“The world is approaching that critical turning point – in less than two months – when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but on ourselves.”
These were the words of Prime Minister of England, Boris Johnson speaking at the UN General Assembly. He stated that his government is committed to providing £11.6 billion to help the rest of the world tackle climate change. He added that in spite of all the pressures on finances caused by COVID, “we have kept that promise to the letter.”
He went on to explain to a galaxy of world leaders and dignitaries that in the allotted lifespan of a million, humanity has been around for about 200,000.
He further said that “We still cling with part of our minds to the infantile belief that the world was made for our gratification and pleasure and we combine this narcissism with an assumption of our own immortality. We believe that someone else will clear up the mess we make, because that is what someone else has always done.”
He maintained that weekly, “we are doing such irreversible damage that long before a million years are up, we will have made this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable – not just for us but for many other species.”
He informed his audience that is why the Glasgow COP26 Summit is the turning point for humanity.
The British Prime Minister stated that “We must limit the rise in temperatures – whose appalling effects were visible even this summer – to 1.5 degrees. We must come together in a collective coming of age. We must show we have the maturity and wisdom to act.”
He stated that he is pleased and encouraged by some of the pledges the UN body has at the UNGA, including from Denmark, and “a very substantial commitment from the US that brings us within touching distance of the $100 billion in pledges.”
But we must go further, and we must be clear that government alone will not be able to do enough.
He rounded up by saying that he hopes that COP26 will be a 16th birthday for humanity “in which we choose to grow up, to recognize the scale of the challenge we face, to do what posterity demands we must, and I invite you in November to celebrate what I hope will be a coming of age and to blow out the candles of a world on fire.”
Judiciary Ready to Act on Abolition of Death Penalty
The Sierra Leone’s Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards has assured His Excellency, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio that the Judiciary under his watch will fully apply the Abolition of Death Penalty Act of 2021.
“We in the Judiciary note the change and are ready to apply the new law, the Abolition of the Death Penalty Act, 2021 without let or hindrance where applicable,” Hon. Justice Edwards assured.
According to him, today marks an important date in the annals of the Country’s history in that Sierra Leone will be joining over 144 countries that have abolished the Law and Practice of Death Penalty.
He said Death Penalty found its way into Sierra Leone Laws courtesy of Certain Statutes viz Murder under the Offences against The Person Act 1861, Robbery with Aggravation under Section 23 of the Larceny Act, 1916, Mutiny under the Sierra Leone Military Forces Act, 1961 and the Law of Treason under the Treason and State Offences Act, 1963. The Hon. Chief Justice said Death Penalty was the way of life to addressing crimes like treason, murder and robbery.
He said, “Excuse me if it seems I am talking a lot about the Death Penalty – I am paying tribute to the Death Penalty for after today, it would be laid to rest and would be heard of no more.”
He highlighted that countries such as Greece, UK and Italy have all abandoned the Death Penalty and in fact all European countries have abolished the Death Penalty except for Belarus and Russia for which there has been a moratorium since 1996.
He said the effect of the Abolition of the Death Penalty would mean that Judges would no longer be required to pronounce that gruesome sentence by first undressing with the removing of their wigs in place of a sinister black draper or cloth as head-covering.
On his part before the symbolic signing, His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio said, “When I first proposed abolishing the death penalty in all totality for all capital crimes, there was widespread skepticism, cynicism, and outright hostility. Some cautioned that it was unwise to let go of the ultimate cudgel that had kept political opponents in line. Others wondered whether that was really what I wanted to do. Those who did not wish to be seen as hard dissenters made counter proposals that we could keep the death penalty for some crimes.”
He recalled that his position has always been a ‘hard and firm No’ to the death penalty in all its forms and for all crimes.
He went on to note that the state has absolutely no obligation to undertake judicial killings of its own citizens in order to instill law and order or for political gain. “The all-too-familiar phrase of hanging persons by the neck until they die or tying persons at a stake and gunning them down is cruel, inhumane, and degrading,” he said.
He told members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps that Sierra Leone is a civilized nation that will never again execute any persons in this sovereign republic.
As President, he reiterated, “I have made a solemn commitment to good governance, justice, and to upholding, promoting, and protecting the lives and rights of every citizen. Our governance and justice sector reforms have opened up more democratic spaces, unfettered free speech, and expanded access to justice for hitherto un-served and under-served populations.”
“We will no longer execute fellow citizens for political retribution, for deterrence of crimes, or for crimes,” President Bio said, adding that, “he 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.”
The Deputy Minister of Justice, Umaru Napoleon Koroma Esq. said some twenty-five years ago as a pupil of the Albert Academy, he participated in a debate in favour of the abolition of the Death Penalty. At Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, he joined the Amnesty International to canvass for the abolition of the Death Penalty but it never happened.
He said, “Twenty-five years ago down the line God sent us an individual with a mission to fulfill dreams. Few months ago, he fulfilled the over forty years’ dream of those who were fighting for the seditious libel law to be expunged from our law books. Today again, he is here to fulfill the dream of us who have been fighting for the abolition of Death Penalty.”
The Abolition and Death Penalty Act was later signed into law by His Excellency President Bio.
Mercury Graces First Girls Secondary School Foundation Day
The Chief Executive Officer Mr. Martin Michael of Mercury International, the leading betting company in Sierra Leone has on Friday 8th October, 2021 graced the celebration of the first Foundation Day of Dr. Kadie A. Sesay Girls Secondary School in Port Loko City.
The school which was the first Girls Secondary School in Port Loko District was constructed by Mercury International as part of its contributions to the government flagship programme, the Free Quality Education. It has been named after a renowned female academia, Dr. Kadie A. Sesay who hails from the district.
The school was officially opened by His Excellency the President, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio on the 8th October, 2020 in Port Loko City, Bakeh Loko Chiefdom, Port Loko District.
The celebration was climaxed with the distribution of books and a cash donation to the tune of one hundred million Leones (Le100,000,000) to the school by Mercury International.