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Sierra Leone: Combatants trained in humanitarian law

23-08-2001 News Release 01/33

On 18 August the ICRC concluded a series of training sessions on international humanitarian law for over 1,000 soldiers of the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) at their main base in Benguema. The combatants were taught the basic rules governing the conduct of hostilities in international and non-international armed conflict, with emphasis on key concepts such as the obligation to protect and respect civilians and wounded, sick or captured fighters no longer taking part in the hostilities. In the past year more than 8,000 SLA soldiers have received such instruction.

The ICRC conducts similar sessions on the law of armed conflict and the role of the Red Cross for other armed forces present in Sierra Leone. During the same period hundreds of officers of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) have been briefed, as have commanders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Civil Defence Forces.

Supporting States in their efforts to raise awareness of humanitarian law is part of the mandate conferred upon the ICRC by the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols. Sierra Leone is one of the 189 States party to the Conventions, which are designed to prevent and alleviate human suffering in times of war.