Professor Selected to Receive Prestigious Honor in Sierra Leone

photo of Dr. Bankole Thompson

An Eastern Kentucky University professor will soon receive the highest possible honor from the Sierra Leone Institute of International Law.

Dr. Bankole Thompson, professor of criminal justice studies at EKU and a native of the West African country, along with four other renowned academicians and practitioners of international law, will be recognized as Fellows at a banquet on Monday, April 25. The award will be presented to these Sierra Leoneans and foreign nationals “who have excelled in the teaching, wider appreciation and dissemination of international law in Sierra Leone and the sub-region.”

While serving as a judge of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, Thompson contributed significantly to the jurisprudence of that tribunal and thereby to international humanitarian and human rights law. He was one of eight judges appointed in 2002 to a three-year term on the special regional court, which was “empowered to try to punish all persons who carry the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law, human rights law and criminal law of Sierra Leone committed during a period of hostilities and rebel insurgency,” he said at the time of his appointment.

Beginning in 1991, fighting between the Sierra Leone government and the Revolutionary United Front resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people, more than one third of the country’s population.

Thompson, who joined the EKU faculty in 1995 and formerly served as dean of graduate studies, is the author of “The Constitutional History and Law of Sierra Leone (1961-95)” and “The Criminal Law of Sierra Leone,” as well as “American Criminal Procedures.”

Sierra Leone, slightly smaller than South Carolina in size, borders the North Atlantic Ocean between Guinea and Liberia.

Prior to coming to the U.S., Thompson served as Principal State Attorney in Sierra Leone; Legal Officer for the Mano River Union, a West African economic group composed of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea; and High Court Judge. He also was a founding member of the country’s Law Reform Commission and was the first African to hold the David Brennan Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Akron Law School.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fourah Bay College (Sierra Leone), then affiliated with the University of Durham, and M.A., LL.B. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Cambridge in Great Britain.

Published on March 04, 2011