From 1991 to 2002 there was an eleven-year conflict that destroyed Sierra Leone. The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel groups along with some government forces, the Civil Defense Forces (CDF), committed atrocities against civilians. Thousands were killed, many were displaced, and females were often raped. Children soldiers were also common on either side of the conflict.
When the rebels took over Sierra Leone they were brutal with civilians. There are reports of mutilation and amputated legs, arms, hands, and other body parts being taken off with machetes. Women and girls were gang raped. One lady gave testimony to her mother and daughter being set on fire. Towards the end of the war they also set neighborhoods on fire. On the other those trying to defend the capital also committed atrocities. Members of ECOMOG, Civil Defense Forces (CDF), and the Sierra Leonean Police, executed RUF prisoners and those they suspected collaborating with them.
During the Sierra Leone conflict rape was very common among women and girls and it was used as a weapon of war. One woman is still scarred from being raped by the commander "Mosquito" and then gang raped by his soldiers afterwards; it's caused marital problems with her husband. It was difficult for Sierra Leone's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to get testimonies of sexual abuse during the war because of the social taboos. Many women and girls are stigmatized if they admit they are victims of sexual abuse.The number of cases of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases increased since the war because of the sexual violence. Sexual slavery, slave labor, abductions, trafficking, etc. were also common human rights abuses among women. Some women were abducted then forced to join the rebels. Many were also forced to take drugs and became addicted.
During the Sierra Leone war there were child soldiers that killed civilians and cut off their hands and feet. The rebels found one boy who hid in the jungle after losing his parents and they asked him if he wanted to join them or be killed; he chose to join them. The rebels gave him cocaine and sometimes alcohol to drink. The first time he killed they injected him with cocaine in his arm, to make it easier for him to kill. He recalls killing women, including pregnant women, and children. He viewed people as animals. Child soldiers were drugged often so the rebels would have more control over them. A young girl who had her hands cut off remembers young boy with an axe chopping off their hands one after another. An estimated 10,000 people had their limbs amputated.
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In 2012 the former Liberian president Charles Taylor was convicted for 11 charges of war crimes in Sierra Leone. He was given a 50-year sentence for aiding and abetting crimes. According to the court he gave orders and supported the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and other rebel groups in bringing terror and committing crimes against humanity that resulted in deaths of about 50,000 people. Although the atrocities Charles Taylor committed were similar to dictators in other genocides, there was no charge for genocide.