After Malawi and Chad, Sierra Leone abolished the death penalty on Friday. A step forward that is welcomed by human rights and civil society organizations, who, however, believe that this is only the first step.
The Post-War Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone. It was a commitment from the authorities before the last vote. It’s ready now. The National Assembly voted on Friday, July 23, to abolish the death penalty. The death penalty will now be replaced by a life sentence or at least 30 years.
Ibrahim Tommy, Executive Director of the Center for Accountability and the Rule of Law, welcomes this step forward. “We agree with a number of countries around the world that consider the death penalty barbaric, that it is wrong to give the state the right to use force against its own citizens. So it is a welcome development and I think it is a huge victory for the protection of human rights in Sierra Leone, he responds.
No workmanship for more than 20 years
However, Ibrahim Tommy is still vigilant. The text has not yet been signed by President Julius Maada Bio. The courts of Sierra Leone sentenced more than 80 people to death between 2016 and 2020, according to the UN, but the last executions were in 1998, when 24 army officers were killed after a coup attempt a year ago. “We must ensure that it is applied effectively by ensuring that those who have been sentenced to death receive their commute to life imprisonment and that it is applied correctly,” he stressed.
Among the next battles to be waged, this activist assures: the criminalization of female genital mutilation or the legalization of abortion.