Sierra Leone abolishes the Death Penalty
On Friday 23rd July 2021, Sierra Leone’s Parliament unanimously abolished the death penalty by passing the Abolition of the Death Penalty Act.
Prior to this vote, the Deputy Justice Minister announced in May 2021 the State’s commitment to abolish capital punishment. Sierra Leone will become the 23rd abolitionist country in Africa once the President Julius Maada Bio, who welcomed the Parliament’s decision, approves the measure.
Under Sierra Leone’s 1991 Constitution, capital offenses included aggravated robbery, murder, treason, and mutiny. The maximum sentence for these offenses will now be amended to life imprisonment with a minimum 30-year jail term, with the allowance for judicial discretion in the sentencing phase.
Although no executions have been carried out since 1998 and death sentences are often commuted, 38 death sentences were handed down and 94 people were on death row on 2020, according to Amnesty International. For those individuals currently sentenced to death, World Coalition member in Sierra Leone, Society for Human Rights Development Organization says the sentences can either be commuted under the executive branch or resentenced by the judiciary.