Sierra Leone’s government is to become the next African country after Malawi to abolish the death penalty, the country’s deputy justice minister Umaru Napoleon Koroma said on Wednesday.

On 28 April 2021, the Supreme Court of Appeal of¬†Malawi¬†declared the¬†death penalty¬†unconstitutional as an impermissible derogation from the right to life under the¬†Malawi’s¬†Constitution.

No execution has taken place in Sierra Leone since 1998, and death penalties are often commuted.

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 told AFP.

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 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.

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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