Letters: The RUF needs real surrender options

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ALEX DUVAL SMITH in Sierra Leone claims that Nigerian peace-keeping forces are summarily executing captured fighters from the Revolutionary United Front ("Why our man in Freetown flies the flag for freedom", 24 January). "[They] make no secret of the fact that they... take no prisoners. There are executions every day."

This follows a pattern first established by national forces in the early days of the war (in 1991). Lack of genuine surrender options later undermined the peace process (in 1996). Threat of summary execution locks the rank and file of the RUF (many of whom are young teenage abductees) in an unremitting struggle. RUF fighters can survive indefinitely in the bush. There they attract the support of international business opportunists interested in Sierra Leone's rich reserves of kimberlite diamonds.

The key to ending the war remains genuine and believable surrender options for the RUF rank and file. If Alex Duval Smith's report is correct then summary execution by peace-keepers is the ethical issue on which Robin Cook should dig in his heels.


University College London