16 September 2018
Almost two decades ago, when Sierra Leone was in the grip of a brutal civil war, troops from Nigeria (operating under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS and its Military Observer Group ECOMOG) were deployed to protect civilians from rebel forces in the capital Freetown.
But instead, some of the peacekeepers turned on those they were meant to safeguard, committing atrocities that were captured on camera by a journalist, Sorious Samura, and later included in Cry Freetown, a landmark documentary about the conflict that shocked the world.
At the end of hostilities in 2002, a special United Nations-funded tribunal was established to “prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law,” but in reality it only focused on the actions of combatants during the war – the alarming brutality of the Nigerian soldiers was never addressed. Now Samura’s harrowing footage has become central to a remarkable attempt by an international group of lawyers to finally get justice and redress for the victims.
Watch the insight into the atrocities committed by Nigerian soldiers. Viewers are advised that some of the images and testimony of victims in this episode of People & Power from Al Jazeera are deeply disturbing.