By Mohamed Sheriff
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Geneva, Morris Tidball-Binz, in a Special Letter dated 28th July 2021, to His Excellency Ambassador Lansana Gberie, on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, commended to the Government for abolishing the death penalty.
The death penalty has been an integral part of Sierra Leone`s legal system since its introduction by British colonial rule.
Describing the repeal as a “landmark”, the Special Rapporteur noted that “I would like to sincerely welcome the landmark vote of 23rd July, with which the Parliament of Sierra Leone approved the executive Bill abolishing the death penalty. I remain at your disposal for any future engagement with the Government of Sierra Leone in relation to this important matter throughthe Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva”, the letter stated.
This remarkable commendation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur clearly demonstrates global acknowledgment of President Julius Maada Bio`s sincerity and commitment as a respecter and promoter of human rights who has relentlessly engaged in dismantling oppressive and draconian laws that restrict the space for fundamental human rights, accountability, transparency, democracy, peace and security.
The abolition of the death penalty comes few months after President Bio pioneered the repeal the country’s infamous criminal libel laws.
Sierra Leone believes in international best practices and is providing itself as a pacesetter in the field of human rights.
In September 2021, Sierra Leone will appear before the Human Rights Council to adopt 274 recommendations it received during the 3rd cycle Universal Periodic Review of the country’s human rights that took place in May 2021.
Not long ago, the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions to the United Nations in Geneva, Morris Tidball-Binz paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Dr. Lansana Gberie at Sierra Leone’s Embassy in Geneva to discuss President Julius Maada Bio’s public announcement to take steps to abolish the death penalty and the parliamentary process to enact the relevant law in Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Gberie at that meeting assured the Special Rapporteur of the Government’s commitment to abolish the notorious death penalty from our law books.
The Special Rapporteur on the extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The mandate holder examines situations of extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions all over the world.
The first holder of the office was Amos Wako, the former Attorney General of Kenya.