Sierra Leone Parliament votes to abolish death penalty

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Sierra Leone’s parliament has voted to abolish the death penalty, according to a journalist who was present in the chamber.

Capital punishment will now be replaced with life imprisonment or a minimum 30-year jail term.

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No execution has taken place in the country since 1998, and death sentences have often been commuted.

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But 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.

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In May, Justice Minister Umaru Napoleon Koroma announced that the government would move to ban the death penalty to “uphold the fundamental human rights of Sierra Leoneans”.

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President Julius Maada Bio must still sign off on the abolition voted by parliament.

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A diamond-rich former British colony, the nation of 7.5 million people remains one of the poorest in the world.

Sierra Leone’s economy was ravaged by a 1991-2002 civil war that claimed 120,000 lives, followed by an Ebola epidemic from 2014 to 2016.

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