|© UNICEF Sierra Leone/2004/Savage|
|At the earlier Freetown launch, Robert and Regina, both 12, speak on behalf of Sierra Leone’s children|
NEW YORK, 27 October 2004 – The first-ever version of a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ report intended specifically to be accessible by children was officially launched today at United Nations headquarters.
The report details the violations which occurred during the ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone, in which children were deliberately and systematically targeted. Thousands were massacred, raped and mutilated. They were taken from their homes and forced into sexual slavery. They were drugged and forced to become killers themselves.
When the violence ended and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established, the children of Sierra Leone were asked to participate. With UNICEF’s help a version of the Commission’s findings which children could understand has been produced.
UNICEF executive director Carol Bellamy said the report is unprecedented. “Numerous truth commissions have been convened in various countries over the last several decades. Several have addressed the experiences of children. Yet never before has a report focused on children as victims and also profiled their role as actors in the reconciliation process.”
Children were involved in all stages of the inquiry – from creating some of the drawings in the report to framing its recommendations for peace-building. Special care was taken to protect them, as victims and as witnesses.
The report includes a plan of action for children to work together with government and civil society leaders to build peace.