Sierra Leone has become the latest African state and the 110th country worldwide to end capital punishment when the president signed a new law banning the death penalty last Friday (article available here).
“We should not, we shall not and we will never again execute any persons in this sovereign republic,” he said, denouncing capital punishment as “inhumane” and declaring that the country had “exorcised horrors of a cruel past.”
In June, lawmakers voted unanimously to replace the death sentence for crimes like murder and treason with sentences ranging from 30 years in prison to a maximum sentence of life in prison. Judges will consider mitigating circumstances to determine the appropriate sentence within that range.
Sierra Leone is one of 23 countries in Africa that have abolished capital punishment. In April, Malawi ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, while Chad abolished it in 2020. In 2019, the African human rights court ruled that mandatory imposition of the death penalty by Tanzania was “patently unfair”.