Sierra Leone: Human rights abuses in a war against civilians
Civilians are bearing the brunt of human rights abuses by both government soldiers and rebel forces in the continuing conflict in Sierra Leone. The fighting, which started in 1991, spread throughout the country in 1994 and 1995. The identity and motives of those involved in the conflict are no longer clear and it has become increasingly difficult to attribute responsibility for abuses to either side with any certainty. This report outlines the history of the conflict in Sierra Leone. It describes reported violations by government soldiers - unlawful killings of civilians, torture and ill treatment of rebel suspects and killings of captured rebels; and executions following convictions by courts-martial. Abuses by rebel forces are also described, including deliberate and arbitrary killings, torture and ill-treatment and hostage taking and other abuses against captured non-combatants.