Saturday 20th July 2024

Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone

Light Mode
Dark Mode

Court Management Section


The Court Management Section (CMS) provided administrative, judicial and logistic support in all proceedings before the Trial Chambers and the Appeals Chamber. The Section was made up of five units: Court Records, Court Support, Language, Stenography, and Library and Archiving.

Court Records Unit

The Court Records Unit was responsible for the receipt, filing, reproduction and dissemination of all court documents, from motions, responses, replies, orders and decisions, to trial transcripts, to judgements. CMS served these documents personally on counsel within Sierra Leone or, for the Taylor trial, at The Hague, and also distributed them electronically to counsel abroad through the Court Management Database.

The Court Management Database, part of the Court Records Unit, was established in 2005 to provide access to all documents filed before the Court. Initially accessed by password, the Database is now open to use by researchers, jurists and members of the public who wish to access the public documents of the Special Court.

Court Support Unit

Court Support Unit ensured that the courtrooms were trial-ready, and kept the court calendar to ensure that the parties and Special Court staff were aware of the dates and themes to be covered in hearings. The Court Support Unit provided courtroom officers and ushers to ensure that, when the hearings opened, the court was trial-ready.

The Court Officer, within the Court Support Unit, performed the functions of the Registrar during court proceedings, and acted as the main liaison between Chambers, Prosecution and Defence counsel. The Court Usher was an intermediary between parties during court sessions, and provided logistical support in the courtroom itself.

Archiving and Library Unit

The Archiving Unit was responsible for the creation and preparation of the Special Court’s archives. This included the collection of judicial and administrative documents from all sections of the Court in Freetown and The Hague, the organisation, transportation and storage of the physical documents to The Hague, and the scanning of all documents for the electronic archives.

The CMS archivists carried out traditional archival functions, including ensuring the long-term preservation, retention and disposal responsibilities for all judicial and administrative records in the Court, with the exception of those from the Office of the Prosecutor. CMS appointed a Legacy Officer and an Archivist who worked within the Section to ensure the proper archiving of all Court Records – CMS’s greatest challenge and the Section’s most important legacy. The unit was temporarily reinforced by twenty-six SSA contractors, some of whom, with a view to the Special Court’s legacy to the national system, were drawn from Sierra Leone’s National Archives.

Training of staff was an essential part of the archiving process. CMS conducted two courses for archivists on ‘Archivement Development’ and ‘Introduction to Records and Information Management.’ Senior CMS staff and personnel from Sierra Leone’s National Archives received training in the UK and were also sent on a two-week course at the US National Archive.

In 2010, the Archiving Unit was relocated to a new office to ensure adequate space and correct storage conditions for documents and audio-visual materials. The electronic archive was created using the Total Records Information Management (TRIM) System.
The Special Court Library housed books and publications on Sierra Leonean law and international criminal law and jurisprudence, as well as the video and audio library of all public hearings held at the Special Court. Many of these books were purchased specifically for the library; other books and legal texts were donated by outside organisations and countries. The Library was also equipped with computers that allowed court users and law students to conduct research online, and access to Westlaw and the Lexis-Nexis legal database. The Library ceased operations in 2010, but upon the close of the Special Court the Library in its entirety was donated to the Sierra Leone Peace Museum.

Stenography Unit

The Stenography Unit was responsible for making accurate transcripts of all proceedings before the Court and at the Plenary of Judges. After each day’s hearings, the Court Reporters ensured that the Judges, the parties, and other Court users received the final transcript within 24 hours. Court reporters were sometimes sent on mission assignments up country to ensure the accurate recording of witness statements.

Language Unit


The Language Unit was provided simultaneous interpretation in English, Mende, Temne, Krio and various other Sierra Leonean and Liberian languages at trial proceedings in Freetown and in The Hague. To deal with the challenges of simultaneous interpretation and interpreting legal concepts in multiple languages, CMS established a court interpreter training programme – the first of its kind in Sierra Leone. The Language Unit recruited and trained female interpreters, not only for gender balance, but because they were better able to interpret for female witnesses who testified to suffering severe sexual abuse and to render female voices in general.

The interpreters and translators also offered their expertise to other Sections: Outreach, Press and Public Affairs, the Office of the Prosecutor, Personnel and the Office of the Registrar. Interpreters often accompanied Defence teams up-country to assist with witness interviews. The Language Unit assisted in training interpreters for the national judiciary, and compiled a Glossary of Legal Terminology in Krio, Mende, Temne, Limba, Mandingo and Kono.