executions in the world:

In 2020


2000 to present



  • Abolitionist
  • retentionist
  • De facto abolitionist
  • Moratorium on executions
  • Abolitionist for ordinary crimes
  • Committed to abolishing the death penalty


government: constitutional democracy
state of civil and political rights: Partly free
constitution: 1 October 1991, subsequently amended
legal system: based on common law and local traditions
legislative system: unicameral Parliament
judicial system: Supreme Court, Appeals Court, High Court
religion: 60% Muslim; 30% Animist; 10% Catholic
death row: 9 (Afp, 27/04/2011)
year of last executions: 0-10-1998
death sentences: 0
executions: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)

In Sierra Leone murder, aggravated robbery and treason are capital crimes.
Article 16 (1) of the 1991 Constitution states: ‘No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Sierra Leone, of which he has been convicted.’
The 1991 Constitution also replaced the country’s one-party system, with a multiparty established in 1978. However civil war broke out that same year with former army corporal Foday Sankoh and his Revolutionary United Front (RUF) campaigning against President Joseph Saidu Momoh. It ended with the 1999 Lome peace accord. The war left over 50,000 dead, thousands mutilated and 2 million – a third of the population - forced out of their homes. A lasting feature of the conflict was the atrocities committed by the rebels, whose trademark was to hack off the hands of their victims.
The Lome Peace Agreement required Sierra Leone to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to promote healing and reconciliation and to address impunity. The Sierra Leone Parliament established the TRC through the Truth and Reconciliation Act, 2000.
The Act required the Commission to make recommendations for political, legal and administrative measures needed to achieve its aims and the Government to implement the recommendations directed to it and facilitate recommendations directed to others.
The TRC published its report in October 2004 and made the abolition of the death penalty one of its key recommendations. Sierra Leone was advised to amend its constitution and repeal all laws authorising the use of capital punishment.
The TRC also recommended the introduction of a moratorium on all judicially sanctioned executions.
The TRC report states ‘the recommendation was made in the context of Sierra Leone’s recent history. The conflict period resulted in the demeaning of human life and dignity. The state must now set the example by demonstrating that it places the highest value on all human life. The abolition of the death penalty will mark an important and symbolic departure from the past to the future.’
This recommendation is categorized as ‘imperative’, and the government was to implement it ‘without delay’. Any ‘pending death sentences should be immediately commuted by the President’.
On January 25, 2005, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah declared he didn’t have the power to change laws and that he was held to respect them whilst they were in force in the country.
The last capital executions in Sierra Leone took place in October 1998, when 24 of the 34 people condemned to death by court martial for treason were shot dead in public in Freetown. In July 1999, with the signing of the peace accord, people condemned to death for treason were amnestied, including rebel leader Foday Sankoh.
A special court for war crimes, set up in 2002 as part of an agreement with the United Nations, excludes the death penalty.
Sierra Leone's maximum security prison at Pademba Road in Freetown holds all the country's 14 death row inmates, as of August 2008. Eleven of these were sentenced to death in 2003 for treason. They are still awaiting a decision on their appeals.
On September 13, 2011, the delegation of Sierra Leone announced in an addendum to the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) accepting "in principle and subject to constitutional review" fifteen recommendations calling to abolish the death penalty. On 5 May 2011, in the framework of the UPR, Sierra Leone was recommended to abolish the death penalty, accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and establish a de jure moratorium on the application of the death penalty aimed at its definitive abolition. The delegation explained that those recommendations were accepted "in principle" and "subject to constitutional review".
On December 18, 2008 and December 21st, 2010, Sierra Leone abstained on the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.




United Nations


Hands Off Cain mission