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 Stevens.

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.

Last year, Sierra Leone handed down 39 death sentences, compared with 21 in 2019, according to Amnesty, and 94 people were on death row in the country at the end of last year.

Parliamentary Leader of the NGC party – Dr. Kandeh Yumkella (Photo), called yesterday’s decision to abolish the death penalty – “momentous.”

Speaking to the New York Times, he said: “I can tell you that we had to reflect on it quite a bit,” he said. “We thought of the political use of the death penalty, which has dogged us.”

He added: “We’ve had a history here where people have been charged with treason. Some have been hanged.”

Umaru Napoleon Koroma, deputy minister of justice, who has been involved in the abolition efforts, said sentencing people on death row to “life imprisonment with the possibility of them reforming is the way to go”.

Across sub-Saharan Africa last year, Amnesty researchers recorded a 36% drop in executions compared with 2019 – from 25 to 16. Executions were carried out in Botswana, Somalia and South Sudan.

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”.

 

12 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more star general Stargazer. A national cohesion scheme built under the shadow of political victimization, selective justice in the fight against corruption, tribalism and nepotism in the area of government employment, and a host of political intimidation is as shallow as a beetle hole dug in a sandy soil. Instead of being magnanimous and actually invest in planting the seeds of sustainable national cohesion, the PAOPA regime opted to employ cheap shots, aimed to capture the attention of donor partners, whom obviously are the only constituents they worry about pleasing.

    The repeal of the libel law, and now, death penalty, replaced with cyber crime law, and life imprisonment, absolutely have negligible impact to the over 7million citizens who continues to suffer in abject poverty, amidst of a totalitarian regime. Besides, the last time i check, the citizens of Salone never say the libel law or death penalty was an utmost priority while selecting their leader in the 2018 elections. If i am not mistaken, 99% of the electorates consider these as a none issues.

    So, rather than engaging in cheap propagandist rhetoric, with shallow meanings, this intellectual platform will appreciate it if supporters of the regime could furnish us with evidential economic and infrastructural life changing accomplishments, done by the regime during the past 40 months in governance.

  2. Psssst! You there! National Cohesion can only be sustainably achieved through sincere and forthright discussions, not through a cunningly devised ploy designed by wolves to cover their blood stained tracks. All those who have killed the innocent and weak should first confess to their crimes in the eyes of the world and then Publicly and remorsefully seek the Mercy and Forgiveness of angry families of their victims. An attitude of genuine remorse wrapped up in an attractive bouquet of compensation to the siblings and children of victims will certainly make reconciliation and national cohesion in Sierra Leone,a vicious,unforgiving terrain with an endless string of stories written not with ink but with the blood of the vulnerable and the innocent much easier to attain.

    Honesty is the first step towards genuine and sustainable National Healing. The demands of the process that leads to a holistic, just and robust society are very strict – It involves walking a dark path burning with the flames of suffering, humility, pain and sacrifice – A sacrifice so selfless that it gallantly throws away unhealthy emotions of Pride and Arrogance and then prostrates itself nakedly in tears at the feet of the poor families of those who who were butchered by their evil hands. A mere stroke of the pen that abolishes the Death Penalty is a cowardly attempt to try and erase the gruesome crimes that those in power have committed in the past. A sad day it is for independent minded thinkers in little Sierra Leone the only place I call my home.

  3. “A worthy goal for human beings cannot be devoid of human feelings”. Please read this statement carefully. The governor general may from time to time by order exempt from the operations of this part or any provision thereof, any general or particular class of persons subject to any terms of conditions as he may by such Order impose. This is a direct clause deduced from one of our repealed criminal laws (1965 public order act). I believe there are other clauses in the 1965 act that are also of public interest. If we are true human with feelings how really can we be comfortable with such discriminatory clause in our law books? Where can the social cohesion comes into play when one particular group or particular class of people keep enjoying amenities in our laws while the others continue to suffer in the hands of the oppressed? Indeed one can understand that this law was enacted long ago by our colonial masters. This law has been in existence all this while. We need to think about it intuitively. Note that several governments and presidents have come and gone yet they gave blind eyes to it.

    For over fifty (50) years now, certain sets of categories of people kept enjoying such amenities while others suffer. It is against this backdrop that many theorists, adopting the conflict view of society have argue that the criminal law represents nothing more than the vested interests of the powerful. Similarly, political pundits have always cried out foul when caught offside and charged with treasonable offence. With such in mind,they have always gone to bed thinking of the death penalty. These two effects combined together brings into play a simultaneous equation. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander. Well, in a bid to ally the fears of both the needed and the powerful, my president, your president, our president Brigadier (Rtd) Dr. Julius Maada Bio with the cooperation of our dynamic working parliament repealed and abolished the awful laws of our country on a roll. Thank you Mr President and cheers to our parliament.

    With the repeal of the 1965 public order act and the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone I in my opinion believe that your call for national cohesion and the setting up of the peace commission has gained a foothold in our democracy. Long live my president, your president our president Brigadier (Rtd) Dr. Julius Maada Bio!

  4. Whilst we welcome this great move we must also advocate for better and well secured prisons for those who will be convicted of these very serious crimes. We do not want a system that will create a lot of tension around prisons for instance in treason cases with convicted persons who may be sentenced to life in prison and the risk of prison breaks thereby puttting the public in danger.

  5. Yes indeed Life is sacred, therefore the sanctity of life should be maintained at all times,it’s should not be tampered with by anyone/anybody. Life indeed, therefore should be preserve and protected by all cost possible. But Anyway, repealing the death penalty in Sierra Leone, What benefit/ difference does that make or bring to the hungry and staving population of Sierra Leone?. Basically Nothing. This is all ploy, by state criminals, with blood in their hands attempting to cover, “create a smoke screen indemnity” to cover up their past records/ hand print. Sierra Leoneans see the useless so-called Parliamentarians you voted in.

    Your parliamentarians only priority is not you the people, but rather themselves, creating a so-called indemnity smoke screen, to protect themselves from retribution/ retaliation from the people they offended, after their departure from office. This is nothing but hypocrisy in the highest degree, because there are more pressing issues, for this dysfunctional and defunct parliament to really investigate and debate on, but hay no. Look like the 2018, 2019, 2020, Auditor generals report, $500 million dollars timbergate saga, government epidemic or industrial scale economic plunder, the central bank looting saga, the First Lady’s illegal and illegitimate bank robbery, makeni, Lunsar, Tonko Limba, kailahun and the pandemba road killings, what has the Sierra Leone parliament done about these very important pressing issues, basically nothing.

    Shame on all of you parliamentarians, for basically putting the cat before horse. no wonder, Butt naked speaker, corrupt parliament and parliamentarians, and do nothing so-called government and president. Sierra Leone needs urgent freedom.

  6. The unanimous decision by the Sierra Leone Parliament to abolish the death penalty, is one of the greatest mile stones that our country have reached in its past sixty years of its troubled history.Better late than never. History was made for all the right reasons. To all our fellow well meaning that acquired education, in universities in the United Kingdom and the United States, and returned to Sierra Leone, men like Mo Bash Taqi, Dr Fornah, lawyer and former first vice President FM Minah, and indeed the ones that enlisted in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed forces, the police Hon. Bambay Kamara, GMT Kai Kai, head of the Anti smuggling squad under president Momoh, with the sole aim of doing their patriotic duty for Country and Flag, but for their commitment to Sierra Leone was rewarded with the gallows should be celebrated. Never again should use the death penalty law to punish their fellow Sierra-leoneans because you expressed different political views.

    To all those Sierra-leoneans that lost their lives, under this state sanctioned murder, may their soul rest in peace.The abolition of the death penalty, is not only adding a building block to strengthen our democracy, the rule of law, and the respect of citizens rights, but it also reaffirm the message, that it shouldn’t be used by would be dictators as a blunt instrument to suppressed their political opponents. And what this tells us, our democracy have finally taken root or be it is in its infancy stage, and taking it baby steps slowly .What ever stage it is crawling or standing up and falling down backwards, is welcome. Rome wasn’t built in a day.Nation building, and strengthening our democratic credentials is not a sprint but a marathon. Unfortunately, since we have always had the death penalty in our statue books, it has always been applied selectively, mostly against perceived political opponents never for its intended purpose, to safe guard society from the evils man is capable of inflicting on his fellow man Criminals like Serial killers, or rapist have never felt threatened by this death penalty law.

    The law is a blanket. And that is the unfortunate part of it. When it is applied correctly, it runs in a straight line with no diversion. And unfortunately ,ovet the years those who fall faul of political witch hunt, and vendettas politics have paid the ultimate price without real due process . And in majority of cases on trumpeted charges. Yes there are many people that will argue that by taking away the threat of state sanction murder, will give would be unrepentant serious criminals a licence to commit outrageous crimes that scar the conscience all rigth thinking people. Last year thirty- nine people were sentence to death. Overall there are ninety – four people on death row in Sierra Leone. The last executions took place in 1998.For many who argued infavor of the death penalty, they point to the facts that some of tbis crimes committed are so heinous and unforgivable, that the only punishment that fits the crime is to send them to the gallows.

  7. The taking of a human life is never a good thing, whatsoever the circumstances. But we should not fail to remind ourselves of the pain family members go through when their loved one is murdered, it’s an event that could last a lifetime. Let’s imagine how a mother who has gone through the pain of childbirth losing that child years later to a deranged, hopeless and useless murderer, a scum of society.

    It would have been far more appropriate if the whole country had been given a chance to participate in the debate, culminating in a referendum. I wonder how the mother of a young man killed recently in Kenema would’ve voted. Parliamentarians don’t know everything, some of them know nothing, they got to Parliament on the back of tribal or regional sentiments; they have no guiding ideology, they go with the political wind as long it doesn’t threaten their parliamentary seats.

    It is quite possible that the admirable Dr Yomkella, joined in the abolishment of the death penalty partially for personal reasons, the main one being that APC killed his uncle. On a broader scale, the man in favour of an ethnic and gender balance in government, surely could recall the list of those that have lost their lives in manipulated and fabricated treason charges and trials, especially in the heydays of APC with Siaka Stevens at the controls. The best Finance Minister whom we have ever had, Dr M.S Fornah, fell victim to this dastardly period. The death penalty should be revisited and reviewed again in the future with an unambiguous provision that as long as there are no weapons involved in treason charges ,that can be used in mass killings ,there should be no death penalty. But everyday murder should still carry the death penalty. Our society is no longer what it once was. Human life has become cheap to some people. Outside pressure should have no role in this context.

  8. With the abolition of the death penalty for murder in Sierra Leone, our country will soon become one giant prison colony that our government cannot afford to maintain. Why oh why?

  9. R. I. P. to all those killed in the name of treason. What an emotional and solemn moment for many Sierra Leoneans, including myself. Was the death penalty abolished? Praise be to God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Why did this ruthless, inhumane and torture type of broad daylight murder of our compatriots take place? WHY?! Some of the perpetrators are dead, and some are still alive. There is no justification for the murdering of our compatriots in the name of treason, and there will be no justification for such crimes before the almighty God.

    I can’t believe that there was a race for executing our compatriots in the name of treason for Gold. In the end, Siaka Probyn Stevens, Rtd Captain Valentine Strasser and Rtd General Julius Maada Bio received Gold; former president Ahmed Teja Kabba, Silver and Former president Joseph Saidu Momoh, bronze, in my view. Wicked stuff. Now is the time for national healing, where bygones will be bygones. To do that, we need a Head of State that has never signed the death warrant for his political opponents to be executed in such a brutal manner. That’s the only way forward.

    Finally, I say thanks to all our parliamentarians and president Bio for abolishing the death penalty. I want our lawmakers and president Bio to choose a date and day every year to commemorate the killings of these great men and women. They are heroes. Have to, for national cohesion. May the memories of the deceased be a blessing to all Sierra Leoneans. Amen and Amen. Father God. Yeah.

  10. Gentlemen – These current group of APC and NGC opposition members of Parliament are the most cowardly and incompetent our little Sierra Leone has ever seen – What a bunch of uninspiring people they are! Without careful, in depth deliberation they have now abolished the Death Penalty in a volatile atmosphere, an unsteady, shaky country like tiny Sierra Leone. Hooray! for The Union Jack, Hip, hip, Hooray for Western Powers – Today’s big victory has been won not only for England the Old Pirate but for America the Old Bandit as well; Africans will always continue to fail their poor people and leave them unprotected against their wishes to the whims and erratic sudden impulses of their lenders, donors and benefactors who are Infernal anarchists promoting their greedy self centered agendas upon other nations. What a sad day it is for Independent minded thinkers.

    And you there! Yep. YOU that doesn’t know the value of your votes how long will you keep on staring like sheep into the distance sheepishly while others keep on making flimsy, ill advised decisions on your behalf? How long? Indeed, today is great day for cruel armed robbers and rapists; a great day for wicked murderers, for evil men like Valentine Strasser and Bio who have slaughtered poor people without ever apologising to the grieving families of victims or showing any kinds of remorse whatsoever. Ugh! Totally sickening! Today, the hesitant thief and ruthless armed robbers that kill for profit have been granted free LICENCE TO KILL the weak and innocent.

    But..but…Great Sayedna, what about victims rights, seems to me no one cares about the poor victims. Its all a sham, my good friend, uncomplicated to the discerning mind that knows its a cunning ploy by guilty murderers desperately trying to disguise and cover their dirty bloody tracks at the expense of those that they have already murdered in cold blood.

  11. We are naive at the least and corrupt at the worst. Amnesty’s purpose is to sow instability. Our leaders want access to Western aid which can be siphoned to their private accounts. The end result of course will be murder and mayhem. However, it is good to know that our elected officials lack the ability to reason critically.

  12. Thanks to all who fought tirelessly to abolish the death penalty in Sierra Leone. Putting convicts in prison for a longer period is more painful to them than to put them down (no pain at all when you are dead). Advocates for the abolition, please now fight for our African American brothers and sisters in the USA. Numbers of our black brothers and sisters have been eliminated unjustly as per some past records has revealed. If African countries are abolishing the death penalty so why not America that preaches about democracy to the rest of the world. It is about time to stand up to America and tell them to stop the death penalty.

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