Sierra Leone government moves to abolish death penalty

No execution has taken place in the country since 1998, and death penalties are often commuted.

Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio attends a press conference after a meeting with Ivorian President on 4 May 2018 at the presidential palace in Abidjan. Picture: AFP

FREETOWN - Sierra Leone's government will move to abolish the death penalty in the West African state, deputy justice minister Umaru Napoleon Koroma said on Wednesday.

No execution has taken place in the country since 1998, and death penalties are often commuted.

Sierra Leone, which is still recovering after decades of civil war, has frequently come under fire from rights groups for keeping capital punishment on the books.

"Once the legislation goes to parliament and gets approved, that ends the story of the death penalty," Koroma told AFP.

He added that the cabinet of President Julius Maada Bio had decided to push to abolish capital punishment in order to "uphold the fundamental human rights of Sierra Leoneans".

The date of the cabinet's decision is unclear.

But the government announced the move on Wednesday during a review of Sierra Leone's human rights record at the United Nations, Koroma said.

A diamond-rich former British colony, the nation of 7.5 million people remains one of the poorest in the world.

Sierra Leone's economy was ravaged by a 1991-2002 civil war that claimed 120,000 lives, followed by an Ebola epidemic from 2014 to 2016.

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