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HRCSL concerned about number of convicts on death row

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has in its 2019 State of Human Rights report expressed concerned over the increasing number of convicts on death row.

Despite government commitment to maintaining the moratorium on the death penalty, the 2019 report revealed that the number of convicts on death row increase from forty (40) in 2018 to sixty-four (64) in 2019.

“The commission is concerned that 13 years after the moratorium was placed, the government has still not signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (OP-ICCPR) 1989, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. As a result, the courts continued to hand down death sentence verdicts,” the report stated.

The commission urged the government to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Universal Periodic Review recommendations on the abolition of the death penalty.

With regards cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the HRCSL confirmed degrading treatment meted against suspects in most police stations visited.

According to the report, suspects were found sleeping on the bare floor with tattered and torn cardboards serving as beds. Also, police cells were found in very appalling conditions not befitting human existence. Complaints of cruel treatment meted against children by family members were also received by the country’s national human rights institution.

The Sierra Leone Police was urged to ensure that police cells are fit for purpose.

On right to education, the commission notes the government’s effort in enhancing the enjoyment of the right to education with the allocation of 21% of the annual budget towards improving education.

But the commission was however, concerned about the poor performance of pupils in the 2018/2019 National Primary School Examination (NPSE) and the widespread examination malpractice across the country during public and private WASSCE exams.

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