Bong County District #3 Representative, George Mulbah, has attributed the wave of alleged ritualistic killings in the country to what he branded as “the absence of capital punishment.”
Representative Mulbah made the comment recently in Monrovia in the wake of reports of suspected ritual killings in Bong County and other parts of the country.
He said the government committed itself to pleasing the International community and has abandoned the law that calls for capital punishment for those convicted of murder.
“The government has failed to institute capital punishment for persons allegedly engaged in killings of his or her fellow being. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has to emulate the leadership style of former President William R. Tolbert, who did not regard status, but prescribed capital punishment for anyone that committed murder,” the Bong County Lawmaker contended.
He said because the government is more conscious of pleasing the international community, people who reportedly commit murder are put in prison in the name of “human rights,” and served three meals daily, while ordinary, peaceful citizens go without food all day long.
Representative Mulbah said the law is still on the books, where murder convicts are supposed to face capital punishment, adding that “the only way people engaged in ritual killings will cease is to fully implement the law.”
Under the Liberia penal law of 1976, only aggravated capital offenses are punishable by death.
Although death sentences have been handed down on about 20 murder convicts since 2008, some have been overturned on appeal, while others have been pardoned.
On August 26, 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) expressed deep concern about a new death penalty legislation authorized by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The reintroduction of the death penalty in Liberia was in contravention of President Sirleaf’s signature on an international treaty on civil and political rights of an accused, the UNHRC said
“The Act signed by the President on July 22, 2008 therefore constitutes a clear breach by Liberia of its international legal obligations under the Second Optional Protocol,” the UN said in a release.
The European Union has also been in the vanguard of sensitizing Liberians to abolish capital punishment and instead institute life sentence.
At a symposium commemorating the abolition of Capital Punishment, the two Legislators, Senator Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe County and Representative Worlea Dunah of Nimba County, argued that Capital Punishment has been working for Liberia for a long time, and it was the only means that perpetrators of murder could be punished to the satisfaction of victims.
Senator Nagbe argued that if Capital Punishment was abolished, there should be provisions that would be beneficial to those affected by aggravated murder. If not, Senator Nagbe said, there was no need for abolishing the death penalty because it would be unjustifiable to the victims.
Since the Sirleaf administration took over the mantle of authority in Liberia in 2006, there has been no capital punishment prescribed for aggravated murder convicts.