenance costs
for the property. At the same time, the detention facility,
if not employed to house prisoners convicted by the Special
Court, could be used as a prison for Sierra Leoneans aged 18
to 24 who have been convicted of crimes and who otherwise
presently lack a facility of their own. There would be no
reason, Melrose argued, to delay efforts to rent the OTP
offices once the trial phase of the RUF case was completed
later in 2008.

4. Melrose indicated that the Registrar's Office likely
would have to be maintained for a certain period of time to
address residual Court matters and to oversee the safe
storage and cataloguing of Court archives. Ideally, the
Court's records would be made accessible to researchers and
scholars, and could be combined with documents from Sierra
Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The office now
housing the Court's Outreach section might serve as an
appropriate area to safeguard the records, recognizing that
climate and temperature controls would have to be installed
to ensure proper preservation of the documents.

5. As to the Court building itself, Melrose reminded
Committee members that it contained state-of-the-art
capabilities with computers, closed-circuit television and
full interpretation facilities - and that the only Court is
the only one of its kind in West Africa. One possibility was
to use the Court to deal not only with Sierra Leone criminal
matters, but also to resolve land disputes and/or as a
commercial arbitration court. The International Criminal
Court (ICC) also might be interested in establishing a
facility in Africa through use of the Special Court
structure. Although the ECOWAS Court of Justice has a
permanent base in Abuja, Nigeria, Melrose said it often met
in other neighboring states. The Special Court could serve
as its alternate location.

USUN NEW Y 00000373 002 OF 002

6. Melrose said another key future use of the Court complex
could be as a legal training center, perhaps partially
sustained through partnerships with law schools in the U.S.
or Europe. Sierra Leone Ambassador Kanu, noting that the
GOSL has yet not taken a firm position on the future
disposition of the Court site, proposed that the Court could
serve as an African university to train African criminal
lawyers. Nigerian representative Angela Nworgu said it would
be important to incorporate a Sierra Leonean component and
identity to whatever future use is made of the Court site.
UK representative Simon Thomas warned that future financial
support for whatever option was chosen might prove difficult,
since many governments, including HMG, would likely be
anxious to shift funding to economic development projects in
Sierra Leone once the Special Court's work had been
completed. It would be helpful if Melrose could identify in
his future reports possible sources of funding for whatever
use is made of the Court site.

PROPOSALS AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
PLANNED FOR THE
FALL
---------------

7. Melrose indicated that he planned to return to Sierra
Leone in the coming weeks for further review of options
governing disposition of the Special Court premises. He
promised to keep the Committee informed, most likely in late
August-early September, and to link his ongoing efforts to
those being pursued in connection with Special Court residual
issues.

Khalilzad

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