From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Sierra Leone report due soon, bishop says

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Mon, 29 Mar 2004 12:49:42 -0600

March 29, 2004	News media contact: Linda Bloom7(646)369-37597New York7
E-mail: 7 ALL-AF-RM-I{137}

NOTE: For additional coverage of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries meeting, see UMNS stories #135-136 and #138.
By Linda Bloom*

STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist bishop who has led Sierra
Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission said its report and
recommendations would be published soon.

Bishop Joseph C. Humper spoke about the commission's work during the March
22-25 meeting of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. He serves
as vice president of the board.

Created by the 1999 Lome Peace Agreement and established by an act of
parliament in 2000, the commission's mandate was to create an impartial
historical record of human rights violations and abuses during the 1991-99
armed conflict in Sierra Leone. About 50,000 people died in the conflict, and
many others were left maimed or mutilated.

Humper told board directors that the commission decided to consider
violations dating back to 1961, the year Sierra Leone gained its
independence. Its focus, he said, was a bit different from South Africa's
well-known truth commission. 

"South Africans struggled with apartheid," he explained. "Sierra Leone is
struggling with social injustice ... man's inhumanity to man."

More than 70 people were recruited and trained to take statements of
witnesses from various parts of the country, and public hearings began in
April 2003. With limited resources, commission members have managed to
collect 10,000 statements from both victims and perpetrators of human rights

Their final report, being prepared for publication, includes an executive
summary with findings and recommendations. Separate documents will focus on
how the civil conflict affected children, women and men. "We were
specifically asked to pay attention to women and children," the bishop said.

A child-friendly volume about the commission's findings will be used as a
textbook in schools, according to Humper.

He said the Sierra Leone government is required to implement the report and
its findings. When the commission is disbanded, a human rights commission
will be formed to follow up on its work.

# # #

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.


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