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‘We will kill when the state demands’

…Palo Conteh affirms

September 16, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi and Patrick J Kamara

 It is now exactly six years after President Bai Koroma received an abolitionist award for his extraordinary commitment to a moratorium on the death penalty.

On 13 September, 2010 a delegation from Sierra Leone announced at the United Nations Human Rights Council that Sierra Leone had accepted “in principle and subject to constitutional review fifteen recommendations calling to abolish the death penalty.”

The decision to award the President the dignified and enviable award came after he pledged to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment on 27 April, 2011 on the occasion of the country’s 50th independence anniversary.

However, just this week, Minister of Internal Affairs, Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh informed journalists that he had instructed the Director of Sierra Leone  Correctional Centre to prepare the gallows for execution, apparently to crackdown on the recent increase in gang-related killings.

The gallows at the male correctional centre in Freetown has not been used since 1998, but the erstwhile Defence Minister said the government would start implementing the death penalty.

“We will kill when the state demands. I have instructed the Director of Prisons to clean the gallows so that whenever we are called upon to use it we would not be found wanting,” he said, adding: “The death penalty is still in our law books and if anyone is  found guilty of murder we will not hesitate to enforce that aspect of the law.”

The Internal Affairs Minister said his ministry has instituted several methods to curb violence and that he was working closely with members of the Sierra Leone Police and other state security agencies to maintain law and order in the country.

The minister re-assured members of the public that government would maintain peace and stability especially as Sierra Leone has been classified as one of the most peaceful nations in the West Africa Sub-region.

“The Sierra Leone Police have also started the ‘stop and search’ method, conduct raids into communities that are engage in violence activities,” he said, and continued that his ministry has also set up special units comprising Operational Support Division Officers and detectives to go after thugs and cliques.

The call to restart the use of the death penalty came after the country has experienced a spate of violence that has resulted to the death of scores of youth.

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