The Foreign Office and the International Development Secretary, Clare Short, argue that the deal is the country's best chance for peace and should therefore be supported. Assuming that the deal does not collapse, the acceptance of these men into the international community sits oddly with the proper exclusion of Slobodan Milosevic and his cronies from that community. Britain argues that, as the amnesty was agreed internally, the question of bringing RUF criminals before the international war crimes tribunal does not arise. Clare Short washed her hands of the issue yesterday, insisting that it was not up to her to interfere.
This seems more than a little disingenuous. We are told that the great hunger of the people of Sierra Leone is for peace, and that if the price of peace is the forgiving of appalling atrocities, they will pay this price.
It is not at all clear, however, that those speaking for the Sierra Leoneans have bothered to ask them. Elections are planned for 2001, and the Foreign Office says that these elections will provide an opportunity for the people to give their judgement. Meanwhile, these people will be ruled in part by those who have raped, mutilated and kidnapped them and their children.Reuse content