In commemorating statistics day on death penalty, Amnesty International in Sierra Leone has drawn attention to Government’s silence on the abolition of the death penalty.
Explaining to the Press yesterday at their Pademba road office, the Campaign and Growth Coordinator Solomon Sogbandi said there were 2,390 executions around the World for last year with China topping with 72% of those executions.
He lauded the effort of Government for the release of about 14 persons on death row and stated that there is an unofficial moratorium on death penalty despite it being in the law books. Sogbandi hailed the Government for being silent on the issue when they went to the United Nations as they did not either vote in favor or against the abolition of the death penalty.
Amnesty says they do not have a point to start negotiating with the Government as they do not know their stance on the death penalty. They however said the death penalty was the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment meted out as beheadings, electrocutions, hangings, lethal injections, shootings and stoning convicts.
The report for 2008 provides a world overview on the death penalty which found out that at least 2,390 people were executed in 25 countries with at least 8,864 sentenced to death in 52 states. Amnesty in Sierra Leone said it was difficult to get the information on those in prison that are awaiting the gallows.
Most of the sentencing to death that has been carried out in the country is politically motivated. Since the last executions involving the 24 AFRC military officers, no more executions have been carried out despite unconfirmed numbers in custody awaiting execution.
Amnesty International also reported that many death row inmates languish in harsh detention conditions as they face psychological hardship whilst arguing that capital punishment is not just an act but a legalized process of physical and psychological terror that culminates in people being killed by the state.
They also say most of the world is moving a step closer to the abolition of the death penalty with only 25 out of the 59 countries that retain the death penalty reported to have actually executed in 2008 “In spite of this trend, death sentences continue to be handed out in their hundreds all over the world … there are positive signs of President Koroma’s government to abolish the death penalty. This is evidenced in the recent release of 14 death row prisoners and the country’s unofficial moratorium on the death penalty. In addition, in our engagement with His Excellency, he made it very clear that the section will hear positive news towards the abolition of the death penalty”.
Solomon said they were however disappointed that the government “…abstained in the recent UNGA vote to abolish the death penalty”. He appealed to the Government to abolish the death penalty as the practice is not in tune with contemporary civilization and global trends of good governance.
By Ishmael Bayoh