UNbacked court hands down final rulings in Sierra Leone

The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has upheld the convictions and sentences passed on three former rebels in the last judgment by the tribunal to be handed down in the West African nation. The three former leaders of the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) were convicted earlier this year for atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. The charges include forced marriage as a crime against humanity and attacks against UN peacekeepers – the first time that an international criminal tribunal has entered guilty verdicts for both charges. The Court – which is based in the capital, Freetown – dismissed all the appeals of the defendants, except one regarding Augustine Gbao for the charge of collective punishment, which has been overturned. He will still have to serve the 25-year sentence originally imposed on him.The other defendants, Issa Sesay and Morris Kallon, will serve 52 years and 40 years, respectively.The acting Prosecutor of the Court, Joseph Kamara, welcomed today’s judgment, calling it “a final condemnation of one of the most brutal and notorious rebel groups in modern times.“This judgment sends a signal that such tactics of warfare will not go unpunished. It may act as a deterrent against those who would use this strategy to further their own aims at the expense of the innocent,” he added in a news release.With today’s judgment, the Court’s trial proceedings in Sierra Leone now complete. It has now delivered final judgements in all three of its Freetown-based trials, with eight accused persons convicted.The remaining trial, involving former Liberian president Charles Taylor, is continuing at The Hague, where it was moved for security reasons. The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by the Sierra Leonean Government and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996. 26 October 2009The United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has upheld the convictions and sentences passed on three former rebels in the last judgment by the tribunal to be handed down in the West African nation. read more

Security Council moves to cut off all funding sources for ISIL and

In a unanimously adopted resolution at a session presided over by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew of the United States, which holds its monthly presidency, the 15-member body called for enhanced actions, from closing financial system loopholes to stopping the abuse of charitable causes, as well as updating the existing ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.It stressed that already existing resolutions mandating States to ensure that financial assets are not transferred to terrorists by persons within their territory “shall also apply to the payment of ransoms to individuals, groups, undertakings or entities on the ISIL [Da’esh] and Al-Qaida Sanctions List regardless of how or by whom the ransom is paid.”The resolution called for increased international cooperation in sharing information and closer collaboration with the private sector to identify suspect transactions.The Council also called on Member States to promote enhanced vigilance by persons within their jurisdiction to detect any diversion of explosives and raw materials and components that can be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices or unconventional weapons, including chemical components, detonators, detonating cord, or poisons.“They (the terrorists) are agile and have been far too successful in attaining resources for their heinous acts,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council at the start of the debate. “As Da’esh (another name for ISIL) and other terrorist groups disseminate their hateful propaganda and ratchet up murderous attacks, we must join forces to prevent them from acquiring and deploying resources to do further harm,” he stressed.“We know the challenge before us. Terrorists take advantage of weaknesses in financial and regulatory regimes to raise funds. They circumvent formal channels to avoid detection, and exploit new technologies and tools to transfer resources. They have forged destructive and very profitable links with drug and criminal syndicates – among others. And they abuse charitable causes to trick individuals to contribute,” said the UN chief.He noted that progress has been made over the years in identifying and limiting various methods of terrorist financing, with Member States ratifying the International Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and adopting legislation to criminalize terrorist financing and strengthen regulatory systems.“Still, more needs to be done,” Mr. Ban stated. “Terrorists continue to adapt their tactics and diversify their funding sources. Today, Da’esh runs a multi-million dollar economy in territories under its control. Da’esh terrorists raise money through the oil trade, extortion, undetected cash couriers, kidnapping for ransom, trafficking of humans and arms and racketeering,” he said. “They loot and sell precious cultural property, shamelessly profiting from the destruction of humanity’s common heritage. Social media outreach is exploited by Da’esh, not just for radicalization and recruiting, but also for fundraising. Other terrorist organizations around the world – from Boko Haram to Al-Shabaab to the Taliban – are following suit.”With terrorists increasingly employing elusive tricks to raise and transfer funds, covering their tracks and leaving little evidence to identify tainted resources, the international community must stay ahead of the curve to combat their ploys, he said, noting that many States have yet to set up the necessary legal regimes and institutions to identify and freeze terrorist assets. Mr. Ban called for increased international cooperation in sharing information and expertise, especially in stopping the illegal trade of cultural artefacts, and closer cooperation with the private and charitable sectors to identify suspected transactions. read more

Private schools refusal to embrace new GCSE marking system gives pupils major advantage

Meanwhile, state schools are effectively forced to take the new GCSEs, after the Department for Education removed iGCSEs from league tables in 2017.–– ADVERTISEMENT –– This Thursday, thousands of students will receive their grades, many of whom are the first cohort to take the new “tougher” GCSE courses. Many independent schools have declined to switch over to the reformed qualifications which use a numerical grades, opting instead to continue with international GCSEs – known as iGCSEs – which use A* to G. Private schools are giving their pupils a major advantage by refusing to embrace the new 1-9 GCSE marking system, it has been claimed. “Independent schools are likely to have stayed with the iGCSE partly because… Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more