Sierra Leone parliament debates Bill to abolish the death penalty

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 July 2021:

MPs in Sierra Leone last week debated new laws that will abolish the death penalty in the case of persons convicted in Sierra Leone for murder under the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, robbery with aggravation under the Larceny Act, 1916, mutiny under the Sierra Leone Military Forces Act 1961, treason and other related offences under the Treason and State Offences Act 1963.

If passed into law, the new Act will make alternative provisions for the punishment of those who committed murder under the above Acts.

Presenting the Bill, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Y. Brewah said that the intention of the Bill is not to eliminate the various offences, but to abolish the death penalty as a maximum sentence from our law books.

Hindolo Moiwo Gevao MP, described the day as historic and thanked President Bio for the implementation of his manifesto promise on the abolition of the death penalty from our law books. He recalled how leaders had used it to eliminate political opponents like Mohamed Sorie Fornah, Kula Samba and others; adding it has been expunged from the law books of most democratic countries in the world on the grounds that it had not prevented people from killing people, be it intentionally or not. Referring to the death penalty as an archaic law, he called for its replacement with life imprisonment.

Ajibola Manly- Spain MP said as opposition they appreciate the abolition of the death penalty from our law books but he cautioned it has to be done wholesomely with other crimes including arms and ammunitions. Speaking on the invitation to Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations, he called on Parliament to critically analyse the Bill to stand the test of time.

Emilia Lolloh Tongi, an Independent MP said the death penalty is the worst punishment for mankind, and spoke about the need for its abolishment from our law books and be replaced with life imprisonment.

Deputy Chief Whip, Alusine Kanneh MP said the abolition was needful and recalled many instances where it had been used against Mohamed Sorie Fornah and others. Speaking on the democratic credentials of this Government, he commended President Bio for delivering on his campaign promise regarding the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone.

Abdul Kargbo commended President Bio for the abolition of the death penalty and decried security forces for using disproportionate force against rioters in Makeni and other places in the country resulting in deaths.

The Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina in light of international best practices, thanked President Julius Maada Bio for delivering on his campaign promise regarding the abolition of the death penalty from our law books. He recalled how a brilliant Sierra Leonean, Mohamed Sorie Fornah was executed under this law, including Kula Samba and others. He also thanked the Fifth Parliament for being part of repealing and passing progressive laws for the development of Sierra Leone.

Dr. Mark M. Kalokoh MP thanked President Bio for the abolition of the death penalty. He recalled how a lot of people had been executed under this law including Mohamed Sorie Fornah, Kula Samba and others. Speaking on human rights, he condemned all forms of “extrajudicial killings” in the country.

Deputy Leader of Government Business, Bashiru Silikie thanked President Bio for delivering on his manifesto promise regarding the abolition of the death penalty. He recalled how President Bio on collective responsibility apologized to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the extrajudicial killings carried out by NPRC. He said the SLPP Government would not keep a bad law to be used by bad leaders in future to eliminate political opponents. He also recalled how it was used to eliminate political opponents such as Mohamed Sorie Fornah and others.

Moses A. Edwin commended President Julius Maada Bio for delivering on his promise on the abolition of the death penalty and called for necessary safeguards in respect of same.

Foday Mario Kamara supported the abolition of the death penalty and spoke on the need for safeguards. He called for education of the citizenry on the abolition of the death penalty.

Abdul Karim Kamara referenced efforts that have been made by Amnesty International on the abolition of death penalty. Speaking on justice and freedom in a democratic State, he called on Parliament to be cautionary in the passage of laws, following the incarcerations of small boys because of amendments on sexual offenses.

Dominic Tshombe also thanked President Bio for delivering on his campaign promise and called for critical examination of the Bill in light of the abolition of the death penalty from our law books.

Dr. Unpha Sorie Koroma thanked President for the repeal of the death penalty and recalled how his father-in-law, GMT Kaikai and others were eliminated as political opponents by this law. He spoke of safeguards for those hooligans who would say “ah go kill you en run you jail”.

The Leader of the Opposition, Chernor R.M. Bah said the sanctity of lives should not be mortgaged by either judicial or extrajudicial killings. He recalled how former president Ernest Bai Koroma had apologized in Moyamba for judicial killings perpetrated under the APC. He was opposed to disproportionate use of force that had been used by the police resulting in the loss of lives in several places in the country. Thanking President Bio and Parliament for the repeal, he promised that they would follow the process to the latter to ensure that the Bill would stand the test of time.

The Leader of Government Business, Mathew Sahr Nyuma said they are operating an open Parliament and thanked SLBC, AYV and FTN TV for live streaming of proceedings in Parliament. He said, as a Catholic, he believes in the doctrines that “thou shall not kill”. Speaking on safeguards, he thanked President Bio for delivering on his campaign promise regarding the abolition of the death penalty. He spoke on the need for the determination of alternative sentences and recalled how the death penalty was used to eliminate political opponents like Mohamed Sorie Fornah and others.

The Presiding Speaker of Parliament, Sengepoh Solomon Thomas has called on Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations to submit inputs in the form of either position papers or otherwise on the abolition of the death penalty, through the Office of the Clerk of Parliament for consideration by the Leadership of Parliament tomorrow 21st July,2021 at 10:00 AM.

13 Comments

  1. Mr Young4na we needed a law to prevent people like Bio that have no qualms going after his political opponents real or imagine to stop him excecuting people he deem are a threat to his government. We all saw him, on national television during the political crisis that hit our country during the early part of 2020.It is urgent because back then, men like Rt Marjor Poaulo Conteh was falsely accused of trying to shoot Bio in a meeting at State House after inviting him to attend a meeting with him during the initial outbreak of Covid19 . He was detained, and if you recalled the sense of relief we felt when a none guilty verdicts was announced. But let no one get carried away to think his not guilty verdict was made because we had an independent judiciary doing what it was suppose to do, instead of being used by Bio to harras his political opponents. The acquittal of Rt. Major Paolo Conteh, and the no show charges brought against Dr Sylvia Blyden for allegedly repeating an Opnion piece written by the then American Ambassador Maria Brewar, but for which Dr Blyden got into hot waters for doing the same.

    The pressure came from the British government and others. But we don’t want to be in a situation where our president only listened to our donor partners not the people that elected him. Just like Poalo Conteh, the false allegations against Dr Blyden, resulted in her property being ransacked by Sierra Leone Police, and the most disgraceful and shameful act of that episode, was the Commander of the Sierra Leone police force that led the raid holding up a portrait of former President Koroma, saying “Perhaps she will tell us who this person is”. Tbat tells you more than any other time, we need to abolish the death penalty. For the simple fact it has always been used by successive government to kill or harras political opponents.It has always been dangled by sitting governments to put the fear of God to their political opponents.

    If by repealing the death penalty law and saving the life of one Sierra Leone from the vandetta politics of Bio and people’s like him, is worth giving it a shot. Totally agreed with you, there are more urgent issues to address in our country. Corruption and poverty. But we should look at from the sum total of the political debate this law will have on our country . And most importantly is part of the missing jigsaw in our democratic dispensations.

  2. The subject of the death penalty always subjects me to a mode of turmoil. It’s a highly sensitive and delicate issue which should not be dealt with in haste, as parliamentarians seem to be be doing. They should spend a considerable amount of time debating the subject before coming down on one side or the other. They must remember that a country should base its laws on its own unique experience and circumstances. It’s not about what Amnesty International think, it’s about the entity called Sierra Leone, an African country, that’s undergoing huge transformation. The people have altered since the rebel war; the murder rate is in an upward trend. If the rate escalates ,Amnesty International won’t come the rescue of the country as the world press, particularly the Western Press, starts to tear the country apart as one of the murder capitals of the world. This would add to the negatives that the country is already receiving publicity for – poor economy, crime, poor governance, corruption, disregard for the Rule of Law, an unprofessional judiciary etc.

    Anyone who is scantily aware of the recent history of Sierra Leone should know that the death penalty has been unjustly applied when politics forms the background, countless souls have been lost unnecessarily, with the Executive Branch of government directing everything in the shadows in the unshakable belief that they would live forever, while wielding unchallenged power. Within this vein we have also had politically motivated extrajudicial killings.

    Viewing all angles of the death penalty therefore, Parliament should uphold the death penalty with the most strict and exhausting guidelines. Politically Siaka Stevens was was never my cup of tea, never will be, but I shall always give him credit for the way he dealt with two murder cases in Freetown – Wellington Street and Mammy Yoko Street. I was a boy then, but one could sense the calm which descended on the nation after the executions. All corners of the country rudely realised that Sheki would sign the death warrant of a properly convicted murderer in seconds. We must deal with issues as we perceive them as a nation. Singapore even has the death penalty for the possession of illegal drugs. We are an independent sovereign nation. Outsiders should never tell us what to do.

  3. The article clearly analyses the problem. The issue at hand is not the death penalty, rather the abuse of the legal system for political purposes. Over the years sucessive governments have shown a disregard for the rule of law. Abolition of the death penalty will give carte blanche to the security forces to shoot at will. The consequences will be negligible due to life imprisonment, as the perpetrators will just wait for their party to return to the seat of power. Example: what happened to the thug who stabbed John Benjamin’s supporter in Kenema?

  4. It really baffles me when i hear people talk about abolishing death penalty in a country where everyone can do whatever they want and “e leff boff.” Are you all out of your minds.Even the fathers of democracy-USA&EU have death penalties(for egregious crimes and offenders)Who the hell is SIERRA LEONE not to have one.Gentlemen,there is a reason for our most beloved (God Almighty)to creat HELL AND HEAVEN.With all the love he has for us,even though he knows so well that we are humans we are capable of mistakes,yet he kept HELL out there for those very disobedient and problematic individuals, whom he very well knows will never change regardless.(No wonder US still get den yone). As fragile as Sierra Leone is, though we are yet to see the types of heinous crimes that are happening out there in some other countries, happens here in Sierra Leone,that does not mean we are safe for good.We will be doomed if we chose to.(abolish death) Besides, our country has actually not yet well developed to a level where we can be rest assured that some scrupulous individuals will forever going to stay humbled, well behaved and stay away from trouble.

    Give yourself a break,Not me! If it does not happened in the US and EU,tell me with your right sense of mind where in Sierra Leone will that happened? This is the land where the rights of its citizens are trampled upon with impunity.No one to fight for the common people.Those whose sole responsibility is to fight for the common people are the very ones who turn around and do the unthinkable.All under the name of “tribal lines,dis na wi govment” That’s why we as Sierra Leoneans should “Kip tik bien do for di dae wae wi neba go krays” Feel me?

    Death penalty is not about killing people for stealing,or disagreeing with your political opinion,or for you being a GREEN or RED Candidate or supporter.Far from it!It’s about those who commits crimes that fall under the death penalty criteria.Have you heard of what happened in Haiti recently? So dont forget that the world has emerged and evolving.The types of crimes we are seeing happening now,will be five or ten times more,in the next hundred years when Sierra Leone would have attain a well balanced democracy,where people will use all modern means in committing crimes to their fellow citizens.If we are to “make hay while the sunshines” it is now.
    #Gbath gbarang!…

  5. I certainly don’t credit president Bio for the repealing of the death penalty Act. Since taking office back in 2018, Bio has two constituents that he is working to please. Maybe for the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans, the lights on Bio’s popularity are deeming slowly. But for Bio and his supporters, he sees his political future in the gutter politics of Sierra-leone, as clear as day light. Meanwhile the political opposition are caught with their knickers on the twist amongst themselves . Bio must looking at the opposition, with all their snitches embarking on a self harm, back stabbings, disunity, and driving in a dead end road with no U-Turns alternative in sight. Bio must be wacthing all this with mock disbelief and laughing his head off. He has succeed to give the opposition the rope. Now all he has to do is to sit in safty of State and watch them hang themselves. In his heart of heart is the only death penalty he will relish for the opposition .

    Frankly speaking, Bio has no regards, or anything close to that, what the vast majority of people that cast their wasted vote think of him. He cares more about the opinion of our international partners like our Western donor communities , than the ordinary residents of Freetown or Pujehun District think of him. Sometimes, when you see this president that have spare headed more killings of ordinary Sierra Leoneans, one day in 2020, forty unarmed prisoners at the custody of the State of Sierra Leone, not a word from Bio, a record massacre of innocent people by any sitting president, caught in the vandetta politices of what was happening outside the gates of Pademba road prison. But for Bio and his supporters, he needed to send a a clear and unambiguous message to anyone who dares think to make Sierra Leone ungovernable, and undermined his government and authority . That murder of unarmed prisoners, at the mercy of Bio’s security agents, was an unforgivable act of political suppression by other means.

    But that was not the first time Bio was involved of dragging people who were already in prison, and excecuting them for political expediently. To many you are more likely to be executed for events that is happening outside the prison gates which you are never part of , than being executed for political events you are accused of taken part in and sent on remand at Pademba Road prison in the first place . And now, suddenly we should up be out there wearing custom made T shirts bearing his face, and Market Women wearing “Ahsobi “with Bio’s face splash across lappa , cheering and singing his praise for abolition of the death penalty. What a load of horse shxxt! The killing of political prisoners for which Bio is aware of goes back to the first NPRC junta of 1992,in which Hon. Bambay Kamara and others were taken out of their cell rooms and summary excecuted. A leopard will never shed its spot, come rain, or sun shine.If Bio was truly ready for his Atonement, for his past deeds, he should have firstly apologies to the families of those that were excecuted by the State of Sierra Leone. Set up a compensation scheme for the families of that lost their loved ones. Because lets face, men like Mo Bash Taqi, Dr. Fornah, and many more others that found themselves dragged in front of Kangaroo courts, whether is military courts, or civilian courts , never fired a gun in anger. Some of them won’t hurt a fly. Some of the civilians, I doubt whether they know how to handle a gun let alone attempt to assassinate a sitting president at State House. This act by Bio, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

  6. Before the apparent frenzy being observe by some of my respectable forumites get out of control, i will like to pose a series of rhetorical questions that deserves some reflections. 1. While the death penalty is an archaic law and surely needs revisiting, how much of an impact or deterrence has this law provided since it existence when it comes to heinous crimes in the nation? 2.Besides the politically machinated killings in the 80s during the old APC, 1992 by the NPRC, and lastly 1998 by the SLPP, what other time was a private citizen executed due to this law? 3. Knowing fully well the ineffective nature of this law and how rarely it’s being use, what is the urgency or fanfare behind it while other pertinent issues that are killing citizens in droves year in and year out are being neglected?

    Forgive me people with rationality, but i am confuse as to wether there is any significance in this latest development, especially so when the application of the law in question is seldom and its repeal is negligible. The question then becomes, is this whole exercise a publicity stunt when you factor in all the political killings that have taken place in the past 3 years and absolutely no one is being held account. Do these politicians really cares about citizens lives or wellbeing? Please spare me the sh***t show!!

  7. According to amnesty international” the death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence “. We cannot and should not under estimate the importance of abolishing this heinous crime against its citizens by the state. As Dr Unpha Sorie Koroma pointed out in the late eighties trial and exceution of Gbriel M. T. Kai Kai and others like former vice president FM Minah. I recalled in Makeni town hall APC Congress meeting President Momoh making a passing comments to a crowd about that ver so called coup plot against his government, as the trial gets under way. In any democracy with independent judiciary, those comments sized on by Minah’s and others defence Anthony’s, would have been declared obstruction of justice by a sitting head of state. The out come of the treason trials would have been thrown in the air. There are many Sierra Leoneans that have unnecessary lost their lives, on the orders of the state. Both by military and civilian governments .

    Starting in the seventies to more recently during and after the RUF wars. Brigadier John Amadu Bangura, Cpt. MS Turay,Cpt. SI Koroma, Private M. March, Cpt.A.Y Kamara. Cpt I Turay, private A. S. Scribal, Cpt. A Saffa. Sgt. A. B. Kamara. Lance-Cpl. M. Ellie, Lanc-Cpl E Esson. Apart from Brigadier Bangura that was executed in the 1970s this later group was exceuted during Major Johnny Paul Koroma military junta. Then on Monday 12th October Colonel. Tom Carew found 34 of the 37 soldiers on trial guilty of treason. Subsequently 24 were executed. They were Cpl.Tamba Gborie, Sgt Alfred Abu Sankoh, Brigadier. Hassan Karim Conteh, Colin. Max Kanga, Col. Francis Yerimah Koroma, (he was the elder brother of Johnny Paul Koroma) Ltd. Car. Samuel K and U-boat Gilbert, Ltd. Col. David Boisy Palmer, Col John Amadu Conteh, Major. Kula Samba, Maj. Abdul Masaaki Koroma, Maj. Augustin Fannah kamara, Maj. Mayoh Conteh, Capt Albert Johnny Moore, Capt. Abubakarr Kamara, Capt Simbo Sankoh, Captain Idrisssa Keita Khemolai. Ltd.Jim Kelly Jalloh, Cpt Josiah Boisy prattle, Ltd. Marouf Sesay, Col PF. Foday and Ltd. Col. Abdul Aziz Dumbaya.

    And don’t start me listing the civilians like Mo Bas Taqi, former inspector General of police Hon. Bambay Kamara, Conrad Inis,and many others because of space I could go on for ever. May the souls of this people rest in peace. There are many Sierra leoneans families bleeding at heart. I hope we put an end to this barbaric practice. According to amnesty international “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” I couldn’t agree with them more.

    • What a national loss and tragedy! Many thanks Mr Abraham amadu jalloh for providing this solemn and partial list. All those responsible for the killings of those Men and Women in the name of treason will go to hell by the grace of God. Amen and Amen. Father God. Rest In Peace Oh Dearly Missed Great Men and Women of Sierra Leone. God is on your side.

  8. The foremost duties and principal obligations of any legitimate government anywhere in the world is to ensure that Justice,Security and Peace are provided and guaranteed without fear or favor to all of the people under their rule. You cannot create a nation that flip-flops on critical issues like Murder and expect it to be free of lawlessness and sickening criminal behaviors; Perhaps the Western Nations that are brazenly promote violence as a means to achieve an end on their eerie, superficial, Box office Hollywood movies can answer this: At what point is it okay to sensibly draw the line on violence and boldly say enough is enough? Please stop your putting words in the mouths of our gullible leaders and leave Africa to make important decisions for herself that will fit our poor,unstable,fragile countries perfectly like a key inside its rightful padlock. I mean let’s call a spade a spade; In the United States there are Gun shops loaded with live ammo and stores full of Liquor standing next to them beckoning the angry and depressed to drink themselves to death or kill others in cold blood for a thing as trivial as a pair of shoes and a 24 karat gold chain.

    In Africa there are no loaded Gun shops anywhere you can just walk into with cash and buy yourself a firearm. Nope! see our societies are not the same. Over there you can get killed for wearing the wrong colours, here people are butchered over tribal and political differences. Our societies are not the same – Let England do what is best for the interest of her people and let Sierra Leone also be allowed to do the same.

    Now in cases where someone is killed without malice or an intention to seriously harm the victim like in a car accident or an act of negligence like fires left by itself to rage out of control,then the Death Penalty would not be appropriate – the charge of Manslaughter will suffice. But listen folks,where the innocent is murdered in cold blood like those prisoners in Pademba road – It is only the Death Penalty and nothing less that those involved deserve.

  9. Ladies and Gentlemen. Suppose this bill is approved and becomes law; it will be the most outstanding achievement of President Bio. If no other rioting happens in Sierra Leone where people will be killed unnecessarily, President will enter the history books as one of Africa’s greatest statesmen. Politics aside, all Sierra Leoneans must be proud to live in a country without the death penalty.

    I have been against the death penalty for ages, and it seems that we will boot it out of our law books forever. Is President Bio trying to pursue the comeback strategy for 2023? It remains to be seen. God bless president Bio for such a blessing happening under his watch for our beloved country. Yeah.

  10. Gentlemen – What are all these unthinking MPs doing? Outrightly abolishing the Death Penalty in Sierra Leone a fragile, volatile nation that is now transformed into a Ticking Time bomb is a very big mistake. Answer – And why won’t a Coup-plotter that slaughtered innocent people in cold blood like chickens now seek the ways of repentance through his penitent efforts by abolishing the Death Penalty in our beloved Sierra Leone? Is this the way of expressing remorse by a conscience stricken man? Sorry Mr President you can forgive yourself but you will have to prostrate yourself in front of the families of your victims in copious tears for them to forgive and show you mercy. Sir, a mere stroke of your golden pen cannot grant you Salvation and please be reminded that Repentance can be attained through our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ alone.

    What are these MPs thinking? Where have all the clear thinkers gone to? Are there no longer any wise men in Sierra Leone resembling ancient sea Turtles? All I hear is superficial praises for the Man in State House – Not a single word for the rights of Victims. Goodness gracious! What about the innocent victims? What the hell kind of country is this one? What an ugly thing my country has become? Pragmatism, diligence and thoughtfulness no longer exist in Sierra Leone – They are all busy building flimsy and superficial foundations that will never stand the test of time. This Presidents aim is to build us sandcastles instead of massive structures made of stone and the clumsy Opposition is providing him the sand to do it. (lol)

    Oh mercy me! Seriously,have these people considered that there are men and women among us who would prefer to die rather than apologise to their innocent victims? So, this is what it has come to huh? Honorable members,men and women in our ineffective Parliament – Giving rapists, arsonists, cannibals, serial killers, armed robbers a free licence to commit atrocious and heinous crimes huh? Inshallah, this nation will not crumble into dust because of you people.

  11. Death penalty – I dont think is the soulution. But killing innocent is also a heavy crime; so lets be aware. Dont let the system make you kill your brother man. Humanbeing needs peace, love and harmony.

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