Sierra Leone lawmakers on Friday voted unanimously in the parliament to abolish the death penalty, reported CGTN Africa, reported Africa News.
The country’s constitution allowed the court to give the death penalty for cases involving aggravated robbery, murder, treason, and mutiny.
The death penalty will now be replaced with life imprisonment or a minimum of 30 years of jail term.
“Today, I have fulfilled a governance pledge to permanently abolish the death penalty in Sierra Leone. I thank citizens, members of Parliament, development partners, and right groups that have steadfastly stood with us to make history,” President Julius Maada Bio said on Twitter.
President Bio will next have to sign the abolition for it to become a law. Once approved, Sierra Leone will become the 23rd African country to end capital punishment.
The move to end the death penalty will affect some 94 people who were handed over capital punishment as of June 2021.
Notably, nobody with capital punishment has been executed in Sierra Leone since 1998, and death sentences have often been commuted. In 1998, 24 military officers were hanged after a coup attempt the year before.
A truth and reconciliation commission set up in 2005 to investigate the brutal conflict recommended abolishing the death penalty, calling it “an affront to civilized society”
The diamond-rich former British colony, which is home to about 7.5 million people, remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The country was ravaged by a 1991-2002 civil war that resulted in the death of over 120,000 people.
According to the International Rights Group, Amnesty International, 108 countries across the world have abolished the death penalty by 2020, while 144 had abolished it in law or in practice.
Two African countries Malawi and Chad abolished the death penalty recently. Malawi ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional in April this year, while Chad abolished it in 2020.