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(New York) - Human Rights Watch expressed its outrage at the execution earlier today of twenty-four soldiers by the government of Sierra Leone.

Human Rights Watch had previously requested Sierra Leonean President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah to commute death sentences for thirty-four soldiers accused of treason, ten of whom were given life sentences today.

"The decision to carry out the death sentences without the basic right to appeal is extremely disappointing," said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "This will not sow the seeds of national reconciliation nor help to establish a state based on respect of international human rights standards."

On October 12, a court martial in Sierra Leone handed down the sentences on the soldiers accused of treason and collaboration with the former military regime known for its flagrant violations of human rights.

As a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as its Optional Protocol, the government of Sierra Leone is obliged to guarantee the right to review by a higher court. The Sierra Leonean military court system currently makes no provision for appeal of sentences, including capital punishment.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all cases, particularly in light of Sierra Leone’s fledgling judicial system and the irreversible nature of a death sentence. The New York-based rights group further called on the Sierra Leonean government to restructure the military court system.

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