Justice vs. Peace

"Should justice," writes Afsane Bassir Pour in Paris's liberal daily Le Monde, "be sacrificed on the altar of peace?" The question has arisen in the aftermath of the peace agreement in Sierra Leone, which granted a general amnesty to rebel leaders, although by all accounts they committed repeated atrocities against civilians during the eight-year conflict.

"Human-rights organizations point out that their crimes include summary executions, kidnappings, rape, and, worst of all, the mutilation of civilians, including children," Bassir Pour reports. The United Nations, which endorsed the pact, has been caught in the controversy, its members divided.

Bassir Pour found one observer, the writer David Rieff of the United States, who calls Western cries for justice "hypocritical." Rieff tells Le Monde: "If the West wants to implement justice, it'll have to occupy Sierra Leone just as it did Kosovo. But everyone knows Sierra Leone is not Kosovo .... If I were Sierra Leonean, I'd want to see peace; for me, justice would be no more than a luxury."