Death Penalty Database

Sierra Leone

Information current as of: July 16, 2014

General

Official Country Name

Republic of Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Western Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. The last execution was carried out in 1998. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging.
Hanging is the method of execution provided by law. [4]

Shooting.
Media reports indicate that the last known execution was carried out by firing squad. In October 1998, a firing squad publicly executed 24 soldiers for taking part in a military coup. Firing squad members were in battle gear with their faces masked by leaves. Each condemned prisoner was hooded and tied to a stake. [5]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Sierra Leone Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094377, May 21, 2013.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Oct. 31, 2013.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Execution of 24 soldiers after an unfair trial: a blow to reconciliation in Sierra Leone, AFR 51/020/1998, Oct. 19, 1998. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, https://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[4] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 211, Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[5] The New York Times, 24 Linked to Coup Executed in Sierra Leone, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/20/world/24-linked-to-coup-executed-in-sierra-leone.html, Oct. 20, 1998.

Country Details

Language(s)

The major languages are English, Krio, and other African languages. [1]

Population

6,100,000 (UN, 2012). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

0.

In 2010, there were 13 prisoners on death row. [3] Recent presidential pardons contributed to emptying death row - according to Amnesty International, there were no prisoners on death row by the end of 2012. [4] A man was sentenced to death in 2013 (the first death sentence since 2011) and was the only person under sentence of death until recently. [5] In May 2014, however, Minister of Justice Franklyn Bai Kargbo told the United Nations that Sierra Leone intended to abolish capital punishment in law and that the death sentences of the country’s last death row prisoners had been commuted to life imprisonment. [6]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on December 6, 2017)

0. [7]

Executions in 2016

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions.

Executions in 2012

0. [12]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions.

Executions in 2011

0. [13]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions.

Executions in 2010

0. [14]

Executions in 2009

0. [15]

Executions in 2008

0. [16]

Executions in 2007

0. [17]

Year of Last Known Execution

1998. [18]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Sierra Leone Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094377, May 21, 2013.
[2] BBC, Country Profiles: Sierra Leone Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14094377, May 21, 2013.
[3] Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone et al., Submission by a Coalition of Sierra Leone NGOs for the UN Universal Periodic Review of Sierra Leone, p. 2, http://upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/js1jointsubmission1-eng.pdf, 2010.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 44, ACT 50/001/2013, Apr. 10, 2013.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone to speed up death penalty abolition, AFR 51/001/2014, May 6, 2014.
[7] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[8] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[9] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Execution of 24 soldiers after an unfair trial: a blow to reconciliation in Sierra Leone, AFR 51/020/1998, Oct. 20, 1998. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, https://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Murder.
According to reports by organizations and media, murder is punishable by death and may be punished by the mandatory death penalty.

A man was sentenced to death in September 2002 for a ritual murder. [1] The Death Penalty Project indicates that a woman identified as “MSK” was convicted of murder and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2007. [2] Amnesty International reports that Baby Allieu was sentenced to death for murder in November 2010, and two death sentences were pronounced for murder in May 2011. [3] Another person was sentenced to death for murder in September 2013. [4]

Amnesty International reported in 2009 that the draft Constitution provides for the death penalty for murder. [5] We found no recent information on the status of this draft Constitution.

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
According to The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone imposes the death penalty for aggravated robbery. [6]

Amnesty International reported in 2009 that the draft Constitution provides for the death penalty for robbery with violence. [7] We found no recent information on the status of this draft Constitution.

Treason.
Reports indicate that treason is a death-eligible offense.

In October 1998, 24 soldiers were executed for their involvement in a coup. [8] Amnesty International reported that 10 men were sentenced to death for treason in December 2004. [9]

Amnesty International reported in 2009 that the draft Constitution provides for the death penalty for treason. [10] We found no recent information on the status of this draft Constitution.

Comments.
We were unable to locate relevant legislation for death-eligible crimes during our research. However, news resources, reports, and international and domestic discussions related to the death penalty in Sierra Leone indicate that murder, treason, and aggravated robbery are death-eligible. [11]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Unsure. Although the Court of Appeal of Sierra Leone ruled in Fornah v. State (1975) that death sentences are discretionary and not mandatory, [12] a woman identified as “MK” was reportedly sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for murder in 2007. [13] However, the Court of Appeal overturned her conviction in 2011, after which she was released immediately. [14]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

It is unclear whether Sierra Leone applies the mandatory death penalty. According to The Death Penalty Project, a woman received the mandatory death penalty for murder in 2007. [15] However, the Court of Appeal overturned her conviction in 2011, after which she was released immediately. [16]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

None. No individuals have been executed since 1998. [17]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
The Criminal Procedure Act stipulates that those who had not attained the age of 18 at the time of the crime may not be sentenced to death. [18] Sierra Leone is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibit executions of juvenile offenders. [19]

Pregnant Women.
The Criminal Procedure Act states that “if there be reasonable cause for believing” that a woman convicted of a death-eligible crime is pregnant, she shall receive life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. [20]

Mentally Ill.
The Criminal Procedure Act provides that proceedings on the case shall be postponed if the accused or the defendant is of “unsound mind” and “incapable of making his defence.” [21] However, if the accused is of “sound mind” during the preliminary investigation, the court shall proceed with the case, notwithstanding that it is alleged that the accused was incapable of knowing the nature of the offense due to the “unsoundness of mind.” [22]

We found no laws prohibiting capital punishment for individuals suffering from mental illness at the time of sentencing or execution of sentence.

References

[1] Reuters, Man to die for ritual murder, News24, http://www.news24.com/xArchive/Archive/Man-to-die-for-ritual-murder-20020911, Sep. 11, 2002.
[2] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[6] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Execution of 24 soldiers after an unfair trial: a blow to reconciliation in Sierra Leone, AFR 51/020/1998, Oct. 20, 1998. The New York Times, 24 Linked to Coup Executed in Sierra Leone, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/10/20/world/24-linked-to-coup-executed-in-sierra-leone.html, Oct. 20, 1998.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Amnesty International expresses dismay at 10 death sentences for treason, AFR 51/009/2004, Dec. 21, 2004.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[11] Mohamed Fofanah, Death Penalty-Sierra Leone: Successful Appeal Strengthens Case for Abolition, Inter Press Service, http://www.ipsnews.net/2008/12/death-penalty-sierra-leone-successful-appeal-strengthens-case-for-abolition/, Dec. 12, 2008. Lotta Teale, The Review of the Constitution: What the Report Says and Should Sierra Leone Make These Changes?, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, http://www.carl-sl.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=201:the-review-of-the-constitution-what-the-report-says-and-should-sierra-leone-make-these-changes&catid=10:commentaries&Itemid=21, Feb. 9, 2007. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 20, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[12] The Death Penalty Project, Fornah v State, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/case_authorities/144, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[13] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[14] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[15] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[16] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Execution of 24 soldiers after an unfair trial: a blow to reconciliation in Sierra Leone, AFR 51/020/1998, Oct. 20, 1998. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, https://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[18] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 216, Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[19] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 7, 2014. Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 7, 2014. List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified/Acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/African%20Charter%20on%20the%20Rights%20and%20Welfare%20of%20the%20Child.pdf, Mar. 1, 2010.
[20] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 215, Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[21] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 71(2), Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[22] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 72, Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

August 23, 1996. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

August 23, 1996. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [7]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable. Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable. Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable. Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable. Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [9]

Date of Accession

September 21, 1983. [10]

Signed?

Yes. [11]

Date of Signature

August 27, 1981. [12]

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

No. [13]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Yes. [14]

Date of Signature

December 9, 2003. [15]

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [16]

Date of Accession

May 13, 2002. [17]

Signed?

Yes. [18]

Date of Signature

April 14, 1992. [19]

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable. Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Not Applicable. Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [20]

Vote

In Favor. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [22]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [23]

Vote

In Favor. [24]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [25]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [26]

Vote

In Favor. [27]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [28]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [29]

Vote

Abstained. [30]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [31]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [32]

Vote

Abstained. [33]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [34]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [35]

Vote

Abstained. [36]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [37]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Apr. 13, 2014.
[9] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[10] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[11] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[12] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[13] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[14] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[15] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[16] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[17] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[18] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[19] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[20] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[21] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[22] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[23] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[24] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[25] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[26] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[27] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[28] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[29] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[30] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[31] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[32] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[33] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[34] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[35] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[36] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[37] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

The constitution states “[n]o person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Sierra Leone, of which he has been convicted.” [1]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Sierra Leone’s “foreign policy objectives” are constitutionally mandated to promote “respect for international law and treaty obligations” and regional and international cooperation, [2] but there is no reference to international human rights law.

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

Although it still occasionally hands down death sentences, [3] Sierra Leone has not carried out any executions since 1998 [4] and has been moving towards abolition for several years. In May 2014, Minister of Justice Franklyn Bai Kargbo told the United Nations that Sierra Leone intended to abolish capital punishment in law and that the death sentences of the country’s last death row prisoners had been commuted to life imprisonment. [5]

In 2004, a report by the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission made the abolition of the death penalty one of its key recommendations. [6] It called for the repeal of laws authorizing the death penalty, a moratorium on all executions, and the commutation of all pending death sentences. [7] Since then, civil society and human rights defenders have been working to ensure the implementation of the report, and government officials including former President Koroma and Foreign Minister Manura Kamara have noted that “the abolition of the death penalty is desired by every civilized nation.” [8] Howard Varney, the former chief investigator of the TRC, stated that “[t]he conflict period resulted in the demeaning of human life and dignity. The state must now set the example by demonstrating that it places the highest value on all human life. The abolition of the death penalty will mark an important and symbolic departure from the past to the future.” [9] The recommendation by the TRC was categorized as “imperative,” and the government was to implement it “without delay.” [10] Amnesty International notes that as part of the constitutional review process, the Committee for Human Rights is considering abolition. [11]

For the 50th anniversary of independence, the government of Sierra Leone pardoned at least four death row prisoners and commuted all other death sentences except one to life imprisonment in April 2011. [12] More pardons were issued on Independence Day in 2012, [13] and only one new death sentence has been imposed since 2011. [14]

Sierra Leone abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly’s Resolution on a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty in 2007, 2008, and 2010, and signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation in 2011. [15] However, Sierra Leone voted in favor of the moratorium for the first time in 2012. [16] In its national report to the Human Rights Council in 2011, Sierra Leone indicated that there was de facto moratorium on the death penalty. [17] In the Universal Periodic Review concluded in September 2011, Sierra Leone accepted in principle the recommendations to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, establish a de jure moratorium on the application of the death penalty, abolish capital punishment, ensure that the commutation of the death penalty is a part of the Constitutional review process, and support the General Assembly’s resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty. [18] During the same month, the Minister of Justice met with an Amnesty International delegation and confirmed that Sierra Leone had established an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty. [19]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

In 2011, Sierra Leone accepted the Human Rights Council’s recommendation to establish a de jure moratorium on the application of the death penalty, [20] and the Minister of Justice reportedly confirmed that Sierra Leone had established an official moratorium. [21] It voted in favor of the UN General Assembly’s Resolution on a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty for the first time in 2012. [22] In May 2014, Minister of Justice Franklyn Bai Kargbo told the United Nations that Sierra Leone intended to abolish capital punishment in law and that the death sentences of the country’s last death row prisoners had been commuted to life imprisonment. [23]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

In its 1975 decision in Fornah v. State, the Court of Appeal of Sierra Leone held that the death penalty was discretionary, not mandatory. [24] According to The Death Penalty Project, a woman received the mandatory death penalty for murder in 2007. [25] However, her conviction was overturned on appeal in 2011 and she was immediately released. [26]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

There are no comprehensive resources on judicial decisions regarding death penalty. The last law reports were published in 1973. [27] One can access some judgments by the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, and Special Court on the Sierra Leone Legal Information Institute website (http://www.sierralii.org/).

What is the clemency process?

The President may grant a convicted person a pardon, respite, commutation, or remittal, according to the advice of a committee appointed by the Cabinet. [28] The President granted several pardons and commuted several death sentences to life imprisonment in 2011 [29] and 2012. [30]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Yes. The Criminal Procedure Acts provides that any death-eligible offense tried before the Supreme Court shall be tried by a jury consisting of twelve men. [31] The law, which dates from 1965, implies that the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to try murder and treason, two capital offenses. [32] We were unable to locate any amendments to the law or determine whether capital offenses are still tried before the country’s highest appellate court.

A media report from 2010 suggests that the jury system is used only for capital offences. [33]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Under the Criminal Procedure Acts, the Court must inform every person condemned to death of his or her right to appeal or file for leave to appeal and the period within which the appeal or leave must be filed. [34] A death sentence cannot be executed until the deadline to file the appeal or application for leave has passed or the appeal or application is finally rejected. [35]

A capital conviction may be appealed to the Court of Appeal. [36] A person condemned to death may also petition for “special leave to appeal” to the Supreme Court. [37] The Constitution states that “an appeal shall lie from a judgment, decree or order of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court,” and the Supreme Court has “power to entertain any application for special leave to appeal…to the Supreme Court, and to grant such leave accordingly.” [38]

For appeals from court-martial decisions involving a sentence of death, the appellant must submit his appeal to the Registrar within ten days of his court-martial, or the Court of Appeal will not consider the appeal. [39]

References

[1] The Constitution of Sierra Leone, art. 16, Act No. 6 of 1991, Oct. 1, 1991, as amended through to Jul. 31, 2008.
[2] The Constitution of Sierra Leone, art. 10, Act No. 6 of 1991, Oct. 1, 1991, as amended through to Jul. 31, 2008.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Execution of 24 soldiers after an unfair trial: a blow to reconciliation in Sierra Leone, AFR 51/020/1998, Oct. 20, 1998. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, https://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Apr. 3, 2014.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone to speed up death penalty abolition, AFR 51/001/2014, May 6, 2014.
[6] Rachael Hancock, Abolishing the death penalty in Sierra Leone, The International, http://www.theinternational.org/articles/500-abolishing-the-death-penalty-in-sierra-le, Feb. 18, 2014.
[7] Mohamed Fofanah, Death Penalty-Sierra Leone: Successful Appeal Strengthens Case for Abolition, Inter Press Service, http://www.ipsnews.net/2008/12/death-penalty-sierra-leone-successful-appeal-strengthens-case-for-abolition/, Dec. 12, 2008.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 19, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009. Rachael Hancock, Abolishing the death penalty in Sierra Leone, The International, http://www.theinternational.org/articles/500-abolishing-the-death-penalty-in-sierra-le, Feb. 18, 2014.
[9] Reprieve, Reprieve Review: Protecting the Human Rights of People Facing the Death Penalty, vol. 1, p. 5, http://www.reprieve.org.uk/static/downloads/Reprieve_Review_Volume_1_.pdf, Feb. 2005.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: President Koroma must commute all death row prisoners, AFR 51/003/2009, Apr. 27, 2009.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 44, ACT 50/001/2013, Apr. 10, 2013.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[15] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007. U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[16] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[17] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, para. 95, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/11/SLE/1, Feb. 14, 2011.
[18] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sierra Leone, paras. 82.3-82.4, 82.14-82.25, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/18/10, Jul. 11, 2011. U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sierra Leone: Addendum, pp. 2-3, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/18/10/Add.1, Sep. 13, 2011.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 51, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[20] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sierra Leone, paras. 82.14, 82.16, 82.23-82.24, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/18/10, Jul. 11, 2011. U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sierra Leone: Addendum, pp. 2-3, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/18/10/Add.1, Sep. 13, 2011.
[21] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 51, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[22] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[23] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone to speed up death penalty abolition, AFR 51/001/2014, May 6, 2014.
[24] The Death Penalty Project, Fornah v State, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/case_authorities/144, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[25] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[26] The Death Penalty Project, Sierra Leone, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/where-we-operate/africa/sierra-leone/, last accessed Mar. 7, 2014.
[27] Hanatu Kabbah, Sierra Leone Legal System and Legal Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/sierra_leone.htm, Nov. 2006.
[28] The Constitution of Sierra Leone, art. 63(1), Act No. 6 of 1991, Oct. 1, 1991, as amended through to Jul. 31, 2008.
[29] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[30] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 44, ACT 50/001/2013, Apr. 10, 2013.
[31] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, arts. 131, 143, Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[32] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, arts. 130, 131(1), Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[33] Lennart Dodoo, Abolish the Jury System, Liberian Daily Observer, http://www.liberianobserver.com/node/6269, May 11, 2010.
[34] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 212, Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[35] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 213(1), Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[36] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 213(1)(b), Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[37] Criminal Procedure Acts of Sierra Leone, art. 213(2), Law No. 32 of 1965, Oct. 7, 1965.
[38] The Constitution of Sierra Leone, art. 123, Act No. 6 of 1991, Oct. 1, 1991, as amended through to Jul. 31, 2008.
[39] The Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone (Amendment) Act, art. 130(1)(b), Aug. 17, 2000.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Both male and female death row prisoners have been held at Pademba Road in Freetown. [1] Prisoners, who may not be on death row, are also reportedly held in urban prisons at Freetown, Kenema, Bo, and Makeni. [2]

Description of Prison Conditions

We did not find specific information on detention conditions for death-sentenced prisoners, but prison conditions in Sierra Leone as a whole are poor.

All seventeen prisons in the country are overcrowded, especially those in urban areas such as Freetown, Kenema, Bo, and Makeni. [3]

Prisoners do not have adequate access to nutrition, clothing, and medical care. [4] In 2009, there were 35 deaths at Pademba road prison due to health problems. [5] Clinics lack supplies and medical personnel. One doctor staffs the clinic at Pademba Road Prison, where death row inmates have been held. Only emergency patients may visit the clinic outside of the assigned schedule. Local hospitals often refuse to treat prisoners or provide inadequate care because of the government’s failure to pay medical bills. Prisoners’ safety is not guaranteed due to a shortage of prison staff. Authorities confirmed that between January and September 2013, 21 prisoners died in custody. [6]

Living conditions are inadequate. Many prison cells do not have proper lighting, bedding, ventilation, and protection from mosquitoes, and most prisons lack piped water systems. The UN reported poor infrastructure and maintenance. [7]

Violence is also a major problem. Prison officials, in order to avoid being charged with abuse, direct gangs of prisoners to beat other prisoners as punishment. [8]

Prisoners can file complaints regarding both other inmates and prison officials. However, prisoners rarely file complaints because of fear of retaliation by judicial authorities. Regular family visits and religious observances are also permitted. Prison recordkeeping relies exclusively on written ledgers, and due to inadequate storage of information, there have been cases of lost files and inmates without records. [9]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

There are no known foreign nationals currently on death row. [10]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

There are no known foreign nationals currently on death row. [11]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

There are no women currently under sentence of death. [12] Women are, however, occasionally sentenced to death. In 2010, three out of 13 death row inmates were women. [13]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We found no reports of individuals under sentence of death for crimes committed while under the age of 18. Amnesty International reports that there have been no known executions of juveniles in Sierra Leone since 1990 when it started keeping records. [14]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

Only one person has been sentenced to death in recent years, and his sentence has reportedly been commuted. [15] It is therefore difficult to determine any observable trends in discriminatory sentencing.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Pursuant to the 2012 Legal Aid Act, any indigent person arrested, detained or charged with a crime will be provided with legal representation “where the interest of justice so requires” and after approval from the Legal Aid Board. Legal representation is guaranteed from the moment of arrest until the final determination of the matter. [16] The law instructs police officers who arrest individuals who appear to be indigent and prison officials who detain them to contact the Board for assistance. [17]

A 2014 report, however, indicates that indigent detainees usually do not receive legal advice before trial due to the shortage of and poorly paid state-appointed attorneys. [18]

Paralegals have increasingly been providing free legal aid which has helped defendants to navigate both the customary and formal legal systems. [19]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Pursuant to the 2012 Legal Aid Act, any indigent person arrested, detained or charged with a crime will be provided with legal representation “where the interest of justice so requires” and after approval from the Legal Aid Board. Legal representation is guaranteed from the moment of arrest until the final determination of the matter. [20] A 2014 report indicates that indigent detainees usually do not receive legal advice before trial due to the shortage of and poorly paid state-appointed attorneys. [21]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

Although the law provides indigent defendants with legal representation from the time of arrest and throughout the legal process, [22] in practice due to a shortage of resources only an estimated 5 to 10 percent have access to legal counsel, and access is often delayed even though lawyers are permitted unrestricted access to detainees. [23] Indigent detainees reportedly do not receive legal advice before trial, as state-appointed attorneys are overburdened and underpaid. Defendants also lack adequate facilities to prepare their defenses. Still, they can question witnesses against them, present witnesses and evidence, and access government-held evidence. [24]

Capital defendants experience difficulty accessing the appellate process. AdvocAid reports that capital defendants are not granted extensions to the 21-day time limit within which one must lodge a notice of appeal. However, many fail to meet the deadline due to lack of knowledge of the deadline, lack of access to a competent defense attorney, and instances of missing files. Judges, court staff, lawyers, and prison officers do not always inform defendants of their right to appeal. Those willing to appeal must rely on prison welfare officers or pro bono lawyers. Filing an appeal from the provinces is more difficult as the Court of Appeal office is located only in Freetown. [25]

In 2007, there was a significant shortage of legal professionals, with about 20 judges and 100 lawyers in the country. [26] According to the Sierra Leone Bar Association’s directory of lawyers, there are currently at least 134 lawyers, though we do not know when this page was last updated. [27]

Paralegals have increasingly been providing free legal aid which has helped defendants navigate both the customary and formal legal systems. [28]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

The justice sector has improved significantly since the end of the civil war. New magistrate courts have been established and there are plans to build a commercial court in the future. Sierra Leone now has new judicial officials, specialized training for employees in the justice sector, advanced technology for all magistrates and judges, and a completed law court library. Yet there are still shortcomings, such as the shortage of magistrates and judges, delays, corruption, and overburdened lawyers that limit access to justice. Insufficient access to legal representation and the inefficiency of the courts have resulted in more than half of pretrial detainees being held beyond the lawful detention period. However, donors and the government have been working to improve detainees’ access to legal counsel. [29]

Police brutality, corruption, and lengthy detention without charge are also major problems in Sierra Leone. The police fail to carry out effective investigations, and have engaged in criminal behavior, such as extrajudicial killings, extortion, bribery, and sexual abuse. In spite of such practices, the police officers have not been sufficiently investigated, disciplined, and prosecuted. [30]

References

[1] AdvocAid, 21 Days: Enough Time to Save Your Neck?, p. 1, http://www.advocaidsl.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/AdvocAid-Briefing-Paper-21-Days.pdf, Mar. 2011. Mohamed Massaquoi, Sierra Leone: Koroma Charged Over Death Penalty, AllAfrica, http://allafrica.com/stories/200904290793.html, Apr. 29, 2009.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[3] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[4] Human Rights Watch, UPR Submission: Sierra Leone, p. 2, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/hrwhumanrightswatch-eng.pdf, Oct. 2010.
[5] Prison Watch Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review: 11th session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council, May 2011, p. 1, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/pwprisonwatchsierraleone-eng.pdf, 2011.
[6] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[7] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[8] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[9] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[10] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[11] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[13] Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone et al., Submission by a Coalition of Sierra Leone NGOs for the UN Universal Periodic Review of Sierra Leone, p. 2, http://upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/js1jointsubmission1-eng.pdf, 2010.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Executions of Juveniles Since 1990, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/executions-of-child-offenders-since-1990, last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 46, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 27, 2014.
[16] Sierra Leone Legal Aid Act, art. 20, Act No. 6 of 2012, Aug. 23, 2012.
[17] Sierra Leone Legal Aid Act, arts. 35(1), (3), Act No. 6 of 2012, Aug. 23, 2012.
[18] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[19] Human Rights Watch, UPR Submission: Sierra Leone, p. 1, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/hrwhumanrightswatch-eng.pdf, Oct. 2010.
[20] Sierra Leone Legal Aid Act, art. 20, Act No. 6 of 2012, Aug. 23, 2012.
[21] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[22] Sierra Leone Legal Aid Act, art. 20, Act No. 6 of 2012, Aug. 23, 2012.
[23] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[24] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Sierra Leone, Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220156.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[25] AdvocAid, 21 Days: Enough Time to Save Your Neck?, pp. 1-2, http://www.advocaidsl.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/AdvocAid-Briefing-Paper-21-Days.pdf, Mar. 2011.
[26] Sabrina Mahtani, UN Report Cites Abuse in Sierra Leone Prisons as Threat to Peace: Women Particularly Marginalised by the Country’s Legal System, SIHRG, http://sites.google.com/a/sihrg.org/africa/Home/Siarra-Leone, Sep. 2007.
[27] Sierra Leone Bar Association, Directory of Lawyers, http://www.barassociation.sl/index.php?option=com_qcontacts&view=category&catid=34&Itemid=55, last accessed Apr. 25, 2014.
[28] Human Rights Watch, UPR Submission: Sierra Leone, p. 1, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/hrwhumanrightswatch-eng.pdf, Oct. 2010.
[29] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Amnesty International submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review: 11th session of the UPR Working Group, May 2011, pp. 1-2, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/aiamnestyinternational-eng.pdf, Nov. 1, 2010. Human Rights Watch, UPR Submission: Sierra Leone, p. 1, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/hrwhumanrightswatch-eng.pdf, Oct. 2010.
[30] Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Amnesty International submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review: 11th session of the UPR Working Group, May 2011, p. 2, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/aiamnestyinternational-eng.pdf, Nov. 1, 2010. Human Rights Watch, UPR Submission: Sierra Leone, p. 2, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/hrwhumanrightswatch-eng.pdf, Oct. 2010.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

In 2001, the Human Rights Committee found that Sierra Leone had violated article 14 of the ICCPR by executing 12 of 18 members or former members of the armed forces in 1998 while communications to the HRC regarding their death sentences and right to appeal were under consideration. The Committee also found that the executed men had been sentenced without a fair trial. [1]

In its 2014 Concluding Observations, the Committee welcomed the moratorium on the death penalty and the Sierra Leone government’s commitment to abolition. It expressed concern, however, about the slow progress in removing capital punishment from the Constitution and encouraged the government to expedite the process. It also recommended the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR with a view to abolishing the death penalty. [2]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

At Sierra Leone’s 2011 Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Council recommended that Sierra Leone ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, establish a de jure moratorium on the application of the death penalty, abolish capital punishment, ensure that the commutation of the death penalty is a part of the Constitutional review process, and support the General Assembly’s resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty. [3] Sierra Leone accepted all these recommendations in principle. [4]

In a 2010 report, the Human Rights Council concluded that Sierra Leone had made little progress towards removing the death penalty from the Constitution despite recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. [5] It also acknowledged the continued de facto moratorium on the death penalty. [6]

In 2000, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held that Sierra Leone’s execution of 24 soldiers in 1998 violated their right to appeal under Article 7(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and constituted an arbitrary deprivation of the right to life under Article 4 of the ACHPR. [7]

References

[1] U.N. ICCPR Human Rights Committee, Views of the Human Rights Committee under article 5, paragraph 4 of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/72/D/839/1998, Jul. 30, 2001.
[2] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the initial report of Sierra Leone, para. 18, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/SLE/CO/1, Mar. 25, 2014.
[3] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sierra Leone, paras. 82.3-82.4, 82.14-82.25, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/18/10, Jul. 11, 2011.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sierra Leone: Addendum, pp. 2-3, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/18/10/Add.1, Sep. 13, 2011.
[5] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Assistance to Sierra Leone in the field of human rights: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, p. 2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/28, Feb. 12, 2010.
[6] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Assistance to Sierra Leone in the field of human rights: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, p. 4, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/28, Feb. 12, 2010.
[7] African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 223/98: Forum of Conscience / Sierra Leone, http://www.achpr.org/files/sessions/28th/comunications/223.98/achpr28_223_98_eng.pdf, Nov. 6, 2000.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

AdvocAid Sierra Leone
1st Floor, 39 Liverpool Street
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel: +232 (0)33 572 526
www.advocaidsl.com
advocaid@gmail.com

Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone
NEC Building, OAU Drive, Tower Hill
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel: 076 603 194
http://www.hrcsl.org
info@hrcsl.org

Lawyers’ Centre for Legal Assistance (LAWCLA)
Death Penalty Project
15D Old Railway Line, Brookfields
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel: +232-22-240440
Fax: +232-22-236019
lawyers.centre@yahoo.co.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

AdvocAid, 21 Days: Enough Time to Save Your Neck?, http://www.advocaidsl.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/AdvocAid-Briefing-Paper-21-Days.pdf, Mar. 2011.

Amnesty Intl., Sierra Leone: Amnesty International submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review: 11th session of the UPR Working Group, May 2011, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/aiamnestyinternational-eng.pdf, Nov. 1, 2010.

Human Rights Watch, UPR Submission: Sierra Leone, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/hrwhumanrightswatch-eng.pdf, Oct. 2010.

Lilian Manka Chenwi, Towards the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa: A Human Rights Perspective, Pretoria University Law Press, 2007.

Prison Watch Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review: 11th session of the UPR Working Group of the Human Rights Council, May 2011, http://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/sierra_leone/session_11_-_may_2011/pwprisonwatchsierraleone-eng.pdf.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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