Sierra Leone’s Internal Affairs Minister, Palo Conteh has defended his decision to test the gallows as being working in accordance with the law as he is very law abiding.
Plao, who spoke in an exclusive interview at his George Street office in Freetown said the gallows has not been in used for a long time but the death penalty is still in the law books and anybody that is sentenced to death will definitely face the consequence. “I will not do anything outside the law, it is because we still have the death penalty in our law books that is why I am preparing the gallows for all those the law has found wanting.”
According to him, the gallows at the Pademba Road Correctional Center in Freetown have been cleaned, oiled, and tested for use against those who are found guilty by a court of law to have committed wilful or premeditated murder.
Though there has been no person lawfully executed since President Ernest Bai Koroma took the reins of governance in 2007, the recent spate of murders over the past one year by youth gangs known as “cliques” have necessitated the internal affairs minister “sending a strong message” to these cliques that they would no longer murder people with impunity.
Conteh, who is also a retired major in the country’s military, said the death penalty will scare others who think taking others lives carelessly is justifiable.
“All those who do not want Sierra Leone to be safe and free of violence, myself and my team as well the Judiciary, we will not relent as we will go after them, whether they are in caves, hiding elsewhere we will uproot them and bring them to justice.”
“The murder rate in the city got so bad that there would be a murder committed almost every other day several months ago “, the soft-spoken but iron-toned athletic minister said.
Asked whether Sierra Leone would not blight its image internationally given the near-universal removal of the death penalty in the laws of most countries of the world, Palo Conteh said: “Each country has its own peculiar history, and culture, and psychology. Laws in a country have to harmonize with those realities. What would work in the United Kingdom and United States, would not necessarily work in Sierra Leone. At any rate, the death penalty is still in the law books of some states in the US “.
“It’s in the bible, an eye for an eye. Our local people say kill a dog in front of another to know that death is real,” the Minister said.
In his 50s, but with broad chest, martial arts flat stomach and muscles almost visible beneath his light red shirt and dark coloured tie, Minister Palo Conteh stressed that his ministry is responsible for Law and Order, and “without law and order in a society” , all other development would come to naught.