Courts of Armed Opposition Groups: Fair Trials or Summary Justice?

Posted: 18 Aug 2009

Date Written: July 2009


Courts of armed opposition groups are a frequent feature of internal armed conflicts. The Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional of El Salvador, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka and Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone all conducted trials in courts they convened. These courts are often criticized for failing to afford fair trial guarantees. This article takes a look at these courts and assesses the criticisms made of them, identifying precisely which due process guarantees are applicable in time of internal armed conflict and how they are interpreted. The article goes on to address the legitimacy of these courts and whether the international community should engage with them, considering some of the advantages and disadvantages engagement brings.

Suggested Citation

Sivakumaran, Sandesh, Courts of Armed Opposition Groups: Fair Trials or Summary Justice? (July 2009). Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol. 7, Issue 3, pp. 489-513, 2009, Available at SSRN: or

Sandesh Sivakumaran (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

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