Country report and updates: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

22/08/1998
There has been an armed conflict in Sierra Leone since 1991, when rebel forces of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) invaded the country from Liberia and started a guerrilla war against the government.
In May 1997, President Kabbah's government was overthrown by an alliance of members of the armed forces and the RUF, led by major Koroma. A military invasion of Nigerian ECOMOG troops in February 1998 defeated Koroma's troops and re-installed Kabbah's government on 10 March 1998. Koroma and the RUF withdrew to the bush. [1] [3] [4]

1 Conscription

conscription does not exist

Sierra Leone has no conscription. [2]

The 1991 constitution does not mention conscription.

recruitment

Apparently, recruitment into the armed forces is on a voluntary basis.

Before 1997, all ethnic groups were represented in the armed forces. The 1997 military coup was mainly supported by members of the Temne and Limba, ethnic groups from the north. After the 1998 defeat of the military junta, the Sierra Leonean armed forces disintegrated. The only armed force that supports the government is the Kamajor, a militia of the Mende, president Kabbah's own tribe. [4]

No information is available about the actual recruitment.

It was reported that President Kabbah considers doing without national armed forces and relying on multinational peacekeeping forces for national security. [6]

2 Conscientious objection

There is no known legal provision for conscientious objection.

3 Desertion

No information about this is available.

4 Forced recruitment by RUF

Many reports indicate that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) recruits young men by force. The RUF captures and abducts many people and those who have refused to join have been killed and women have been raped. Those captured are forced to fight in the rebel forces, or forced to carry out tasks such as carrying loads and food, and cooking. Although RUF representatives claim their soldiers have joined voluntarily, most of them are under threat and have no option but to cooperate. [1]

According to an asylum-seeker, the RUF often captures young boys and uses them as a life shield in combat with government forces. Some manage to escape and flee the country. [5]

6 Annual statistics

The present strength of the armed forces is not known.

Under the military junta in 1997, the armed forces comprised about 13,000 troops, including 4,000 RUF troops. They formed 0.26 percent of the population. [3]

Sources

[1] Amnesty International 1995. Sierra Leone: Human rights abuses in a war against civilians. AI, London, UK. [2] UN Commission on Human Rights 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva. [3] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK. [4] NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper), 10 March 1998. [5] NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper), 18 June 1998. [6] NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper), 31 July 1998.