Chandra Sriram’s Fieldwork in Sierra Leone

Posted by: Elizabeth Rhoads

13th March 2014

In January 2014, Chandra Sriram conducted field research in Sierra Leone for the TJDI project.  She interviewed a range of governmental and nongovernmental actors, including government ministers, NGO leaders, academics, representatives of bilateral donors and international organizations.  She was joined for a portion of the research by Anja Mihr, co-director of the project.

While many of the findings require further analysis and interviews remain to be cleared, a number of preliminary observations are of interest.  First, the relevance of key transitional justice measures such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Court of Sierra Leone (SCSL) are rated more highly by those working on judicial reform than in the security sector.  Second, many observers are concerned that independence of the judicial sector is misunderstood by those within as freedom from oversight.  Third, that exclusion from participation in governance at all levels continues to be of concern for both marginalized groups and informed observers.  And finally, that while great advances have been made since the end of the conflict, grave concerns remain about the underlying grievances which helped to drive the conflict.

Chandra Sriram also had the opportunity to observe the efforts to transform the site of the Special Court of Sierra Leone into a site for the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, long-term prison facilities for women and children in the Sierra Leonean prison system, facilities for an international humanitarian law library, facilities for continuing victim and witness services for the SCSL and nascent witness services for the national judiciary, as well as the Sierra Leonean Peace Museum.


Diorama in storage at the Peace Museum (above);

Entrance to the Special Court and Peace Museum (below)