Sierra Leone’s Abolishing Of Death Penalty A Major Victory

Parliament voted on 23 July to abolish the death penalty in Sierra Leone
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Photo: Amnesty International

Reacting to the news that Parliament voted on 23 July to abolish the death penalty in Sierra Leone, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director Samira Daoud said:

“Parliament’s vote in favour of abolishing the death penalty in Sierra Leone is a major victory for all those who tirelessly campaigned to consign this cruel punishment to history and a strengthening of the protection of the right to life.

“Now that the abolition Bill has been approved by Parliament, President Julius Maada Bio should, without delay, sign it into law and commute all death sentences.

“The President should also ensure that Sierra Leone immediately accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

"Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception because it violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which has no place in our world.”

Background

On 23 July 2021, the Parliament of Sierra Leone voted in favour of a Bill abolishing the death penalty. The Bill is required to receive the assent of President Julius Maada Bio before it becomes law.

In February, President Bio officially gave the directives for the death penalty to be abolished from Sierra Leone’s laws.

In May, in response to the calls of the international community in Geneva during Sierra Leone’s United Nations Universal Periodic Review, the Deputy Justice Minister announced the commitment of President Julius Maada Bio’s cabinet to fully abolish the death penalty.

Amnesty International’s latest report on the global use of the death penalty shows that recorded death sentences increased in Sierra Leone in 2020 compared with 2019 from 21 to 39. However, no executions were carried out in 2020; seven death sentences were commuted by the President; and 94 people were under the sentence of death at the end of 2020.

As of 30 June 2021, 22 African countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

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