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Sierra Leone: IHL refresher course for armed forces instructors

08-10-2007 News Release 07/28

Twenty-three officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) have just completed a five-day refresher course on integrating international humanitarian law (IHL) into training and practice.

The course at the Armed Forces Education Centre in Freetown aimed at refining and consolidating the knowledge of instructors who had already undergone IHL training with the ICRC and now constitute a pool, with at least one IHL trainer in almost every unit of the RSLAF. Training included field exercises, with topics including command responsibilities and the obligation of soldiers to comply with and ensure compliance with IHL in peace support operations.

" The participants showed a good knowledge of how to integrate humanitarian rules and principles into military operations, " said Pascal Zen-Ruffinen, the ICRC delegate to the armed forces who delivered the course.

This refresher course is the culmination of a programme that started in 2002. Over the last five years, the ICRC has held four train-the-trainers courses and one IHL upgrade course for selected instructors, working closely with the RSLAF and the Sierra Leone-based International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT).

The ICRC has been present in Sierra Leone since 1991. During the decade-long armed conflict, it provided aid to victims of the fighting and endeavoured to enhance respect for protected persons. Activities in this area included promoting the integration of IHL into law and practice. Peace was restored some five years ago, leading to a reduction in humanitarian needs. Since then, the ICRC has been scaling down its presence in Sierra Leone, handing over to development-oriented organizations. It will continue to promote international humanitarian law among the armed and security forces, and its IHL advisory services will continue to support government and parliamentary efforts to integrate IHL into national law.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Djordje Drnarski, deputy head of delegation, ICRC Freetown, tel. +232 76 620 920  

 Abu Bakr Gamanga, ICRC Freetown, tel. +232 76 629 207