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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone does not have a dedicated counterterrorism law although terrorist financing was prohibited by a 2011 law as amended in 2012 and then again in 2019. There is a limited carve-out for the exercise of certain fundamental rights. 

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

The 2012 Terrorist Financing Act defines a terrorist act as follows:

(a) an act or omission in or outside Sierra Leone which constitutes an offence within the scope of a counter terrorism convention;

(b) an act or threat of action in or outside Sierra Leone which–

  (i) involves serious bodily harm to a person;

  (ii) involves serious damage to property;

  (iii) endangers a person's life;

  (iv) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public;

  (v) involves the use of firearms or explosives;

  (vi) involves releasing into the environment or any part of it or distributing or exposing the public or any part thereof to– (a) any dangerous, hazardous, radioactive or harmful substance;(b) any toxic chemical; or (c) any microbial or other biological agent or toxin;

  (vii) is designed or intended to disrupt any computer system or the provision of services directly related to communications infrastructure, banking or financial services, utilities, transportation or other essential infrastructure;

  (viii) is designed or intended to disrupt the provision of essential emergency services such as police, civil defence or medical services;

  (ix) involves prejudice to national security or public safety;

  (x) involves participating in the activities of a terrorist group, including by supplying information or material resources, or by funding its activities in any way, with knowledge of the fact that he participation will contribute to the criminal activities of the group, 

and is intended, or by its nature and context, may reasonably be regarded as being intended to–

(a) intimidate the public or a section of the public; or

(b) compel a government or an international organization to do or refrain from doing, any act,

(c) seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization; and

(d) advance a political, ideological, or religious cause.S. 1, 2012 Terrorist Financing Act.

There is a limited carve-out for the exercise of certain fundamental rights. An act which:

(a) disrupts any services; and

(b) is committed in pursuance of a protest, demonstration or stoppage of work,

shall not be considered a terrorist act if the act is not intended to result in any harm referred to in sub-paragraphs (i), (ii), (iii) or (iv).

The 2021 Cyber Crimes Act defines and criminalizes cyber terrorism as:

the unlawful use of computers and information technology to unlawfully attack or threaten to attack computers, networks and the information stored therein done to intimidate or coerce a government or its people in furtherance of political or social objectives and to cause severe disruption or widespread fear in society.S. 70(2), 2021 Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act. 

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Sierra Leone is a State Party to most of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention Signatory


Sierra Leone is a signatory but not a State Party to the main regional treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1999 Algiers Convention Signatory
2004 Protocol to the Algiers Convention Signatory

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

Terrorist offences are generally subject to the penalties for their predicate criminal offences. Capital punishment was abolished in 2021 under a dedicated law.

According to Section 16(5) of the 2012 Terrorist Financing Act, a person convicted of financing of terrorism is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than fifteen years.

A new law on cyber crime passed in 2021 stipulates that: "A person who uses or causes to be used a computer system for the purposes of cyber terrorism commits an offence and is liable on conviction to life imprisonment."S. 70(1), 2021 Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

There is no dedicated counterterrorism unit in the Sierra Leone police.


Sierra Leone 2012 Terrorist Financing Act

Sierra Leone 2019 Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Act

Sierra Leone Death Penalty Abolition Act (2022)

Sierra Leone 2021 Cyber Crimes Act