Alfred Fullah

  • Alfred FullahAlfred Fullah is originally from Sierra Leone. He joined the School of Law in 2013 and his thesis title is 'The Legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL)'.

    How did you hear about Oxford Brookes University?

    Originally I heard about Oxford Brookes through a friend of mine who visited the UK and the University. I then came to Brookes to study for a Masters degree in Social Policy in 2000, later returning to pursue a Master of Laws, LL.M. in International Human Rights Law, in 2011. 

    What attracted you to Oxford Brookes University to conduct your research?

    I previously studied at Oxford Brookes; I always found it to be both a supportive and stimulating academic environment. I was also awarded a scholarship for my PhD research.

    What were you doing before?

    I was born in Sierra Leone, where I trained and worked as a teacher and Trade Unionist. I was Vice President of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union for over ten years and also worked for the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity in partnership with the Sierra Leone Labour Congress. After the brutal ten years’ war, I was involved in peace building, good governance, and civil society education.

    I first came to the UK in 2000, and have studied and worked here ever since. I have worked as an adviser for a number of Citizens Advice Bureaus and held various voluntary and community roles. I am currently combining my studies with part-time work at the Student Union Advice Centre and am also one of the Wardens at Cheney Village Halls.  In this role, I offer advice, information, guidance and support for students’ welfare, while also acting as one of the University Disciplinary Officers.

    In addition, during my Master of Laws, I worked alongside my academic supervisors Dr Dawn Sedman and Professor Ilona Cheyne in May 2013 and August 2014 to help host Dr. Zainab Bangura, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Dr Bangura gave an inspiring talk on the drive to end sexual violence against women and children.  

    How easy did you find it to settle into the research environment?

    As a continuing student, I found the whole research environment very supportive and welcoming. 

    Tell us about your research project.

    The aim of my research project is:

    To investigate the extent to which the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) – a ‘hybrid’ tribunal drawing on both international and nationally applicable laws – has been effective in achieving justice and sustainable post-conflict stability within Sierra Leone through its establishment and judicial practice. 

    The Objectives are:      

    (1) To investigate the novel hybrid features of the SCSL and how it develops beyond earlier non-hybrid tribunals.

    (2) To investigate the extent to which the SCSL has been effective in achieving justice and sustainable post-conflict stability within Sierra Leone through its establishment and judicial practice, with reference to its hybrid features.

    (3) To investigate the extent to which the jurisprudence of the SCSL can serve as a hybrid model for effective administration of criminal justice nationally through the preservation of its legacy.

    (4) To explore the potential for replication of the hybrid model.

    (5) To explore the implications of the SCSL for the wider field of International Criminal Law (ICL).

    My investigative research question is:

    How successful was the SCSL (hybrid tribunal) in delivering justice and contributing to improved chances of peace and stability in Sierra Leone?  

    Relationship with existing research

    There has been very little published to date on the impact and legacy of the SCSL model, particularly academic analysis within the International Criminal Law literature. Research that has been published includes an edited collection by Jalloh of journal articles about SCSL and International Criminal Tribunals generally, and work by Schabas and Williams on the evolution and operations of hybrid tribunals across the world. There is no detailed study of the hybrid nature of the SCSL. The proposed research will add to current understanding of ICL by focusing on the SCSL’s establishment and experience and, in particular, its unique hybrid nature. This therefore represents original and independent research which will make a contribution to scholarship in this area. 

    Background and context

    International Criminal Law is a relatively new discipline. Through the practice of ICL, individuals are held directly responsible for the perpetration of core international crimes.  The prosecutions, trials and judgments made at the International Military Tribunals (IMT) of Nuremberg and Tokyo established in 1945-1946, and the International Criminal Tribunals (ICT) of both Yugoslavia and Rwanda created in 1993 and 1994 respectively, generated the first substantial judicial framework for the law of war crimes; crimes against humanity and genocide.

    By the time the SCSL was established in June 2002, there was jurisprudence and practice, though rather limited in nature. The SCSL was therefore able to build on past experience but also innovate to meet the complex demands for justice and stability after the atrocities committed in the civil war. The mandate of the court was to try those who ‘bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and some criminal offences under Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996’.

    As noted above, the SCSL model is particularly intriguing because of its unique hybrid nature. The Statute of the SCSL stipulates that the court use both international and Sierra Leonean laws.Furthermore, the SCSL had the following significant characteristics: 1) it was composed of international judges and laws, 2) it involved a prosecutorial team comprising both international and domestic lawyers 3) it was the first hybrid court to sit in the country where the crimes took place4) it was ‘the first to provide scope for the affected state (Sierra Leone) to appoint some of its principal officials, such as some judges and the deputy prosecutor… and  5) it was the first to function alongside a truth and reconciliation commission in a post-conflict situation anywhere in the world.

    It is the degree of hybrid administration, legal sources and judicial and prosecutorial teams - which, inter alia, allowed the court to draw on domestic expertise - that gives the SCSL its legitimacy and which may have contributed to its apparent success in achieving justice and helping to build stability. Given its unique degree of hybridity, the SCSL is a potential model for future tribunals to learn from. Indeed, the SCSL hybrid tribunal has already influenced the later practice of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    Research Methodology

    Predominantly, doctrinal legal research has been employed with a limited amount of comparative analysis in the critical appraisal of the historic and current use of various criminal courts to prosecute the same kinds of crimes that involve mass violations of human rights. As is common in legal writing, doctrinal legal research relies upon the examination and evaluation of primary sources (legal documents and case law) and secondary sources (academic writing). 

    The research methodology will also involve some aspects of socio-legal analysis, which is using social theory for the purpose of analysing and understanding the law. In this case, I will look at the historical context and principles of both justice and transitional justice as it will help in analysing and evaluating how effective the SCSL was in serving justice and contributing to peace and stability in Sierra Leone.  

    What do you enjoy about being a research student?

    I enjoy and have learnt a lot from the seminars, lunch time discussions, presentations, and valuable feedback received from tutors, as well as my colleagues.

    What do you think about the research training offered at Oxford Brookes?

    The research training offered at Brookes is absolutely brilliant. More specifically, the support, encouragement and guidance I receive from my academic supervisors and Postgraduate Research Tutor, the Research Degrees Team, the Research Training Officer, and all the staff within the School of Law is excellent. The research training has given me motivation and confidence, increased and broadened my knowledge, and helped me to shape the direction of my research.

    What are your future plans?

    Eventually I hope to teach, while also having the ability to continue my individual research in my chosen field of study.