Tag Archive | "Sierra Leone"

An MSF health worker in protective clothing holds a child suspected of having Ebola in the MSF treatment center in Paynesville, Liberia, October 2014. From (Doctors without borders)

Unanticipated consequences of an outbreak: Ebola in West Africa, 1 year later

It was May 25, 2014 when the World Health Organization (WHO)

An MSF health worker in protective clothing holds a child suspected of having Ebola in the MSF treatment center in Paynesville, Liberia, October 2014. From (Doctors without borders)

An MSF health worker in protective clothing holds a child suspected of having Ebola in the MSF treatment center in Paynesville, Liberia, October 2014. From (Doctors without borders)

reported its first documented case of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Since then, other countries like Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria have been incessantly fighting the eradication of the deadly virus and preventing its spread to other countries, diminishing the risk of a world-wide pandemic.  Today, after a hard fought battle, Ebola cases have significantly declined in Sierra Leone and Guinea, and Liberia and Nigeria are now Ebola-free. However, the fight to eradicate this deadly disease comes at a price for both Sierra Leone and Liberia; they both have tanking economies, staggeringly expensive healthcare systems, and rates of rising preventable illnesses neglected during the Ebola crisis.

Many working families have since been economically affected by the outbreak of Ebola. The height of the outbreak occurred during the farming season, making farmers some of the most affected by the deadly virus. In addition, strikes conducted by health workers in Liberia forced farmers to flee their land and threatened to bring the country’s food supply to a halt. Ebola not only debilitated their workforce, but also devastated their crops. Their farmlands have since become wastelands. Other measures taken to quell the spread, such as restricting trading hours and keeping citizens under quarantine during the night, diminished opportunities for citizens to conduct business with one another, catalyzing financial troubles.

The outbreak comes after decade-long civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Empty roads in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Empty roads in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Since the end of their wars, both of these countries have struggled to keep commodities prices stable. Neither have been able to implement a healthcare infrastructure effective enough to react to rising rates of malnutrition, implement necessary HIV prevention measures, or effect required child immunizations. When Ebola surfaced these countries were making progress at piecing together their fragmented health systems by increasing immunizations in children and preventing citizens from malaria infection.  However, The outbreak of Ebola not only exposed their lack of healthcare surveillance measures, but also the lack of resources needed to handle an endemic of this magnitude without neglecting other rising health issues. The rates of malnutrition, malaria infections, and infant mortality due to cholera, typhoid and other illnesses continue to rise. Ebola has drained their healthcare systems of resources necessary to deal with these illnesses. The progress that they had steadily seen in the last years quickly vanished. Doctors without Borders have reported more deaths due to Malaria than to Ebola since the outbreak.

As some of these countries continue to struggle to eradicate the Ebola virus, governments continue to suggest methods to improve their healthcare infrastructure and surveillance programs; however, resources are needed in order to train health workers and to build the facilities needed to detect dangerous diseases. The World Bank announced an additional $650 million toward rebuilding these Ebola affected countries. The World Bank continues to be the leading contributor to the fight against Ebola amongst International Institutions. The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, will hold a conference in July to get countries and institutions to pledge even more.

The road to recovery from this deadly disease that affected many countries around the world is slow and costly. The pledged resources will be used to build a healthcare system in these affected countries that will be resilient and can withstand the effects of a major endemic without collapsing the health system and economy. In addition, this system, with Liberia as its main developer, will be a model healthcare system for other developing countries in order to provide adequate response in a time of crisis by increasing trust, investing in the country and promoting growth.

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L. Kate Campbell

Recent Sturm College of Law Grad Credits War Crimes Class for Once-in-a-Lifetime Internship

L. Kate Campbell

My name is Kate Campbell.  I am a recent grad of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and its International Legal Studies Program.  I’d love to take this opportunity to tell you about my current internship and how my participation in Professor David Akerson’s War Crimes Practicum led to this exciting opportunity.   On June 27, 2010, I began a six-month legal internship with the Registry branch of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (“SCSL”) in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  The SCSL was created to bring justice to victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Sierra Leone in the last decade.  In March, the SCSL concluded its trial of Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, accused of organizing, planning, and sponsoring the atrocities in the region, and a judgment is expected in the next few months.  The Registry branch of the SCSL is responsible for supporting and coordinating all the various bodies of the court– Chambers, Prosecution and Defense – as well as for internal and external communications and victims’ assistance programs– work which continues to serve a critical role, even, and perhaps especially, during the judgment phase.  Additionally, the Registry is the body responsible for enacting legacy projects that communicate the work of the court to the people of Sierra Leone and preserve its story for posterity.

My current duties at the SCSL are twofold.  First, I assist the Registry in a general capacity.  In collaboration with the Registrar’s Legal Officer, I conduct legal research and analysis of issues relating to the functions of the Registry; review and draft internal policies and procedures; and contribute to the formulation of the Special Court’s completion strategy.  Second, I am introducing and training  members of the various court branches to a Casemap document created by DU SCOL Professor David Akerson and a team of University of Denver law students in the International Criminal Law Practicum, in hopes that various bodies of the court will soon be able to employ this valuable tool in their work.  Professor Akerson’s course – taught in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011 – allowed students to engage in learning about international criminal law in an active manner via creation of an interactive database using CaseMap software.  Using the transcripts from the trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone, we analyzed and condensed the transcript data into pertinent facts, highlighting all critical information, including names, dates, locations, etc, and then hyperlinked this information to both other relevant facts and the transcript itself.   The goal of this process was to make over two years of testimony easily accessible and searchable, thus potentially assisting staff working on Taylor’s case, in addition to the myriad individuals inside the court and in the general public who would find this information either useful in their work or of interest in telling their own story.  Because the work for the course was based on a current trial, and was intended for delivery to the Special Court, students were challenged to grapple with complexities of international law and the international criminal trial process in a new way.

Following the close of the spring semester, Professor Akerson presented our database to a group of SCSL staff in Freetown.  In response, they offered me a chance to come to Freetown to make further the software
and train them to use it to better facilitate the work of various branches during the judgment phase and for future use in appeals, as a tool for research, and as a part of outreach and legacy projects.  Additionally, as the Registry organizes all outreach, using CaseMap, I will help devise and implement strategies for using this interactive software to provide clear information about the trial to victims, students, and the general public. Such outreach might manifest as a resource at the Peace Museum, a legacy project currently being enacted at the SCSL, or through various civil societyorganizations that are working to better inform and heal the victims of the atrocities in the region.

I am extremely excited about the opportunity to continue this work.  I will be based in Freetown, for approximately six months, with the possibility of some travel about the country, as well as to The Hague.  I came to DU’slaw school in order to make a career of assisting the marginalized and oppressed, and while I was there, I discovered the excellent work that was being done by the ad hoc tribunals to address human rights violations of tremendous magnitude.  I am delighted
that, in exchange for providing me with this opportunity, I will be able to share the Casemap software as a resource for the court to find better and more efficient paths to create justice and to communicate its work to victims and to the global community.  In this capacity, I hope to develop new ways to use Professor David Akerson’s work to enable innovations in both court procedure and practice and in victim outreach and education.

Originally posted in www.denverlawplan.com

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University of Denver Sturm College of Law