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General News of Thursday, 12 April 2018

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Ghana must abolish death penalty by 2019 - Amnesty International

Human rights organisation, Amnesty International (AI) has reiterated its strong opposition to the death penalty sentence in Ghana's legal system, thus calling on government to totally abolish it by 2019.

According to AI, Ghana is among the countries that have abolished the execution of prisoners on death row but is yet to stop sentencing “criminals” to death by getting rid of the punishment from its legal system.

Speaking at the launch of the 2017 Global Death Penalty Report in Accra, Country Director of Amnesty International, Robert Amoafo Akoto revealed that seven people were sentenced to death in only 2017 but Ghana’s prisons are currently holding a total of 160 persons on death row, including six foreigners.

As indicated in the report, some Sub-Saharan African countries including Guinea and Kenya have abolished the penalty, therefore, Ghana, according to the AI must take inspiration from these nations and do same.

Launching the Amnesty International's Death Sentence and Executions 2017 Report in Accra Thursday, International Board Member of Amnesty International, Dr. Vincent Adzahlie-Mensah said the death penalty is a wicked and torturous punishment that must not be practiced by Ghana.

According to him, Ghana is still practicing death penalty as a result of “ignorance and misinformation” and “lack of political will”.

“It is important that as a people, we recognise that in this report, it is stated that the year under review two countries; Guinea in Africa and Mongolia outside Africa abolished the death penalty. What is it that is happening in Ghana? What evil are Ghanaians than the people in Guinea that we deserve the death penalty,” Dr. Adzahlie-Mensah stated.



The AI also argues that death penalty is a revengeful and an inhumane punishment which must be completely abolished from the justice system of a country practicing the democratic system of governance.

"Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of circumstances of the crime," the organisation stated in its 2017 report on death sentences.

Prisoners on death row, reports say, are exposed to various ill-conditions, subjecting them to, among other things, various diseases and psychological trauma, a reason the AI and its partners want Ghana to be part of the abolitionists.

In an interview with www.Ghanaweb.com, Dr. Adzahlie-Mensah maintains the capital punishment should be abolished because “It doesn’t solve any problem and it’s like a father who has two children and one killed the other and so the father says I’ll kill the second one. I don’t think it makes sense in any human community. In Ghana we don’t even apply it so why do you have a law that you don’t even apply? That’s the problem. ”

Inasmuch as persons may make a strong case that convicted murderers should also be subjected to the torture their victims went through, he believes no civilised society should operate based on the principles of “a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye”.

“That is stone age ideology. You see when you have death penalty what it does is it makes our law enforcement very lazy because we all reside in the thought that ‘don’t worry if somebody kills, if somebody harms you, somebody attacks you we’ll kill the person,” he stressed.

Amnesty International also pledged its commitment to support government in working towards the total abolishment of the capital punishment.

"We take cognizance of our neighbouring countries like Burkina Faso, Gambia, Senegal, Benin and Kenya that have successfully abolishing the death penalty and encourage Ghana to do same," the organisation stressed.



About Amnesty International's Global Death Sentence and Executions 2017 Report

According to the Amnesty International's Death Sentence and Executions 2017 report, 142 countries worldwide had obliterated death penalty in both law and in practice and 106 countries had also abolished the penalty in law for all crimes.

The report indicates a global decrease of 17 percent, reflecting a decrease of over 2591 in 2017 from the high record of 3117 of death sentences in 2016. The number of countries known to have imposed new death sentences reduced from 55 in 2016 to 53 in 2017.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Amnesty International recorded about an 81 percent drop in the number of executing countries from 5 in 2016 to 2 (Somalia and South Sudan) in 2017 resulting to a drastic decrease in number of death sentence imposed and that was from 1086 in 2016 to 878 in 2017.

Guinea abolished the death penalty for all crimes and Kenya abolished the mandatory death sentence of murder.


Read full report below