By Theresa Kef Sesay
Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu, the Hon. Speaker of Parliament, on the 23rd July 2021, ruled from his Chair following a unanimous vote or decision by Members of Parliament on the abolition and removal of the death penalty from the law books of Sierra Leone.
That decision marked the abolition of the death penalty meaning therefore that it has finally been removed from the law books of the country.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma, while trying to convince the House to see reason for the passage into law the abolition of the death penalty stated that Sierra Leone has joined 119 countries in the world that have abolished the death penalty, including 21 countries in Africa.
It could be recalled that in his election campaign, President Julius Maada Bio, made the removal or abolition of the death penalty a manifesto promise.
Anthony Y. Brewah, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, piloted the Bill.
The Bill entitled: “The Abolition of the Death Penalty Act, 2021” was approved by Parliament with a maximum penalty of not less than 30 years for a sentence of life imprisonment.
The Act seeks to abolish the death penalty in the case of persons convicted in Sierra Leone of murder under the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, robbery with aggravation under the Larceny Act, 1916, mutiny under the Sierra Leone Military Forces Act, 1961, treason and related offences under the Treason and State Offences Act 1963, and to make alternative provision for the punishment of persons so convicted and to provide for other related matters.
After lengthy debates and careful considerations in light of international best practice, and judging from its sad history in the country, when people had been killed without evidence and fabricated lies over the years, the death penalty has been removed from the law books of Sierra Leone with a vote of unanimity.
Representatives from Civil Society and Human Rights Organizations who were in Parliament to witness the debate and vote on the abolition of the death penalty were recognized by the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu. Parliament also solicited inputs from them before the abolition of the death penalty from the law books of Sierra Leone.