Presenting the report on Monday, Madam Swallow urged president Dr. Julius Maada Bio to formally pronounce the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone and for the Government to take immediate legislative steps to amend or repeal all existing legislations which provide for death penalty in the country. She said the death penalty has been a contentious and highly debatable issue for decades.
“Death penalty was and still is in some countries accepted as fair punishment by government bodies,” President Swallow said, adding that, “the utilization of capital punishment to right a heinous wrong started since the beginning of civilization, however as humans are dynamic and susceptible to change, the trend gradually changed realising certain shortfalls, which the utilisation of death penalty poses.”
According to her, many strides have been taken towards the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone, stressing that the Government is yet to take concrete steps towards the amendment of the Constitution which provides the legal basis for death penalty.
“SLBA recalls that in its final Report, the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2000, made imperative recommendations, inter alia, for the abolition of the death penalty and the amendment of section 16 (1) of The Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 to incorporate the principle that the right to life is inviolable,” President Swallow said.
She averred that the SLBA acknowledges Sierra Leone’s acceptance of the recommendation from the UN Human Rights Council to abolish the death penalty subject to constitutional review in 2011.
Referencing one of the recommendations of the Justice Edmond Cowan led Constitutional Review Committee, she said it was recommended that the death penalty should be abolished.
After her compelling legal justifications for the abolition of the death penalty, President Swallow concluded that there is no evidence in Sierra Leone proving that death penalty is a deterrent capital offences. She said that SLBA strongly believes in the right to life and therefore calls on the Government to take immediate steps to amend all enabling legislations regarding the death penalty.
Receiving the SLBA’s position paper, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Y. Brewah commended the SLBA’s leadership and assured that the Government is in full support of the abolition of the death penalty.
He said Cabinet has so far approved the Government’s position on same and very soon it will be tabled in the House of Parliament to go through the legislative process.
story credit: Sierra Leone Bar Association