Amnesty International (AI) has made a strong case to President Akufo-Addo, for the abolishing of the death penalty from the Statute books of the country.
It is the position of Amnesty International Ghana that the country can achieve over ninety-five (95%) of the abolition of the death penalty without a constitutional amendment.
Addressing the President at the Jubilee House when a delegation led by the Director of Amnesty International Ghana, Robert Akoto Amoafo, paid a courtesy call on him, a member of the Delegation and well known Ghanaian lawyer, Martin Kpebu, noted that legal authority for capital punishment in Ghana can be found in six instances in the Statute books of the country.
The 1992 Constitution, specifically, Article 3(3) which states as follows, “Any person who – (a) by himself or in concert with others by any violent or other unlawful means, suspends or overthrows or abrogates this Constitution or any part of it, or attempts to do any such act; or (b) aids and abets in any manner any person referred to in paragraph (a) of this clause; commits the offence of high treason and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to suffer death” is the first instance. The remaining five (5) instances are all in an ordinary Act of Parliament, The Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960, (Act 29) and specifically sections 46, 49, 49A, 180, 194 and 317A, which can easily be amended.
“Our submission is that to the extent that section 46 which is on murder and that is by far overwhelmingly the commonest offence that the death penalty is given today is in an ordinary Act of Parliament, all that we have to do is to Amend section 46 and the other sections of Act 29” Martin Kpebu said.
“Even though we know that for a long time now Ghana does not execute a person on death roll, but your excellency, the conditions, the solitary confinement is practically mental torture. I have been to Nsawam a couple of times and it is not a good sight to behold” Mr Kpebu added.
Improving prison conditions
Another member of the Delegation, Mr. Samuel Agbotsey, addressing the issue of “improving prison conditions”, indicated that the issue of overcrowding in Ghanaian prisons is a matter of International concern. Amnesty International Mr. Agbotsey said is calling on government to take immediate steps to improve prison conditions in Ghana. He urged government to take steps to actualize its plans regarding building two prison service hospitals in the Southern and Northern sectors of the country as contained in the 2016 manifesto of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
President Akufo-Addo in response to the arguments of the Amnesty International Ghana delegation noted that the concern about the death penalty in the Statute books of Ghana is a genuine one that must be resolved.
“The solution that you are proposing is an ingenious one. To the extent that five out of six offences can, in fact, be dealt with by statutory enactments is something that the Attorney General and Minister for the Interior and other security agencies in the country will put their heads around the idea and bring some suggestions to us in cabinet for a decision” President Akufo-Addo stated.
The President further signaled to the delegation that all the other issues they tabled such as the Advancing of Non-Custodial Sentencing in Ghana, Improvement of prison conditions, and the ratification of some three international protocols; the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), and Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, will all be addressed and dealt with appropriately.
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. They campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.
They are independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion. They investigate and expose the facts, whenever and wherever abuses happen as well as lobby governments, and other powerful groups such as companies to make sure they keep their promises and respect international law.