Sierra Leone’s government sets to abolish death penalty in the West African state, deputy justice minister Umaru Napoleon Koroma said on Wednesday.
However, the last executions in the country were carried out in 1998, when 24 military officers were put to death after a coup attempt the year before.
No execution has taken place in the country since 1998, and death penalties are often commuted.
Recorded death sentences fell by six percent, from 325 in 2019 to 305 last year, while executions were down 36 percent, falling from 25 in 2019 to 16 in 2020.
Sierra Leone, which is still recovering after decades of civil war, has frequently come under fire from rights groups for keeping capital punishment on the books.
“Once the legislation goes to parliament and gets approved, that ends the story of the death penalty,” Koroma said.
He added that the cabinet of President Julius Maada Bio had decided to push to abolish capital punishment in order to “uphold the fundamental human rights of Sierra Leoneans”.
The date of the cabinet’s decision is, however, still unclear.
But the government announced the move on Wednesday during a review of Sierra Leone’s human rights record at the United Nations, Koroma said.
The European Union’s ambassador to Sierra Leone, Tom Vens, congratulated Bio on the move.
“We will continue to partner with you in promoting a progressive human rights agenda,” he tweeted.