The Gender Jurisprudence of the Special Court for Sierra Leone: Progress in the Revolutionary United Front Judgments
26 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2011
Date Written: November 21, 2010
In March 2009, Trial Chamber I of the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued its judgment in Prosecutor v. Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao, known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) case. The appeals judgment was rendered on October 26, 2009. The RUF trial judgment brought the first-ever convictions within an international or internationalized tribunal for the crimes against humanity of sexual slavery and forced marriage (as an inhumane act), which were confirmed by the Appeals Chamber. This article argues that more attention should be paid to the contributions of the RUF judgments to gender-sensitive interpretations of international crimes. The article begins by highlighting how the RUF judgments addressed three specific prohibited acts: rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage. The article then turns to the RUF Trial Chamber’s consideration of the war crime of committing acts of terrorism. In a significant analysis, the Trial Chamber described the RUF’s gendered, systematic use of rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage to break down familial and social bonds so as to create an overarching atmosphere of terror within the civilian population in RUF-held territory. Finally, this article draws attention to the many ways in which the RUF judgments acknowledge the intersectionality of gender-based crimes. Specifically, it notes how the judgments demonstrate that gender-based crimes often intersect with other crimes, including the crime against humanity of murder and the war crime of committing acts of terrorism. The judgments also illustrate how gender-based crimes such as sexual slavery and forced marriage can intersect with each other. This article concludes that the RUF judgments are notable additions to the annals of gender jurisprudence.
Keywords: Special Court for Sierra Leone, Revolutionary United Front, RUF, rape, forced marriage, sexual slavery, gender
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