Sierra Leone has abolished the death penalty

Siera Leone Telegraph: 24 July 2021:

Parliamentarians in Siera Leone have voted unanimously to abolish the death penalty after intense debate, making the country the 23rd African state to end capital punishment, widely regarded as a legacy of British colonial law enforcement regime.

Since gaining independence in 1961, successive governments in Sierra Leone have used the death penalty to score political points and eradicate their opponents, especially in the 1970s under the brutal communist-style rule of Siaka Probyn Steven.

In 1992 a group of soldiers – dubbed the NPRC, led by the current president – retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and Captain Valentine Strasser executed dozens of people after staging a coup and holding on to power for almost four years before elections were held.

Many in Sierra Leone are still holding the leaders of the NPRC including president Bio, responsible for the extra-judicial killing of their loved ones.

They are calling for justice as parliament yesterday abolished the death penalty which cynics say have been prompted by the president himself trying to avoid the death penalty, if he is in the future found guilty of those killings.

A de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty was put in place in 1998, after former president Kabbah executed 24 soldiers for their alleged involvement in a coup attempt.

Under Sierra Leone’s 1991 constitution, the death penalty is mandatory for murder, aggravated robbery, mutiny and treason.

In April, Malawi ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, while Chad abolished it in 2020.

In 2019, the African human rights court ruled that mandatory imposition of the death penalty by Tanzania was “patently unfair”.

Courtesy of Sierra Leone Telegraph of 24th of July 2021

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