Transitional justice initiatives that sought to remedy the atrocities committed during the 1991-2002 civil war in Sierra Leone articulated particular notions of rights-bearing individuals and collectivities. This article critically examines assumptions about rural life and communities of belonging emerging from such initiatives and about the agency of women and children in particular. The signature indictments at the Special Court for Sierra Leone—for child soldier conscription and forced marriage—contributed to their establishment as archetypal figures in the discourse of humanitarian justice in ways that belied actual trial testimony. In particular, court arguments surrounding the forced marriage question highlighted the sometimes contradictory relationship between human rights and humanitarian law.
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