11 October 2012 :during a ceremony at the Palace State House in Freetown in Sierra Leone, the seat of the Presidency of the Republic, a delegation of Hands Off Cain and the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), composed of the Secretary of HOC, Sergio D'Elia, the co-vice President of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Senator Marco Perduca, and Elisabetta Zamparutti, Member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and Treasurer of HOC, presented the Award "Abolitionist of the Year 2012" to President Ernest Bai Koroma, because a year ago he emptied death row, commuted all death sentences, and has engaged in international fora to abolish the death penalty.
The ceremony was attended, among others, by the Minister of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo, the former UN Ambassador and member of the of the General Council of the NRPTT, Ibrahim Kanu Allieu, the Director of the NGO Manifesto 99, Rahim Kamara, and Amnesty International.
Speaking to thank for the award, President Koroma said: “There have been no executions; we commuted the death sentences of people on death row during our Fiftieth Anniversary Celebrations in 2011; the lives of our people are safe in our hands…. You have come here to recognize our efforts, and for practically demonstrating our commitments.”
The President added: “The last two executions carried out in the country were of 24 persons in 1998, and 29 persons in 1992. These were the largest number of executions carried out on a single day by any government. Sierra Leoneans are still reeling from those largest numbers of executions carried out on a single day by agents of the state. Sierra Leonans don’t want a repeat of state sanctioned executions. Sierra Leonans don’t want a return to those days.”
President Koroma concluded: “My Government’s commitments reflect these aspirations of our people. On September 13, 2011, my Government accepted in principle, and subject to constitutional review fifteen resolutions calling to abolish the death penalty. We have already made a commitment on putting the question of the abolition of the death penalty on the legislative agenda of government. The Constitutional Review process will be resumed after the elections [to be held in mid-November], and its recommendation on the abolition of the death penalty will be very integral to our program for defending, protecting and promoting human rights.”
Among the objectives of the Mission of Hands Off Cain and the Radical Party in Sierra Leone there is also the lobby before the vote on the universal moratorium of the death penalty expected in December at the United Nations General Assembly. "In accordance with the statements by the Minister of Justice and those present at the ceremony, we have reason to believe that Sierra Leone will switch from abstention to a yes vote," declared the Radical delegation during a press conference in Freetown at the Ministry of Information, concluding the World Day against the Death Penalty.