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Activists in Sierra Leone call for End of Use of Death Penalty
8/16/2006 11:05 AM

At a human rights conference at the British Council in Freetown on August 11, several human rights organizations in Sierra Leone called on the government to abolish the death penalty. John Caulker, the Executive Director of Forum of Conscience pointed out that the imposition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone was considered to be a root cause of the civil war by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Both Mr. Caulker and the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo discussed the use of the death penalty as a political tool. Mr Caulker stated that since the imposition of the death penalty, most executions have been politically motivated. 

The Special Court for Sierra Leone, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have called on Sierra Leone to abolish the death penalty.  In a December 2004 press release, Amnesty International expressed dismay at use of the death penalty against 10 people convicted of treason in national courts.  Amnesty pointed out that the Special Court does not use the death penalty, and the individual leading the 10 men had been indicted by the Special Court. This means that the defendant before the Special Court, which tries only those with greatest responsibility for crimes committed during the civil war, would end up serving a lesser sentence if convicted than the people he led. 

Twenty-three people are currently awaiting execution in Sierra Leone.  Local humans rights groups calling for abolition of the death penalty include Centre for Captial Punishment Studies, Forum of Conscience, Sierra Leone chapter of Amensty International, and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.

Compiled fromAs 23 Await Execution in Sierra Leone...Death Penalty is not a solution - Activists say, Awareness Times, August 15, 2006.   

Sierra Leone: Amnesty International expresses dismay at 10 death sentences for treason, Press Release, Amnesty International, December 21, 2004.

Sierra Leone urged to commute death sentences, Human Rights Watch, October 16, 1998.