(translation of statement made in French)
I too wish to thank Ms. Renate Winter, President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Mr. Stephen Rapp, Prosecutor of the Court, for their work. The gravity of the crimes perpetrated during the civil war called for a response commensurate with the violence. It was a matter of fighting impunity for those who committed those serious violations of international humanitarian law. That is why, since the Court’s establishment in 2002, France has provided full political support for the activities of this criminal court established jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations.
In that respect the trial of Charles Taylor is a good example, because it is the first trial of a sitting head of State indicted by an international judicial body. His trial, which has just entered the defence phase, is being followed fervently not only in Sierra Leone but also, and especially, in Liberia. That illustrates the sometimes tragic interweaving of the history of those two countries and the fragility that persists, particularly in Liberia — a fragility that can be addressed only by Liberians themselves.
In that context, it is noteworthy that the United Nations has succeeded in adopting an approach with a regional orientation: in Sierra Leone, the Special Court is guarded by a contingent from the United Nations Mission in Liberia. That should encourage us to continue on that path, including the transformation of the United Nations presence in Sierra Leone into an integrated office, linked with the inclusive approach advocated within the Sierra Leone country-specific configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission.
From today’s briefings, I understand that the Special Court for Sierra Leone will complete its work by 2011 at the latest. The Council should therefore express itself on the Court’s completion strategy soon. In that regard, France hopes that the final strategy will be financially sustainable. The Sierra Leone court system should be closely associated with this and should play its full part in taking over residual functions; likewise, other countries could provide support so that those convicted by the Special Court can serve their sentences on the territory of those countries.