January 17, 2003 – The Telegraph
Rebels, government troops and United Nations peacekeepers were all guilty of raping women on a systematic scale throughout Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war, a leading international human rights group reported yesterday.
The mutilation of civilians was a trademark feature of the 10-year civil war, but Human Rights Watch said sexual abuse was much more common in the unstable West African nation.
“The war in Sierra Leone became infamous for the amputation of hands and arms” Peter Takirambudde, the head of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said. “Rape may not be visible in the same way, but it is every bit as devastating.”
The 75-page report, We’ll Kill You If You Cry, makes harrowing reading, with accounts of children being forced to rape grandmothers, fathers made to watch daughters being raped and other instances of serious sexual assault.
Most of the crimes were committed by rebels from the Revolutionary United Front and smaller splinter groups.
But [the report] found evidence of sexual atrocities being committed by troops from the regional intervention force, Ecomog, and the UN peacekeeping mission.