Sierra Leone’s President Maada Bio is fooling the international community : Death penalty abolished to cover human rights abuses

Maada’s Abrogation of Death Penalty is a Con Game to Hide the Govt’s Human Rights Abuses

By Abu Shaw in London (11/10/2021)

President Julius Maada Bio appended his signature on the abrogation of the Death Penalty in Sierra Leone over the weekend to the delight of everyone.

But what the international community is failing to fathom is the deceit and hypocrisy behind the abolition of the Death Penalty. At face value, it is an excellent achievement by any stretch of the imagination. No wonder the international community led the commendations when President assented to the Bill abolishing the Death Penalty. However, most Sierra Leoneans think that the new British High Commissioner Lisa Chesney – who spoke on behalf of the foreign envoys praising the President and his SLPP government for the abrogation – is not being fair in her assessment of the overall abysmal situation in Sierra Leone. (Photo: President Bio is a celebrated liar).

The SLPP government’s covert agenda embedded in the Death Penalty issue is a cause for concern for the majority of Sierra Leoneans not because the people oppose the Death Penalty, it is because they believe President Bio and his violent-oriented regime are not genuine enough in the abrogation as they have ulterior motives up their sleeves. It is clear that the ruling government officials do not want to be held accountable when the people shall have voted them out of power in the 2023 general and presidential elections. President Bio has orchestrated the deaths of so many innocent Sierra Leoneans since his assumption to power in 2018. These are facts that the UK Envoy Lisa Chesney and the international partners are obviously ignoring.

Disappointing to see foreign governments falling hook, line, and sinker for the abolition of the Death Penalty by totally forgetting to mention the flagrant human rights record of President Bio and his SLPP government. Lisa Chesney and other Western Ambassadors in Freetown seem not to care about the Pademba Road Prison Massacre in 2020 when Presidential Guards stormed the prison and murdered nearly 100 innocent inmates under the supervision of the Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Lahai Larence Leema, the SLPP National Women’s Wing Leader Fatmata Sawaneh and others with the full knowledge of the President. In fact, the International Criminal Court ICC in the Haque is aware of these heinous crimes.×345&!8&btvi=5&fsb=1&xpc=uSIXPy1pgT&p=https%3A//

Lisa Chesney and the United States Ambassador David Reimer plus the European Union representatives, etc have shown that they are not paying attention to the killings in Makeni, in Lunsar, in Tombo, in Thonko Limba, at Mile 91 as significant, otherwise, they would not be lavishing undeserved praises on President Bio all the time. However, the people of Sierra Leone including the bereaved families and friends of the victims of these callous and unprovoked murders would never forget and forgive President Bio’s barbaric regime. Disappointing that the international community continues to praise President Bio for spearheading democratic ideals when in actual fact, citizens no longer enjoy their civil liberties in the country where critics and opposition members are often targeted, harassed, detained indiscriminately on a daily basis. (Photo: Lisa Chesney is not impressing Sierra Leoneans. It is advisable for Lisa to study the Makeni Massacre in 2020 before jumping to conclusions. The victims need justice).

Since her assumption as UK High Commissioner in Sierra Leone in August 2021, Lisa Chesney has never highlighted these human rights abuses but instead embarked on talking high of President Bio thereby taking the suffering masses for granted much to the chagrin of the silent majority. “We expect the international community, led by Britain to levy praises where they are due, but they should also be brave enough to condemn where condemnation is necessary,” a businesswoman in Freetown whose friend had lost her only son during the Pademba Prison killings told the Organiser newspaper over the weekend.

Every peace-loving Sierra Leonean welcomes the abolition of the Death Penalty because many innocent and gallant Sierra Leone technocrats have been executed over the years on dubious circumstances. In the 70s, 80s, 90s, hundreds of brilliant politicians, top military officers, and highly educated civilians had been arbitrarily executed thanks to the Death Penalty that past governments used to disguise their hidden agenda to inflict vengeance on opponents. The irony about President Bio’s Abrogation Bill 2021 is that most of these unlawful killings in the past decades had happened under the auspices of his own SLPP party. President Bio had personally monitored the executions of 29 Sierra Leoneans in 1992 when the NPRC military junta overthrew President Joseph Momoh’s APC government.

Today, President Bio is claiming to be a Saint sent from Heaven to redeem Sierra Leone. And also claiming to be the champion of the Abrogation of the Death Penalty when in reality, he had been one who orchestrated the murders of so many innocent Sierra Leoneans since his SLPP government took power in April 4, 2018. The fact and figures are there for all to see but unfortunately, only the likes of Lisa Chesney, the UK ambassador are pretending not to see it. No wonder she continues to throw glowing praises on President Bio! Since the Sierra Leone Parliament passed the Bill into law a few months ago, President Bio has used it to hide the real truth of his undemocratic style of governance. His regime has cleverly used the Death Penalty abolition publicity to hide the rampant corruption in the corridors of power and crimes against humanity. And the Lisa Chesneys of this world are falling for it!

Nevertheless, the people of Sierra Leone will not forget the truth. The public, inasmuch as they praise the ruling government for signing the Abrogation of the Death Penalty into law, the people still know that praise should also be given to the last APC government of President Ernest Bai Koroma. Because he started the Abrogation process during his era and many people are aware of this fact. For the benefit of the international partners, these are the facts and figures to show how President Koroma kick-started the whole process that was compiled by Amnesty International. Dated April 10, 2013, entitled ‘The Death Penalty in Africa – Progress and Setbacks’ by Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director wrote thus: “The last two executions carried out in the country were of 24 persons in 1998, and 29 persons in 1992.” (Photos: Dead prisoners during the Pademba Road Massacre, left, and the Makeni killings in 2020 should be highlighted all the time).

Amnesty International added: “These were the largest number of executions carried out on a single day by any government. Sierra Leoneans are still reeling from those (executions). Sierra Leoneans don’t want a repeat of state-sanctioned executions. So said Sierra Leone’s President, Ernest Bai Koroma, when accepting the Tan Award for the positive steps his country had taken towards ending the use of the Death Penalty. In 2012, Sierra Leone imposed no new death sentences, while pardons in April emptied the country’s death row cells. Thankfully, Sierra Leone was far from alone in moving towards ending the Death Penalty last year – progress could be seen in both sub-Saharan Africa and in the world as a whole.”

Sierra Leone President Julius Bio Assents to Bill Abolishing Death Penalty

By Kemo Cham, Sierra Leone Correspondent, Nation Media Group – Saturday, October 09, 2021

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has signed a piece of legislation that brings to an end the death penalty in the West African country. President Bio assented to the bill on Friday, two months after it was passed by the country’s parliament. The president said the “real heroes” were citizens who for 60 years cowered for their rights to life. He added that hanging people was cruel and had no place in a civilised society. “With the abolition of the death penalty in Sierra Leone, we today assert our belief in the sanctity of life, affirm every citizen’s constitutional right to life, and commit ourselves to a future of great optimism, social justice, and respect for all persons,” he said.

The law abolishing the death penalty replaces relevant sections of the country’s penal code, which hitherto hinged on four main crimes: murder, robbery with aggravation, mutiny, and treason. All these offences are now punishable by life sentences under the new law, with a minimum of 30 years in jail for murder and treason. (Photo: Ernest Koroma started the abolition).

Death Penalty

The new law also confers powers on judges to use their discretion to determine the length of sentences for other offences. The death penalty is one of many controversial laws which have either been outlawed or are under review, which were inherited from the British colonial era administration. Campaigners say not only has it failed to deter the crimes it was meant for but that it had been used mostly against political opponents. For the government, the move is a fulfillment of a campaign promise by President Bio, in line with recommendations by the post-war truth and reconciliation commission, which described the death penalty in the country’s laws as “an affront to civilised society”.

The President on Friday recalled facing strong opposition even among his inner circles when he first proposed the idea of abolishing the practice. But he insisted that he thought it was the best decision for the country. “The state has absolutely no obligation to undertake judicial killings of its own citizens in order to instill law and order or for political gain,” he said, adding: “We are a civilised nation.” Sierra Leone joins over 120 nations worldwide to have abolished the death penalty, and over 20 African countries to do the same. Sierra Leone is also the first English-speaking West African nation to repeal the law.

Judicial execution was last carried out in Sierra Leone in 1998 when 24 soldiers were controversially put to death by firing squad for their role in a coup against the administration of the late former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah after a court-martial found the accused guilty in a trial process that was widely deemed as unfair. There had been a moratorium on execution in the country since after that. With Friday’s presidential ascent, over 90 people who were on death row will have their sentences committed to life.

The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney, who spoke on behalf of the diplomatic community at the event, hailed the move as “ambitious and courageous.” At a time when democratic processes and the rule of law were under pressure in every part of the globe, she said, Sierra Leone was making a “bold and powerful statement” that it advocates a rules-based international system, founded on the principle of universal and inalienable rights for all citizens.

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