Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 May 2021:
The President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Eddinia Michaela Swallow, last week took part in a roundtable discussion on the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone, held at the residence of the British High Commissioner in Freetown, Simon Mustard.
In his opening address, Simon Mustard said that there are thirty countries that are yet to abolish the death penalty.
He spoke about the need for the abolition, adding that there is no proven justification that death penalty can deter crimes of the same nature.
President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Ms. Eddinia Michaela Swallow said she is encouraged by the level of commitment shown by actors of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), as well as representatives of the opposition parties regarding the abolition of the death penalty.
She stated that after a series of discussions, members of the Bar are overwhelmingly in support of the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone.
She also said that the Bar Association had already presented a position paper to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Y. Brewah, calling for the President of Sierra Leone to formally pronounce the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone, and for Government to take legislative steps to amend all existing laws which provide for the execution of the death penalty.
“As a professional body of lawyers, the Bar Association is willing to provide the necessary support towards the drafting of the relevant law that will replace the death penalty,” Eddinia M. Swallow Esq. assured.
Speaking at the roundtable also were: The Deputy Minister of Justice – Umaru Napoleon Koroma; the Leader of Government Business in Parliament – Matthew Sahr Nyuma; the All People’s Congress (APC) Party Leader in Parliament – Chernor R.M. Bah; Momoh Turay of the UK/Sierra Leone Probono Network on the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone; Simonnetta Rossi of UNDP and other stakeholders.
The Bar Association says that it “will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders as part of its efforts to increase advocacy on the death penalty and to accelerate its abolition”.
The death penalty is favourably embraced everywhere in Africa and beyond, where heinous crimes are committed with no regard to the victim’s human right. No one will applaud a Judge and a bench of jurors to sentence a devil incarnate to a couple of years in jail to sit to free meals and drinks, with ice cream; free medical care at the tax payers expense, which taxes are invariably paid by the victim’s relatives and loved ones. True, Sierra Leone is not Europe.
Today, Human Rights groups have succeeded to force our governments to rebrand our prisons service with a sanitised “Correction Centre” instead of that institution’s proper nomenclature: JAIL. You cannot correct a Recidivist, a hard core prisoner whose resolve to disturb the peace and a thread to civilisation. There are correction facilities in Sierra Leone for young offenders; the juvenile and Star class offenders. But even in Europe they have gaols and jails they rightly refer to as it were… and deadly bulls like Humberto Morientes the demon are brought to the gallows to expiate for their sins.
Many years ago in the United States it was a cold freezing winters morning in Virginia when Pablo “The Coyote” Humberto Morientes was dragged in chains like a stubborn bull to court to await his final sentencing on the counts of armed robbery,aggravated assault and murder. Morientes was shivering,his hands were stiff and his teeth were rattling like tambourines not because of the icy weather but out of fear of the sentencing to come.The courtroom was quiet when the Judge walked in – the moment of reckoning had come,sentencing began. The Judge quietly asked to see the written Gothic tattoo on the back of Morientes and was total flabbergasted when he saw the bold letters S.O.L.D and the words – Servants Of Lucifers Demons.The Judge shook his grey head and asked him;” Mr Morientes would you like to say something to the families of your victims?”
But Morientes was not someone that could show remorse and apologise for his actions; He then responded to the Judge in a very rude, harsh tone of voice;”What for?” he yelled; “All those who I killed deserved to die for their acts of cruelty. “The Old Judge frowned and said in a calm voice;” Most men who refuse to listen to warnings and tread cautiously always end up on Death Row in the Electric chair – Your victims did not deserve to live;Well you don’t deserve life either; Mr Humberto Morientes I now sentence you to Death by Electrocution in the State of Virginia for the crimes of Murder.
Folks,there are hundreds of wolves and loose cannons – men like Morientes across my little beloved Sierra Leone – let forgiveness be the salt and mercy the spices that seasons all our Judgement; Keep the Death Penalty in place as a deterrent to Murder – Capital punishment is a merciless Eagle watching over the lives of the weak, poor and vulnerable.(lol)
The arguments on both sides, for and against abolishing the death penalty in Sierra Leone are as countless as the grains of sand on the shores of Lumley Beach. Someone says it is only right for murderers to be given a taste of their own medicine, another emphasizes the need for mercy and forgiveness. And it does not end there; The most outspoken Human right groups have always insisted that no one, not even a government has the right to take the life of anyone, no matter how heinous the crimes they have committed may be in the eyes of the law. So folks the head scratching question of the moment on this critical issue now becomes: How do we protect the rights of murderers without trampling on the human rights of their victims? Mr Simon is convinced that the Death Penalty has not been proven to be a deterrent of crimes of the same nature; That’s where I disagree.
As a matter of fact the evidences are there of studies showing very clearly that most Countries that embrace and enforce the Death Penalty to the letter have all been experiencing a drastic visible reduction in acts of murders and other serious crimes. I totally agree that government should not be wielding the sword of vengeance against its citizens but there are some individuals that cannot be reasoned with – they are men with hearts of stone capable of perpetrating the worst kinds of crimes ever known to man with great ease, and unwavering resoluteness. This is Sierra Leone and not Europe; A country still trying to rehabilitate its traumatized victims of a brutal war cannot afford to be complacent and indifferent to the realities of its volatile society.
Gentlemen – This is Africa, not Europe – let the Death Penalty be there to remind those who believe that they can perpetrate acts of unspeakable brutality and horrific crimes of violence against their neighbours be always reminded that the Death Penalty is watching them from a distance, like a merciless Eagle staring down a prey. Think of the poor victims; We must use the Death Penalty sparingly but also judiciously with an attitude of mercy and forgiveness tempering all of our Judgments.
Abolishing the death penalty, as proscribed in our constitution, that gives the state the statutory right to put its citizens to death, is not only the right thing to do, but in context of Sierra Leone, where so often we’ve seen governments abusing this power by using it against their political opponents in the past, is the best way forward for our democratic dispensation. It will not bring back the men and women, like MO Bash Taqi, FM Minah, Conrad Innies, Dr Jim Fonar, Hon. Bambay Kamara , Gbril Muhammed Tenysson Kai Kai, Tamba Gborie, Abu Zagalo Sankoh, Hassan Conteh, A. K. Sesay, Victor King, S. F. Y Koroma and Kula Samba and many more of our fellow Sierra Leoneans, that paid the ultimate sacrifice for the failure of governments of all shades to deliver the economic prospects we were promised during and after independence.
And the reason why they all paid the ultimate price is the abuse of state power, and corruption. It is right for the British government to help put pressure on this blood thirsty Bio government, to join majority of nation states around the world, that have got rid of the death penalty from their statute books. It is a trend that is gathering pace, even in countries like the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Somalia and Sierra Leone. European and Scandinavian countries that don’t have the death penalty, enjoy less extreme violent crimes than the countries listed above. Death penalty cases can sometimes be discriminatory against the poorest and most vulnerable in society. It could be for anything like religion, mental disabilities, and government using it to silence their opponents.
The vast majority of the use of the death penalty in Sierra Leone, fell into the last category. The Hebrew Bible, Exodus 21:12 states that “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death” In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’s, however, reject the notion of retribution when he says “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” Yes there are some crimes like human sacrifice, or child killers, rapist that deserve the death penalty. But I think, the best punishment for such evil doers, is to lock them away and throw the keys. Never to be seen roaming our streets, to inflict damage again to civilised society.