The UN-backed Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal handed down its first verdicts today, convicting three leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The rebel leaders face lengthy prison terms after being convicted of 11 of 14 charges, including murder, rape, and the recruitment of child soldiers during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
Today’s verdicts marked the first definitive ruling against the use of child soldiers in an international court. But the ultimate test comes next week, when the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor gets underway in the Hague. Five others, including Taylor, still face trial for their roles in the blood-diamond civil war that killed over 50,000 in Sierra Leone.