lunedì 15 aprile 2013

Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma takes positive steps towards abolishing the death penalty

Newstime Africa
There has been a substantial increase in the people sentenced to death and subsequently executed in Africa last year, but Sierra Leone, has taken positive steps and making progress towards the abolition of the death penalty; as there are no more death row inmates in that country, Amnesty International said today. The President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has made human rights issues one of his government’s top priorities.

What happened in Sierra Leone is a good example of the positive steps towards abolition of the death penalty in Africa. And it’s a sign of the world moving closer to becoming free of the ultimate cruel and inhumane form of punishment”, the rights group Africa Programme Director, Netsanet Belay, said.

Sierra Leone constitution of 1991 allows for the death penalty but the country has not carried out any executions since 1998; when 24 military personnel were executed by a firing squad.

The last three death row prisoners – including a female – were removed from death row prison and the government established an official cessation on executions last year.

In 2012, Sudan executed at least 19 people and sentenced 199 others to death row whilst The Gambia executed nine people.

These many executions, according to Amnesty International, catalytically are the reason for the considerable hike in the death sentences and executions of death row prisoners in the Africa region, from 2011.

Ghana is also ambitiously moving in the right direction as it intends to outlaw the death penalty in its new constitution.

“I support the abolition of the death penalty in Ghana and the world, as a whole. There is no need to take someone else’s life regardless of the crime they might have committed. Sometimes, the wrong people are put on death row and subsequently executed for crimes they didn’t commit; and when its finally determined that these people were innocent, it’s too late – because they are already dead,” Prince Ekow Quainoo, a Ghanian local barber in Maryland, told Newstime Africa.

Although countries like – India, Japan, Pakistan, Gambia and Iraq – that have not carried out executions in a while resumed the practise last year, there has been a progress, worldwide, in restricting the death penalty; as only 21 countries, were documented to have carried out executions, in contrast to 28 countries a decade ago.

There were at least 682 executions meted out around the world in 2012, a slight increase from the previous year with lesser imposition of death penalties.

“But the use of the death penalty continues to be restricted to an isolated group of countries, and progress towards its abolition was seen in all regions of the world, “an Amnesty International statement optimistically stated.

However, the optimism might be short lived; because the figures do not include the thousands undisclosed executions believed to be carried out in China.

“The regression we saw in some countries this year was disappointing, but it does not reverse the worldwide trend against using the death penalty. In many parts of the world, executions are becoming a thing of the past,” Sec. Gen. of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, said.

China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and USA are the top five countries with the highest execution rate in the world – with USA remaining the only country in North America carrying out executions.

There are no executions carried out in the English-speaking Caribbean but 12 death sentences were imposed in the sub-region.

Belarus is the only country in Europe and Central Asia to carry out executions and was reported to have done so secretly while Latvia became the 97th country to abolish all crimes.

The methodology of executions in 2012 included hanging, beheading, firing and lethal injection.

In a rare method known as ‘crucifixion’, a man’s body was said to have been displayed in Saudi Arabia – after being beheaded. “Governments still executing have run out of arguments to justify themselves. There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the death penalty works as a special deterrent against crime,” concluded Shetty. “The real reason for the death penalty’s use can often be found elsewhere. In 2012, we were once again very concerned to see countries executing for what appeared to be political purposes – either as a populist measure, or as an outright tool of repression.”

Amnesty International has always opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception.

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