While supporting the abolition of death penalty in the spirit of human rights, the Citizens Advocacy Network (CAN) has recommended that the prerogative of mercy (Pardon) provisions under Section 63 of the 1991 Constitution be amended and made watertight so that current and future Presidents would legally be barred from extending pardon to a person(s) convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction and are serving life sentences for heinous crimes.
In its position paper to the House of Parliament on the ongoing debate on the Abolition of Death Penalty Bill, CAN noted that, it strongly believes that there is need to abolish the Death Penalty from the country's law books pursuant to provisions of international treaties and conventions that protect the right to life of which Sierra Leone is a signatory.
"That CAN holds the view that the right to life is an inalienable right; and without its protection, no other rights can be enjoyed in the state. The sanctity of life MUST therefore be protected at all times. That the death penalty puts an end not only to the right to life itself, but to all other personal rights vested in the deceased. That there is no empirical study that exists to shows that the death penalty had indeed served as a true deterrent to the commission of heinous crimes. As a matter of fact, statistics shows that some of the countries that still maintain the death penalty in their law books, continue to experience considerable cases of violent crimes," the position paper states.
CAN states that the death penalty could occasion miscarriage of Justice and that there are many innocent victims that have been convicted and killed based on an error of law or evidence.
The right based organisation noted that, due to the fact that there exists the possibility of human error to occur in judicial trials and court processes, it believes that the death penalty is inhumane since it will never ensure a return of life to someone, who had been killed but whose based on an error of law.
"That evidence abounds of misuse of the death penalty in the past by mischievous politicians or political regimes to clamp down of opposition or dissenting views. Thus, resulting to the deaths of great politicians and outstanding Sierra Leoneans in the country. That by killing the perpetrator, you leave an irreparable vacuum in two families. The answer lies in reducing violence, not causing more death."
CAN further recommended that Section 16 (1) & (2) of the 1991 Constitution (the supreme law) which limits the right to life MUST be amended to avoid the risk of a reintroduction of the death penalty in the future after the current Death Penalty Bill of 2021 would have been passed into law.
"The amendment should read thus: 'Everyone shall enjoy the right to life and such right shall not be limited in any circumstances within the state'. That the government of Sierra Leone MUST endeavour to sign and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which among other things seeks to permanently abolish the death penalty in all member states."
The organisation recommended that a life imprisonment sentence be instituted to replace the death penalty since it puts the perpetrator in an effective position to reflect over his crime and even come to a place of rehabilitation.